A Modest(y) Proposal

I promise I would love to be done talking about dress codes and what people wear. I would. (Here are some other posts I’ve written. This one about Beyonce. This one about Hurricanes and covering shoulders. Or that time a woman was forced to take off clothes because she was wearing too many. And when Pope Francis told women not to be “old maids”. )

Yesterday, I shared an article on Facebook that revealed that House Speaker Paul Ryan is enforcing the “appropriate attire” dress code in the House Speaker’s Lobby in a way that surprises me. Women are not allowed to wear sleeveless blouses or “peep toe” shoes. Some women have been asked to leave for not meeting this dress code. Here’s a link to the article I shared.

Someone commented:

“Men have to wear jackets and ties-they can’t have bare arms either. Pretty sure men can’t show any leg either. I’m more concerned about how any such code singles out women in an unfair manner.

If neither can show shoulders, how is that unfair? Or, is it just a complaint that there is a dress code for women at all because men were involved?”

We had an exchange, which was all fine. He basically believed this wasn’t something I needed to worry my pretty little head about. There were more important things. I agree there are plenty of other important things. Yet the policing of women’s bodies remains important to me.

After he told me I was “out of my f-ing mind” and that I was a “tender skinned whiner”, it became clear that I was correct that this is an issue worthy of my consideration.

I am so grateful he pointed out how unfair it is that men have to wear suits. Each and every day, men can put on a standard “uniform” and easily find respect and walk into the Speaker’s lobby, or the halls of congress. Anywhere, really. The poor dears.

I had no idea that men hated covering their arms and legs with clothing until this guy pointed it out to me. It’s just so unfair!

I also had no idea that Speaker Ryan’s “appropriate attire” definition was all in the service of fairness. Thanks for pointing that out to me!

I tried to point out to him that women aren’t the ones writing the dress codes. I don’t give a flying fuck what men decide to wear to work. If men find suits so oppressive–why don’t they just change the damn dress code rather than blame it on women?

Here is my modest(y) proposal.

Henceforth, no one is ever allowed to wear a two (or three) piece suit. Ever again. 

Men, we had no idea how oppressive your clothing was for you. All of those years we women have been fighting against girdles (or “shapewear” as it is called now) and really uncomfortable and impractical high heels, we had no idea that a tie was keeping you from accessing the American dream.

Be free! 

Now you can be like women, who have to face the same decision every single morning–what to wear?!

Will this outfit be appropriately professional while not looking frumpy?
Would this more conservative one be better at protecting the gaze of the opposite sex?
Will the presence of my actual human body in this outfit be such a distraction to someone that they might not be able to focus on our budget forecast?
Will someone rape me because this outfit makes it seem like I want to have sex with them?

Can I wear this outfit and walk to the train station in any level of ease and comfort? 

It’s so liberating to get to make those decisions each and every time we put on clothes. We’re sorry we’ve been keeping that from you all this time.

I confess, I will miss seeing men in suits.


I’m a sucker for a well dressed man. But I’m all about equality. If it is unfair for women to get to wear a sleeveless blouse while men are forced to suffer in those horrible suits, (with their pockets!) I’m willing to sacrifice my whims for your comfort.

Welcome to our world, a woman’s world,  where fairness is always the only metric used to judge one’s appearance. I look forward to seeing how you interpret Speaker Ryan’s totally fair and unbiased “appropriate attire” guidelines without being burdened by the restrictions of a suit.

Have fun with that.




3 thoughts on “A Modest(y) Proposal

  1. Thanks as always, Marci. Having rules (suggestions, traditions, etc) is just something that is all-around. And some are understandable and appropriate, while others are created because of a persons judgement (and power to enforce). The thing that gets to me is if it has been pointed out that this rule may not be the best, the response is to dig in instead of having a normal and respectful conversation about it and possibly re-evaluating the policy. I love your VERY CLEAR and VERY STRONG (though bleeped) choice of words.
    As always: thank you for making me think and smile.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s inherently a subjective choice about what is “appropriate”. Which is why we do best when we equip people to make their own best choices.
      Thanks for reading!


  2. I wish there was a female equivalent to a men’s 3-piece suit! But in the meantime, until someone figures out how to make women’s clothing by measurement and not by arbitrary size, and until women’s clothing has pockets and all the other benefits of men’s clothing, I will continue to wear my sleeveless tops, every day, year-round. They are the only things that fit over my boobs and accommodate my arm muscles. Maybe if Speaker Ryan had some arm muscles, or if he tired carrying around a set of D-cup breasts for a week, all while wearing women’s clothing, he would have more appreciation for those of us who wear sleeveless tops.


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