Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D) told her colleagues at a private Democratic Caucus meeting Wednesday that she believes some lawmakers’ clothing choices are “an invitation” for sexual harassment, Politico reports. The comments reportedly stunned other Democrats in attendance, with one claiming “nearly everyone in the room’s mouths were wide open aghast.”
“I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor,” Kaptur, 71, allegedly said at the meeting, which was convened to discuss recent sexual harassment controversies on Capitol Hill. She reportedly added: “Maybe I’ll get booed for saying this, but many companies and the military [have] a dress code. I have been appalled at some of the dress of … members and staff. Men have to wear ties and suits.”
In a statement to Politico, Kaptur clarified that “under no circumstances is it the victim’s fault if they are harassed in any way. I shared the stories from my time here in the context of the ‘Me Too’ legislation and how we can elevate the decorum and the dress code to protect women from what is a pervasive problem here and in society at large.”
The House has a fairly strict dress code that not infrequently leads to appalling shirt-tie combinations, although House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) moved to relax rules last summer after controversy erupted over women not being allowed to wear sleeveless dresses around the chamber. Read more about Kaptur’s comments at Politico.