Sweater-Gate Controversy

New dress code for women in the Missouri House sparks controversy


by Victoria Reinbold, Social Media Manager

On Jan.11 the Missouri House of Representatives passed legislation for a stricter dress code in the House for women. It was passed with a vote of 105-51. The bill was introduced by Republican State Representative Ann Kelly. 

Kelly wanted to mirror the dress code for men. The current dress code for men is business attire including, coat, tie, dress trousers, and dress shoes and boots. (insert hyperlink to law here) The new legislation requires women to wear a jacket or cardigan that covers all of their arms. There are a total of 43 women in the house and 116 men in the house. During the discussion of this legislation, the House specifically covered drapes and wraps as a second layer for women and came to the conclusion that those garments would not be appropriate due to the garments being unable to cover all of the exposed arms. 

Many people have mixed feelings about the rule, specifically the aspect about women covering their arms. “I feel like as long as it isn’t a tube top and mini skirt, or as long as the dress is formal, not flashy, and is not showing too much skin…they should still be able to wear it,” senior Aija Cohen Davis said.

Missouri citizens seem to be split on this new legislation with some being in favor of it and some against it. This new legislation has sparked a new hashtag on twitter called #sweatergate. 

One of the tweets from Reilly Neill @Reilly2020 said, “Sounds like the exact advice given to women who had to work with Harvey Weinstein. Are these male lawmakers some kind of dangerous sexual beasts?” 

Whereas another user on twitter Josi Bechthold @Josi_Bechthold tweeted, “Left unsaid in all of this is that the current house rules require men to cover their arms with a suit jacket and tie. The rule change extends a rule that previously applied to males to females as well. Or the other solution is to simply let men wear t-shirts on the house floor.”

Davis has a different opinion saying, “Women don’t have the same options, so you shouldn’t give them the same dress code…Different body types need different dress codes.”

One Democratic State Representative Peter Merideth refused to vote on the bill saying he doesn’t believe he is qualified to say what’s appropriate or not for women, and he believes this is a very dangerous road to go down. 

Senior Abby Trauterman is self-admittedly known for being very public in her feminist views. 

When asked how this new legislation will impact women outside of the Missouri House of Representatives, Trauterman had several ideas.  “I think this is ridiculous because dressing professionally doesn’t mean you need to have your arms covered. You can dress professionally in multiple ways and express yourself without needing long sleeves, In terms of schools, yes for sure, especially at high schools where they already have these laws about dress codes, but I feel like this will be used as justification for stricter dress codes.”