Dress Code: Are the Women in Your State Legislature Properly Attired?

Missouri’s GOP controlled state house of representatives has adopted a dress code aimed at women.

Many of today’s right-wing governors and state legislators have a problem. By constantly pushing an extremist ideological agenda of nonsense about nutty conspiracy theories — while imposing autocratic laws to ban everything from voting to library books — they’ve become widely ridiculed as some combo of kooky, clownish and embarrassingly incompetent.

That’s why it’s significant that Missouri’s GOP lawmakers have not only recognized their image problem but have actually made an effort to demonstrate that they are serious-minded public officials concerned about their professionalism. Namely, the state house of representatives has adopted a dress code. Seriously.

Specifically, the “attire mandate” addresses the pressing state issue of female lawmakers who come to work dressed normally — but without jackets. Disapproving legislative leaders clucked that this fashion faux pas was undermining the public’s respect for them. But now, says GOP Rep. Ann Kelley, sponsor of the new code, “It has been fixed.” Henceforth, all women legislators in the “Show Me” state must wear blazers or cardigans in order to, as Kelley explained, “always maintain a formal and professional atmosphere” in the House.

Professional? Excuse me, but these far-right state legislatures totter between being goofy policy forums and carnival sideshows. The only proper attire for many of these so-called legislative “leaders” would be straitjackets. Indeed, trying to rationalize the Missouri legislature’s expenditure of state time, money and credibility on dictating women’s attire with a dress code, Kelley’s GOP colleague Rep. Brenda Shields declared it was about protecting freedom! The clothing mandate, she explained, eliminates the possibility that the state will “be the clothing police.”

I don’t know about you, but I’m thinking of moving to Missouri! It must be wonderful to live in a state where the government has already fixed all the big problems people really care about, letting the legislative body focus on properly clothing its women members.

Why the GOP Should Undergo Remedial Diversity Training

Obviously, the main social problem in America is that Black people run everything and us White folks as a group just can’t get a fair break, right? So says Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.

As a lifelong White Texan, I can’t tell you how “amazing” it is to see our governor come out unapologetically for a return to old-time institutional bigotry. Absolutely amazing! Apparently, Abbott fantasizes that hordes of Black people are seizing control of our government, universities, banks, media… and other power centers, shoving aside more qualified and entitled Whites. Going from fantasy to hallucination, he concludes that this takeover is caused by corporate and government hiring policies that bolster diversity and inclusiveness in our society. Even attempting to implement this democratic goal, he barks, is illegal because — get this — it violates federal law against discrimination.

Yes, in GregWorld, fighting discrimination against minorities discriminates against the White majority. So, His Excellency has actually issued an edict directing state agencies and universities to shut down all hiring programs that include diversity goals! His official injunction declares that deliberately trying to stop excluding minorities from full access to employment opportunities leads to the “alienation of individuals from the workplace.” He means, of course, that some White people feel alienated by non-White people getting job opportunities — never mind that minorities routinely suffer extreme “alienation from the workplace” — i.e., exclusion. By the way, Abbott’s attack on diversity not only opens the door to even more job discrimination against Black Americans, but also against women, people with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, all people of color and veterans. Give him credit: He’s an equal opportunity abuser!

Abbott and his right-wing ilk should realize that the price of creating an exclusive society with no diversity is that they would then be stuck living with people like themselves.

Jim Hightower