This comes awkwardly into the middle of Democrats’ post-Alabama celebrations of their own wokeness, doesn’t it? Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) stunned her colleagues earlier today during a caucus meeting by criticizing women for the way they dress in the workplace, calling it an “invitation to harassment.” According to a Politico report, Kaptur specifically recounted one unnamed member as having displayed cleavage “down to the floor.”
Is it “slut shaming” when Democrats do it?
A female Democratic House member shocked fellow lawmakers Wednesday when she said that the revealing clothing that some members and staffers wear is an “invitation” to sexual harassment. …
“I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor,” Kaptur said, according to the sources present. “And what I’ve seen … it’s really an invitation.” The comments left many others in the room stunned, the sources said.
Kaptur said women on Capitol Hill should have to abide by a stricter dress code, like those adopted by the military or corporations.
“Maybe I’ll get booed for saying this, but many companies and the military [have] a dress code,” she said. “I have been appalled at some of the dress of … members and staff. Men have to wear ties and suits.”
That much is certainly true, and it has come up before in another context. Paul Ryan barred a female reporter from the Speaker’s lobby over a dress code violation, causing some — but not all — Democrats and media outlets to warn that The Handmaid’s Tale had truly come to pass. It took a while before the same media outlets began to report that the dress code had been in place long before Ryan got the gavel, and had in fact been enforced for both men and women by Nancy Pelosi and other previous speakers. She approved of Ryan’s decision to update the dress code following the tempest, calling it “in desperate need of updates,” although Pelosi herself didn’t seem to think so when she was House Speaker for four years.
It’s one thing to complain about the lack of discipline in professional attire in the workplace. It’s another thing entirely to claim that women are to blame for being victimized by harassment. The claim that provocative dress provides an “invitation” to harassing behavior is a rather new argument for the Left, which has usually accused political opponents of believing that without much evidence. Over the last few years, progressive activists have organized “slut walks,” an absurd stunt to aggressively make the otherwise rational and sensible argument that women control their own consent, and that clothing or a lack thereof does not grant a universal license to touch.
Not surprisingly, Kaptur backpedaled after finding out that Politico was about to report her comments. In a statement, Kaptur insists that she’s plenty woke on harassment:
“When I was first elected to Congress my office and I became a refuge for female staffers who had been mistreated by their bosses. Some of them in tears many days. It is something I carry with me to this day and something I brought up during our Caucus meeting,” she said. “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.”
Note that Kaptur doesn’t actually deny making the comments, which contradict her later statement. The word “invitation” makes the blame shift explicit.
Meanwhile, Pelosi has other problems. After calling for the resignation of a House Democrat accused of sexual harassment, the House Minority Leader has discovered that her flock isn’t following along:
Breaking with Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), top House Democrats are holding their fire when it comes to the fate of Rep. Ruben Kihuen (D).
Kihuen, a Nevada freshman, has been accused by a former campaign staffer of unwanted sexual advances, prompting immediate calls of resignation from both Pelosi and Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (N.M.), the head of the Democrats’ campaign arm.
But other party leaders have suggested those calls — based on a single allegation that Kihuen has denied — are premature. They’re awaiting more evidence of misconduct before joining Pelosi in urging Kihuen to step down.
“Mr. Kihuen has said he didn’t do … what he is alleged to have done,” said Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), the minority whip. “I have said that there needs to be a process that needs to be pursued quickly and transparently to resolve that issue. And if, in fact, the allegations are proven to be true, then I said he ought to resign.”
Call this the Franken effect. Democrats ganged up on Franken after the total number of accusers hit seven, but wound up having second thoughts when Franken lashed out at the lack of due process in his resignation-ish speech on the Senate floor. Kihuen only has one accuser and no one has substantiated her claims. Zero tolerance should be the “platinum standard,” House Democrat caucus head Rep. Joseph Crowley declared, but it might be best to wait until guilt has been determined first.
That seems to be a rational approach, one which has largely escaped everyone on Capitol Hill thus far. Let’s hope cleavage measurements don’t enter into those calculations.