Dem lawmaker said revealing clothing can be ‘invitation’ to harassment: report

Victoria Sarno Jordan

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) on Wednesday reportedly called clothing worn by some lawmakers and their aides on Capitol Hill an “invitation” during a discussion on sexual harassment.

“I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor,” Kaptur said during a House Democratic Caucus meeting to talk about sexual harassment issues, Politico reported, citing sources in the room.

“And what I’ve seen … it’s really an invitation.”

The Ohio Democrat reportedly said she has been “appalled” by some of the things staffers have worn.


“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.”

Kaptur said in a later statement to Politico that it is never a victim’s fault for being harassed.

“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.”

Sources told Politico that people in the room were “aghast” by the Democratic lawmaker’s comments during the caucus meeting.

Over the summer, Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said he will work with the House sergeant-at-arms to update and modernize the dress code in the chamber and Speaker’s lobby after complaints about how the rules are being enforced.

Some female Capitol Hill journalists had been barred from entering the Speaker’s lobby, the private hallway connected to the House chamber, because they were wearing sleeveless dresses or open-toed shoes. That sparked complaints from reporters over the summer about selective enforcement of the dress code, which only calls for professional attire.

The comments from Kaptur on Wednesday come as a growing number of women in recent weeks have come forward to accuse various public figures in media, Hollywood and politics of sexual misconduct.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill have been discussing how to handle sexual harassment in Congress, while several politicians have been forced to resign from their posts in the wake of allegations and other public figures have been fired from their jobs.

Tags Marcy Kaptur Paul Ryan

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