Listening to the hysteria, you’d think House Speaker Paul Ryan is trying to force women into burkas. A CBS News report has sparked a controversy over the dress code at the House of Representatives:

A young, female reporter recently tried to enter a guarded room known as the Speaker’s lobby outside the House chamber, but her outfit was considered inappropriate because her shoulders weren’t covered. She was wearing a sleeveless dress.

Forced to improvise, she ripped out pages from her notebook and stuffed them into her dress’s shoulder openings to create sleeves, witnesses said. An officer who’s tasked with enforcing rules in the Speaker’s lobby said her creative concoction still was not acceptable.

The Speaker’s lobby, a room adjacent to the front of the House chamber, is a go-to location for reporters wanting to grab lawmakers for brief interviews, and there are allegedly rules about what you can wear inside. Even as denizens of Capitol Hill wipe away sweat from Washington, D.C.’s swamp-like weather outside, men are expected to wear suit jackets and ties in the House chamber and Speaker’s lobby. Women, on the other hand, have been told they’re not allowed to wear sleeveless blouses or dresses, sneakers or open-toed shoes.

The story then explains that Ryan recently sent a note reminding the press and his colleagues of the dress code. The news that the dress code is enforced on men and women alike somehow is lost with the political left claiming the dress code is a sexist outrage. The left can’t help themselves, and many of them are actually comparing the dress code to Margaret Atwood’s A Handmaid’s Tale.

For those of you who weren’t forced to read it in school, watch the awful movie, or follow the series on Showtime, A Handmaid’s Tale is a story about a dystopian future where a theocracy has taken over and some women are forced to be impregnated while serving the upper class. It’s become the favorite dystopian novel of the left again after President Donald Trump’s election caused a brief surge in sales of George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four. Apparently some on the left actually read Orwell’s book and discovered what it was actually about.

Ryan’s supposed sexist/theocratic policies at the Capitol have gotten so much attention, even the Guardian got into the act. So has one of Ryan’s Democratic opponents in Wisconsin’s 1st congressional district, Cathy Myers:


What’s lost in this silliness, besides the dress code being enforced for both sexes, is that the dress code is nothing new. The code has been around as long as the House of Representatives, just changing with the times. Yes, in the stifling heat of Washington D.C., it’s not a comfortable dress code, but it is there to ensure the professionalism of those that work at the Capitol.

Roll Call has a great video explaining the dress code, and how leniently it is actually enforced:

In a more civilized age, restaurants used to turn patrons away if they weren’t properly dressed. (Our favorite story is someone who was turned away from Antoine’s in New Orleans for being casually dressed on a very hot day. There are still some places with standards.) While businesses have become lax in their dress codes, some are moving back in the other direction. So are some schools after discovering more professional attire leads to teachers having greater authority in the classroom.

Instead of criticizing Ryan for gently reminding his colleagues and the press corps that they aren’t at the beach, let’s praise him for holding to a standard of professionalism.

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