Kansas Senate issues a dress code targeting females members

Dress codes are implemented in every workplace for both part-time and full-time employees. Sometimes, a specific uniform is required for staff, while other employers allow their employees to make clothing decisions at their discretion. The Kansas Senate, however, issued a dress code as part of a business wear of conduct—specifically targeting female members of the chamber.

Rule No. 2 of the 11-point code restricts certain clothing, such as “low-cut necklines” or “miniskirts” from being worn when a female member of the Senate is testifying on proposed legislation as this can “distract” the male members of the Senate, the Associated Press reported.

Sen. Mitch Holmes, R-Kan., who created the code, said Rule No. 2 was designed so “each participant was dressed in a respectful manner.”

However, there were no dress code specifications for the male population of the senate.

In Holmes’ code, there were also no specifics on neckline or skirt length. “Put it out there and let people know we’re really looking for you to be addressing the issue rather than trying to distract or bring eyes to yourself,” Holmes said.

Female senators, such as Sen. Vicki Schmidt, a Topeka Republican said there was no way to determine the appropriate neckline for a blouse.

“Who’s going to define low-cut?” Schmidt. “Does it apply to senators?”

Sen. Carolyn McGinn, a Sedgwick Republican said there were more matters to be concerned about rather than the clothes a woman wears.

“I am more interested in what they have to say about the direction our state should go than what they’re wearing that day,” McGinn said.

Holmes said he almost added that men must wear a suit and tie as a part of Rule No. 2, but decided men “needed no instruction on how to look professional,” according to AP. 

Holmes’ proposed code not only shames women for their clothing choices, but insinuates they are incapable of making minute decisions. In short, the code is appalling.

If the reasoning for the rule was to create an outline for all members of the senate to follow, then equal rules should be established for male senators’ attire too.

Singling out one gender for the sake of shaming them is neither productive nor conducive to a successful or fair work environment, and if a code must absolutely be implemented, both genders should be held accountable.