Editor’s Note: the lady with the guitar is Rebecca Ann Latimer Felton, the first woman U.S. senator. She was 87 years old when appointed. She broke tradition, and agism, while dressing traditionally.
…. and then we can move on. Is it as curious to you as it is to me that the dress code does not extend to female members? I can think of a couple of reasons, perhaps, for this.
The first is that the subject is too charged and no male senator wants to be in the position of telling a female senator how to dress. If that is the case, that makes me a little sad. I understand that we are dealing with the aftermath of inequality. But I also kind of think that equality should be equal. Right?
Alongside this thought is the fact that the dress code was passed unanimously. Which means female senators voted for it. … … … shouldn’t THEY want a code that is inclusive?
The other thought is that it is nearly impossible to define business wear for women. There was a dust up a few years ago about women not being able to go sleeveless. Now they can. So, they can wear a Classic Fella A Shirt or a Talbot’s sleeveless blouse and still be in line. In fact, if a woman wore an A Shirt with khaki’s, or a ball gown… still in line.
OF COURSE I think women should be allowed to go sleeveless. But these are word salad times. I could (I’M NOT) just as easily take the position that a male senator should be able to go sleeveless if a female senator can.
But they can’t, because of tradition. Which really makes the case for the importance of tradition. I’ve been pretty vocal about the need for Ivy to change if it is to survive, but that does not mean that everything needs to change. One of the value adds of tradition is that it provides guard rails. And familiarity.
I am all about the backwards ball cap with the navy blazer if you are still in prep school. As long as there’s the navy blazer.
The Senate dress code is an interesting study in the codification that we still do have a “too far” and that tradition isn’t as much old men hanging on to glory days as it is a vital implement as we get in our driverless cars and pull out onto the highway of the future.