Recently, Kansas Sen. Mitch Holmes (R-St. John) set a new standard for women who testify before his committee in the Kansas State Senate. Sounds promising, doesn’t it? Not so fast …
Holmes’ new guideline is a dress code for those coming before the committee he chairs as witnesses, and it is applicable to women only, as he believes men don’t need instructions on how to look professional.
Wow. This new measure does not represent a standard at all — it is a giant step in the wrong direction for equality and progressive thinking.
Widely criticized by female legislators in both parties, Holmes cited his reasoning as this: Provocative female outfits distract his Senate committee during testimony. He specifically referred to short skirts and revealing necklines.
I have a hard time believing women are showing up to testify at committee hearings dressed like Vivian Ward in Pretty Woman. However, I don’t have a hard time thinking Sen. Holmes must be easily distracted, and it sounds like a personal problem to me.
While I do not see an issue with establishing a dress code, I do have a problem with singling out a specific group — in this case, women — and making a dress code apply only to them. There would be outrage if this were specified toward a specific race or religion, so where’s the uproar over gender inequality? I guess I’m here to help provide it. Hey Kansas, don’t let this stand!
Ironically, Holmes is the chairman of the Kansas Senate Ethics and Elections Committee. Isn’t a gender-specific rule crossing the line and pretty damn unethical?
I was born and raised in Kansas. In fact, I earned my degree from Washburn University and spent several years living in Topeka, where these scantily clad women offended Holmes enough to inspire this rule. So I take personal offense to this buffoonery. In a capital city marred with much more distasteful views — such as those created by the Westboro Baptist Church — I can think of many things I’d rather hear Kansas politicians make official rulings about than short skirts and cleavage.
Incidentally, I have lately been engrossed in the Holtzclaw trial in Oklahoma City, watching the way women were belittled on the witness stand because of their circumstances. It is painfully obvious that sometimes you really need to listen to what someone has to say, regardless of who they are or how they appear. It was a relief to see justice served in the state I now call home.
Kansas Legislature, the spotlight is on you now. According to Fox News, you may well have a chance to undo Sen. Holmes’ embarrassment:
Senate President Susan Wagle, a Wichita Republican, predicted the committee will reconsider the dress code Wednesday at its next meeting. Wagle, who is a member of the committee but wasn’t present when the rules were given to members, indicated she isn’t inclined to intervene personally.
“The legislative process eventually always evolves to a consensus of the majority without leadership having to take action,” she told The Associated Press.
However forcefully Sen. Wagle decides to lead against this nonsense, male and female legislators alike have a great chance to rebuke sexism and stand up against regressive rhetoric.
Your future leaders — including female Ichabods, Jayhawks, Wildcats, Shockers and young girls all across the state — will be watching your response. Make them proud by NOT making them measure their clothing before participating in American democracy.