Democrat Marcy Kaptur opens That Door on women who dress like tramps
Democrat Marcy Kaptur horrified her fellow Democrats by suggesting that women's clothing has a lot to do with how they can expect to get treated. Sounds like common sense, except that she said it during a great shakeout of sexual harassers in positions of power, and in front of politically correct leftists, who said they were "aghast."
Marcy, Marcy, Marcy.
Let's unpack this.
The most significant thing here about this political blunder is that it was made by a woman. And she's not the first. Lefty designer Donna Karan made the same kind of remark when the news of the Harvey Weinstein scandal first broke, wondering if some women are dressing for "trouble." She walked back that one pronto. And now Kaptur has walked back the remarks, too. Politico reports:
In a statement to POLITICO later Wednesday, Kaptur said she never meant to suggest that women are to blame for harassment they experience.
"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."
Yes, it's easy to imagine she is a hypocrite, as the "aghast" lefties who heard the remarks will undoubtedly say. But what Kaptur alluded to was that sometimes, a sort of sexual harassment in reverse goes on, when women dress to sell their "assets" instead of their competence, to men, of course, in a bid to get ahead. When someone shows up with boobs on display at the office, it's not her brains she's selling.
Other women see that and get disgusted. Can someone like Kaptur, who dresses professionally and is 71, "compete" with that? This explains why Kaptur noticed this aspect of the problem. It's not all that different from bare-breasted women of Papua New Guinea who cover up when other women who are covered up show up. Women are competitive.
But instead of blaming the men who fall for such tactics (and it certainly is blameworthy), Kaptur's blunder is that she lays the blame on the women who are attempting to manipulate their way into a career or romantic advantage, or at least she was until she got swept up in the backlash. In reality, the blame is two-way. But don't expect the left to admit it.
Sometimes, the women aren't entirely at fault. Some aren't aware of the effect they are having on men – they're "innocently immodest," as Joseph Conrad phrased it in one of his novels. Another problem: What's on sale in the stores? If all they've got are shoulder-baring tops with cutouts and that's all you see in women's magazines, it shouldn't be that surprising when that's what turns up at the office. Plenty of blame goes to what designers, magazines, and stores are selling in a particular season. That industry, of course, blames the buyers; being businesses, they sell what sells, so it's a circular problem, but there is plenty of blame to go around.
It is a problem when some women use the way they dress to gain advantages, and a more visible one than the behind-closed-doors harassment allegations of guys like Harvey Weinstein and Russell Simmons, but it's just plain taboo to bring it up.
Here's what's going on: a confusion of dress codes and harassment codes. Kaptur did have the commonsense idea of dress codes at the office, as is done in a corporate setting (except if the corporation is in Hollywood), to resolve the office tramp problem. Whether anyone will have the guts to enforce it in Congress is a separate matter. The sex harassment problem (which often isn't solely linked to dress) is separate and the one being focused on right now, as so much of the left establishment (and a tiny bit of the right establishment) shakes itself out.
Kaptur had the right thought expressed to a partisan audience that will never sort this out as it should be sorted out.