A female Democratic lawmaker on Wednesday reportedly said women who wear revealing clothing often create an “invitation” to sexual harassment.
“I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor,” Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), 71, told fellow Democrats during a caucus private meeting meant to discuss sexual harassment issues, according to Politico. “And what I’ve seen … it’s really an invitation.”
Politico’s unnamed sources said, “the comments left many others in the room stunned.”
“Maybe I’ll get booed for saying this, but many companies and the military [have] a dress code,” Kaptur reportedly said. “I have been appalled at some of the dress of … members and staff. Men have to wear ties and suits.”
In a statement to Politico, Kaptur defended her comments:
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. 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.
Wednesday’s meeting took place on the heels of numerous sexual harassment allegations from women against male lawmakers. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN), Rep. John Conyers (D-MI), and Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) resigned last week over sexual misconduct allegations. Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-TX) announced Thursday that he would not seek re-election in 2018 under pressure from a harassment settlement.
Republican Judge Roy Moore lost Tuesday’s special election to fill U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ Alabama Senate seat after he was accused of sexual misconduct when he was in his 30s. Doug Jones became the first Democrat to win a Senate seat in Alabama in over 20 years.