How Far We've Come
2018’s midterm elections were a monumental moment for women. The first Native American woman, Sharice Davids, was voted into Congress. South Dakota has their first female governor, Kristi Noem, and Tennessee has their first female senator, Marsha Blackburn. And don’t forget that the first Palestinian-American, Rashida Tlaib, and Somali-American, Ilhan Omar, women were elected into Congress. Plus, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to be elected to Congress at only 29 years old. It’s an exciting time, and it also has brought conversations to light about the disparity between the way we talk about women and men in government positions, especially when it concerns the way they dress.
Ocasio-Cortez was in her position as Congresswoman barely a week before she came under fire for the way she dresses. Reporter Eddie Scarry posted a photo on Twitter of Ocasio-Cortez with a caption that said “that jacket and coat don’t look like a girl who struggles” — a statement questioning Ocasio-Cortez’s authenticity in her democratic and socialist leanings.
It begs the question: what is a democratic and socialist Congresswoman supposed to wear? What style and price range are appropriate? Also, why weren’t people having this conversation about Paul Ryan’s suit jacket when he became the youngest speaker of the house? According to the stringent dress policies in Congress, there isn’t a lot of wiggle room to add any personal flair; Ocasio-Cortez’s outfit was perfectly reasonable.
Record numbers of women are participating in our government this year, and it is a thrilling piece of history to be a part of. Our hope is that the monumental work these women are doing isn’t eclipsed by unnecessary conversations about their blazer choice.