A Democratic rep said women invite sexual harassment from men — and quickly backtracked

A Democratic rep said women invite sexual harassment from men — and quickly backtracked
Ohio Rep. Marcy Kaptur apologized Wednesday for saying women invite sexual harassment on Capitol Hill by the way they dress. (Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images for V-Day)

Women who work on Capitol Hill are inviting men to sexually harass them by the way they dress, Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) said Wednesday during a Democratic Caucus meeting.

The meeting was private, but two sources who attended reported the comments to Politico.

What did she say?

“I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor,” Kaptur allegedly said. “And what I’ve seen … it’s really an invitation.

“Maybe I’ll get booed for saying this, but many companies and the military [have] a dress code. I have been appalled at some of the dress of … members and staff. Men have to wear ties and suits.”

Her remarks come after three members of Congress (Al Franken, John Conyers and Trent Franks) have recently resigned over allegations of sexual misconduct, and as Congressional leaders seek to overhaul the reporting and policing procedures for sexual harassment.

Does she admit to the comments?

Kaptur confirmed the comments, releasing a statement to Politico on Wednesday afternoon, apologizing for the perceived victim-blaming.

“Under no circumstances is it the victim’s fault if they are harassed in any way,” the statement read. “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.”

Dress code issues

The Speaker’s Lobby dress code for women has been relaxed recently, after controversy surrounding women not being able to wear sleeveless dresses in the House chamber.

Previously, the rules required women to cover their shoulders and never wear open-toed shoes.