Democratic Congresswoman: Women Wearing Provocative Clothing Is an 'Invitation to Harassment'

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (C) / Getty Images
December 13, 2017

A Democratic congresswoman told her colleagues in a meeting on Wednesday that staffers and lawmakers should stop wearing revealing clothing if they want to avoid sexual harassment, according to two Democratic sources in the room.

Politico cites two sources who say Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur (Ohio) made the comments during a closed-door Democratic caucus meeting to discuss sexual harassment issues.

"I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor," Kaptur reportedly 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," she continued.

Politico's sources say the comments were met with stunned silence. "Nearly everyone in the room’s mouths were wide open aghast," said one.

In a statement, Kaptur aknowledged making the comments but said she never intended to cast blame on victims of sexual harassment.

"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," she said.

"Under no circumstances is it the victim's fault if they are harassed in any way," she added. "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."

Kaptur, 71, has served in Congress since 1983.

In October, Democratic Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (Texas) likewise courted controversy by saying women have a "responsibility" to stop sexual assault by not appearing "inviting."