The intern was asking for it



The Missouri state legislature apparently has a little problem with sexual harassment of teenage interns by lawmakers. But at least it’s a bipartisan problem.

In July, a Democratic state senator resigned amidst allegations that he had sexually harassed two young female interns. And earlier in May, the Republican speaker of the state house stepped down after being caught in what the Kansas City Star called

a sexually charged relationship between House Speaker John Diehl and a college freshman in a Missouri Capitol internship program that shut down abruptly last month.

But there is good news. A solution to the problem has been proposed by a pair of Republican lawmakers, though their fix was greeted with what might kindly be called skepticism. As Think Progress reported,

Some Missouri state lawmakers have a controversial idea for preventing future sexual harassment cases in the legislature: Imposing a new “modest” dress code for teenage interns …

Critics pointed out that changing interns’ dress codes won’t get at the fundamental issue of lawmakers potentially harassing their staff or colleagues. Plus, they argued there isn’t anything inherently distracting about interns’ bodies that should prevent their bosses from being able to go about doing their jobs.

“If my plaid jacket or the sight of a woman’s bare knee distracts you from your legislative duties, I would look for other work,” Rep. Jeremy LaFaver (D) responded.

But as the Think Progress piece points out those Missouri lawmakers far from alone in suggesting that the problem of men’s out-of-control libidos can be solved by getting those nubile young ladies to cover up a bit. The Montana legislature last year passed

new dress code guidelines that stipulated “leggings are not considered dress pants” and women should be “sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines.”

And I suspect we’ve all read stories about high schools and middle schools imposing dress codes on girls banning leggings, yoga pants, some short or skirts, and other articles of apparel which might distract randy young men from their studies.

As one of my Irish friends pointed out on Facebook, “Funny that that is the approach, given the number of people who criticise Muslims for dictating dress codes for women too, and for the same reason – to curb men’s passions.”

Good thing we Americans don’t do irony so well.