A clothing company is pointing out the absurdity of Missouri lawmakers proposing an intern dress code shortly after two of their peers resigned due to alleged inappropriate conduct toward interns.
Even though the dress code idea was quickly struck down, Raygun, a clothing company, came up with a tongue-in-cheek solution to help the lawmakers -- a shirt that works in lieu of the code.
In May, Missouri House Speaker John Diehl (R) resigned after screenshots of texts between himself and a former intern were made public. Two months later, state Sen. Paul LeVota (D) also resigned after allegations arose that he made unwanted sexual advances toward an intern.
The accusations against LeVota also prompted past interns to come forward with stories of being harassed by the lawmaker. The culture in Jefferson City even led to a number of universities questioning their intern program.
State Rep. Kevin Engler (R) was asked to come up with a new policy for interns, and his colleague Bill Kidd (R) suggested a dress code.
“We need a good, modest, conservative dress code for both the males and females,” state Rep. Nick King (R) wrote in an email to colleagues in support of Kidd. He added, “removing one more distraction will help everyone keep their focus on legislative matters.”
Actual details of the proposed dress code were never revealed, as the idea was pulled from the list of possible changes to the intern program. Many panned the very idea of the dress code, including U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who called it a form of victim blaming.
In a blog post introducing the shirt, Raygun, which bills itself as the “greatest store in the universe,” said that the shirt is the perfect solution to help clear up any confusion about the decorum of women in government.
“If ladies working in government don't want sexual attention from elected officials, they need to really spell it out,” the company wrote.
Mike Draper, 33, started the company -- whose first store location was in Des Moines, Iowa -- after selling “Jon Stewart for President” T-shirts on the streets of New York. Draper told The Huffington Post the company has released other political shirts:
After news of Diehl’s resignation, the company first responded in a cheeky blog post about the bipartisan misconduct in the state legislature. The shirt came to life after printer Dylan Boyle saw the news about the dress code and suggested something very similar to the language used in the final version of the shirt.
Suzanne Corum-Rich, one of the managers of Raygun's Kansas City store, says the company is also looking into doing a general “not wanting sexual attention” shirt for everyday use.
Although Raygun has yet to hear from the lawmakers who proposed the intern dress code, they did get a response from another member of the assembly:
Draper said a number of current and former congressional staffers have contacted them about the shirt.
Corum-Rich said the shirt resonates "with a lot of people, but especially women."
“The fact that not only our schools but also our state legislature is forcing women to cover themselves up instead of penalizing the men for being walking boners is speaking volumes to how huge of an issue inequality still is," Corum-Rich said.
She also spoke about another possible product idea for Raygun.
“Perhaps instead of implementing a dress code for women, they should make it mandatory for the men to wear a chastity belt to work. Maybe that’s what product we should make next,” she joked.