Florida rep. Frederica Wilson loves her hats, and she wants to wear them in Congress. Unfortunately for her, there is a long-standing rule against wearing hats in Congress.
“It’s sexist,” Wilson told the Miami Herald’s Lesley Clark. The chamber’s hat ban “dates back to when men wore hats” Wilson explained, “and we know that men don’t wear hats indoors, but women wear hats indoors.
Generally speaking, I have little sympathy for members of Congress; they are the ones most responsible for relieving us of our liberties. If Wilson were a mere mortal, like the rest of us, and she were complaining about one of the myriad burdens placed upon her by law-makers, those law-makers would reply, “doing (fill in the blank) is not a right, it is a privilege. If you do not wish to (fill in the blank), then don’t (fill in the blank)”. Examples would be having insurance while driving or subjecting oneself to searches at the airport. Nobody is forcing us to drive or fly (in theory). Likewise, being a member of Congress is not a right, but a privilege. If she must wear her hats, then let her resign.
On the other hand, the ban is a silly one. Is it sexist? I don’t think so. It might have been sexist a hundred years ago, when it specifically targeted women (who were wont to wear their hats indoors). But how many female members of Congress were there a hundred years ago? There were none. So it was not the hat rule that was “sexist” but the public that refrained from electing female congressmen. In my view, the public had no business electing anybody to the position of curtailing their freedoms. As Mark Twain so eloquently put it, “”No man’s life, liberty, or property is safe while the legislature is in session.” Refraining from adding females to a gang of criminals is an odd form of sexism. Was the old Italian mafia also sexist for their dearth of female bosses?
So we see that, even in the old days, any description of the no-hat rule as “sexist” is rather tenuous. These days, American society knows no distinction between females and males when it comes to wearing hats indoors. Therefore, the rule is certainly not sexist today. Both genders are equally affected by the ban. The fact that Wilson happens to be female does not make the rule sexist.
If Congress does take the time to rescind the ban on her behalf, it would be an outrage – which we can add to their long list of previous outrages. Such an action would show that they care far more about the inconveniences suffered by one of their own than the inconveniences suffered by the man in the street. If they find the time to accommodate Wilson, then surely they can find the time to accommodate the rest of us by removing any number of the ridiculous laws that often make our lives miserable.