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Rep. Beth Wessel-Kroeschell breaks dress code to protest mask mandate




In February, Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell broke an Iowa Capitol dress code by wearing jeans upstairs in the House, to protest the lack of a mask warrant in the building.  (Photo: Courtesy of Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell)

In February, Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell broke an Iowa Capitol dress code by wearing jeans upstairs in the House, to protest the lack of a mask warrant in the building. (Photo: Courtesy of Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell)

Iowa lawmaker isn’t sorry for wearing jeans on House floor, a violation of the State Capitol dress code for exposing, what she calls rules hypocrisy COVID-19.

February 2, Representative Beth Wessel-Kroeschell, a representative of the Democratic state, wore jeans on the State Capitol, while denim (with tank tops, halters and shorts) was banned in the bedroom (men are also required to wear a coat and tie when the Senate is sitting). However, the eight-term member of the House was testing a theory: If the House refused to enforce a face mask warrant to fight COVID-19 infections, would it enforce a dress code?

“We spend a lot of time in this [chamber]”Wessel-Kroeschell, 61, told Yahoo Life.” I put plexiglass in front of my desk, but people looked at it without wearing a mask. I had to chase them away, it’s dangerous. This month, Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds abolished the state mask mandate, which only had implemented in November 2020 as well as social distancing rules in public spaces, including in public buildings. The Iowa decision (together with that of Montana, who this month lifted her mask mandate) was confirmed an error by Rochelle Walensky, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “I think we are not out of the woods yet,” she told the local station. KCCI this month.

Iowa has reported more than 330,000 positive cases for COVID-19 and over 5,400 total deaths from COVID-19. As of February 8, six employees at the Iowa Capitol have tested positive for COVID-19, according to the Associated press, including Representative Amy Nielsen, who says she believes she was infected on Capitol Hill.

“After the governor lifted the mask mandate, we have people all over the Capitol who are not wearing masks or wearing them inappropriately,” says Wessel-Kroeschell. “A lawmaker sitting two rows in front of me [wears his] around his nose. “

Wessel-Kroeschell, who isn’t the only Democrat to oppose no hiding in the Capitol, generally favors dresses and leggings for work, but wore a newly purchased pair of jeggings from his very first pair de Chico, whom she describes as “incredible” in the context of her experience. When she entered the room, she said, a head clerk asked her to change her pants

“It was a little baffling,” Wessel-Kroeschell told Yahoo Life. “But the good thing about getting older is that sometimes you have to make a statement.”

It was a busy day for Wessel-Kroeschell, one of the leading advocates for women’s reproductive freedom in the House, who spent his morning debating a Republican-backed bill called HF53 this, in part, forces doctors to advise pregnant women that medical abortions can possibly be reversed by taking the hormone progesterone. This is a theory unsupported by science, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), and Wessel-Kroeschell calls it “horrible” because “it asks doctors to lie to women about abortion.”

Later that day, as she prepared to make remarks on a crime bill, Wessel-Kroeschell pressed a button under her desk that signaled her request to speak. She says she was silenced by Speaker of the House Pat Grassley, the Iowa State Representative for the 50th District (and grandson of Sen. Chuck Grassley). “It has been brought to my attention that you are breaking rule 20, per the house dress code, as well as rule 10,” he said in a video sent to Yahoo Life by Wessel-Kroeschell. “You will not be recognized for speaking in the debate. You can continue to vote from the floor.”

“That’s when I realized I had proven my point,” says Wessel-Kroeschell. “[Although] others may have wanted me to be embarrassed. “

Grassley’s tactic of silence might have worked earlier in his career, Wessel-Kroeschell describes his former self as so shy that his college professors at the University of Northern Iowa and Iowa State University might not. not remember her today. “As a youngster, if I had to give a speech, I would lose my voice,” she says. What has changed: Finding topics she is passionate about including reproductive rights, domestic violence (Wessel-Kroeschell was previously president of ACCESS, a non-profit organization for abuse survivors in Iowa), public health and yes, dress codes.

Years ago, Wessel-Kroeschell said she once opposed a dress code at her now adult daughter’s school, not to include sweatpants as acceptable attire. “There is a sexist, racist and economic injustice in dress codes,” she said. “[Not everyone] has clean or fitted pants “or the ability to purchase new clothes that meet the standards of various school dress codes. Yet the belief that women should dress in a particular (modest, feminine) way begins in the childhood with an exhausting number of girls (and less frequently, boys) penalized for breaking up school dress codes, sometimes by measuring how their body fills the clothes. Following an example in 2018, Christia Brown, professor of developmental psychology at the University of Kentucky told Yahoo Life, there is “a societal belief that girls are the bearers of morality, whether it is accepting or rejecting a date or dealing with the sexual frustration of others.”

And these presumptions do not end in adulthood. Last year, UK MP Tracy Brabin defended wearing an off-the-shoulder dress after online criticism, which the politician called “slightly absurd“showing a broken ankle changing posture, which caused the garment to slip.) And Arizona MP Kyrsten Sinema, who wore short dresses, colorful wigs and thigh high boots, was mocked for his looks.

What stands out for Wessel-Kroeschell from his recent protest is less Grassley’s reaction, but rather that someone noticed and brought it to his attention, given his physical distance from the speaker of the House that day.

Wessel-Kroeschell says she has not contacted Grassley since the incident. “He’s not someone I interact with regularly. He didn’t ask me to apologize and [if he did], he wouldn’t. “

Grassley spokeswoman Melissa Deatsch told Yahoo Life: “The speaker has been clear and consistent from the start of the session. There is no way to enforce a mask warrant without asking a state patrol to remove a doubly elected representative from the room, which he is willing to do, for masks or jeans. The representative from Wessel-Kroeschell broke a ten-year-old rule and he belongs to the Speaker of the House to handle these violations as he sees fit.

But Wessel-Kroeschell is firm in his belief that “if you can enforce the dress code, you can enforce a mask warrant.”

And his efforts have not gone unnoticed by women and men. “I’ve heard from a lot of happy people,” she says. “I hear ‘You’re leaving, girl’ and I laugh when the younger generation calls me ‘Badass’.”

What about those jeggings? Wessel-Kroeschell bought two more pairs. “I wear them all the time.” Just so as not to work.

For the latest news and updates on the coronavirus, follow to According to experts, people over 60 and those with compromised immune systems continue to be at greatest risk. If you have any questions, please consult the CDC and WHO resource guides.

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