A British politician has shrugged off criticisms that her off-the-shoulder dress was inappropriate for the House of Commons, seizing the moment to argue that “everyday sexism” often judges women on what they wearing, not what they’re saying.
On Monday, Tracy Brabin, a Labour Member of Parliament (MP) for the English constituency of Batley and Spen, was speaking in the House of Commons when her dress slipped down from her right shoulder as she leaned forward. But as Brabin discussed how journalists were recently asked to leave a press briefing on Brexit talks at Downing Street, all eyes were apparently on her bare shoulder, BBC reports.
The shadow culture secretary later explained that she had attended a music industry event earlier that day and had not anticipated being called to the dispatch box during the meeting – though her defense came too late. Social media trolls were already having a field day, mocking her wardrobe snafu and the “inappropriate” look.
Feeling obliged to “call it out,” Brabin’s response to the controversy quickly went viral on Twitter with over 125,000 likes, 13,000 shares and 6,000 comments.
“Hello. Sorry I don’t have time to reply to all of you commenting on this but I can confirm I’m not.... a slag, hungover, a tart, about to breastfeed, a slapper drunk, just been banged over a wheelie bin,” the politician wrote online.
Supporters applauded Brabin’s “brilliant” reply and argued that Conservative MP and Leader of the House of Commons Jacob Rees-Mogg didn’t face the same scrutiny when he was caught napping during a three-hour evening debate in September, per BBC.
Another joked that the faultfinders "better not find out" how Queen Victoria “used to dress,” sharing a portrait of the monarch in an off-the-shoulder gown.
Critics, however, wouldn’t relent, slamming Brabin’s frock as “unprofessional,” disrespecting both the House of Commons and her elected position.
One offered that there was surely a better “time and place” for the black dress.
Moving forward, Brabin has declared that she’s holding her ground on the matter.
"Women around the world... are being demeaned every day because of what they wear," she told BBC. "The context of this is frankly pretty absurd. I am here talking about a shoulder when it is an important time for the media.”
"This is everyday sexism where women are continually judged for what they wear, how they look and not what they say,” the MP continued. "Why is that? It's a way to silence us.”
In the days since, Brabin has thanked fans on social media for their continued support.