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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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January 12, 2007

What suits her?


Her
being most specifically the new Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.)—but really all women who work in a man’s world. A newspaper article caught my eye this week ( well actually it was the photo of Pelosi in a smart tweed blazer that went with the article) by Washington Post reporter Robin Givhan.

Jist of the piece is the pronouncement of Susan Rolontz, a retail consultant: “To look professional and be taken seriously, you need to wear a jacket.” And on it goes about the ups and downs (of profits, not hemlines) of dress manufacturers. I read in this commentary, in the various quotes, a slight criticism of these women who shun the femininity of a dress in favor of a suit and its “unequivocal statement of authority.”

I wonder. Is it that, really? Or is it just more like a player putting on the uniform of a team? Or even a choir member wearing a robe? I’m back at church, suddenly, remembering the sermon Sunday at Immanuel Lutheran Church, Grand Ledge, Mich., in which the pastor, Richard McKenzie, pastor, mused what it would be like if we left differences of class and gender and even personal style at the church door and came into the sanctuary in the same, simple robe. Would that emphasize how we together are sisters and brothers in the Lord, rather than first-and- foremost individuals with separate identities? He didn’t old up much hope the idea would be adopted in his congregation, but it does bear pondering.

And it makes me wonder why, in 2007, we still have to focus on what women wear—or don’t wear. Especially if what they choose to wear seems selected primarily so they can be part of the team, a member of the choir...so they can get to work.

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