Maybe ending the patriarchy really is a man's job. At least it seems that way in Congress.
Knowing that necessitous lady lawmakers aren't free legislators, Paul Ryan and John Boehner may have done more in the last decade than any other speakers in the last century to ensure an equal footing for the fairer members of the House of Representatives.
By changing the dress code and adding a ladies' room, they definitely did more than Nancy Pelosi.
And that's a delicious irony that the media can't seem to stomach and one that Democrats refuse to recognize. But it's a fact that bears repeating in light of the current hysteria on Capitol Hill.
A debate about dress codes has gripped Congress after a reporter was denied access to the Speaker's Lobby because she was wearing a sleeveless dress. Though unwritten, congressional rules of decorum have been strictly enforced for decades. That still couldn't stop bloggers from screaming sexism, Democrat lawmakers from launching protests, and a sanctimonious Pelosi from tweeting that "these unwritten rules are in desperate need of updates."
Of course, it's ridiculous. What Pelosi now condemns while in the minority, she condoned while in the majority. As the first female Speaker of the House, she regularly reminded members "to wear appropriate business attire in the Chamber" and enforced the same, strict dress code on reporters.
Ryan, on the other hand, listened to the outrage and promised to modernize the rules. In short, he will end the supposedly systemic sexism implicit in the dress codes she perpetuated.
But Ryan's not the first Republican to do the work neglected by Pelosi. That honor belongs to Boehner, who first give women a particular crucial seat in Congress, or as one reporter observed, "four seats…and two sinks."
Almost a century after the first woman took the oath of office and almost a decade before the left's bathroom infatuation began, Boehner—as one of his first acts after the GOP took over the House in the 2010 elections—ordered a women's restroom built right off the House floor.
At the time, the Washington Post called it "potty parity," while the Los Angeles Times described it as "good news for everyone." So why did Pelosi, Speaker for four years before Boehner, never do this? According to one report, a ladies' room never happened under Pelosi because "the nature of a historic building" and the expenses of "adding plumbing."
Unlike their male colleagues, women lawmakers had to leave the chamber, weave their way through crowds of tourists, and make it to facilities in the Congressional Reading Room. That trek took about 10 minutes, time not spent legislating, deliberating, or whipping votes.
Understandably the new facilities brought a bipartisan relief, summarized by Rep. Donna Edwards. "Love the new ladies' room off the floor of the House," the Maryland Democrat tweeted. "Three cheers to Speaker Boehner."
By this point, no doubt, some will object that these reforms hardly make Boehner and Ryan feminist icons. That honor, they argue, should go to Pelosi for smashing glass ceilings and defending liberal priorities like Planned Parenthood funding and universal healthcare. But this is ideological question-begging.
Republican and Democrat women disagree on a host of political controversies. None object to basic necessities like a bathroom and reasonable policies like a dress code.
Of course, all of the current controversy seems especially stupid. The American experiment in democracy won't go haywire because of ladies' shirtsleeves and bathrooms. Anyone on the left who would make an issue out of either, therefore, must explain why Boehner and Ryan provided what Pelosi neglected.
Philip Wegmann is a commentary writer for the Washington Examiner.