Democratic House member Marcy Kaptur caused quite a stir among fellow lawmakers when she said that women are inviting harassment by wearing "revealing" clothing.
The Ohio Democrat made the remarks during a private Democratic Caucus meeting to discuss sexual harassment issues, two Democratic sources told Politico.
"I saw a member yesterday with her cleavage so deep it was down to the floor," Kaptur reportedly said. "And what I've seen...it's really an invitation."
Kaptur's comments left many in the room stunned, the sources said. One source said that nearly everyone's "mouths were wide open aghast."
The 71-year-old congresswoman then went on to say that women on Capitol Hill should adhere to stricter dress codes.
"Maybe I'll get booed for saying this, but many companies and the military [have] a dress code," she said. "I have been appalled at some of the dress of... members and staff. Men have to wear ties and suits."
The remarks were readily criticised by individuals on social media. Zach Ford, the LGBTQ editor at ThinkProgress, tweeted: "Shame on @RepMarcyKaptur for blaming women for their own harassment and suggesting they're the ones who should be punished for it. The problem is MEN harassing, not women's clothing choices."
Another Twitter user, Ricky Davila, wrote: "Hi @RepMarcyKaptur, you sound out of touch. The clothes a woman wears doesn't invite sexual harassment, groping, assault or rape. No one has the right to touch anyone. Take a seat."
In a statement to Politico, Kapture said she never meant to imply that women were to blame for their harassment.
"Under no circumstances is it the victim's fault if they are harassed in any way. I shared the stories from my time here in the context of the 'Me Too' legislation and how we can elevate the decorum and the dress code to protect women from what is a pervasive problem here and in society at large."
The dress code for female members, staffers and reporters has been relaxed as Speaker Paul Ryan modernized the rules, Politico reported.