A dress worn by Batley and Spen MP Tracy Brabin which sparked a national debate on everyday sexism and dress code in Parliament has sold for £20,200 in a charity auction.
The money raised by the sale of the black off-the-shoulder dress, originally bought for £35, will be donated to Girlguiding UK by Ms Brabin.
Ms Brabin was asking an Urgent Question in the House of Commons regarding the freedom of the press, after members of the lobby press were barred from a Government press briefing, resulting in a full walkout by the media.
Twitter user Lawrence Dovey tweeted a photo from the question asking if Ms Brabin’s dress was appropriate, resulting in a tirade of abuse from other users calling Ms Brabin, among other abusive terms, a ‘slapper’ and a ‘tart’.
Ms Brabin called the trolls out in her own tweet, and shortly after the Twitter-storm made national headlines, including the front page of a national newspaper. Ms Brabin was also inundated with messages of support and praise which far outweighed the negative.
Ms Brabin, Shadow Secretary of State for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, decided to put the dress up for auction, with all proceeds going to Girlguiding UK. The charity works to empower girls to become confident, powerful women through a variety of activities, and is the UK’s largest girls-only youth organisation.
Tracy Brabin said: “A week on from ‘shoulder-gate’ I never expected it to blow up in the way it has.
“I decided to auction the dress to make the best out of the situation, and the response has been amazing. I didn’t expect the bidding to get this high, but I’m so grateful to everyone who has got involved.
“Hopefully this episode has shone a light on the double standards and everyday sexism women in the workplace are subjected to on a daily basis and made it clear this has to end. To raise so much money for a brilliant charity like Girlguiding UK topped it all off.”
Henrietta, 15, is a member of Girlguiding’s Advocate panel, a group of 18 girls aged 14-25 who act as the charity’s spokespeople. She said: “You could say that I’m foolish for wanting to be an MP. As #shouldergate has shown, female MPs are often vilified for their looks, not their actions. This demeans girls, and our aspirations to be politicians.
“But Tracy Brabin – and all the people who supported her and Girlguiding by bidding on the dress – have shown that oppression is never acceptable. Girlguiding helped me persevere against judgement of my looks. I’m elated that £20,200 is going to an organisation that inspires girls and builds our confidence at a time where women’s concerns are dismissed as ‘humbug’. Girlguiding makes the future brighter for girls and young women.”