Vice President Mike Pence may have no qualms about taking health care away from women, but he definitely has a huge problem when it comes to dining alone with them.
Pence has maintained a low profile ever since assuming the office, which isn’t surprising considering all the crazy antics President Donald Trump and some of the other members of the new administration have managed to pull only in few weeks following the inauguration.
Although Pence has successfully avoided attracting much criticism (compared to his peers), a recent in-depth profile on his wife, Karen Pence, forced people to take a step back and evaluate the ideology and principles of the man who just happens to be second-of-command of the entire country in an entirely new light.
The bit from The Washington Post interview drawing the most attention is that former Indiana governor apparently never eats alone with a woman — unless it is his wife, of course.
Moreover, he also does not attend events that serve alcohol without his wife by his side.
If Pence were a small town man trying to keep his marriage intact by avoiding spending time alone with women that are not his wife, it would be somewhat romantic, but the thing is, Pence is not a small town man — he is the second most important person in the United States. He is the vice president, aka the person who is supposed to run the country alongside a former reality TV star with no political or military experience.
The Pences, who have been married for 32 years, are devout Evangelical Christians, so some might say this behavior is not strange at all. In fact, there is a thing called the “Billy Graham Rule,” made popular by the Rev. Billy Graham back in 1948, that instructs Evangelical men not to meet, travel or dine with a woman alone to avoid conditions that might lead to any extramarital dalliances.
It is a religious matter and Pence, like all other Americans, has a right to live his life the way he wants. However, the fact that he is an important government figure who will not eat alone with female staffers, fellow female politicians, or even with other female world leaders in male-dominated world of politics is a huge problem.
It is 2017, for crying out loud.
To put it simply, it is a sexist rule that is all about objectifying women.
Does Pence only see women as temptresses?
Not only does this rule say a lot about how the vice president views women, but also subsequently harms the professional opportunities afforded to women in D.C., where most female employees already struggle to advance their career since it’s mostly their male colleagues who are allowed one-on-one time with bosses.
A 2015 National Journal survey found some offices do not allow women to be alone with their male supervisors.
However, some people found Pence’s “won’t dine alone with women” bit endearing.
The women upset by Mike Pence treating his wife like a queen only wish they had a man like Pence. Women should be respected. #Jelly— Marie McKenzie (@Mmarie2539) March 30, 2017
Framing Pence's behavior as offensive to strange women rather than as respectful to his wife is just about as dishonest as you can get.— neontaster (@neontaster) March 30, 2017
After this nonsense about Mike Pence eating dinner with his wife it is clear...Nothing Trump or Pence does will ever be okay to the left— Eric Spracklen (@EricSpracklen) March 30, 2017
Some people were somewhat OK with it:
I’m not weirded out that Mike Pence won’t dine alone with women other than his wife. I think this is standard for lots of religious people.— Rainbow Rowell (@rainbowrowell) March 30, 2017
Pence piece reveals how little the left understands about the structure of Evangelical families or the ideology of depravity that binds them— Stassa Edwards (@StassaEdwards) March 30, 2017
However, there were also A LOT of serious concerns:
My whole TL is filled with tweets from dudes casually stating Pence not eating a meal alone with a woman isn't that big of a problem. Sigh.— Lexi Alexander ? (@Lexialex) March 30, 2017
PSA: "Refusing to eat a meal alone with" is not "refusing to be anywhere alone with." Pence's rule is the former.— Dara Lind (@DLind) March 30, 2017
@MattWalshBlog do you tend to find your encounters with women fraught with irresistible sexual fantasies, or only during meals?— Magdalene Visaggio (@MagsVisaggs) March 30, 2017
Re the Mike Pence quote: Trying to imagine what my career would look like if I'd refused to dine solo with male editors & interview subjects— Pamela Colloff (@pamelacolloff) March 30, 2017
Look at these sexist weirdos. pic.twitter.com/KpQYUZXyq5— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) March 30, 2017
Mother Jones editor-in-chief, Clara Jeffery, also took to Twitter to comment on the matter:
1/ If Pence won't eat dinner alone with any woman but his wife, that means he won't hire women in key spots.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 29, 2017
3/ If Pence won't eat with a woman alone, how could a woman be Chief of Staff, or lawyer, campaign manager, or...— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 29, 2017
4/ Would Pence dine with Ivanka? Or KellyAnne? Or are they too relegated to second class citizens.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 29, 2017
5/ For that matter, how would he ever even interview a woman. With a chaperone?— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 29, 2017
6/ It means that female reporters, also, would be cut out of his information flow, now and in the past.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 29, 2017
7/ I don't know/care if Pences have weird hangups. I do care if women are being denied jobs and opportunities, and that some normalize this.— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 29, 2017
8/ Has Pence in his career had a woman high up in any campaign, administration, private practice, radio show or think-tank?— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 29, 2017
10/ For anybody thinking "hey the boss doesn't dine with employees" a) wrong b) REALLY wrong if a politician or any road trip heavy job— Clara Jeffery (@ClaraJeffery) March 29, 2017
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Joshua Roberts