An editor for a faith-based website took a shot at Mike Pence’s rule to avoid eating dinner alone with women who are not his wife, triggering a volley of outrage from Pence’s supporters.
On Wednesday, The New York Times published an op-ed by Katelyn Beaty, an editor-at-large for Christianity Today, with the headline, “A Christian Case Against The Pence Rule.”
Beaty discussed Pence’s rule in the context of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. Weinstein, a Hollywood executive, has been accused of widespread sexual abuse. Although noting that some commentators have said Pence’s code of conduct would prevent that type of abuse, Beaty said that’s not so.
“But the Pence rule is inadequate to stop Weinstein-ian behavior,” she wrote. “In fact, it might be its sanctified cousin. It’s time for men in power to believe their female peers when they say that the rule hurts more than helps.”
Beaty wrote that her experience with the rule, which is kept by many Christian men other than Pence, was that it led to an obsession with preserving the appearance of purity as opposed to common sense.
She also wrote that the rule’s precepts are flawed.
“The Pence rule arises from a broken view of the sexes: Men are lustful beasts that must be contained, while women are objects of desire that must be hidden away,” she wrote.
“Offering the Pence rule as a solution to male predation is like saying, ‘I can’t meet with you one on one, otherwise I might eventually assault you.’ If that’s the case, we have far deeper problems around men and power than any personal conduct rule can solve.”
“Tucker Carlson Tonight” senior political contributor Brit Hume praised the moral effectiveness of Pence’s rule amid the droves of recently unearthed sexual misconduct scandals involving men in positions of power.
Mike Pence’s policy of avoiding being alone with women other than his wife looking better every day, though widely mocked when it first became known.
— Brit Hume (@brithume) November 17, 2017
Many others on Twitter lit into Beaty, saying she failed to understand that Pence was not protecting women from himself, but his reputation from the false accusations that so often fill the media.
You misunderstand The Pence Rule….it’s not to protect women from him, it’s to protect him from fallacious accusations of sexual harassment from women. https://t.co/HrK6LLzk0l
— The Brickhouse (@Brick______) November 16, 2017
Is this like saying that churches and youth groups are wrong to have two adults present with children to avoid any potential for (or wrongful accusations of) child sexual abuse? https://t.co/RBJPcziYHw
— Ian Patrick Hines (@ianpatrickhines) November 16, 2017
The “Pence Rule” is the only logical way to navigate a culture where mere accusations and gossip can destroy a reputation. Leave no room for even the appearance of impropriety.
You presume in this piece that accusations won’t ever be false? Pollyanna notion. Get a grip, NYT. https://t.co/baJ9mCMhvo
— Patrick Henry (@PH32375) November 16, 2017
— Obianuju Ekeocha (@obianuju) November 16, 2017
Beaty also claimed that the rule is discriminatory.
“Most female Christian leaders I know find the Pence rule frustrating. (All the people I know who keep the rule are men.) Imagine a male boss keeps some variation of the rule but is happy to meet with a male peer over lunch or travel with him for business. The informal and strategic conversations they can have is the stuff of workplace advancement,” she said. “Unless there are women in senior leadership positions — and in many Christian organizations, there are not — women will never benefit from the kind of advancement available to men.”
Her conclusion was that the problem lies with men.
“The answer is not to ask women to leave the room. It’s to hold all men in the room accountable, and kick out those who long ago lost their right to be there,” she wrote.
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