Either He Can Control Himself or He Can’t

In response to ‘Why It Matters That Pence Won’t Have Dinner With A Woman Who Isn’t His Wife’.

To assert that men cannot be trusted to not have sex with women they are alone with, is asserting that men are out of control and also monsters. That makes them unfit to serve the American people. I know this isn’t true, but we have to take these beliefs to their logical conclusion because without scrutiny, Pence can easily marginalize female leaders by asserting a moral high ground that just isn’t there. Either he can control himself, or he can’t. And if he can’t, he’s unfit to serve. If his own wife can’t trust him, then why should I? If he buckles under the lowest-level temptation, then how can I trust him to serve the American people over himself?

“This history makes it all-the-more clear that this do-not-dine-with-women rule is predicated on the idea that the company of women is always first and foremost about sex.

There is nothing disrespectful about a committed person having a meal with a friend or colleague who is not the same gender as they are ― unless one is to assume that any interaction not under the watchful eye of a spouse would inevitably lead to infidelity. In this worldview, men have no self-control, and women are either temptresses or guardians of virtue.

The underpinnings of this belief system are what allow men to view women as “other” rather than equal. They allow some to rationalize that female victims of sexual violence “asked for it” because they wore “provocative” clothing, and others (including our president) to believe that assault is a natural outcome of putting men and women together in a high-pressure environment like the military. These belief systems are what create male-dominated work environments where women are viewed as sexualized distractions or cut out of the office culture altogether.”

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