Can a Married Man Have Dinner with Another Woman? Mike Pence Doesn't Think So – and the Internet Has Lots of Feelings
Following the revelation that Mike Pence won’t dine alone with women other than his wife, numerous social media users took to Twitter to address the more serious implications of the vice president’s personal decree.
In a Washington Post article detailing aspects of the vice president’s and Karen Pence’s 32-year marriage, journalist Ashley Parker reported that Pence further told The Hill in 2002 that he won’t attend events where alcohol is served without his wife.
Many wrote that Pence’s rule directly impacts job opportunities available to women hoping to work under the vice president.
“The revolting thing about Pence’s no-meals-with-women rule isn’t prudishness. It’s that he’s limiting key professional opportunities to men,” wrote Ian Millhiser, an editor at ThinkProgress.
Echoed Mother Jones Editor in Chief Clara Jeffery in a Twitter thread, “If Pence won’t eat dinner alone with any woman but his wife, that means he won’t hire women in key spots.”
“There are a zillion threads out there about the Pences extra suffocating habits, but the key one is this,” she continued. “If Pence won’t eat with a woman alone, how could a woman be Chief of Staff, or lawyer, campaign manager, or… Would Pence dine with Ivanka? Or KellyAnne? Or are they too relegated to second class citizens. For that matter, how would he ever even interview a woman. With a chaperone?”
Jeffery said, “It means that female reporters, also, would be cut out of his information flow, now and in the past.”
Conservative blogger Matt Walsh, however, had a different take, asking, “Seriously what’s the appropriate reason for a married person to go out for a meal alone with a member of the other sex (outside of family)?”
He added, “If you laugh at Pence for respecting his marriage, it’s probably because you’ve never been in a healthy one.”
Walsh’s comments were quickly met with backlash. Replied Flavorwire‘s Jason Bailey, “Maybe if you spoke to a woman who wasn’t defined by her husband, your gender views could enter the 21st century.”
Others reacted to the revelation about the vice president with humor. Joked a Daily Show staffer, “It’s ok, Mike Pence. No one wants to be alone with you either.”
Bette Midler wondered why exactly Pence has this “rule” in place.
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Other revelations from Parker’s piece include that Pence, during his tenure as a House member and later while as governor of Indiana, had an antique red phone installed in his office that only wife Karen had the number for.
“As governor, Mike Pence had a very tight inner circle, and Karen Pence was very much a part of that,” Brian Howey, publisher of Howey Politics Indiana, an Indiana political newspaper, told the Post. “I would characterize her as the silent, omnipresent partner. You knew she was there, you knew there was some considerable influence she wielded, but, boy, she was not public about it.”