How does this make Mike Pence a ‘misogynist?’

Look at this face. No, LOOK!... See, you've already looked away...

Look at this face. No, LOOK!… See, you’ve already looked away…

A simple conversation
With a new man now and again
Makes a touchy situation
When a good thing’s comin’ to an end…

Janis Joplin

I admit I don’t pay a lot of attention to Mike Pence, so maybe I’ve missed something indicative of his supposed hostility toward women.

He’s not terribly interesting. I think Trump deliberately chose him for that reason. I think his rationale went, Solid, unremarkable conservative (which I’m not). Won’t distract attention from Yours Truly. Central Casting would immediately peg Pence as the guy to stand in the background and applaud during bill signings. Look at his face. No, look at it — see, you’ve lost interest and looked away already, so never mind.

Anyway, it seems that Pence is in trouble with some for having said, years ago, that he makes it a personal rule not to have a meal or drinks with a woman without his wife being present. It started with this modest aside in a Washington Post story about Mrs. Pence:

In 2002, Mike Pence told the Hill that he never eats alone with a woman other than his wife and that he won’t attend events featuring alcohol without her by his side, either….

A lot of people have freaked out over this, to a sufficiently absurd degree that it can cause people who don’t hold with Pence’s rule to be converted to it, just in reaction to the madness:

The thing that really set me off on this was a column in The Guardian that called Pence a “misogynist” because he’s a guy who takes the “lead us not into temptation” part of the Our Father (or Lord’s Prayer, since I think he’s switched from Catholic to evangelical) really, really, really seriously.

When you Google that word, the first definition you get is “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.” Yeah, that’s the definition I’d use. And I don’t see how this practice, or perhaps former practice, of the veep qualifies him for that epithet. But to a certain sort of ideologue, if you don’t agree with certain propositions (such as, women are exactly the same as men and no one should ever evince in any way an atavistic belief in la différence), then you’re a hater.

Yeah, I get all the reasons why people object to Pence’s view. No need to explain it; I read the piece in The Atlantic, written by a young person named Olga, who looks (yes, I had to go see what a person named “Olga” looked like, so sue me) just like lots of other very young persons who are often to be found online ‘splaining such things to the likes of me, as though I hadn’t heard that stuff before they were born. (I had pictured someone different.)

But back to the Guardian piece. It includes an argument that the writer, because of her ideological inclinations, considers to be a real slam-dunk:

As the Black List founder Franklin Leonard noted, if Keith Ellison – who is Muslim – “refused to dine one on one with women and used his religion to justify it, the political right would lose their minds”.

Which seems rather doubtful to me, as do most such “if x were substituted for y, then z would go ballistic” arguments, which are usually based in an excessive faith that one knows one’s adversaries’ minds better than they do.

I have no doubt that there are plenty of people on the right who would indeed have a fit when someone on the left says it looks like we’re going to have a nice day. And vice versa: “Nice for whom: dead white male oppressors?!?!”

Of course, I can only speak for myself. I’m not of the “political right,” but I suspect this Franklin Leonard would beg to differ. Anyway, while I don’t hold with the Muslim notion of restricting interaction between the sexes, I respect the intention, and the willingness to submit to the will of Allah in avoiding compromising situations.

Similarly, like Ross Douthat, I consider Pence’s rule to be a bit much, but I respect his decision not to let himself enjoy even the limited intimacy of a shared meal with any woman but his wife. (And if that’s too much of a temptation for him, I especially applaud his decision to keep alcohol out of the equation.)

It’s like the way I feel about, again, Muslims — and for that matter Baptists — who strictly avoid alcohol. I respect the motivation and admire the discipline, even though I’m, you know… Catholic, and therefore not inclined to follow such precepts myself.

And I’m not going to call them names for taking a different approach.

74 thoughts on “How does this make Mike Pence a ‘misogynist?’

  1. Brad Warthen Post author

    By the way, I attributed those words at the top to Janis Joplin. Yes, I know she didn’t write them. The song is by Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham, Wikipedia tells me

    But, if you’ll forgive the cliche, she definitely makes it her own…

  2. Lynn Teague

    Just yesterday I sat through House subcommittee testimony by a man who was talking about women sleeping with every man she meets. I personally haven’t seen many women so disposed, none in fact, but perhaps Mr. Pence hangs out where the gentleman who was testifying does.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      And why wouldn’t women sleep with every man they meet? Are they antisocial? Doesn’t everyone belong to everyone else?

      Sorry. The other day I discovered that I could buy Brave New World from my Apple Books app for only $1.99, so now I’m rereading that, as well as Sapiens

      And… before that, I found The Hunt for Red October for only $2.99, and reread that as well. Not my fault! I hadn’t read it in years, because I don’t know what happened to my paperback copy. And it’s very enjoyable.

      I’m not doing a good job of keeping my New Year’s resolution

  3. bud

    The same people on the right that are rolling their eyes over the left’s criticism of Pence are probably the same people who go off on the whole “war on Christmas, Happy Holidays” nonsense. Yeh this is isn’t much but there are a few practical considerations. What if Pence becomes president and he needs to hold a private meeting with Angela Merkel or Theresa May? Could it get in the way of meeting with female staffers or members of congress? This isn’t much but really in the 21st century do we really need such a reactionary thinker?

    1. Lynn Teague

      Indeed, are female staffers excluded from opportunities that are available to male staff who can confer over dinner or talk after work over a beer?

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        And here’s where you lose me, because I’m not terribly interested in people who are eager to have beers with the boss in order to further their careers, or the things that they sit up nights worrying about.

        They have their priorities seriously out of whack, and perhaps should consider working at a place, or in an industry, in which talent and hard work are valued more than schmoozing…

        1. Bill

          And just where did she imply anything about staffers “eager to have beers with the boss in order to further their careers”?? Or is this just you jumping to conclusions about other peoples’ motivations, driven by your own holier-than-thou attitude ?

          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            1. What “holier-than-thou attitude”? Show me what you’re referring to.

            2. I was responding, obviously, to “female staffers excluded from opportunities that are available to male staff who can confer over dinner or talk after work over a beer?”

            And of course I was saying I don’t get too concerned about anyone who worries about something like that.

            Which should have been so obvious, I don’t know why I’m typing this…

            1. Bill

              You haphazardly converted “confer over dinner or talk after work over a beer” into a dismissive “people who are eager to have beers with the boss in order to further their careers.” Instead of hanging out with their peers to learn something, you assume these people just want to brown-nose the boss in order to get ahead. That’s just plain presumptuous and arrogant. Maybe you’re still nursing a wound you suffered in your own sacking.

              Your condescending dismissal of people, no matter there sex, who network in order to further their careers (a common practice these days) isn’t the only example of your own holier-than-thou attitude. Your whole attitude toward people younger than you is another.

              But apparently you hold your own opinions in such high regard that the obvious isn’t so obvious.

                1. Bill

                  Oh-ho, no you don’t. You don’t get to deflect by playing the wide-eyed, innocent victim when somebody holds the mirror up to you. Face up to it.

                  1. Brad Warthen Post author

                    Oops! I forgot for a moment that you know me so very much better than I know myself.

                    I humbly bow before your superior knowledge.

                    Tell me: Do you interact with everyone with this same attitude, or do you come here to let it out?

                2. Bill

                  Oh dear me, so YOU feel mistreated? Sorry, I call’em like I see’em and what I’m seeing here is someone who shares a character flaw with our SOB-in-Chief, namely an oversized ego with an urge to turn the tables on critics whenever criticized. You can’t reply to the substance, so instead you try to go after the messenger. Pretty doggone weak.

    2. JesseS

      “The same people on the right that are rolling their eyes over the left’s criticism of Pence are probably the same people who go off on the whole “war on Christmas, Happy Holidays” nonsense.”

      Most of the anti-War on Christmas types are Fox News viewers who are concerned by Snoop Dog showing the president disrespect. Those people are more Daily Mail than Guardian if they take their print news British.

    3. Brad Warthen Post author

      You’re right, bud: This isn’t much.

      By the way, bud (who sorta disagrees with me) and Bryan (who has my back) have both done the thing I was criticizing above — the “if x were substituted for y, then z would go ballistic” argument.

      Here’s where bud did it:

      The same people on the right that are rolling their eyes over the left’s criticism of Pence are probably the same people who go off on the whole “war on Christmas, Happy Holidays” nonsense.

      One should always brace oneself upon hearing a remark that begins, “The same people…” Oh, I’ve been guilty of it, too, but I make a point of trying to avoid it. Especially since when a remark such as that is aimed at me, it’s usually completely wrong.

      Here’s where Bryan did it:

      If the Obamas practiced something like this, the same people would swoon over how romantic it is, and how much it shows their devotion to each other, and how laudable their discipline is.

      See how fair I am? I hand out penalty cards to everybody.

      Soon, I’ll have no readers left at all…

  4. Rose

    Well, it’s a double standard. He can have a business lunch with a man, but not with a woman?
    It’s ridiculous.
    From there you can go down the path of…is he afraid of what the woman will do or what he will do? What does he think happens in restaurants?
    What if the woman is a lesbian? Can he have lunch with her then? What if the man he’s having lunch with is gay?
    And then go even further…can his wife have lunch with a man? Is he required to have only male doctors? Is his wife required to only have female doctors? Et cetera.

    Men can choose to control themselves. Women can too. Most people can actually have lunch with the opposite sex without flirting.

    1. Bryan Caskey

      Is he required to have only male doctors? Is his wife required to only have female doctors?”

      Male doctors often have a female assistant in the room if they are with a female patient and it’s an OB/GYN thing.

      To not do so is ludicrously reckless from a liability standpoint.

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      As to Rose’s point: “Well, it’s a double standard.”

      Well, of course it is. But to get to our point, how does recognizing a difference between men and women make this guy “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women?”

      Also, you’re ignoring what is probably the biggest argument for doing what Pence does (which again, I wouldn’t do, but I’m not Pence): It’s not about what he does, or she does, but what others assume, and how that affects everyone.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Turning to address Bryan…

        People jump to conclusions.

        It’s like when Stephen insulted his best friend by accusing him of contemplating “spouse breech” because he was having a private dinner with the lovely Mercedes.

        Jack was greatly insulted by that, and Stephen regretted having said it.

        Of course, in that case Stephen was right. Jack, although a perfectly likable, well-meaning, often admirable, even heroic character who very much loved his wife, was indeed quite eager to take the encounter too far. And Stephen, in the end, was right to shame him for it…

  5. Bryan Caskey

    How does it make him a misogynist?

    It doesn’t.

    Liberal progressives wonder why people don’t relate to them. This is Exhibit #578.

    If the Obamas practiced something like this, the same people would swoon over how romantic it is, and how much it shows their devotion to each other, and how laudable their discipline is.

    These people are full of sh!÷, of course.

    This is how you get more Trump, by the way. Basic common sense that most men who have been married a long time would just do as a matter of course is simply bizarre to liberal progressives.

    In the real, normal world, those who make dinner arrangements with people other than their spouses would be the ones to get the side-eye.

    Oh, and this is what every employment lawyer has been telling clients for decades. Don’t be alone with subordinates of the opposite sex, don’t put yourself in a position where you can be accused of sexual harassment.

    Personally, I think Pence’s rule is a bit rigid, but I’m not going to hold it against a guy for standing up for propriety and decency.

    For Democrats it appears that their relationship values are:

    Bill and Hilary Clinton= Timeless Romance
    Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin = Love Conquers All
    Mike and Karen Pence = Weirdos!

    1. Lynn Teague

      I wouldn’t say misogynist, I would say that especially from someone in an administration that is disproportionately male it raises questions about whether he is giving women a fair chance professionally, whether he takes them seriously as professionals.

      And really – questioning Pence = admiring Wiener and Abedin? Good grief. For the record, gag.

    2. bud

      Bryan since you think it’s a bit rigid and I don’t find it a huge big deal (but could have some practical implications) we’re not too far apart. But the Anthony Weiner comment really is off base. No liberal that I know defended his behavior.

        1. bud

          No defense of Weiners behavior. Rather a recommendation to remain in congress as Vitter and others caught in a sex scandal.

    3. Rose

      This Democrat thinks Clintons=a political union but Bill still should have kept his pants zipped, and Huma should have beaten that scum with a baseball bat (and then divorced him). And husbands should never call their wives “Mother” or “Mommy” unless they are referring to them in a conversation with their kids.

    4. JesseS

      Not that I don’t get a sexist vibe from Pence, I do, but the author does write a weekly column for The Guardian entitled “The Week in Patriarchy”, so you know, when all you got is a hammer everything looks like the all-encompassing, systemic death grip of the male power hegemony as defined by the groundbreaking work of…

  6. Bryan Caskey

    For a married man, having a dinner with another woman is like whacking a made man. You better get clearance in advance, and you better have a good reason to do it.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Hey, Bryan: See how I used “young person” there?

      As in, Lord Melville objects to his brother Heneage having meals alone with that young person…

    2. Bill

      Being friends is “good reason” enough. But apparently there are still men out there who can’t manage having women friends, because they don’t trust their own impulses — or don’t have relationships of trust with their wives.

      1. Bill

        And, really, this gets us back to where this began: the question of misogyny. Brad gets it wrong — or he provides at least an incomplete definition of the term, because misogyny is not just hatred or strong dislike of women. More fundamentally it’s seeing women primarily as sexual objects. And when looked at with that in mind, then, yes, the VP’s comment could well qualify as misogynist.

  7. Bart

    WTH! Did anyone ever consider Pence was referring to a social setting rather than business or political meetings conducted in an open environment? Bryan is right when he made the point that in the “real, normal world, those who make dinner arrangements with people other than their spouses would be the ones to get the side-eye.” I know this for a fact because I had dinner with a female associate and without fail, rumors started at work that she and I were having an affair. And once a rumor gets started, it travels faster than the speed of light and not only can but will have a negative impact on a relationship or marriage.

    Bryan’s comparison of Pence and his wife to Bill and Hillary and Anthony and Huma is accurate. I guess honoring one’s wife or husband the way Pence does his wife is old morality and has no place in our present culture or at least in the liberal world anyway. But, I respect his values and the fact that he still abides by them. How many politicians do we know who can say the same thing? Certainly not Mark Sanford.

  8. David L Carlton

    OK, I know where Pence is coming from–it’s the “Billy Graham Rule,” adopted by Graham for the same reason he separated himself from the financial end of his operation by putting it in Minneapolis: to signal that “I’m not Elmer Gantry.” But, really, Brad–do you genuinely not understand why professional women who constantly run up against their exclusion from the camaraderie of the Boys’ Club might see this practice as depriving them of essential networking opportunities? I know this is difficult for you, but–really–try putting yourself in their place. It’s not that hard, and you actually might learn something about yourself.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      It’s not a bit hard. I fully understand it.

      Well, I understand it as much as I understand anyone who concerns himself or herself with “networking opportunities”…

      What I do NOT understand is why Pence’s fastidiousness makes him “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women.”

      This post has a rather narrow point, although it can be broadened. We could talk more broadly about people who misuse words to delegitimize other people who don’t think the way they want them to…

  9. Harry Harris

    I think the misogynist label is thrown around way too much toward men who aren’t either afraid of or hostile toward women, but just exhibit sexist behavior and attitudes. I wouldn’t call Pence sexist, but a number of his attitudes and actions certainly seem so. It’s just often difficult to really know how very tired many women are of living with male sexism’s wearying manifestations day after day, year after year.

  10. Scout

    ” how does recognizing a difference between men and women make this guy “a person who dislikes, despises, or is strongly prejudiced against women?”

    This is just a guess – but if the difference a person is recognizing between them is a derogatory one then it could possibly show they are “strongly prejudiced against women.” Perhaps the people making this judgement against Pence are assuming he thinks all women are lascivious, can’t be trusted, and will try to take advantage of him in these situations.

    I think it’s a bit of a limiting unnecessary rule but it doesn’t bother me if he wants it – it’s his business, his loss. I think making the above assumption, though, is a bit of a stretch.

    But since I don’t think like those people, I don’t know if that’s what they are getting at.

  11. Karen Pearson

    While I can’t get myself in a snit about it, I do hear him saying that he has no need to lunch (or be) alone with a woman not his wife, for any reason, even in a non provocative setting. After all, no mere woman could possibly have an important enough position in business or politics to require a private meeting with her. If he were to become president, how would he handle meetings with women heads of state I wonder? Is he worried about someone coming on to him? Women are expected to handle this behavior every day. What a wimp!

    1. JesseS

      This is the same guy who refers to his wife as “mother”. As a kid that was always a good sign that if you were invited over for dinner there were plenty of fun activities like churning butter in a mason jar, in spite of the fact that they didn’t own a cow and they bought the cream from the grocery store. A household of parachronisms.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        “parachronism” — That’s a new one on me!

        But I remain puzzled. I looked it up, and the definition looks kind of the same as anachronism…

        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          I looked up the alleged difference. Here’s what I found:

          Anachronism is a related term of parachronism. As nouns the difference between anachronism and parachronism is that anachronism is a chronological mistake; the erroneous dating of an event, circumstance, or object while parachronism is an error in chronological order in which one is ascribed a later time; metachronism.

          I found that exact same wording on several sites.

          You know what? People who presume to tell us the difference between English words should write in English. With examples…

  12. Mark Stewart

    To me it signals a lack of judgment; and of nuance.

    Not sure it makes Pence misogynistic, but it does clearly reveal a rigidness that is out of touch with life. In a professional setting it is certainly dismissive of women and as a politician representing people it is even more so to hobble women’s opportunities to present their case to him. It’s paternalist, in a distasteful way, and it’s exclusionary.

    But mostly it just reinforces my view that Pence, for all his earnest gravitas, lacks maturity. All of life is a minefield of temptations; he’s just saying he has no navigation skills; and I’m dismissive for that reason.

  13. Bryan Caskey

    Filibuster Gorsuch. Snark and deride Pence.

    It just shows that Democrats give no quarter to anyone who isn’t on their team. No Republican is good enough or moderate for them, unless they are actively working with the Democrats to thwart the larger Republican move – and then, they are simply a means to an end. Romney was awful when he was a possibility of being POTUS. Now that he’s not, he’s not so bad. Same with McCain.

    Filibuster Gorsuch? Who won’t they filibuster? Mock Pence for his values? Sure. Just be ready for more Trump-style politicians.

    It makes me bitter enough to make me want to see the filibuster killed and Trump put three more guys like Gorsuch on the Court with a 50 vote confirmation and Pence being the 51st vote each time.

    You want Tarleton’s quarter? We can do that.

    1. bud

      Gorsuch is not moderate. Pence is really awful for reasons much more important than this silly women dinner boycott policy. The GOP has gone so far to the right that it’s so-called moderates are really extremists. It right wing in pretty much a reactionary and/or alt-right movement. And Trump fits right in.

        1. Mark Stewart

          I’m fine with Gorsuch.

          You won’t hear me say that about Pence. Though I would rather see him as President.

          I’m a centrist. It’s where stuff gets done in politics. The extremes are just windbags.

          1. Harry Harris

            Used to get done. With the polarized politics of today, the center holds little sway on anything big, The extremes threaten to come after them if they don’t play “all or nothing” on bigger issues. The bullied compromises do little but cause trouble down the line.

            1. Mark Stewart

              Why fear the lunatic fringe? The majority are being bullied when a few outliers try to gum up the works. Politicians have always needed more spine; it’s now just even more so.

              Make the case for principled compromise. Return to sanity. That doesn’t make one weak. It’s makes one lucid and able.

                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  It’s not just that elected representatives FEAR the lunatic fringe. That’s the old problem, for which as you say, they “always needed more spine.”

                  The problem now is that increasingly, elected representatives ARE the fringe…

                2. Mark Stewart

                  That’s a good point.

                  Eventually, it is going to become a seismic Supreme Court case. I guess it just has to become completely broken before anyone who can will do anything about it.

    2. Mark Stewart

      Mitch McConnell destroyed the Republican Party. The last six years of Obama’s presidency was a disgraceful display of obstinacy and obstructionism. I don’t feel the least bit sorry for him now. In his quest to win he opened the gates to the unfit to serve. There is no putting that genie back in the bottle.

      Refusing to give advice and consent to a Supreme Court nominee (esp given who it was), let alone go up for a vote, was absolutely corrosive to the political process. End of story.

    3. JesseS

      Republicans can go nuclear, but in 4 to 8 years they will seriously regret it.

      Eventually the Democrats will relent on Gorsuch, because they could have much worse options (for a Scalia replacement) and it’s better to wait until those much worse options come down the pike. Until then they want to rake him over the coals to get their names in the SCOTUS history books and get quoted 20 years from now in the news during another SCOTUS appointee fight .

      In this case I can’t see any hypocrisy in it since their oppositision wasn’t willing to see Obama appoint someone. It’s not like both parties are eager for obstructionist moves.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        Republicans can go nuclear, but in 4 to 8 years they will seriously regret it.”

        Eh. Maybe. Maybe not. Maybe Democrats will regret it if Trump gets another SCOTUS vacancy or two.

        Maybe some red state Democratic senators who voted to filibuster will regret it when they are up for reelection in 2018.

  14. bud

    The Democratic Party isn’t great. I’ve long acknowledged that. They’re pretty clownish when it comes to campaigning. But the problem with our political discourse in 2017 is just how profoundly despicable. Trumps many flaws are easy to assail. But the real governing menace rests in congress. Mitch McConnell will succeed in placing an extreme, right wing corporatist on the SCOTUS. Paul Ryan, an Ayn Rand disciple proudly announced his complete lack of willingness to work Democrats. The evil red empire is in control and we all are suffering the consequences . Sadly the Dems are wimps.

  15. bud

    Several outlets are reporting the Dems have 41 votes to sustain a filibuster. Good riddance to tha ridiculous senate rule.

  16. Bart

    Many old adages can be invoked on this one. “Be careful what you wish for.” “Live by the sword, die by the sword.” Just a couple the Democrats should be aware of. Many Democrats and probably Republicans want the 60 vote agreement to come to an end so there will be a simple up or down vote. On that, the “Be careful what you wish for” is appropriate.

    When Reid used the nuclear option to get 3 federal judges confirmed by the Senate, he used the sword. Now that the option is in the hands of Republicans, the sword is about to cut the other way and this time, it won’t be at the federal judge level, it will be at the Supreme Court level and that is another story when it comes to the balance of the SCOTUS. Gorsuch will be confirmed and the nuclear option will be used by McConnell. And it is probably a safe bet Trump will be able to nominate, no, literally appoint another judge to the SCOTUS. For another 22 months, (in politics, 22 months is a lifetime) he will have a Senate majority to work with and it is another safe bet they will rubber stamp anyone he nominates unless the nominee is so distasteful even the worst of the worst in the Senate wouldn’t vote to confirm.

    If the nuclear option is what some want, when it happens, don’t bitch about it, you wanted it. Personally, I prefer a balanced bench with 4 conservative leaning judges and 4 liberal leaning judges and one centrist swing judge. It has more of a ring of truth and fairness to the process of SCOTUS decisions no matter which way the decision goes.

    Declaring the nuclear option will serve no one well and this country will pay dearly for it in the long run. The 60 vote agreement is perhaps the last vestige of civility and a platform for consensus between the warring factions in Congress. It is the one balance left and one this country needs since there is no balance in the Legislative and Executive branches of government.

    Last adage apropos for the situation. “Damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead.”

  17. bud

    It’s not really a matter of what I wish for. Rather it’s what I strongly believe philosophicaly. (I’d make a few exceptions to what is enumerated in the constitution such as impeachment) Why shouldn’t a POTUS get to choose his nominees with a simple majority? It’s not about whether it benefits my side, it just makes sense that the majority should get its way. I like to think I’m consistent on this point. Same thing should apply when electing POTUS.

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I think Bud just said something I agree with. Which I’m happy to see, because it hasn’t happened lately.

      I am NOT going to go look up yet again how things got this way — to where the Senate can’t do anything without 60 votes — because as soon as I do, I’ll forget again, because it’s all so technical and STUPID, and my brain doesn’t like stuff like that.

      But except for extraordinary matters such as overriding vetoes, a majority should be enough.

      And if you want to “filibuster,” you should have to filibuster


  18. Brad Warthen Post author

    I see that same woman’s written ANOTHER piece in The Guardian about Pence’s dining habits.

    This time, she at least takes a tack I can connect with: “Remember when men and women could be friends? Republicans don’t.”

    Well, I don’t know what Republicans do or don’t remember, but yeah, I remember. For most of my life, I’ve probably been good buddies with more women than men — at least, in the workplace. This was particularly marked in early adulthood. At the first newspaper where I worked after college, one member of my circle of women friends in the newsroom referred to the group collectively as “Brad’s women.” And yes, it was totally platonic.

    I got along well with guys. Probably my best friend at that paper was Richard Crowson, our cartoonist. But I had a rapport with women that was noticeable to other people.

    My wife certainly noticed it. She knew how I was. Forgive me for telling this story again, but when I was working on leaving that paper, just before I went to Wichita, I got a call from an editor in Charlotte wanting me to come there for an interview before making a decision. I took the call at home, and we had a good chat, speaking for about half an hour.

    When I got off the phone and told my wife what it was about, she said, “Was the editor a woman?” I said yes, it was. She said she knew because “You were enjoying yourself.”

    I say all this to underline what I said before: I’ve never followed Pence’s rule. But I respect the fact that Pence does, and I see no reason to call him names…

    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      I just thought of an example from popular culture that illustrates the strange tensions that CAN be present when married men pass private time with other women.

      Remember in “The Sopranos,” when Tony first tells Carmela that he’s seeing a shrink, and she assumes it’s a man, and Tony goes ahead and LETS her assume that?

      He did that because he feared how she’d react. And also because from the start, he kind of had a thing for Dr. Melfi.

      Of course, Carmela was ENTITLED to resent him spilling his guts to a woman, since Tony always had a goomar on the side. She knew he was a sleazeball, and he knew she knew he was a sleazeball, so that complicated the situation.

      I’m just saying that it’s unrealistic to pretend that potential tensions in a male-female relationship, and how others react to it, can just be wished away. It’s a reality that our society acknowledges in our better-written TV dramas. No, it’s not Euripides, but that was a pretty well-written show in terms of the ways it observed life…

  19. Brad Warthen Post author

    Another way to put it:

    Would you prefer that conservative men be like Bill O’Reilly, or Mike Pence?

    And no, you get no points for answering “I prefer that there be no conservative men.” Which, I fear, is what some of my liberal friends are really thinking…


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