Harvey Weinstein is facing more than 20 allegations of sexual misconduct, harassment and assault, and stories continue to trickle out. The horrifying allegations have kicked off discussions about the way industries like Hollywood enable abuse, and the shame attached to the big and small violations women deal with on a daily basis. But for some men, the takeaway from these allegations is that men should avoid meeting with women.
On Tuesday night, Seb Gorka, former Deputy Assistant to President Donald Trump, tweeted, “If Weinstein had obeyed @VP Pence’s rules for meeting with the opposite sex, none of those poor women would ever have been abused.” (Mike Pence has previously stated that he follows the “Billy Graham Rule,” and won’t eat a meal alone with a woman except for his wife or attend events where there is alcohol present without her.)
Conservative radio host Erick Erickson wrote a piece asking everyone to “revisit Mike Pence’s rule about meeting with women alone” in light of the Weinstein allegations. “Mike Pence could never be accused of wanting to have sex with someone other than his wife in these sorts of situations because he avoids putting himself and the other person into these situations,” he wrote.
There are a few obvious problems with the suggestion that men must avoid being alone in a room (or at a restaurant table) with a woman in order to avoid committing sexual harassment ― or at least avoid charges of harassment.
First, it implies that men are unable to control their own behavior when in the presence of a woman, and that men have no way of gauging the difference between a professional relationship and a sexual or sexually violating one. (Men, you deserve better than that! I believe in your ability to interact with a woman and not harass or assault her!) It also implies that when women agree to a one-on-one professional meeting with a man, they are putting themselves in harm’s way ― just a hop, skip and a jump away from “asking for it.”
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