Vice President Mike Pence stated that he does not dine alone with female colleagues or attend parties with alcohol without his wife in a 2002 interview with The Hill. Recently, these statements were brought up again in discussion due to his current political position. Some people might not realize that these statements are harmful, sexist, and reflect the lack of women in politics. Not that we'd expect anything less from our VP who has signed bills to imprison same-sex couples that apply for marriage licenses in Indiana.
Although the beliefs of tolerance and equality have not followed Pence in his long political career, it is important to discuss how these new comments will hurt women in politics and across the country and what students can do to minimize these implications.
Despite what some might believe, a lot of business happens after hours. It's very common that executives will meet for dinner to discuss future plans and build friendly relationships in order to push their own agendas and get things done.
If women executives are not afforded the time to make these bonds, it will be very hard for them to share their ideas about future policies Pence might have a say in. This could directly harm their careers, and more important directly harm the millions of women in the country who will have to abide by these potential male-dominated policies.
If losing female opinions in government isn't enough to concern students, these statements also show what the vice president thinks of women in general. By refusing to even meet and talk alone with a woman, he is assuming that all women have negative qualities. He is implying that women in their natural state cannot make professional bonds, or any bond that isn't inherently sexual in nature.
That is grossly unfair and demeaning to the women in high positions and to all onlookers.If a woman can't be trusted in a private setting, how can she ever be respected in government. These assumptions will carry on into his professional life.
Citizens should not be forced to deal with the implications of the second most powerful man in the country refusing to take women seriously. If things are going to proceed fairly, every type of person needs to have an equal voice when discussing business matters. In fact, it really shows that there could be deeper problems considering this man came so far in his career following this sexist rule.
As for students, while we don't get to talk personally with Pence and tell him how concerned we are with his behavior, we can openly denounce these sorts of behaviors in our own lives, and fight for fairness. The real problem with his statements will come from the rest of us staying silent.
Maybe for Pence, fairness means no private dinners with anyone, but we as citizens cannot support solely shutting women out.