Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
31 March 2017

I think I understand why Mike Pence won’t eat dinner alone with women

We're basically sex robots, right?

By Eleanor Margolis

Earlier this week, my girlfriend asked if I could do her a favour. It was basically this:

“Please can we pretend you’re weirdly controlling?”

If you’re either prudish or related to me, you can carry on reading – this isn’t a sex thing. What had happened was, a guy she’d recently met had sent her a Facebook message asking her out for dinner. At first, this was explicitly a date. She knew this because, like a milkshake-fed 1950s American farm boy, he had actually used the word “date”. But when she messaged back saying she’s in a relationship, he demoted the invite to a “just as friends” situation. At this point, uninterested in even a platonic dinner with this poor guy, she asked me if she could tell him that I wouldn’t be comfortable with them hanging out. Alone. Without a chaperone.

OK, she didn’t mention chaperones, but – it being too early in the morning to deconstruct time and space and gender – I was like, “Sure, whatever.” Blearily, I agreed to play the part of the domineering partner, who won’t let her other half be alone with men. Because everybody knows that all humans, devoid of standards, loyalty or foresight, just want to make as many babies as possible. Even if it’s with some nebbish off Facebook who missed the memo about Tinder now being the only legal way of asking someone out. To provide my girlfriend with an excuse not to go out with this guy (in any capacity) I pulled an ideological Mike Pence.

This week, in a Washington Post profile on the Veep’s wife, second lady Karen Pence, it was revealed that her husband won’t have dinner alone with any one of those betitted sirens known to men as “the opposite sex”. Not only that, but I guess to steer him away from man’s inevitable pussy-grabbingness as demonstrated by his exceptionally foul line manager, Pence won’t even go to booze-serving events without his wife. Standing there. Protecting other women from his errant Republican tentacles.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A weekly dig into the New Statesman’s archive of over 100 years of stellar and influential journalism, sent each Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.
I consent to New Statesman Media Group collecting my details provided via this form in accordance with the Privacy Policy

Pence fanboy and some kind of writer, Matt Walsh – taking a few seconds out from promoting his new book on how gays shouldn’t have rights – tweeted, “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)?”.

First things first, let’s all take a moment to thank Walsh for stipulating that family co-ed dinners are fine. Apparently man’s uncontrollable urge to inseminate woman, after pasta and dull conversation, does not extend to his sister.

I’d be interested to know if Pence and Walsh’s philosophy transcends gender. For example, as a lesbian, can I go out for one-on-one dinners with other women (hetero or otherwise) without us both losing our shit and violently humping atop our quinoa salads, bombarding fellow diners with grainy, protein-rich shrapnel. Or, as I suspect, is this just about men? Men and their inability to be “just friends” with the ambulant sex robots that are women.

If so, maybe the fabricated version of me who wouldn’t let my girlfriend dine alone with a man had a point. Maybe she (fake me) was just trying to protect her partner from a guy who – when he downgraded the meet-up to “friend date”- laughed manically and was all, “HAH, like that’s a thing.”

In which case, any volunteers to chaperone my evening at the pub with a “male friend” this week, please make yourselves known.