Feminists Dive for Fainting Couches After Gubernatorial Candidate Invokes Pence Rule on Female Journalist
There’s definitely sexism at play in this story – but it’s not coming from the candidate.
If it’s a day ending in “y,” you can rest assured that perpetually outraged feminists are going to find something “offensive” in order to rally their troops. This week has been no exception.
The latest outrage du jour comes from news reports out of Mississippi where a Republican gubernatorial candidate is facing backlash after telling a female journalist that she could only interview him in his truck as he made campaign stops if another man was present.
The Associated Press reports:
A Republican candidate for Mississippi governor says he would not let a woman journalist follow him while campaigning unless she was accompanied by a male colleague.
Larrison Campbell with the online publication Mississippi Today wrote that she requested to “shadow” Robert Foster to report about his campaign before the Aug. 6 primary, and his campaign director told her Foster wouldn’t ride in a vehicle alone with her because people could insinuate Foster and Campbell are having an affair.
Foster said Wednesday that he won’t be alone with any woman other than his wife, even while working or campaigning, because of the possible public perception that he was doing something to hurt his marriage. He said being alone with a man is no problem.
Campbell wrote a lengthy Twitter thread complaining about how Foster “sexualized” her in order to reject her interview request.
The rule, named for the vice president, made headlines after a reference was spotted in a Washington Post profile of his wife, Karen 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.”
Campbell and Foster were both interviewed on CNN’s “New Day” program by co-host John Berman Thursday. Note at around the 2:06 mark, Berman snidely says to Foster, “You said it was a precaution. Is it that you didn’t trust Larrison or you didn’t trust yourself? I’m confused.” Campbell laughs at the question before Foster responds to it:
“What you're saying here is a woman is a sexual object first and a reporter second.”
Reporter Larrison Campbell responds in real time to Mississippi State Rep. Robert Foster, who denied her request to accompany him on a campaign trip unless she brought a male colleague. pic.twitter.com/jVqNZvIbsS
— New Day (@NewDay) July 11, 2019
I was impressed with the way Foster handled himself in the interview even as Campbell injected red herrings and the usual feminist nonsense into the discussion. The way Berman handled the interview segment was another matter, however, and I let him know it:
Wow, @JohnBerman, you could not have come across as more snide and condescending of someone's religious beliefs than you did in this clip. Do you understand what objective journalism even is? You gave Campbell the benefit of the doubt with her intentions, but not Foster. Why? https://t.co/SRlyUYxagt
— Sister Toldjah Le Pew ? (@sistertoldjah) July 12, 2019
For the record, I should note that I am giving both Foster and Campbell the benefit of the doubt with regards to their motivations. I’m assuming there’s no other reason that Foster denied Campbell the shadow interview and that Campbell is not raising the roof on this issue for any reason other than perceived sexism. Should it turn out that there’s something else at play here, it shouldn’t detract from the overall points I want to make because this issue goes beyond Campbell and Foster.
One thing to note from the interview is that Campbell suggested in so many words that one of the things she felt made this unfair and sexist was her sense that Foster was putting the onus on her to provide the male chaperone when the stipulation for one was his and not hers.
Had she been listening for the entire interview, she would have heard Foster say earlier in the segment that he couldn’t provide a male campaign worker to go along on the ride because his was a small campaign with limited resources. He noted he and his campaign manager often had to work separately to cover the state and meet with potential voters.
Predictably, a chorus of feminist voices have started
screeching speaking in Campbell’s defense. Among them is Jezebel‘s Esther Wang:
Turns out Husband-Son Mike Pence is not the only man who is extremely afraid of being overcome by lust and temptation if he is in the mere presence of another woman without his Mother-Wife by his side (or more accurately, ten paces behind him). Joining Pence in living his life by this rule is one Robert Foster, a Republican (natch) state representative in Mississippi who is now running for governor.
Sure, dude, because all women are just dying to accuse men of sexual assault, because it’s so great for our careers and for our reputations.
Washington Post style columnist Monica Hesse was just dripping with loathing and condescension in her screed on the issue:
But rules like these don’t honor your wife. They just presume that your marriage vows are so flimsy that you can’t be trusted to uphold them unless a babysitter monitors you. It’s rather like a thief sanctimoniously announcing that he brings a parole officer every time he goes to the bank to make sure he doesn’t rob it. Good for you, dude, for knowing your own limitations — but it doesn’t make you better than the rest of us, who manage to regularly not steal things even when we’re completely alone.
The most harmful aspect of the Graham/Pence rule is this: It keeps women out of the room. It says that men can forward their careers via mentoring sessions, golf games and brainstorming lunches, but women cannot. Are we to gather that, because of this rule, Foster would also never employ a female chief of staff, attorney or accountant and never visit a female doctor, dentist or physical therapist, since all of those roles would necessitate occasional alone time?
Even 2020 presidential candidate Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) dramatically weighed in to condemn Foster:
If your view of women is so backward in 2019 that you can’t be alone with a reporter doing her job, what the hell are you doing trying to be the governor of a whole state? https://t.co/sRFcYW5kp7
— Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) July 11, 2019
Did you catch the common premises all of Campbell’s defenders are operating from? They’re suggesting that 1) Foster worries that he won’t be able to control himself around another woman and 2) he’s doing this on purpose because he wants to hold women back.
Foster has repeatedly said that he doesn’t want to give the appearance of impropriety and didn’t want to be in a situation that could be turned into a “he said, she said” moment later. He didn’t say it was an issue of not trusting Campbell—in fact, he likely knows Campbell is a lesbian based on prior interviews and interactions they’ve had. He also didn’t suggest he felt he would be tempted by Campbell.
Foster’s position is a reasonable position that an increasing number of men are taking in the era of #MeToo.
Sadly, Wang in particular doesn’t seem to think that women ever level false accusations against men or that something as simple as a hug or other type of endearment could be innocently or willfully misconstrued or embellished. Perhaps she hasn’t paid much attention to the news recently.
As to the suggestion by Hesse that this “keeps women out of the room,” I’ve got two words for that, and the first one is “bull.” You can use your imagination for the other one. Foster said during the CNN segment that he’d be willing to do an interview in his office with her with the door open as long as someone else was also nearby in the building. So Campbell has not been forbidden from interviewing Foster. Foster has simply said that his religious beliefs don’t allow him to operate on her terms.
That goes for work situations, too. Men and women who work together in an office setting don’t have to have a one-on-one lunch or dinner meeting to discuss work issues. They can make other arrangements that don’t compromise the faith values of one or the other.
This is not rocket science.
The real story here is not Foster’s rules; it’s the reverse sexism and religious bigotry. Notice how Hesse and Wang are implicitly saying that Foster should sacrifice his Christian values for Campbell’s professional ambitions when in reality this doesn’t have to be an all or nothing scenario. Alternative interview arrangements could be made, but Campbell won’t go along with them.
On the other hand, Campbell’s defenders would not raise one single eyebrow if Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said her Islamic faith forbade her from being interviewed by a male journalist without another woman present. Her views would be respected and admired without question.
But it’s different for Foster. Why? Because he’s a Christian and because he’s a man. It’s that simple.
Campbell and her defenders have turned this into something it’s not. That’s unfortunate, but it’s what we’ve come to expect these days from feminists whose default response to a man saying something they disagree with is “sexism!”
[Featured image via YouTube]
— Stacey Matthews has also written under the pseudonym “Sister Toldjah” and can be reached via Twitter. —DONATE
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