The rules are for idiots, idiots!

Back in the day it was quite an outrage about the personal (not political) decision of US Vice president Mike Pence that he is never alone with a woman who isn’t his wife and doesn’t go out to social group meetings (defined as “serving alcohol”) without her. It was considered sexist and demeaning, labeling women as temptresses. Or at least it was labeled horribly outdated that hurts women at work by denying them casual networking.

After the stories of “work meetings” of Harvey Weinstein came to light, Mike Pence looks much less stupid. As a conservative blogger said: “The media will never run stories about Mike Pence sexually harassing women. They’ll never run stories about women unsure whether Pence was propositioning them or if they were reading too much into something.”

Of course the idiots still don’t get it. They acclaim “Is the only thing standing in the way of sexual abuse not allowing yourself to be alone in the same room with a woman?”. No idiots! But it is the only thing standing in the way of an idiot. Rules are for idiots, idiots! If everyone would be smart and logical, there would be no need for rules, we would all live in harmony in utopia!

But – go figure – there are morons and slackers among us who do stupid stuff either because they are too dumb to realize, or “lol 4fun”. There are only two ways to stop them from happening. One is systematically filtering out – at least some kinds of – M&S from the group. The other is banning the behavior for everyone. You can’t just ban it for M&S because M&S don’t self-identify. Actually they are prone to break even the written rules, so the good rules are also restricting their victims from engaging into something that leads to their victimization. The Pence-rule stops the workplace sexual harassment not by stopping the conscious harassers, but by stopping the morons from getting into a situation where they can’t control themselves and by stopping their victims walking into their trap.

Yes, I do support – at least a limited version of – the Pence rule: man and women who are in a power dynamic (what is that will be tomorrow’s post, don’t miss it!) should not hang out alone. I don’t find it problematic if two people who aren’t linked by power hang out, because that’s essentially the same setting as bumping into a stranger on the streets. Since no one holds power, no one can force anything on anyone – besides brute force assault, which is rare and if you are afraid of that, you really can’t leave your home.

Ironically, that means that I also accept that much less developed cultures (ones with much more morons) need bizarre rules like wearing a burka at streets to prevent street rape or women walking at the street alone. In that setting, it’s a good rule. Of course, for us, it’s much better to just not let these kind of morons into our countries.


Author: Gevlon

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11 thoughts on “The rules are for idiots, idiots!”

  1. Even lib writers have begun to agree to the Pence rule:

    Choice quote:

    Some modest limits on how men and women interact professionally are useful checks on predation. Many liberals were horrified by the revelation that for a time Mike Pence avoided one-on-one meetings with women not his wife. But one can find the Pence rules too sweeping and still recognize that life is easier for women if their male bosses don’t feel entitled to see them anywhere, anytime. It would not usher in the Republic of Gilead if it were understood that inviting your female subordinate to your hotel room, Weinstein-style, crosses a line in a way that a restaurant lunch does not.


  2. Also, the notion of “rules are for idiots” is not really workable.
    A rule is either for everyone, or it is for noone, or you have a stratified society (different rules for different stratas) that is the antithesis of antisocial meritocracy.


  3. @Maxim: the rules a for everyone and made because of idiots. This rule is easily enforcable where it matters: myself. If I keep it, I’m safe. If Joe and Jane don’t, their problem.


  4. @Gevlon
    Then it is not a rule, but a personal practice.
    I really can’t see it becoming a rule, though. It confers some advantages, sure, but the climate is nowhere nearly deadly enough for its advantages to outweight its disadvantages.
    If we were living in the world akin to a lunar colony from “The moon is a harsh mistress” book, then i could see that work, but we are not in that world.

    Well, either that, or i’m severely underestimating the Weinstein problem.


  5. @Maxim: you do, because the problem is completely social. People are constantly worrying about the opinion of others, especially of “authority figures”. Also, they tend to speak unclearly about sex. So if they meet in a not obviously professional setting, they start to think “what does he/she really means” and “how will my actions affect his opinion of me” and “am I encouraging something”. At the end they will come to totally wrong conclusions.


  6. Brilliant post.

    I would add however, that I always believed that Pence’s rule had more to do with the fact that in this day and age, any (conservative) political figure, risks being falsely accused of sexual assault when becoming relevant to power.

    Look at Trump and the number of sex-assault allegations that came up right around the election (and never before that, even though he was a public figure for years).

    Slander is a big part of dirty american politics (or any politics for that matter) and imposing a very strict standard for yourself keeps you safe from such non-sense.


  7. People have been doing this since day one. It’s called “religion.”

    It doesn’t even matter if the religion is technically true, it just needs to be common enough to form a foundation for a country’s moral compass.


  8. All the accusations on Weinstein are bullshit. How come not a single woman pressed criminal charges for 3 decades?
    He has the power to turn an ordinary girl into a celebrity overnight. Of course women were lining up to sleep with him! With time he got overconfident and made some errors in judgement. Add to it his immense wealth and lawyers’ greed and you have a recipe for “sexual predator”.
    Unless he physically forced a woman to have sex with him (as if, an actual rape and not “sexual assault” which is a term void of any meaning) he is not guilty of anything other than being a man.


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