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How marriages based on mistrust hold back all women

I was intrigued yesterday to observe on Twitter a good deal of chatter from conservative religious types on the topic of husbands who refuse to eat alone with any woman other than their wife.

The not eating with anyone but your wife rule is based on the assumption that heterosexual marriage is the only possible partnership, being as the religious conservative crowd doesn’t believe LGBTQI people are fully human so don’t see the need for inclusion.

I tracked this odd behaviour down to a series of articles on US Vice President Mike Pence, who will not allow himself to be alone with women other than his wife, Karen, and who will not attend any functions at which alcohol is served unless Karen is by his side.The Pences are evangelical Christians.

Pence calls his wife “Mother.” He yells down the table at formal dinners: “Mother! Mother! Who cooked this meal?”

The Vice President of the US has sex with a woman he calls Mother.

They’re spoiled for choice in the US, aren’t they? A pussy grabber or a man with unresolved Oedipal conflicts who can only be prevented from grabbing pussy by having his mother wife beside him the entire time. Ladies, I give you the current leader of the Western world, and the one who’ll take his place in the event of unfortunate circumstances.

The most serious consequence of these bizarre restrictions is that women are immediately disadvantaged in terms of job opportunities, because there are men apparently unable to control their sexual impulses. Or there are wives with so little trust in husbands, they cannot cope with their man meeting alone with any woman who is not them.

It’s astounding that women can be refused job and career opportunities in order to safeguard somebody else’s deluded notion of heterosexual partnership. It’s astounding that woman are still seen first as opportunities for sex, over and above all other qualities, talents and capabilities.

It’s astounding that there are women who choose to spend their lives with men they think so little of they must infantilise them, and never let them out on their own, and men who enforce the same restrictions on their wives. I believe this is a form of domestic violence, an excess of jealousy and suspicion that has become normalised in some circles, to the degree that both parties submit to it and call it “respect.”

Most of us wouldn’t have friendships with people we can’t trust, yet it’s fine to be married to someone you don’t trust?

Very low bar some people set for marriage.

It isn’t only in job and career opportunities that heterosexual insecurities work to restrict the lives of women. Friendships, intellectual engagements, the pleasure of shared interests can also be difficult, if not impossible, when someone is in an insecure relationship that is threatened by a partner’s perfectly legitimate connections with another party.

Does marriage have to mean the end of every possibility of significant connection with anybody other than your spouse? Because if it does, it’s a dead-end that stunts humanity.

Many a single woman has a story of how she’s been treated with suspicion by friends, even good friends, who suddenly become uncomfortable with her when their husbands are around. I’ve heard of female friendships being ruined in such situations, and women left wondering what on earth they’d done to offend.

Unfortunately, some insecure wives tend to blame their inability to trust their husbands, or their husband’s actual untrustworthiness, on their female friends, rather than addressing the frightening challenges mistrust throws up in the marriage, and to them as individuals. The same goes for insecure husbands.

I mean, look. We’re still at the stage of blame the woman. No matter which way you look at it, it’s always let the men off the hook because they’re too infantile to take responsibility for themselves, and blame the woman. On the face of it, the Pence rule is bizarre and extreme, however, to settle for that explanation is to deny its far-reaching and damaging implications. Marriages built on mistrust are detrimental to women, whether it’s the US Vice President’s or those in your own social circle. And they couldn’t be a worse partnership model for the young.

We really have not come such a long way. Baby.

This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.



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  1. 1petermcc

    What fragile blokes they are. Thank goodness real men are made of sterner stuff.

    It must be some sort of arrested development that locks them into the early puberty.

    Does he wear boxing gloves to bed? You can’t be too careful.

  2. Alan Baird

    Mr. Pence’s wife is known as Mrs Mike Pence. That’s the way it was in the good old days, when a woman assumed her correctly given role, as an adjunct to her husband, hopefully shorter and younger and even better, thinner. It’s so appropriate, with no trace of her former identity. Not a bit like those bloody muslims. Mind you, I do see some connections with already detailed muslim problems with women who are “uncovered meat” (code: ready for sexual assault), as observed by some of that world view. Obviously, if Mike WAS having bacon & eggs with a female NOT his wife, he couldn’t be trusted, and had probably already done something “unspeakable”. That’s borne out by his rule on this. So to this extent, Mike is in accord with Islam. So ecumenical. On you Mike! Tell Don all about it. You can be made Vice President for Understanding How Muslims Think.

  3. Keitha Granville

    It’s incumbent on women never to allow themselves to be subservient to their men. Anyof us can find we are doing it in small ways – choosing not to cook some things we might like because we know he doesn’t, exepcting that we will do all the housework as well as paid work rather than expecting him to take on some chores , etc. These are basic rules of our relationship that need to be sorted before taking a big step – marriage if that;s what you want, co-habiting, whatever. Why would you hand control of your life to another human ? That;s just nuts. It’s a partnership, equal in every sense, otherwise you’re with the wrong person.

  4. Matters Not

    This so called Billy Graham Rule has a history. And some problems. Clearly bisexual people can’t be alone with anyone. Not even themselves.

    But then again, given this world view, LGBTIs don’t exist anyway.

    No chance of an Angela Merkel having a one on one meeting with Mike Pence. That’s a good thing

  5. Photontrace

    So much truth in this article. I have long known the reasons why some are treated as a threat when they wish no harm of any kind. Being single, my happiness with that condition (greater than mere contentment) goes unacknowledged by those who think that could not be possible. To such fearful individuals, proud spinsterhood can only mean a propensity to long for the husbands of others. Any guileless statements from me about the ethics of respect combined with openness would confirm, rather than allay, suspicions.

    The varied types of friendship, some unique to the people involved; degrees of closeness or distance matching the nature of the relationship, instinctively understood by the respectful without need for rule books… all of this is a forbidden world in a sealed envelope to those who live out the sad drama of jealousy. The protective wall they build around themselves seems to have spikes pointing inwards as well as out. Just to make life a bit harder for myself, I care about people enough to watch my communication and be mindful of feelings, even when they seem to be unfounded feelings. Reading the article has given me grounds to question whether some of this caution on my part, is really so healthy for anyone concerned.

    The personal restrictions that have no rational basis are indeed, “a dead-end which stunts humanity”, prohibiting some entirely legitimate and respectful friendships whilst doing worse than nothing to deter infidelity. It is right to link the prevalence of such nonsense to the losses women have had in their development, careers and opportunities. Men are strangled in this net too, everyone carries a share of the loss. As a means of reinforcing inequality and maintaining stereotypes it is very effective, partly because the nonsense is treated as an unspoken “truth”, goes without saying, supposedly self evident because the harm it does is misinterpreted as a consequence or a remedy.

    It is right to bring this out into the light and calmly discuss it, as has been done from time to time over the generations and now, seems to need doing yet again.

  6. Lauris Newbury

    This behaviour is indicative of women having to take responsibility for men’s ( potential) behaviour. Why should she be reined in because men can’t trust themselves.?

  7. wam

    jennifer you are showing your ignorance of religions made for men by men.
    Pence and his xstian mates, like romney, operate in a world where food is god-given and sin comes from women tricking men through their snake(a la pantalon) into eating forbidden fruit.
    They do a great job in selecting women, with the correct indoctrination. to continue their dogma.
    In this context, should trump resign, Americans will rue the day he picked pence.

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