While Donald Trump has become a walking, talking meme generator, his second in command, Vice President Mike Pence, has mostly avoided the internet’s firing squad.
The Washington Post ran a profile of the Vice President’s wife, Karen Pence, on Thursday, and revealed some peculiar details about their marriage. For instance, Pence refuses to dine alone with women, unless it’s his wife. He also won’t attend any social function where booze is served, unless his wife is present. “If there’s alcohol being served and people are being loose, I want to have the best-looking brunette in the room standing next to me,” Pence told The Hill in 2002. The implication is that just being around women, especially when alcohol is around, means that there’s potential for attraction, flirtation and sex.
Naturally, the Twitterati pounced, accusing Pence of everything from misogyny to general lameness. “If Pence won’t eat dinner alone with any woman but his wife, that means he won’t hire women in key spots,” wrote Mother Jones editor in chief Clara Jeffery. “There are a zillion threads out there about the Pences’ extra suffocating habits, but the key one is this. If Pence won’t eat with a woman alone, how could a woman be Chief of Staff, or lawyer, campaign manager, or… Would Pence dine with Ivanka? Or Kellyanne? Or are they too relegated to second class citizens? For that matter, how would he ever even interview a woman—with a chaperone?”
The revolting thing about Pence’s no-meals-with-women rule isn’t prudishness. It’s that he’s limiting key professional opportunities to men.— Ian Millhiser (@imillhiser) March 30, 2017
This isn’t about mocking Pence for his lifestyle, it’s about women being denied access to professional opportunities powerful men control.— Faine Greenwood (@faineg) March 29, 2017
It’s ok, Mike Pence. No one wants to be alone with you either.— Kashana (@kashanacauley) March 30, 2017
I also refuse to dine alone with any woman who is not Mike Pence’s wife.— Ken Jennings (@KenJennings) March 30, 2017
This is a really long-winded way for Mike Pence to reject my dinner invitation— Mary Kobayashi (@MaryKoCo) March 30, 2017
Mike Pence is right. If I’m emailing a woman colleague, I CC my wife and God. If my barista is a woman, I turn gay until I finish my coffee.— Michael Schaub (@michaelschaub) March 30, 2017
Raise your hand if you’d be uncomfortable being alone at a meal with Mike Pence, a man who obviously can’t control himself— Amanda Nelson (@ImAmandaNelson) March 30, 2017
.@mike_pence Woman in elevator was eating chips. Did I just have private lunch with her?? I burned my penis on office kettle to be safe⛪️🇺🇸— rob delaney (@robdelaney) March 30, 2017
However, in a perfect illustration of just how radically different notions of gender are in the country, many people came to Pence’s defense by insisting that his family rule is totally normal, and that what he does to make his marriage work is entirely his business.
If you laugh at Pence for respecting his marriage, it’s probably because you’ve never been in a healthy one— Matt Walsh (@MattWalshBlog) March 30, 2017
Trust me, I am 1 to attest the need of boundaries in marriage. Leave Mike Pence alone. He wants to honor his wife and marriage. #liveNlearn— JoshGrana2 (@joshGrana2) March 31, 2017
Let me just set the record straight for you kids out there: What Mike Pence did was normal. Expect no less from the man you marry. #Respect— Happily Ever Autumn (@HappilyAutumn) March 31, 2017
So Mike Pence being faithful to his wife is weird to Liberals, but Bill Clinton and Anthony Weiner’s infidelity is normal?— Steve Tatum (@SteveTatum1985) March 30, 2017
Welcome to the internet, Mr. Vice President.