This is something I shared on Facebook, getting a great discussion going (in which I was informed of this great Washington Post article that does a far better job of saying what I was trying to say).
I regret to inform you that the Christians are at it again. This time they think it is appropriate that Mike Pence, the Vice President of the United States of America, has a self imposed rule disallowing himself to be alone in the presence of any woman who is not his wife without another person present. Ostensibly this practice is intended to protect his marriage and provide a sense of security for his wife, but in reality it is the most irresponsible leadership tactic possible for a major world leader. Half of the population of the world is female, and the Vice President refuses to have one-on-one meetings with them. Can you imagine if the Vice President were female and refused to have one-on-one meetings with other male diplomats and leaders without someone else present. They would be laughed all the way out of public office. This is exactly an instance of sexism and patriarchy, and conservative church leaders (specifically in my home town) have latched onto it as some sort of last bastion of conservative decency. How out of touch do you have to be to not see the problem with using this (questionable) religious idea in such a position of power.
My sister, who is studying at the Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson for a counciling degree expressed that if she were to instate some sort of no-eating-with-men rule she would be unable to function in her profession. Maybe it’s ok for individual men to have policies like this for their own protection, but that sentiment comes dangerously close to presuming that women are merely dangerous sexual objects to be feared, rather than individuals and peers. Additionally, it is difinitely inappropriate for men (or anyone) in positions of power to explicitly deny peer status to anyone based on something like gender. If such a powerful person is unable to control themselves then they aren’t fit for that power position and that’s about all there is to it.
I don’t claim to be an expert on this subject, so here is The Bad Christian Podcast, which recently discussed this exact issue (start at 41:15 or so). The Pass The Mic and Truth’s Table podcasts also recently discussed gender equality in the church and in America, which is well worth your time to listen to as well (and sparked its own wave of controversy).