"This is my truck, and in my truck we go by my rules," Republican candidate Robert Foster told CNN today. "I don't trust the perception that the world puts on people when they see things and they don't ask a question, they don't look to find out the truth," he said.
He was speaking about a request from a female journalist, Larrison Campbell, 40, to shadow him on a 15-hour "ride-a-long" during his political campaign. But Foster, 36, refused – on grounds of her sex – unless she brought along a male colleague to act as a chaperone.
Foster, a self-titled "conservative outsider" who already serves in the Mississippi house of representatives and is running for state governor in the 2019 election, said that he had made a vow to his wife that he would not be alone with another person of the opposite sex, presumably due to his irresistibility.
"Men are under attack all the time," he said, in reference to the recent and ongoing #MeToo movement.
"Perception is a reality in this world, and I don't want to give anybody the opinion that I'm doing something that I should not be doing."
When asked if he would conduct the same type of interview request by Campbell with a man he said, "I stand my ground."
Foster joins Mike Pence in the ranks of apparently sexually ungovernable men, who also famously refuses to dine alone with any other women aside from his wife, and Christian evangelist Billy Graham, who made the "rule" famous back in 1948. And so, we find ourselves thrust into a familiar conversation – about what men think about women, how women are perceived, and how powerful men persistently perpetuate those damaging – and dangerous – stereotypes.
What does this statement say about how men like Foster and Pence – and the many others who validate their misogyny with belief systems like Graham's – think about women? At it's core, it says that women exist in a man's world for sex. But it also goes some way to validate their beliefs by way of excusing men – implying that a man should not be held accountable for his own actions should he be alone with a woman (and therefore, maybe, that a woman should expect to be in danger if she is alone with a man; that she is asking for it). That women are temptresses for good-hearted, God-fearing men, or likely to falsely accuse them.
It means that, in the eyes of these men, women are not seen as equal in any sense – least of all professionally. While it is obvious to point out that Campbell, in asking for the interview, was merely doing her job, it's also warranted. And it's worth pointing out the repercussions of this – and of the fact that Pence, presumably, would never be "able" to meet with a female Prime Minister or Chancellor alone. The underlying reason is that they don't expect women to be in these positions, which means they're unlikely to promote or support women into them.
This heinous attitude is bigger than just a misogynistic "marriage rule", no matter how much these men protest that they "just respect their wives". For Foster, #MyTruckMyRules (his official campaign slogan) might work for him, and so be it. But if he – and his rules – are elevated into influencing public policy, the States should worry.