I Never Meet With Young Women Alone

Apparently Mike Pence is being criticized for refusing to meet alone with young women.  Seriously?  Because I have pretty much the exact same policy.   I never meet with young women one-on-one any more.  If I am interviewing a young woman for college, we meet in the Starbucks rather than my office.  I try to meet with sales people via the web rather than face-to-face, but if a young female sales person does show up at my door and I really must meet with them, we do it downstairs in the lobby and not in my office.

Am I being "dudely"?  ( I swear to God this is the world the Atlantic uses).  The explanation is simple, and can best be illustrated with this comment highlighted by Glen Reynolds:

1. Greatly expand definition of sexual harassment.
2. Make any accusation of sexual harassment career-ending.
3. Proclaim that women should always be believed when they accuse a man.
4. Complain that men won’t have 1-on-1 meetings with women.

Postscript:  To clarify, there is in Mike Pence's policy an element of avoiding temptation.  That is not my rational.  After nearly 30 years of testing, I find myself to be immune from temptation (at least in deed if not in thought).  This policy is pure self-protection.

  • Mars Jackson

    I do not meet with men or women alone in a business setting any longer. It isn't only easy to accuse, but it is also easy to get taken out of context for something innocent and normal. In the workplace, we should always have a witness or else we risk our very futures over nothing.

  • Mercury

    Does Olga have a husband and does he typically drive the babysitter home?

  • ReallyOldOne

    Sooooo happy I retired 11 years ago. I could not take the politics and phoniness back then. I can't imagine having to contend with the current "stuff".

  • J_W_W

    The other thing bugging me about this whole brouhaha is the general assumption that "important business gets taken care of over dinner and drinks". This should not be the case, business should happen at the business, and not over drinks or at any other such outside occurrence.

    However, I think the reaction from some people that "this is how business is done", represents that they have very poor business ethics to begin with...

  • craftman

    I guess a politician is always "on the job" in some sense, but what about just being friends? This whole thing rubbed me the wrong way in the sense that men somehow can't have female friends without secretly wanting to have sex with them. And all they need is a moment alone to make it happen. Most of my friends (at work or in my personal life) are actually female and I hang out with them alone frequently. I am married, some of them are single. Not a big deal. Seems like a generational thing to make it seem like such a scandal. I'm only 32.

    Then again I'm not very important either, so I'm sympathetic to Coyote's argument above re: sexual harrassment.

  • Jimmers

    This has been driven by the PC lefty types. When the process of defending oneself from an accusation of assault / harassment /whatever IS the punishment, sensible people will take steps to avoid being caught.

  • ErikTheRed

    I don't know if "important" is the right word. I would put it as "a viable target." This doesn't necessarily mean that you personally have money or importance, but that you have some sort of position of control in an organization that's large enough to be worth suing (these days, that's just about all of them).

    I think it's very sad because the situation makes for a more difficult workplace environment (especially for those of us who would like to see a more diverse workforce), but the legal situation is what it is. Right now, if you're "a viable target," having a professional meeting alone with a member of the opposite sex is playing Russian Roulette with your career and your livelihood. It's just not worth it.

  • wintercow20

    I hear ya Coyote, I absolutely do not close my office door during student meetings, office hours, etc.

  • esoxlucius

    I won't be alone with my niece. Anyone share that fear?

  • JTW

    "men somehow can't have female friends without secretly wanting to have sex with them" should be "without being accused of wanting to have sex with them".

    Even if you have no sexual ambitions towards a woman, the moment you're seen alone with one (especially if she's attractive) people think you're out to lure them into your bed.

  • Bistro

    It's precisely how women infiltrated and toppled every single males only club. They convinced the court and the generations that follow that men do business at the club and on the golf course and that by keeping women out they were disadvantaged. Maybeso, but it ruined what had lasted for many generations.

  • craftman

    That sounds like society's problem, not mine. (Yeah yeah they'll make it my problem I know, but somebody has to fight against deeply ingrained norms.)

  • The damage may already be done.

    If you get a promotion later on, who you hung out with "alone" before becomes fair game for not just those individuals, but with others who might believe your relationship was special in some way.

    Guilty by optics until proven innocent by impossibility.

  • Conqueror of All Foes Cheese

    Since I teach at a big university I never meet with students of any gender alone or my door closed. If what they want to say is that private we can go out on the lawn in full view of the public but 50 feet from any individual. I adopted this "pure self-protection" policy almost two decades ago after watching someone get their life torn apart for nearly two years by a false "he said - she said" charge.

  • Conqueror of All Foes Cheese

    Good luck if you get accused. (See my entry above.)

  • John_Schilling

    How much protection does this really buy you? If someone is willing to flat-out lie about the big things, e.g. you raped them or you explicitly demanded sex or you'd fire them, then they are presumably just as willing to lie about your having arranged a private meeting to do so. Can you disprove that, even by preponderance of evidence. If the dispute is about some lesser claim, improper touching or innuendo or whatnot, that plausibly could occur in a Starbucks in front of witnesses, and are you going to be able to track down those witnesses, are they going to even remember you, weeks or months later?

  • JTW

    It is, but it's you who get the false accusations of being "a womanizer" and the false "sexual assault" charges from women who think that just because you spoke to them or looked at them you tried to rape them.

    And the way things are nowadays, such accusations and charges are social suicide for a man, and quite possibly can lead to prison time and a lifetime on some sex offenders' registry (in fact you can end up on one of those without any conviction at all, with no way to get off, and be required to report to the police every day to make sure you've not fled for the rest of your life).

  • Oldflyer

    So, have your female friends. Why does what Coyote, or VP Pence, choose to do affect you? Perhaps you get rubbed the wrong way too easily.

  • craftman

    I guess we live in different worlds. I'm a technical professional/engineer, (not a business owner or high level manager, not sure how that fits with typical Coyote readers) so I don't find myself thinking along those lines. Though I don't disagree that that is the world we live in so you gotta do what you gotta do.

  • obloodyhell

    }}}} 3. Proclaim that women should always be believed when they accuse a man.

    ...unless that man is a liberal darling, such as Clinton...

    Where would liberals be without double standards??

  • obloodyhell

    It still requires a boldness and a presumption of risk on the part of the victimizer, there, which isn't required when you meet privately. You never know what might get recorded, however innocently, in a public setting. So you can't presume your claim cannot be disproven.

  • obloodyhell

    Just because i don't plan to have a fire doesn't mean it's not wise to have an extinguisher.

  • fotini901

    Do you have female friends? Are there women your wife trusts you to hang out with? I certainly hope so.

  • G6loq
  • BobSykes

    Were I still on a university faculty, I would not advise female students or meet with any female alone.

  • John_Schilling

    You can be pretty certain your claim cannot be disproven if you are sufficiently vague as to the details - "Bob called me into his office, I don't recall exactly when, closed the door and told me if I didn't have sex with him he'd fire me". A dozen open-door meetings that verifiably did occur doesn't disprove that claim, and I'm not sure what does.

    Also, perhaps the most damaging claim of sexual harassment I have been (fortunately only peripherally) involved in, had a woman explicitly claim that specific harassing words were spoken at a public event that neither she nor the alleged harasser had even attended. So I'm not sure I buy the assumption that false accusers will be timid and fearful of eyewitnesses.

  • CC

    There was an older woman in my church who had recently lost her husband, maybe 75 yrs old. She and her husband had done lots for me over the years. At a church conference I saw that no one had arranged for her dinner and offered to take her out. Noble of me I know. As we went through the lobby she was gleefully telling people she had a date. I'm married. Even the most innocent act can be taken the wrong way.

  • You said when you interview female college (I assume you mean Princeton) applicants, you do so in Starbucks never your office.

    What about male applicants?

    I also interview applicants to my alma mater (Cornell). All applicants are interviewed in public places. (In theory, we can interview them in their own homes if it's their own idea, if there are no suitable public places and a parent will also be there. I haven't done that even once nor do I expect to do so. As for our own homes or offices...never.)

    And it's been that way at least since I started interviewing in 2000. (Though when I was applying in the late '80s, as far as I recall all my interviews were in the interviewers' own homes and offices.)

  • Zachriel

    What you do with your personal life is your own affair, but in business, the rules should be gender neutral.

  • SnarketinaJones

    When I was doing my PhD at Harvard the graduate teaching assistants were instructed to never have a closed-door meeting with an undergraduate of either sex, ever. Pretty straightforward rule, and it protected everyone.

    Why is it so difficult for you to treat men and women equally?