We’ve reached the point where every allegation of sexual misconduct against a powerful man seems credible, and here the drama between Brett Kavanaugh and Christine Blasey Ford is playing out.
Over the past year, we’ve heard from a multitude of women who have Me Too stories. For the most part, these stories seemed likely to be true. First, we heard about Harvey Weinstein’s multiple misdeeds. Then we heard about Larry Nassar’s crimes. Next was Louis C. K., and the parade continued. Every new report lent credibility to the report that preceded it.
The evidence seemed clear: Men in power abuse that power for sexual gratification. The more voices we heard, the more Americans realized that we’ve got a real problem. As the examples pile up, however, people need less evidence to be convinced that any particular man might act this way. The threshold for credibility has dropped to the point where a woman’s word is enough to cast doubt on a man’s life’s work.
When the allegations against Kavanaugh first came out, I thought, “Well, her story certainly sounds plausible.” In light of the last year, in which we’ve seen men acting as sexual predators and abusing their power, his vehement protestations sounded feeble. Sure, the timing of her accusations had a whiff of political opportunism, but the trajectory of our national discourse had prepared us for these allegations.
He Said, She Said, I Believe
Polls taken before the Senate hearing show that more Americans believed Ford rather than Kavanaugh, although that majority reversed in Kavanaugh’s favor after his self-defense during last Thursday’s hearing, but none of us have a reason to believe either one of them. What can we know about it? He says one thing. She says another. He has some friends who support him. She’s got some circumstantial evidence that proves he drank too much alcohol while in high school.
We can’t have any certainty about what happened back in the 1980s, but many Americans are willing to pretend that they do because we’ve seen this kind of thing play out too often. It just seems so plausible. We’ve reached the point where in the absence of evidence, the woman’s allegation is more likely to be believed than not.
Let me add this caveat: in most cases believing the woman is the rational thing to do. In the absence of evidence, I too tend to believe the woman. With all the examples we’ve seen in the media and in our everyday experience, believing the woman seems to be a safer bet, though not a certain one.
This puts men in an awkward position. What do you do if you’re a man and it’s her word against yours? How can you protect yourself from baseless accusations? The left side of the Twitterverse simply tells men to stop abusing women and all will be well. According to the left, if you don’t harass women, you won’t get into any trouble.
We cynics on the right, however, remember that men aren’t the only sinners in the world. Women can abuse their power too. Women can be sexual predators. Women can even lie. But our society, at this moment in time, is more likely to trust a woman than a man. If you’re a man, how can you protect yourself from baseless allegations?
There’s Only One Way to Protect Yourself
There’s only one way. If people believe the woman in the absence of evidence, then men of integrity need evidence that they possess integrity. And the best way to do this? Follow Mike Pence’s example and adopt the Billy Graham rule. And fast.
Graham wouldn’t dine alone or travel alone with a woman who wasn’t his wife. Graham believed in sin, and that no one was immune from it. He didn’t want to have an affair, so he didn’t give himself a chance to be alone with a woman.
He also didn’t want baseless accusations made about him. He knew that even if he wasn’t engaging in immorality, people still might spread rumors, because—you know—sin. His practice of never being alone with a woman who wasn’t his wife provided him the credible evidence he needed to avoid scandal.
Vice President Mike Pence’s decision to follow the Billy Graham rule increasingly seems like wisdom. He doesn’t spend time alone with women who aren’t his wife, and he doesn’t attend events where alcohol is served unless his wife, Karen, is with him. He’s got a track record of avoiding situations that could expose him to the risk of allegation.
The Left Is Not Friendly to Men With Integrity
What does he get for maintaining the evidence of his integrity? He gets mocked and belittled by the left. He’s called a misogynistic prude. He’s accused of denying women opportunity for career advancement. He’s basically accused of hating women.
It seems to me that he merely loves one woman, Karen, more than he loves all the other women, which is as it should be. I suppose in our world of rampant equality some people can’t stand the idea of Pence loving his wife more than he loves other women.
It’s almost as if the left wants to put men in a precarious situation. We will no longer believe that men have integrity without evidence, but we will not countenance men living their lives in such a way as to have evidence for their integrity. Catch-22. Men, I’m afraid to tell you that the left is not your friend.
If you’re a man, what should you do? My advice is to embrace the Pence approach rather than merely hoping that no one makes an allegation against you. If you can, you should go back in time and tell your 18-year-old self to live like Graham. It might save you many different kinds of heartache, and the world would probably be a better place with more Grahams around.
If you’re a woman reading this, what should you do? First, please don’t mock and belittle those men who follow versions of the Billy Graham rule. They’re just trying to maintain the evidence of their integrity. Chances are, these men with integrity can also be trusted to look out for your best interests. They’re not trying to keep you down or limit your career opportunities.
Second, if a man wants to “promote your career” by plying you with alcohol and inviting you to his hotel room to talk about things, don’t go. He’s not a Billy Graham; he’s a Harvey Weinstein.