Sarah Mimms of the National Journal is either trying to stir up trouble on Capitol Hill or she’s scolding men for being men and trying to protect the women around them. Somehow, a practice in congressional offices of male congresscritters meant to keep the image of impropriety from touching said critters and their staffers came to her attention, and the female staffers that tell the tale are none too happy about it since they seem to think that it is holding them back.
The practice? Female staffers are not allowed in the background of pictures with male congressmen, or to drive alone in a car, have a closed door meeting, go to an evening meeting, yada yada with male congressmen. Most reasonable people see this as prudent avoidance of the appearance of impropriety, but the women who aren’t allowed to meet with their bosses behind a closed door see it differently.
“Even though my boss is like a second dad to me, our office was always worried about any negative assumptions that might be made. This has made and makes my job significantly harder to do,” one female staffer told National Journal.
Well, see here’s the thing, one man and one woman alone in a room together and people are going to talk. That’s just the way it is unless a stuck elevator is involved. And even then there will be talk. The reason being is that no matter how much women yell Pervert! Get your mind out of the gutter! when men say they think of nothing but sex when they see bare skin, bums outlined in leggings, and cleavage, Mother Nature and a man’s libido are still in charge. Seriously, there is always the possibility more than talk will happen behind closed doors.
The men involved here are being overly conscientious, but in the age of smartphones, YouTube, Twitter and the 24 hour news cycle they have to be, not just for their own reputations, but for those of the people they employ.
While not explicitly banning solo meetings with women staffers, Republican Reps. Jason Chaffetz of Utah and Tim Huelskamp of Kansas said they’ve adjusted their office policies to avoid, as Chaffetz put it, “the appearance of any impropriety in any way shape or form.”
Chaffetz has instituted a “seven-to-seven” policy, not allowing any staffers of either gender to arrive in his office before 7 a.m. or leave after 7 p.m. without express permission. “You do the best you can to make sure those people are leaving at reasonable hour, make sure there [are] plenty of people around and that sort of thing,” Chaffetz said.
Similarly, Huelskamp said he makes sure to keep numerous staffers around him and send the whole team home at a reasonable hour. “There are a lot of reckless charges around here and people politicizing things as well. So we try to keep more than one person around on staff. And that’s to avoid any appearance [of an issue] and folks running around spreading rumors,” Huelskamp said.
That, ladies, is protection for everyone, not a deliberate holding back of women because they are women while maintaining an all boys club. And to be honest, there are enough predatory females out there giving the rest of us a bad name, that they’ve ruined the trust factor for all of us. It’s not just the men in power who indulge in affairs creating this atmosphere.
It is very unfortunate that this is the way it has to be, but it is doubtful that these policies are intended to do anything other than protect all the people involved, and are not meant to keep women from advancing their careers. Remember, the Missouri Speaker of the House resigned this week over sexting with a young female staffer. Doesn’t matter who started it, it cost him his career.