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Is the Pence Rule the Only Surefire Way to Stay Out of Trouble?

Tom Petty

They laughed, how they laughed, at the man who’s got to be the odds-on favorite to be our next president. Comics and progressive left-wingers had a field day, snickering about the Pence Rule, Vice President Mike Pence’s commitment to never meet alone with a woman who isn’t his wife. The rule was ridiculed as puritanical, paranoid, and an indication of Pence’s antiquated morality, his misogyny, even his sexism.

Who’s laughing now?

From media, to Hollywood, to the Beltway—where a secret congressional fund pays off accusers with taxpayer dollars—how the mighty have fallen. Lauer, Keillor, Conyers (not Franken, not yet). The list reads like a who’s who and vies in incomprehensibility with government waste in the billions—you can’t wrap your mind around it.

Thankfully, Captain Kangaroo did not live to see this.

The problem with the Pence Rule is that it seems like the only concrete rule, and it’s pretty Draconian. The rule protects men who can follow it, but what about other men, men who from time to time must necessarily be alone with women as part of their professional life? What is and isn’t appropriate, allowed, or punishable (and to what degree)? Who goes, who stays? When does the presumption of innocence apply, if ever, and what about due process?

If women are always to be believed, Pence is right: men take a risk being alone with them.

Here we’ll look at four rock classics for insight into this cultural upheaval that is proving perilous, almost exclusively, for men. That fact of the matter is, there are few set rules, and the rules keep changing.  Is the Pence Rule the only surefire way to stay out of trouble?

Styx: "Queen of Spades"

“Her love means only your death.”

Substitute the word “claim” for “love” in this lyric, and you get the picture.

Styx was one of those heartland bands that now ideologically and journalistically bankrupt Rolling Stone castigated as “corporate rock” back in the mid-seventies (along with Kansas, REO Speedwagon, and others). But you don’t have to be from Omaha to love Styx. They routinely sold out my hometown Oakland Coliseum at the height of their popularity, and remain in multi-million-selling rotation on classic rock radio stations to this day.

“Queen of Spades,” one of Styx’s heaviest tracks, is an obligatory take on the “evil woman” theme. A metaphor for women who seduce, cheat, psychologically torture and then destroy men, after the men have become addicted to their pheromones. It is not about sexual harassment, abuse, or violence, in the workplace or anywhere else.

But ask any man who has attained wealth or position which they would prefer: (a) having their heart snuffed out and thrown into a trash compactor, or (b) having a former associate, coworker, or intern come forward with allegations of sexual misconduct.

The vast majority of men would rather be in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band than draw the bad luck card dealt by the queen of spades and her career-killing accusations.

Rule: Since you can never know which woman might end up being your Queen of Spades, assume they all have the capacity to play a hand that might clean you out.