The “Billy Graham Rule” Is Offensive


I was going to title this post “…Is a Joke,” only I’m not laughing and I’ll bet you aren’t, either.

Another week, another Republican politician, this time Mississippi gubernatorial candidate Robert Foster, invoking the odious “Billy Graham rule,” wherein evangelical men refuse to be alone, ever, for any duration of time, and under any circumstances, with any woman other than their wives (and, one might presume, other female relatives, although one never knows).

I had myself worked up into a righteous rage, refining a veritable jeremiad…and then Monica Hesse said just about everything I planned to, better, in today’s Washington Post.

Because I know not everyone has a subscription, and you may have hit your complimentary article limit for the month, a few select quotes:

there’s not a single inch of moral high ground achieved via the Billy Graham rule, which purports to honor marriage vows….rules like these don’t honor your wife. They just presume that your marriage vows are so flimsy that you can’t be trusted to uphold them unless a babysitter monitors you.

Or, as WGR550 reporter Jeremy White tweeted:

It presumes either :

A) you can’t be trusted Or

B) women can’t be trusted

Everyone invoking that rule should be prepared to answer which is true

As Hesse puts it later in her article:

The most harmful aspect of the Graham/Pence rule is this: It keeps women out of the room. It says that men can forward their careers via mentoring sessions, golf games and brainstorming lunches, but women cannot….The Graham/Pence rule prevents women from climbing to the top of their careers because the men who have the power to help them get there won’t even let them in the room.

A few additional points:

As I have written many times, evangelicals’ sharia panic doesn’t derive from any sort of noble or principled place. They aren’t defending the first amendment. They aren’t passionate about the fact that the United States was founded on the concepts of religious liberty and freedom of conscience. Nope, their objection is, at root, “Hey! No fair! We were in line first to try to force everyone to obey OUR interpretation of OUR imaginary friend’s draconian and arbitrary rules! No cutsies!”

Second, men should be as offended as women by this rule, if not more so. It’s based on the idea that all men have no more self-control or moral agency than animals and will immediately rape any and all women that come in their orbits unless physically restrained by other people.

Finally, men, examine yourselves. If you, in fact, feel yourself incapable of not raping any and all women that come into your orbit unless you are physically restrained by other people, that seems like YOUR problem. You should definitely get professional help with that immediately, you might want to sequester yourself away from all women until you do, and, at the very least, might I suggest not running for governor? The responsibility seems like it’s going to be too much for your delicate, unstable, nay, even hysterical, constitution?

Image of Rembrandt’s The Woman Taken In Adultery from London’s The National Gallery

Like what you read? Follow me on Twitter @MrsWhatsit1.

3 responses to “The “Billy Graham Rule” Is Offensive

  1. At the heart of this rule is the age-old binary compartmentalization of women: They can be either mothers or whores. It is based on the sexualization of women to the point where they can’t be anything else. And it does equal disservice to men, who are presumed to be by nature sexual opportunists, if not predators. This is the worldview of these people: Women are for sex.

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