For about an hour and a half in January, I sat in a small, private room in the Mississippi Capitol building with Republican State Rep. Robert Foster to discuss his run for governor. The only other person in the room was his campaign manager, Colton Robinson.
If I was a woman, I probably would not have been afforded that opportunity. Earlier this week, Foster told Mississippi Today reporter Larrison Campbell that she could not ride along with him and Robinson on a series of campaign stops because she is a woman.
In a tweet Thursday morning, Foster defended his decision and blasted his critics, whom he bizarrely, but not uncharacteristically, characterized as socialists.
"Socialism and immorality are like crack to the radical left. The Bible tells us to avoid the appearance of evil. And that is what I did," he wrote. "Even in this crazy world, chivalry, integrity and professionalism still exists.
What about women's professionalism, though? It did not matter that Campbell was the first reporter in the state to report on Foster's candidacy, nor that she has spent months building a relationship with his campaign. Her presence could lead, he and Robinson told her, to rumors that he was having an affair if people saw him with a woman who was not his wife. She could only come, they told her, if she brought a male colleague along with her, even though Robinson would be there.
The Problem With the 'Billy Graham Rule'
Foster wrote on Twitter that he and his wife follow the "Billy Graham Rule," which calls on evangelical men to avoid being alone with any woman to who they are not married.
The myriad problems with this should be obvious. In a state where men overwhelmingly dominate, and report on, our politics, such a rule gives male reporters, like myself, an unfair