Libby Anne writes about extreme religious rules separating the sexes out of fear they can’t control their urges:
I have a problem with the assumption that men and women cannot be just friends, or just coworkers. I also have a problem with the idea that marriage is so fragile that it must be protected by imposing absolute limits on extramarital male-female contact. If the only thing holding your marriage together is never being alone in a room with another person of the opposite sex, there is already something wrong with it.
Perhaps these ideas are a relic of a past where men and women were so socially segregated that male-female contact typically only occurred in a romantic or sexual context. Or perhaps these ideas reflect a sexism so severe that men are incapable of interacting with women as fellow humans. In either case, the rules become the symptom of a larger problem, rather than its solution.
What she says about Evangelicals doing this, however, seems to be a relatively new development: I grew up in a church so strict that you couldn’t square dance or go to the movies, but we had no separation of the sexes, and women could work. We could mingle, be friends, date, etc. etc. And yes, opposite-sex friends were allowed after marriage as well. I never heard of restrictions like Mike Pence’s until the late-00s.
In fact, when I was first hit in the late-00s with various forms of such rules, and various judgments and scolds and punishments for not following them, it shocked me. I thought that all went out with poodle skirts and bobby socks. 😛