Why Hiring More Women Wouldn’t Have Prevented The Secret Service Scandal
3:30 pm, April 23rd | by Amy Tennery
In the wake of the secret service scandal, in which several members of the protective services crew stand accused of soliciting prostitutes during an official trip to Colombia, we’re all desperately exploring where things might have gone wrong. Sure, the individuals are to blame for a string of head-slappingly stupid decisions. But could it be that the secret service selection process was to blame? Is there something in the demographics we can point to for answers?
To put it bluntly: Did this happen because the secret service is mostly comprised of guys?
It’s an easy argument to make. After all, a dozen different agents — all of them men — have been implicated in the scandal. And the person largely credited with uncovering the disaster is Special Agent Paula Reid, a woman who was stationed at a nearby hotel when the fustercluck unraveled. Even further to that end, just 11 percent of the secret service’s agents are women. Clearly there’s a gender imbalance — that’s not up for debate. And that statistic should be rectified for reasons beyond one individual scandal.
But Congress member Carolyn Maloney and Senator Susan Collins told ABC’s This Week they believe the prostitution scandal may never have happened had the secret service employed more women. And they’re wrong.
“I can’t help but keep asking this question, where are the women? We probably need to diversify,” Maloney said.
Collins, meanwhile, said she “can’t help but wonder if there’d been more women as part of that detail, if this ever would have happened.”
Sure, Maloney can change that “probably” to a “definitely,” and Collins is probably wondering the same thing a lot of people are. But their argument is actually quite dangerous. It suggests a kind of “boys will be boys” write off for the service members’ misconduct. It says that the only way we can keep this from happening again is if we get women to chaperone their male peers. And it legitimizes the idea that men can’t hold themselves responsible not to act like total and complete morons unless there’s a woman around. It’s not a woman’s job to forestall her male colleague’s epic failings. It’s her job to do her job — and that doesn’t include anti-prostitution babysitting.
Beyond that, is it really news to anyone that immature, stupid people don’t just snap out of it when they get a couple female coworkers? Even if we did make it our business to de-bro the secret service scene, the responsibility still rests with the individual. Awful people usually act awful, regardless of circumstances (that’s why they’re awful people) and women aren’t moralizing saints whose sole purpose is to lift up all the men around them.