America’s favorite uncle might actually be America’s creepy uncle. (It’s such a fine line with uncles, isn’t it?) Though the former Vice President hasn’t officially announced his candidacy he’s been winking at it the last few weeks and it’s reminding a lot of people of times in the past he’s winked at them and made them uncomfortable. In the past week, two women have come forward with their accounts of times he has crossed their personal boundaries and made them feel…not great. So who is saying what, and where do we fall on the “is Joe Biden a creep?” scale? Let’s investigate…
Those Who Vote In Favor Of Creepiness
Lucy Flores is a former Nevada assemblywoman who claims Biden came up behind her at a political event and kissed the back of her head. Last week she wrote an essay for NY Mag where she detailed the encounter. She wrote, “I’m not suggesting that Biden broke any laws, but the transgressions that society deems minor (or doesn’t even see as transgressions) often feel considerable to the person on the receiving end. That imbalance of power and attention is the whole point — and the whole problem.”
After Flores’ essay, a woman in Connecticut named Amy Lappos came forward with accounts of unwanted touching from Biden as well. She also claimed “It wasn’t sexual, but he did grab me by the head,” which, if someone grabbed me by the head, I’d have an immediate flashback to all the guys who thought that was an appropriate way to ask for oral sex in college. Lappos went on to describe exactly how this head-grab went down saying, “He put his hand around my neck and pulled me in to rub noses with me. When he was pulling me in, I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth.” Uh…yeah. I would too.
Rebecca Traister (an incredible writer and you need to be reading every word that comes out of her brain) separately wrote an article last week about Biden being a continuation of exactly what’s wrong with our political system and how his continued poor relations with women and sexual harassment don’t bode well for him.
Those Who Are Like “That’s Just Uncle Joe”
A friend of Joe Biden’s, Stephanie Carter wrote a Medium essay (aka a more formal Facebook post) clarifying that a photo that frequently circulates of her and the former Vice President as an example of his “creepiness” was actually not creepy at all.
In her essay, she took time not to discredit Flores or her feelings, while also clarifying that in this instance, Joe Biden was a close friend and she had no problem with the touching in question. Basically, this just goes to show something most women know and most men are begrudgingly learning: consent is key. Something that is cool between friends because they’re friends can be received totally differently by a stranger, acquaintance, or different friend with different boundaries.
Also coming to Joe’s aid is Alyssa Milano (problematic aunt to the #MeToo movement) who tweeted out her support for Biden yesterday, with an image of them standing nicely next to each other (though of course we cannot see Joe’s hands).
I am proud to call Joe Biden a friend. He has been a leader and a champion on fighting violence against women for many years, and I have been fortunate to accompany him to events with survivors where he has listened to their stories, empathized with them, and comforted them. pic.twitter.com/cI0jsKlu3P
— Alyssa Milano (@Alyssa_Milano) April 2, 2019
Meghan McCain also tweeted her support for the former VP while also talking about her father because she is legally obligated to do so once per sentence.
Joe Biden is one of the truly decent and compassionate men in all of American politics. He has helped me through my fathers diagnosis, treatment and ultimate passing more than anyone of my fathers friends combined. I wish there was more empathy from our politicians not less.
— Meghan McCain (@MeghanMcCain) April 2, 2019
What Meghan and Alyssa seem to be missing however, is that the women reporting his inappropriate behavior as inappropriate aren’t calling him a rapist or even an abuser. Instead, these women are asking us to look at how we allow men to move through public spaces with disregard to women and femme bodies. Perhaps his physical gestures are intentionally harmless but they still are casting dominance over these women’s bodies by making them feel uncomfortable during key moments in their career. With each touch it is communicated, “This space is mine, I can do what I want without considering you.” It then leads one to ask, if someone thinks that way how does that translate to regulating laws about women’s bodies?
For example, how do these issues play into Biden’s previous stances on abortion rights? Or his actions during the Anita Hill hearing? These are questions Democratic voters will have to answer if and when Joe gets into the race.
We’ve also been hearing concern from Democratic voters that Biden isn’t liberal enough for them, and that his support for bipartisanship would lead to bad judgments or compromises on abortion rights. And skepticism from some women’s rights leaders goes beyond abortion.
— Patrick Healy (@patrickhealynyt) March 30, 2019
On a personal note, I’m sick of men grabbing women and smelling women and kissing women in situations where no person would want to be grabbed, smelled, or kissed. I’m sick of women’s bodies not being respected, even if it’s being done with a goofy smile on the Vice President’s face. I’m not laughing, and if Joe Biden really wants to be president he’s going to have to answer for it.
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