I have been watching Joe Biden for a long time now. As Vice President of course, but before that as well. And the way he has interacted with women over the years frequently made me uncomfortable.
Not my business, I used to think. Different women react to physical touch differently. Maybe they didn’t mind. If it were me, though, had I found myself in the same room with the man, I would have stayed as far away from him as possible.
It seems his physicality with women he doesn’t know is finally being called into question. Two women have come forward with accounts of unwanted touching.
Women all have lived different lives. Some of us have survived rape or other sexual assault. That’s exactly why (in California, at least) we stress positive consent before sexual (or in this case, perhaps non-sexual) touching. You do not simply walk up to someone you do not know and essentially force-kiss them.
I can tell you how invasive it can feel to have a complete stranger grab you in a bear hug without asking first, especially from behind when you are not expecting it. I often find my heart racing and have trouble thinking clearly. I have never hauled off and decked anyone, but I’ve come close. (Friends, of course, are a much different matter.)
The reaction from Biden’s camp is predictable, if saddening. He is regretful, he never meant anything but good, etc… A non-denial denial.
It is the people who leap to his defense that infuriate me. “He’s a good guy,” “he didn’t mean anything,” “he was acting grandfatherly,” etc. Not to mention questions about the timing of the accusations, as though a woman might not hold off on saying anything about a very powerful man until she felt she had to.
Belittling. Minimizing. Excusing. Treating the objects of the unwanted attention as though they were doing something wrong. Complaining about the “bashing” against a grown man who should have known and acted better.
A lot of the people defending Biden view themselves as supporting women’s rights. Clearly, when the rubber hits the road, they’re more interested in protecting a powerful man than standing up for women’s right to bodily autonomy.
They should know better.