Mr. Biden, These Women and Their Accusations Are No Laughing Matter
He Could Have Learned From This, But Chose Not To.
I’ve been watching the controversy surrounding former Vice President Joe Biden and inappropriate touching from a distance, listening to the fascinating differences of opinion between the young and old that highlighted a clear, deep cultural divide. Mr. Biden is somewhat notorious for pushing the boundaries of personal space with both men and women alike, but with a looming presidential bid women are coming forward to tell their own unique and uncomfortable interactions with Mr. Biden.
After Lucy Flores bravely came out with her story of the Vice President smelling her hair and kissing the back of her head, her most ardent defenders were younger women who vehemently agreed that the actions were inappropriate. Yet, there was not a shortage of women within the democratic party that came to Mr. Biden’s defense, even after more women were coming forward with their own uncomfortable personal experiences with the former Vice President.
Among the most notable of his defenders was Speaker Nancy Pelosi, who urged Joe Biden to “join the straight arm club” but insisted that none of this disqualified him. An even more passionate defense came from the actress and activist Alyssa Milano, who said “I believe Joe Biden’s intent has never been to make anyone uncomfortable, and that his kind, empathetic leadership is what our country needs…”
While I am willing to acknowledge that I don’t think Joe Biden had any intention of making anyone feel uncomfortable, that absolutely should not mean he is free and clear of any responsibility for what he’s done. It is the responsibility of someone like him in a position of power and leadership to adapt to the changing times, listen to and validate the voices of those who expressed how he made them feel, learn from it, and make sure the behavior is not repeated again.
For a brief period of time, it looked like that was the approach that Mr. Biden would take. He released a video expressing his intention to be “more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space”. He acknowledged the changing social norms, and insisted that he understood his responsibility to learn from what the women were saying.
That attitude did not seem to last long.
Just two days later, during a speech for the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers union, Joe Biden embraced the union president and made a point of turning to the audience and saying “I want you to know, I had permission to hug Lonnie.” He didn’t leave it there. “By the way, he gave me permission to hug him,” Biden said after putting his arm around a child on the stage.
Mr. Biden’s attitude is not only blatantly disrespectful, but serves as a clear display of privilege coming from someone in a position of power who has never been made to feel the way he made these women feel. Instead of using this situation to engage with people, and amplify the voices of women who he could learn from, Biden has been emboldened by his defenders and has decided to make light of what he’s done and how these women feel. But should any of us really be surprised, considering the toxic culture of the good old boys that Biden and other men are so deeply entrenched in? He has proven himself to be yet another man pretending to be evolved and willing to listen, who doesn’t hesitate to drop the facade as soon as he gets some support.
Personally, I have had enough and I’m sure I’m not alone. Had he followed through with his promise to learn from the circumstances he found himself in, I’m sure many of us would have gotten past this. He chose not to do that. In the days leading up to his almost inevitable announcement of a presidential campaign, Biden is doing himself no favors and I welcome that. Please Mr. Biden, continue to show us your true colors. Let us see the kind of person you really are. It will make our 2020 decision that much easier.
There is nothing funny about women in a professional environment, or any environment for that matter, being put in the circumstances that they’ve had to deal with. Women should never be subjected to actions that demeaning and have the courage to come forward, only to be mocked by the person responsible who swore he’d understood how his actions were problematic. I stand by all women who have the courage to come forward.