From #metoo to the straight arms club, recent revelations leave serious questions about how to navigate care and affection in both the consent and the Trump era, as well as the consequences of telling the platonically physically affectionate (the huggers) among us not to be.
When once Nevada lawmaker Lucy Flores accused former vice president Joe Biden of unwanted touching, making her feel uncomfortable, gross as he allegedly sniffed her hair and kissed her head while standing behind her at a fundraising event supporting her run for lieutenant governor then a second woman, Amy Lappos described similar discomfort from her days as a congressional aide to Jim Himes, being at event where Biden was present seeing his face coming toward hers and believing he was going to kiss her on the mouth, ultimately merely rubbing noses with her, it wasn’t the first time Mr. Biden, seasoned political optative Biden, now officially announced 2020 democratic presidential candidate Biden ( legitimate rumors he might run why the women chose to speak out now) had been accused of odd, handsy behavior. In fact that is a long running narrative surrounding him including an oft circulated picture of Stephanie Carter, the wife of former secretary of defense Ash Cater, Biden’s hands on her shoulders, him appearing to whisper in her ear, seen as visual evidence of his old, pervy creepiness pushed aside over the years receiving renewed scrutiny in the #metoo era as it coincides with the 2020 election cycle; the first presidential election post Donald Trump’s winning the highest office while being a self-admitted p*ssy grabber who also kisses women sans consent believing his celebrity status meant he could get away with either set of actions. Nearly a month later by the end of April there were a total of 8 women describing uncomfortable encounters with the former vice president, where it stands now and seems to have plateaued, including 2 sex assault survivors one, Caitlyn Caruso who shared her story at a college campus event in 2016 where Biden hugged her “just a little bit too long” and laid his hand on her thigh. “It doesn’t even really cross your mind that such a person would dare perpetuate harm like that,” she told the Times. “These are supposed to be people you can trust.” And Sofie Karasek photographed holding hands and touching foreheads with Biden at the Oscars, where she stood alongside 50 other sexual-assault survivors during Lady Gaga’s performance. It was a moment that soon went viral, and was described then by the Post as “powerful.” But in the Post’s report published this week, Karasek says she believes that Biden violated her personal space. She also told the Post that she wasn’t impressed with Biden’s two-minute-long video response to the growing unwanted-touching allegations against him — in which he never says he’s sorry — as he “didn’t take ownership in the way that he needs to,” quoted from The Cut. Not hard to surmise he was attempting to comfort, support these women after sharing something so personal and knowing they had been victims of something so horrific, equally it isn’t a great leap to empathize with, if not understand completely, their hypersensitivity; D.J. Hill and Ally Coll both tell parallel stories of hands on shoulders, being hugged for a beat too long, a hand down their back followed by a Whitehouse intern, Vail Kohnert-Yount who was upset about touching foreheads with him complimented as a pretty girl probably in the same vein as he complemented Ms. Coll’s smile. Nevertheless she found herself “so shocked,” she said, “that it was hard to focus on what he was saying.” Though she told the Post that she doesn’t believe Biden’s conduct constituted sexual misconduct, she described it as “the kind of inappropriate behavior that makes many women feel uncomfortable and unequal in the workplace.” Lastly Alexandra Tara Reade whose story is, “Biden touched her several times when she worked in his U.S. Senate office in 1993. The incidents, in which she said Biden would “put his hand on my shoulder and run his finger up my neck,” allegedly occurred when she was in her mid-20s. Reade told the Union that her responsibilities at work were reduced after she refused to serve drinks at an event — a task she believes she was assigned because Biden liked her legs. Reade reportedly spoke to U.S. Senate personnel about what was going on, and Biden’s office allegedly found out. She left his office two months later, after only nine months on the job. Reade told the Union that she didn’t feel sexualized by the way she’d been treated, instead saying she felt ornamental, like a lamp: “It’s pretty. Set it over there. Then when it’s too bright, you throw it away.” Yet are the 8 women accusing Biden on multiple levels plus Donald Trump’s detailed behavior things remotely comparable, referencing her account, Biden was standing behind Lucy Flores at an event sniffing then kissing her hair, how did she know the former when she couldn’t see him and what he was doing, obviously she felt the kiss on her hair/head; recounting in one interview the chagrin over not having washed her hair that day, setting aside the petty observation you knew you were going to a fundraiser on your behalf where the vice president was kind enough to show up and lend his gravitas to a fellow party member and you don’t put your best foot forward by showering and washing your hair? Comprehending the non-sequitur detail about her hair is the kind of thing trauma survivors recall, for all that was previously known of Biden’s handsy, categorized as creepy behavior no one saw this, no one documented it in film or pictures the way they did with Mrs. Carter, the videos trotted out of Biden among groups of kids at events where he looks decidedly awkward, currently being used as substantiating evidence to reinforce the women’s accusations; we the public had never heard of these women before they came forward, identical situations with the other 7, one known from the aforementioned Oscar’s photo to a certain extent. Unlike say Natasha Stoynoff who had lengthy discussions with both close friends and her editor about how to proceed after the groping incident with Trump while doing an interview, the siblings, friends, parents who were told about Bill Coby’s sexual abuse, assault and rape of them, women who went to lawyers, tried to publish their encounters with him in their memoirs, the open secret that was Harvey Weinstein complete with his entourage of enablers, the low level staff who talked about the hostile work environment created by Kevin Spacy on whatever movie set, TV program he was working, none of Biden’s long time aides and staff have any idea what these women are talking about, not even Biden himself appears to have any recollection of what they’re telling their fellow Americans less in the way predators never admit their wrongdoing and more in terms of genuine bewilderment; that in no way means the women aren’t telling the truth it just makes their story harder to corroborate, harder to digest and correctly place in proper perspective. Speaking of which, putting sharp clarity on these women’s stories, what category they belong in among the many tiers of #metoo exposed inappropriate behavior exhibited by men in powerful positions becoming almost systemic across workplaces everywhere; Lucy Flores adamant this isn’t a #metoo moment she’s describing, that she didn’t/doesn’t feel sexually assaulted, sexually harassed rather naming it an invasion of personal space, an invasion of privacy. While Ms. Lappos told reporters in addition to her recounting she doesn’t believe the American people deserve a president who doesn’t respect women, going on to add what a critical juncture the democratic party stands at currently; though curious how we get from her experience of rubbing noses to he doesn’t deserve to be president because of aforementioned disrespect, disrespect he had no earthly idea he was committing is nearly anyone’s guess. Bumping noses is now sexism and misogamy when elsewhere in the piece she asserts what he did wasn’t sexual; at least what got Al Franken booted from the senate was accusations of grabbing women’s behinds absent permission during photo sessions, impromptu photos with the public not singularly the bad joke photo of his USO comedy partner asleep on a plane, him standing over her miming grabbing her breasts. Hill stated only he knows his intent, Coll like Flores honed in on how the power dynamic turns the usually innocuous into the uncomfortable, Kohnert-Yount didn’t believe the behavior she related constituted sexual misconduct but, as you read voiced her thoughts on women feeling unequal at work. Counterpoint neither Ms. Flores or Ms. Lappos, Ms. Hill either were/are teenagers on their first jobs, desperately needing the employment to support their poor family, build a work history, not be known in their prototypical small town as the girl who cried wolf because you ‘misconstrued’ something your boss said or did reminiscent of the teens profiled for PBS, Primetime and 2/20 roughly a decade or more ago, subjected to harassment, propositions for sex, sometimes giving into demands for sex by decidedly older bosses, fast food and retail managers in order to keep their direly needed jobs, they are long grown professional women; not to mention these incidents were in 20008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, earliest, the dubious workplace ‘retaliation’ story in 1993, respectively meaning gone is the Joan Tarsus excuse al-a Bill Cosby referencing what era they were in, how women did or didn’t behave per the time period, how their claims would be received apart from facts already presented about what their stories are not. “If something makes you feel uncomfortable, you have to feel able to say it,” the question is then why didn’t you in the 21st century, Loppos was a volunteer for congressman Himes not vice president Biden translating to had she confronted him her employment wouldn’t have been in any jeopardy because she wasn’t getting paid, her livelihood was not tied to her work there; Lucy Flores had nothing to fear having her own political career underneath her to the height of being ready to run for lieutenant governor indicating had she come forward immediately the backlash would have been against vice president Biden not herself, nor did she voice any fear of reprisal as to why she didn’t say anything before now. Only 3 of them employment scenarios Colls and Kohnert-Yount’s instances happened once ruling out the sexual predator connotation or ongoing harassment idea; there is no evidence Biden treated Kohnert-Yount any differently after complementing her as a pretty girl, that he thought her merely a pretty face incapable of doing real work. While Reade’s assessment of what went on fit’s the classic sexual harassment, discrimination cases faced by women daily while working it doesn’t fit the rest of the stories told about him; she has no reasonable way even anecdotally to prove her speculations he was told about her complaint, about why she was tapped to do the event, 2 ½ to 3 months later there isn’t anyone coming forward saying they know he found out because they were in the room at the time, were the one who told him, know the person who did. There is no one attesting to his admiration of any woman’s body parts in a sexual manner never mind Ms. Reade’s; it may have been as simple as hers was a new and available pair of hands, deemed attractive people known to get jobs like that because they interface well with the public: fact verses people who have acne, bad teeth, are overweight, it may have been how put together and well kempt she was at work making her ideal for those same reasons of presenting well to the public. As for the reduction in her work responsibilities it could just as easily have stemmed from her being that new on the job and refusing to do an assignment, the impression that left on everyone in the office, not singularly Biden, he could have easily seen her as not a good fit for that office period, reduced her responsibilities to something he thought she would find more manageable until she got a handle on all aspects of the job. Contrast the 5 non-employment related stories calling out Biden to the women’s experiences at Monster Energy drinks, one employee shut out of meetings, uninformed about meetings held at times her direct boss knew the mother needed to be home taking care of her kids, who was berated, humiliated and retaliated against for being a mother; another woman who faced retaliation and discrimination for truthfully telling HR what she saw or was told about a fellow employee’s harassment complaint, a work culture where one boss called a female employee a wh-re, making constant crude comments about possible office relationships, an HR department that did not keep her statements confidential or at least her name even if they were required to reveal the content, frozen out of key communications allowing her to do her job ultimately forcing her to leave the company, perusing a consensual sexual relationship only to resort to verbal abuse and angry texts when the woman had second thoughts, a female boss who accused an employee of sleeping her way through the male staff, things totally unproven. Barriers to reporting mentioned to Good Morning America when they convened a panel of women to explain why they didn’t come forward regarding the sexual harassment they endured in the workplace; top of the list the derogatory way they are referred to at work honey, doll, babe and sweetheart commonly written off as normal ways to address female workers, constantly being told they are too emotional, the parts of themselves chipped away when they feel like they can’t say anything about the sexual harassment they experience. As this piece was being drafted breaking headlines were the double digit number of sexual harassment claims against McDonald’s including at least one 16 year old reviving the point talked about in the aforementioned news pieces tracing back years ago, a known pervasive problem in the industry. Part of the defensive vibe people believe they are seeing from Biden has to be that none of these women, not facing a boss subordinate structure, even if they were, came to him and stated their problem, none of these women gave him a chance to approach it privately, professionally (arguably where multitudes will think it should have been handled based on what the women’s own telling states didn’t happen) ask questions about what exactly caused them to be upset, say to them ok I understand I’m an affectionate person but I can’t do that with you, to enquire what would you like me to do in lieu of that to express appreciation, my enthusiasm to see you at event X, how would you like me to greet you in social/public settings? Instead ambushing him on the national stage, in the national media for ‘inappropriate touching’ years after the fact paralleling his run for president not less; nothing in his character suggesting he would react in any other way than to listen and adjust let alone negatively to somehow ruin these women’s careers, 2,500 words into a piece and redundancy is the word of the day, none of their story involves them going to him, vocalizing their distress and him retaliating by attempting to smear their reputations, cost Lappos her volunteer position, shame or humiliate her in any fashion, derail Flores’ candidacy for the gubernatorial position, that he threatened to do any of those if they went public with what happened to them, the democratic staffer and Whitehouse intern’s lives went on without incident and would have had they said something. Following that, there’s no introspection about why Amy Lappos thought Joe Biden was going to kiss her on the mouth seeing as he’s been happily married for decades, this happened to her too in a public place like he’s classless enough to start, solicit an affair with cameras on him; leaving one tempted to seriously ask is she confusing the reputation of Joe Biden with that of Donald Trump? Again her story is not that he suddenly seemed to realize the presence of others, cameras and changed what would have been a kiss on the mouth to rub noses with her, instead only that she thought he was aiming for her mouth and turns out he wasn’t; introspective not just in terms of the moment, as it happened but she too is telling her story now 5-10 years later after having heard Ms. Flores’ account. Most women myself included, would be mournfully embarrassed to have thought something so overtly sexual, flirty was going to happen, not have it happen wondering where we got such a thought. At the same time there are the former staffers who say he never did anything inappropriate to them, believe him to be on the side of advancing women’s rights and achievements why they worked for him; celebrities like Cher describing Biden hugging her and her being absolutely ok with it, Stephanie Carter promptly responded to the sudden resurfacing of that photo providing some context of her own detailing Biden as a close friend helping her through a rough time, illustrating how her husband’s big day, the swearing in ceremony/press conference, quickly became her bad day slipping on the ice, facing hordes of cameras and finding Biden’s actions comforting, telling press outlets it was the last time she would let other people speak for her. Hugs video recorded between him and president Obama, notably at his son Beau’s funeral never seen as weird by anyone other than the right wing who use the footage between good friends as fuel to say oh he’s gay, another smear in their eyes against a president embodying everything they’re not. Then speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s impromptu reunion with congressman Steve Scalice upon his return to work after that horrific congressional baseball practice shooting that literally found Ryan in tears so relieved was he to see his friend and colleague well on the mend wasn’t seen as weird either rather enfolded in the interview and rightly couched as a touching demonstration of humanity; he kissed Scalice’s wife Jennifer on the cheek giving her a long hug hello and no one was crying harassment, least of all her. We’ve all viewed the disaster footage of people hugging, words said about it extoling the virtues of human compassion never labeled creepy, we’ve all seen post mass shooting film of perfect strangers hugging each other relieved to be alive, the bonds formed through the harrowing experience, the meetings between ordinary people who risked their lives to save their fellow citizens during disaster or violence, people meeting the fire fighter, EMT, emergency response personnel who save them from— fill in the blank precarious situation, hugs abound, after the Dallas shooting where police officers were killed by a deranged gunman targeting police related to several high profile slayings of unarmed black men across the country, citizens lined up to give their hugs to officers as a show of comfort and support, solidarity with good police officers honoring what the uniform is meant to be; everyone understanding exactly what was transpiring, more importantly for our purposes what was not. Subtracting from trauma and disaster, there’s the national free hugs campaign, little children randomly hugging strangers routinely makes it into feel good segments of the news and we think what a way to spread the love, forge connections with a side of aww; the positives yielded from a little girl bonding with an old man who needed a reason to live after losing his wife begun when she randomly said ‘hi old person” in a grocery store and insisted on giving him a hug. Further anyone who follows an iota of pop culture has probably seen the scene in Lord of the Rings Return of the King where Frodo kisses a sobbing Sam on the forehead before departing the gray havens and no one classifies that as weird; returning to the real world, yet, somehow Joe Biden is being skewered for walking the line on the more affectionate end of touching social norms. Because to be highlighted is, he did nothing to violate social etiquette, Loppos thought he was going to kiss her on the mouth, worth reiterating is he didn’t, rubbing noses with her instead; which may have simply been awkward fumbling in a crowded crush of people where he meant to kiss her on the forehead a universally understood fatherly gesture, a benign quick kiss on the cheek during one of many greeting hugs we see at events like this and it ended up that way due to jostling. Adding to the examples people do and don’t try to couch as weird when discussing anyone but candidate Biden, creepy Ted Cruz has been a running political pun for the duration of the nation having become familiar with his name, solidified by the 2016 campaign footage of him trying to hug his father only to elbow his wife, who failed to notice when fellow candidate, Carlie Fiorina, fell off the stage at an event, who when trying to hug his daughters made them look decidedly pained, the horrible campaign ads featuring his family, out done by the renditions of classic Christmas stories turned into political topics read to his kids, but it became part of the 15 reasons to hate Ted Cruz as a person based on value stances, hate him for the policies he wanted to enact pertaining to the office he was running for, not once accused of anything inappropriate sexually or directly demeaning to women. To be sure yes we comprehend Ms. Flores felt her personal space was invaded and yes that deserves to be properly acknowledged by the listening public, the public trying to parse their way through these allegations and what they mean not only for their vote but for Biden and themselves as human beings. Yes this is a story that needs to be told and needs to be heard however absent is any discussion of how and where it should be heard, guidance on what we the public should make of what we are being told, if Biden is to be punished, if nowhere else than the court of public opinion, how much should he be punished? Citizens, the public are likewise free to make of these women’s stories what they will or won’t, to decide individually if it holds any bearing for them on their opinion of him, their vote. But by that same token of hearing women, believing their stories until given credible reason not to, beyond the harrowing stories of true sexual assault, sexual harassment, sexism, female abuse in the workplace and we’re talking about instances with Joe Biden where the persons in question didn’t like his clearly supposed to be benign gestures. Beyond the Harvey Weinstein’s, Bill Cosby’s, yet another college doctor and another colligate institution that failed to stop his wide spread abuse of male athletes by the hundreds, exposed sexual assaults at Burning Man ripping back the curtain in an added corner of America’s rape culture while we talk about Joe Biden’s hands on shoulders, Eskimo kisses and a kiss on someone’s head. Breaking news as this piece was crafted was the Mississippi lawmaker who punched his wife in a drunken fit because she didn’t undress fast enough for sex according to police. There also has to be a question of priorities not only in vying for the collective mass’ attention span but which stories deserve the spotlight in order for a collective something to be done about it; Natalie Portman clapping back at singer Moby after he put in his book they dated for a few weeks while she talks about the much older guy being creepy with her when she just graduated high school because it involves dangers to teens, women who don’t have the independence of Lappos and Flores, others coming forward who weren’t on a job, who can’t survive without their jobs; co-workers or bosses being the source of experiencing unquestionable sexual harassment, abuse, even rape in the workplace? Women like Karina Virginia speaking out about a groping incident with now president Trump who’ve suffered lasting effects explaining to her husband why she wore less flattering dresses, covered herself with a shawl at dinner parties; women al-a Christine Blasey Ford and the attempted rape she alleges by Brett Kavanaugh again explaining the 2 exits she wanted in her home after being lured into a bedroom at a teen party years earlier, the couples counseling her and her husband underwent to improve/save their marriage from scars directly linked to what she went through? Or a rather circular argument about a presidential candidate that likes to hug people, lend you his support by putting his hands on your shoulders, actions all say weren’t sexual or holding bad intent; while voters, the American people are left in a kind of limbo being asked to legitimately consider whether or not Joe Biden is a pervert, could he from a policy standpoint somehow be lenient on those accused to convicted of sexual harassment, sex assault, rape, spousal abuse, persons steeped in sexism, misogyny, interesting is where’s the chorus of give me a break resounding from that public? Perhaps balancing it perfectly is Mika Brzezinski who a month into the allegations said they were ridiculous, stated they made women look bad and had a sane, practical view of the Flores scene hair sniffing accusation that it wasn’t about her hair, willfully invading her space, doing something odd, it was him taking a deep breath before going on stage something the Morning Joe co-host had seen numerus times, husband Joe Scarborough showing his in studio and television audience a picture of Joe Biden doing what he has been roundly criticized for with his son, hands on shoulders, whispering in his ear, why the child was nervous so to distract him he asked him about school, baseball, typical kid, boy topics. The same Brzezinski appalled by her colleague Mark Halprin, believing the women accusing him after speaking to a few as well as the man himself, condemning sister network morning show host Matt Lauer, agonized over what should be done about Al Franken and warned the lack of process around his resignation would come back to bite us all; Brzezinski whom blog and author called out for chastising women for their behavior in the workplace, going out for those drinks, going where the business meetings are outside work, bashing pegged millennial workplaces with sleep pods ultimately used for sex, bars in offices, her naked contempt for lowered standards, piece vividly explaining why that wasn’t true. Yet she appears to have gotten a lot of this one right; what happened to not judging a book by its cover, judging things only by pictures weighing no context; ironically but it’s millennials, young people constantly running to HR saying punish this person for that joke, punish him for saying that- uh-huh.
Closely on the heels of that there is the valid question of what was the objective, the goal of telling your story on the national stage, do they, women who’ve been victims of harassment, violence, assault of a sexual nature need a specific laser-focused reason absolutely not, but they usually have one; intertwined with the catharsis of getting it off their chest, of saying yes Y powerful person did this to me and receiving validation in the publics horrified response, it regularly runs along the lines of telling other women they are not alone, using their voice to stop harassment, predation in their little corner of the country, the world. Lappos blatantly has another goal, another agenda basic scrutiny of her story for the Hartford Current describes a photo session at the event; so, he tries to pull her into a picture they end up bumping noses because she’s either reluctant, clumsy or surprised, doesn’t want to be in the photo but doesn’t say so and out of whichever one it was comes a quote like the proceeding, “There’s absolutely a line of decency. There’s a line of respect. Crossing that line is not grandfatherly. It’s not cultural. It’s not affection. It’s sexism or misogyny.” Reading further she goes deeper down the rabbit hole of making less sense, “Biden did something similar to me at a fundraiser in Greenwich when I was a congressional aide,” Lappos wrote in her Facebook post. “I’m really disappointed to see this [Facebook] post ask ‘thoughts’ as if the grossness of men invading women’s boundaries to sniff and touch is debatable. And shame on some of the women here excusing this as boys being boys or it’s not as bad as Trump. I can speak from experience when I say it’s an incredibly uncomfortable situation and not at all acceptable. We need to hold our men to the same standards we hold all men.” Except they can’t know they are invading your space if you don’t tell them, placing your hands on someone shoulders, also something Ms. Flores and Hill spoke about, can be used as a comforting gesture to calm nerves, what he many have thought he was doing, what he was reportedly doing with Scarborough’s son Jack; and, boys will be boys is not a defense/ excuse used by Biden or anyone publically coming to his defense, plus social media is not an accurate gage of national opinion, often a platform for the fringe and obnoxious. Her agenda that may or may not be tied in any way shape or form to Biden’s purported insensitive, inappropriate, making women uncomfortable behavior, “If Biden truly supports women and gender equality he would step aside and support one of the many talented and qualified women running,” she said. “The same goes for the other men who have thrown their hat in the ring. Women are 52 percent of the population. We are not a minority, we are the majority. It is time we are represented as such. After 45 male presidents it is time we elect a woman;” she plainly doesn’t want the 46th president of the United States to be a man rather a women telling all the men, not just singling out Biden, to drop out. Looking for echoes of the past, anyone else getting a Kathleen Willey vibe at least from Lappos’ story in terms of the probable turning into the downright kooky, Willey being the woman who accused Bill Clinton of sexual assault to then within a little less than a decade accuse Mrs. Clinton of having her husband then her cat killed; though her husband’s death was ruled a suicide as he was found with a gun in his mouth on a hunting trail near their home, committing suicide the very day she went public with her allegations and the scull found on her porch she believed to be the missing animal was actually a raccoon according to FBI analysis. Still the conspiracy theories linger all courtesy of her book published by an arm of the now on the verge of collapse WorldNet Daily right wing website, including the disappearance of a second cat, independent cats are notorious roamers if not kept exclusively in doors and provided species specific indoor training and enrichment so they don’t run out the moment the door is opened; a few episodes of Animal Planet’s My Cat From Hell would benefit sceptics on that score. It’s also quite possible we have a variation on Rolling Stone’s Jackie on our hands where the details surrounding her assault don’t hold water but there is little doubt something bad, some level of sexual violence did happen to her maybe on the UVA campus maybe not. Meaning here Lappos may have had a traumatic experience just not at the hands of Joe Biden, adjacently she could have a traumatic past making her extremely sensitive to his benign gestures which is perfectly normal for trauma and sex assault survivors; stating the obvious but sometimes overshadowed in highly charged situations, neither of which is either party’s fault. D.J. Hill called what Biden did with her ‘tactile politics’ implying she knew exactly what was going on and, flipping the script, what wasn’t going on; again no introspection as to, if you knew what was going on, why were you so uncomfortable then and so uncomfortable now the world is hearing you, why are we talking about it? Examining their stories effect on larger society if not today possibly as an example for years to come cited rational for enacting increasing rounds of draconian legislation, city ordinances, dictating behavior people should be free to choose to do or not do, the latest thing wanted banned by slim margins of usually the conservative populations, does anyone think these women fully thought through what coming forward would do to the culture stretching past changing male behavior in the positive, never appearing to question the negative impacts, what people would do with their stories surpassing Biden and applying it to the everyday, average person suddenly conditioned to fear touching another individual absent signed contract in hand lest they be publicly shamed, humiliated for honest misunderstandings happening to a man who listened, flirted, touched in the identical benign way Biden did/does was told to stop, was told it was creepy and stopped. People who intended to provide comfort and support saw they were uncomfortable, saw they were increasing the person’s distress and stopped offering a genuine apology, gave a hug to a co-worker, classmate, person entering a homeless shelter who blatantly appeared to need one, to what suddenly find yourself on the business end of a sexual harassment claim, that’s their idea of progress? Dovetailing right into, there remains the wholly valid question what do you want, people thought it was crazy a few years ago when middle schools began banning hugs to cut down on, prevent sexual harassment, were unimpressed to utterly outraged seeing educational institutions, pre-k to 12 schools feeding the school to prison pipeline doling out detentions to an 8th grader who hugged a classmate, not because either party was made uncomfortable by the action rather solely because it was against the rules, the high school student suspended for the rest of the school year, derailing college scholarships exc. for hugging his female teacher though he told everyone including national news he hugs all his teachers backed up by fellow classmates, school witnesses removing the implied sexual element. The elementary school girl punished for hugging not a teacher, not a fellow student, not the security guard, lunch lady but her own father solely because it was school grounds; adding insult to injury she was giving him one last hug goodbye before his being deployed overseas, principal citing no exception to their zero tolerance policy towards ‘inappropriate touching on school grounds,’ hypocritical while other schools set up reunions between parents, older brothers returning home from military service. Another banning hugs longer than 2 seconds, a middle school who banned all physical contact after a student was hit in groin while wrestling/horse play and a student was sent to the hospital, title of one YouTube video illustrating why such polices are dangerous ‘training them to be model prisoners;’ boy in that case Hispanic/Latino mother mentioning their culture, hugging being part of it, minorities taking the brunt of zero tolerance policies all. Schools with no touching policies regardless the consent of the participating parties; hugging not to be confused with groping genitals randomly walking down hallways, the teen sex reported in janitors closets and stairwells that, oh the horror does happen and has a solution no adults want to enact, comprehensive sex ed. We found out the U.K. banned best friends to promote inclusion when royal Prince George went off to pre-school there, wondering if friends play the same integral role not only in the balanced well-being of a growing young person but serving as references for jobs as they regularly do here. Interesting too they would do so knowing studies that say at least American adults have a hard time making friends after critical stages of early education, their new position minister of loneliness would strongly suggest an identical or paralleled pattern. Back on U.S. soil weighing school trends and the Biden accusations, now no shortage of people think we are broadening the concept to the entire nation regardless Ms. Flores insistence that’s silly believing herself to have clearly differentiated between hugs and comfort out in the general population and the power dynamic between her and Biden; especially when we can see crystal clearly with our own eyes the consequences of such bans on affection that leak out into the rest of society via instances like the little 9 year old boy accused of pinching a woman’s behind in a neighborhood corner store and turns out it was his backpack which brushed up against her rear as he walked by while she was bending over to reach something on a bottom shelf. Trauma inflicted on a young man when the woman insisted cops be present and reprimand him if not arrest him, a prepubescent young man who stood outside that store hysterically crying believing he was on to be carted off to jail; weeks later still crying as he spoke to media, going to bed that night wondering if he was going to be dragged out of his home and taken to jail. Netflix is doing a series on the famously wrongfully convicted central park 5 about 5 random African Americans 4 of whom were friends accused of raping a jogger in New York’s central park circa 1989, the man recently exonerated for a crime DNA testing proved he didn’t commit only to be failed again by our ‘justice system’ dumped out of jail after serving the longest sentence of any exoneree not giving him so much as a bus ticket, being held up in either court or state legislature a million dollar settlement for his injustice, forcing him to sell the droves of paintings he did while imprisoned to afford basics not only absent work skills and considering his past middle age, lacking understanding of cellphones, flat screen TV’s, probably awed by computers, robots, the internet, unknown how much news he kept up with, instead of creating a local art exhibit, putting them in the local museum for the public to view and him to visit any time he pleased. What are the odds his once alleged crime involved murder or sex, the latter why Italy was so adamant about going after Amanda Knox even after another French citizen serving time for something else confessed; at home African Americans frequently wrongfully accused of sex crimes like rape, assault and harassment, remember the football player taking a plea deal, spending 5 years in prison, 5 on parole, based on the word of his 16 year old classmate no supporting evidence? Who doesn’t think we’ll have increased false reports, not less if we institute a never touch anyone social etiquette, but we’re talking about Joe Biden; however hold up what she dismisses as silly to what she implicitly seems to want— people charged with misdemeanor harassment for hugging someone sans asking first, practicality of clogging local court systems ensuring more serious sex crimes, assaults and rapes don’t get to court expediently, like the latter doesn’t face enough hurdles. From women who don’t report fearing stigmatized dismissal to the shocking number of hospitals a woman may have to visit to find staff both properly equipped and trained to take samples constituting a rape kit, but we’re talking about Joe Biden, for a minimum 2 decades news story after news story has spotlighted the lack of personnel for forensic labs, the lack of funding, the poor storage so when they do get around to testing samples they aren’t viable, waiting so long in storage they are left past the statute of limitations, 8 people wanting us to talk about Joe Biden. What people extrapolate these women want held alongside the free hugs campaign going around the country, the globe, hugs doled out by citizens to police after the Dallas shooting, the mother who started free mom hugs and why; after coming to terms with her son’s sexuality becoming an activist for LGBT kids simply providing them hugs they aren’t likely to get at home assuming they still have one. Flores, Lappos and the rest’s stories pushing us in that direction while researchers are sounding an alarm about the birthrate nationally being the lowest since 1987 housing potential economic consequences births missing the replacement rate mark coupled with the immigration crackdown and how many years will it take for us to start looking like Japan who has an undeniable aging population problem? Hold up what she apparently wants America to look like— a place of insular little weirdos shocked by everyday casual contact against not only other known cultures on the globe where the standard greeting is a hug then kiss on both cheeks, Lappos wrong not in her in perception that culture isn’t an excuse for sexual harassment, misogyny, but that culture cannot explain certain people’s tendency toward platonic physical affection, their tendency in expressing themselves that way; one of the parent objections to the school hugging ban was they were Polynesian from Hawaii and hugging was a standard part of showing respect. Typical American social etiquette dictates in small spaces, crowded areas people look down, avoid contact as much as possible, exude an aura of the apologetic, resignation to the unavoidable; in other cultures, Spain for example, the goal is the opposite to engineer as much contact with another person as possible, as closely as possible, where some cultures need more personal space than we do. Observe how children in Thailand begin their day, elementary level children sitting in a circle bowing to their classmate then hugging them, and yes today in the 21st century we understand people with conditions like autism who in general don’t like to be touched, may become extremely agitated upon being touched, others who thrive on it, need it more so than the rest of the ordinary population, understand other categories of events that make us shun perceived normal physical, non-sexual contact injuries from car accidents to natural disasters that are painful when touched. We too understand, perhaps more than we ever have to date, about trauma and its effects on people from rape, incest, groping/fondling to physical abuse and neglect; problem, there were 50 other sex assault survivors on the stage during the Lady Gaga photo referenced by Sofie Karasek, none of them backing up her assessment of that night, saying they too found it weird, creepy especially knowing why the women were there, in the photo, no one who was there or reading her account asserting her belief that his actions are case in point on how not to interact with, help, care for or support a sex assault victim regardless how soon or how long ago it was. Greater problem, crucifying Biden for his lack of comprehension on just how badly said assault can render someone terrified of touch doesn’t cut down on sexual assaults, make everyone more mindful of how they physically interact with others, more respectful of the personal space of women/men, especially those they know have suffered trauma, sexual or not; unfortunately it is doomed to make things worse for women in the workplace, in society because it feeds the narrative of women overall are histrionic, outside having experienced sexual assault/harassment, full on rape unable to distinguish between a complement and a come on, being nice and being sexually suggestive, aggressively flirtatious, deeming or degrading, it leads to women not being believed when something criminal or horrible has happened to them. There is also the distinct possibility though the women’s story was genuine they too were misreading things take Ally Coll’s assertion he called her a pretty girl when she was a democratic staffer for him, not provided by either the Washington Post, or The Cut who furnished a complete list of Biden accusers, is inklings he continued to call her demeaning things for the duration of her work there; where are blog and author going with this, is it possible he said that to her saw her dislike of his comments and resolved to never do it again with her, suggesting he did exactly what we demand he do now back then, listen and adjust his behavior? Possibilities that fall in line with the comments of Chris Coons who insisted his daughter was not bothered by the closeness of Biden illustrated by yet another awkward picture; thoughtful viewing of said picture removing preconceived assumptions leads one to hypothesize the picture might have been taken mid facial expression, mid rest of body movement to generate the odd look having nothing to do with Biden; blog talking extensively about the knee jerk jumping to conclusions about what we see, when photos of the Steubenville football players carrying around their victim between the 2 of them at the party where the assault took place surfaced and new anchors who were likewise parents saying their heart would be in their throat if it were their kid, feeling for the girl in such a vulnerable position. Proceeding to lay out facts about what the photo couldn’t tell ordinary persons seeing it to investigators even employing several aspects of technology; top few included her clothing was on and she didn’t show obvious signs of being redressed post an assault, everyone in the picture’s clothing is on and shows no obvious signs of having ever been off, her some would remark, skimpy clothing can be attributed to it being August when the party happened and the photo snapped plus it being typical party wear, owing to the angle of the photo you can’t see the girls face to see if she’s happy, sad, scared, crying, laughing, groggy, unconscious, behaving as if she might be drugged. Facts that didn’t stop commentators from using it as ‘proof’ of their guilt; there was deciphering the saga of thought Steubenville witness Michael Nodianos whose video talked about the victim in question being so raped, so dead, references to her left in a field also unconscious and urinated on by a group of teens; come to find out he wasn’t even present at the party, in any of the vehicles to and from the places both her convicted in juvenile court assailants and herself were that night, he was just falling down drunk talking like a drunken fool. During the publication process of this article the public saw the latest incarnation of what are coming to be known as deep fakes, technologically altered video to make it look like prominent people to your ex-wife are saying things they would never say (initial example president Obama); current target, Nancy Pelosi who took press questions after a failed meeting with president Trump at the Whitehouse to discuss an infrastructure package he abruptly walked out of without explanation to shout at reporters about it in the Rose Garden. Doctored to shore up the president’s name calling her ‘crazy Nancy,’ to counter punch all the un-doctored videos of him slurring his words, incapable of saying the word origins, coming out oranges sparking speculation about everything from denture slippage to dementia, mini-strokes to the lone Whitehouse excuse for the first incident, dry mouth; authentic original video played at normal speed showing no oddities. Who can forget the looped videos causing Hilary Clinton to resemble a bobble head doll used to say she was everything from having seizures to suffering from Parkinson’s, to has months to live; and we are still using photos alone to judge someone’s probable guilt or innocence on sexual harassment, groping, being too touchy charges spreading though the court of public opinion if nowhere else? Hassan Piker of The Young Turks network offshoot The Breakdown using in a montage of all the reasons you, America, don’t want Biden as candidate/president from a progressive viewpoint, the repeatedly reference Carter picture after she’d already alerted the nation their story wasn’t the truth behind that picture while fellow progressive of Secular Talk Kyle Kulinski took the opportunity of the allegations to solidify his nickname for him ‘handsy uncle Joseph’ and we’re somehow supposed to take their analysis seriously? Plainly not considered either, it was the nervousness of the event, the crush of camera’s manifesting in the supposed ‘reaction’ to Biden; public speaking one of the top phobias at minimum in America partly due to having to speak coherently to an audience without embarrassing yourself, the other half of that is people who dislike having all the attention of an audience or group focused entirely on them. But Joe Biden is creepy with kids, weighing heavily on the political consideration, the moral direction our county is headed in, an aspect voters are worried about is we are fighting for inclusion on all levels from the woman creating dolls for special needs children with birth defects, physical deformities, leg braces giving them a doll that looks like them, because we grasp how important representation is, to the largest group of female and African American cadets recently graduating West Point hoping to send the message to young girls you can too, part of the appeal of Pete Buttigieg is if elected he would be the first openly gay commander in chief. Juxtaposed against our present reality where we have a current president rightly pegged as incapable of displaying empathy, rumored he likely has none mocking disabled reporters, separating parents and children, adult and minor siblings at the border, detaining migrants in deplorable conditions simultaneously going after Joe Biden because he has too much, expresses it in the wrong way? A president who says a woman was bleeding badly from a facelift, accused a female debate moderator of bleeding from her wherever, thinly veiled reference to her menstrual cycle, who upset about the number of natural disaster refugees from African nations referred to them as coming from sh-t hole countries they would never want to go back to after being in the U.S., among many other statements both showing his lacking compassion, character, empathy and debasing the office of the president; things Biden has never said, would never say while some insist on branding him a racist. By those criteria we should label Kyle Kulinski a misogynistic, sexist, homophobic because he calls Amy Klobuchar cloud boot jar, or Kirsten Gillibrand Jell-O band, and Pete Buttigieg booty judge, not in an effort to pronounce his name somewhere in the ballpark of correct, instead because he likes that particular mispronunciation of his name, a slur to his known sexuality though Kulinski staunchly supports LGBT rights. And to be fair has nicknames for all the ‘bad’ in his view 2020 candidates, referring to Beto O’Rourke as bet on my stork, calls John Hickenlooper the breakfast cereal apparently that’s what his name sounds like to him, blog and author don’t appreciate due to it being incredibly disrespectful to people legitimately running for the highest office, putting themselves forward to give us the citizens options; no Kyle Kulinski for all the substantive criticisms leveled at him by this Indiemusic author, is none of those things just slightly obnoxious at times. Again, connecting the Willey factor to Lappos exclusively, she could have supported women’s equality with her statements about 45 male presidents, wanting all male candidates to step aside, listed all the female contenders on the democratic side, Amy Klobuchar, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Marianne Williamson, Kirsten Gillibrand, Tulsi Gabbard, complete with plug for whom she thought was the best choice for the first madam president in American history, which of those candidates has the best answers on the issue, issues she cares most about leaving her awkward moment with Joe Biden out of it; oh wait then she would have less of a platform because outside this story making her name something to grab people’s attention, no one knows who she is and her opinion gets lost in a sea of usernames on Facebook. Lingering conundrum, how we give women the room to speak about their experiences all across the spectrum of uncomfortable with men’s behavior toward them absent giving a megaphone to the Willey contingent of women whose stories are dubious at best. Yes, not as bad as Trump is a low bar however; if Biden becomes the democratic nominee and it boils down to him as the next president or reelecting Donald Trump, we can’t have people thinking the latter is a pervert, is guilty of doing tangible, lasting harm to women, is as bad as the former individual for everything from human dignity to women’s rights and autonomy. The topic jumping out into the public consciousness right after the Biden accusations was states passing abortion ban laws at 6 and 8 weeks, no exceptions for rape and incest, Missouri flirting with being the first state since the decision on Roe V. Wade to not have a clinic providing abortion services facing non-renewal of their license, and we’re talking about Joe Biden as a decrement to women, really? Mika Brzezinski provide added useful perspective in that same month after stories broke segment noting 5 women (that was the count at the time since going up to 8) were made uncomfortable out of the hundreds to thousands of hugs, hands on shoulders, kisses on foreheads, handshakes, he’s initiated throughout his adult life, political career; haven’t we seen this movie before think Disclosure you know the one where “Tom Sanders (Michael Douglas) is a senior executive at a cutting-edge technology corporation on the verge of releasing an innovative new product. Sanders’ boss, Bob Galvin, is putting the final touches on a potentially lucrative merger and everything is in order for Tom until a vamp from his past, Meredith Johnson (Demi Moore), swoops in, stealing his impending promotion and then — doubling down — suing him for sexual harassment.” And yes he might have been flirty with his secretary, perhaps even slapped her on the behind, but everyone knew what wasn’t going on and she had no problem with his actions, there are women like that, film in the mid 90’s, few though they are, understandable today. Yet it was ultimately his relationships with people, the solid connections he’d forged being a decent human being that allowed him to reclaim his job from saboteurs and prove his assaulter the aggressor in their unwanted sexual exchange. Are we facing the 21st century version of who needs court room show downs and criminal charges when you have 24 hour news cycles and social media; only time will tell, only time will tell, let us hope the final price isn’t too high.
Analyzing Biden’s response from the non-apology apology video to his regarded insensitive jokes at a union endorsement event, turning these women’s pain, their valid story into a self-deprecating punchline, doubtlessly how many will see it, there is a school of thought that says he has nothing to apologize for because other people are not responsible for our feelings, our discomfort, let alone discomfort we didn’t speak up about; isn’t that one of the criticisms of Hillary Clinton, she didn’t whirl around on the second democratic debate stage in 2016 when Donald Trump was stalking and looming behind her as she fielded moderator questions and tell him forcefully to knock it off? Absolutely at the next event he goes to, where the union leader comes out on stage and the 2 men hug, his next line is a semi-joke about having permission to hug the man; because, if he hadn’t said something along those lines, however flippant, the headline would have been Biden says he gets it, Biden says he understands, Biden pledges to be more mindful then in public pretends these women said nothing, never came forward, forget the hug is the kind we’ve seen at events since the beginning of such things. Predictable was Ms. Flores’ reaction to the ‘jokes’ calling them disrespectful, certainly she is entitled to her opinion, perception and free to voice it; of course, providing appropriate context, what else did we expect her to say, if she hadn’t said almost verbatim what she did we would be questioning the voracity of her claim, it would lend credence to the people who conspiratorially believe her to be a ‘Bernie camp plant’ to sabotage Biden’s campaign enabling Sanders to win, fueling those who find her accusations silly, unserious and unworthy of contemplation. Veracity already undermined when she simultaneously said if he became the democratic nominee she would vote for him; others, including where this blog author is strongly leaning smell, if not a plant for any political camp, her and most of the subsequent women coming forward are, to whatever degree perhaps unwittingly, serving as useful tools for those who don’t want Biden to win that nomination whatever their motivation. Here’s another school of thought, he apologized for what he needed to apologize for, making these women uncomfortable, the only thing he’s truly guilty of, making these women uncomfortable with no prior knowledge of having done so, no feasible expectation his actions would make persons uncomfortable; opinion among politically, socially aware sections of public on her story say it parallels many of the ‘election hurdles’ analysts believe Biden will face in the progressive era driven by young people who not only want Medicare for all, free college, like the idea of universal basic income, want us out of foreign wars spending that money at home on our crumbling infrastructure, dilapidated schools, a majority who want criminal justice reform, a majority who believe particularly non-violent felons should be given the right to vote at least once they have completed their sentence, young voters who can google Anita Hill never mind older voters who remember, now in the #me too generation hearing the latest Biden instances of gross, odd, possibly sexual, unquestionably inappropriate to them behavior will not vote for him, especially when he is 1 of 20 other choices. Missing historical context, Biden’s own words, he was against busing to end segregation circa the 1970’s due to it meaning kids were getting up at the crack of dawn being in transport to and from school an hour or 2 daily; reflecting the sentiment of many who were far from racist, had no qualms with equality/desegregation rather why does it have to be my kid. Biden’s push for the crime bill came on the heels of the loss of a prominent professional basketball player to crack cocaine, African Americans strongly emphasizing something had to be done hints the crime bill he authored. A crime bill also including initiatives like the violence against women act prompting senators like Bernie Sanders yes vote, a crime bill aimed at violent criminals like the one trotted out by conservatives when shouting about gun rights; high on who knows what, breaking into a house with a woman and her 2 children, she taking her six shot pistol and shooting him 5 times, the sixth missed and he’s still coming, here where the conservative told his audience she needed a different, bigger gun with more rounds. Blog and author responding by asking where were the police and what was this person doing on the street to begin with, and that was decades after the ramifications of said crime bill had taken effect; too before it was meth and bath salts there was PCP that produced such erratic behavior in people and made them perilous for police to apprehend when high. Confusing why progressives insist on holding the crime bill against Biden when the thing most over bloating our prison populations is non-violent drug offenses and their offenders, those still serving sentences for marijuana even as more states legalize recreational/medical cannabis, people pushed into either sale or manufacture of drugs through desperate economic need, whether it’s the woman freed through sentence commutation by the activism of Kim Kardashian West or the native Americans on a reservation border town moving drugs for the Mexican cartels, for want of any other living wage jobs available to them. Versus the violent drug offender who is dealing massive amounts of drugs, cartel style, guilty of cold blooded murder to keep their enterprise, the drug addict who to support their habit commits an a wide range of violent crimes where someone ends up dead, permanently maimed from what they’ve done; ‘I was high’ uttered by defendants or victims in court meant to explain why the gas station clerk was heinously shot during the commission of a robbery you admit to participating in, doesn’t cut it anymore. ‘I was high’ is no longer an excuse to why you can’t account for your whereabouts on the night in question for a crime to which you have pled not guilty, no longer explains away the vicious beating of your girlfriend. Bad trips, laymen’s terms for bad illegal drug reactions, have ceased to be an acceptable reason eliciting leniency from judges, jurors for extreme vandalism or otherwise seen as random attacks of persons on the streets, stopped being a blanket understood concept of ‘how can you expect me to be responsible for what I did,’ years ago. ‘I was drunk,’ long abandoned as a believable defense when causing death or injury to people with your car, motorcycle or boat, any kind of motor vehicle. Inconsistent progressives, criminal justice reform advocates targeting Biden’s bill instead of choosing to go after the blatant, intentional, racist misapplication of the crime bill’s parameters, paralleling multiple state’s variation on the 3 strikes law, to lock up people for 3 offenses on their criminal record no matter the reason, severity or banality of the offense when it was only ever meant to apply to violent offenders exclusively. A crime bill that has nothing to do with why conditions in Alabama’s prisons are so bad they were deemed unconstitutional, federal judges demanding changes or they would step in doing it themselves; in fact, the money progressives howl was used then to build hundreds more prisons nationwide could arguably benefit the incarcerated now bulldozing and rebuilding ones featured on the news, properly staffing jails/prisons to curb the violence, sexual assault, properly treat the mentally ill while locked up slashing the sky high suicide rate in the mentioned prisons. There remains no reliable access to sanitary products for women in prison to healthily handle their menstrual cycle, items that should be doled out with bedding, clothing and soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, but they are after Joe Biden about his crime bill. Recent data shows NYPD underestimated rape statistics on their website by 38% thanks to clever categorizing of crimes, again nothing to do with the Biden crime bill yet we’re still talking about it. His vote in favor of the Iraq war was based on the intelligence at the time, all the relevant nations, super powers, U.S. allies said Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction; years later we would find out he (Hussein) lied about having those weapons, historical documentaries likely available in the history channel archives demonstrating his delusions believing himself the reincarnation of the biblical Nebuchadnezzar, putting his face on coins, obsessed with rebuilding Babylon, still we should have made the gamble he didn’t possess such weapons after 9/11’s carnage, reasonable question could he be responsible for the next 9/11 style attack? We should have ignored and shunned our allies for sharing such intelligence; isn’t that one of the frightening criticisms of president Trump, what he has done to America’s relationship with our European allies that may be irreparable, if it is salvageable it will take decades to achieve? Kyle Kulinski known progressive talk show host did a segment on his show titled ‘Young Biden Proudly Supports ‘Prostituting’ Himself To Big Donors’ yet the story was about him being told by the standard establishment financing political campaigns at that time he was too young, come back at 40, him doing something new and seeking small dollar/public donations and winning; under any other circumstance we’d call that ingenuity, perseverance. Today it’s a strike against him he’ll go the usual route because it’s available to him, never mind one of the endorsements, donators is a union; a piece of advice to all the people who hate the status quo, the establishment (AKA the way things are), how about focusing on keeping the parts of the establishment, the normal order of things that do work, that don’t need to be ‘blown up,’ structures that do exist. And more to the deeper purpose of this article, regardless whether his recent meeting with Anita Hill, where she told media she was unsatisfied with his interaction, was a political stunt crossing off remorse boxes, badly atoning for past mistakes, or making it look that way, there isn’t a scintilla of anything he could have said to her that would have caused her to say anything else had he said it 5 minutes after the hearings were over and the decision made realizing his horrible mishandling of the situation or today 28 years later. It’s an increased seriousness variation on how Bill Maher described the ‘Apu problem’ admonishing removal of the 30 odd year old Simpson’s character exactly because it was/is 30 years old, we now know better so we do better, doing better does not mean erasing history; Biden handled Ms. Hill, held the viewpoint of the majority during the time, there is no indication 2020 even 2008 democratic candidate Biden still holds those views on any of the mentioned topics forget Ms. Hill’s sexual harassment claims against supreme court justice Clarence Thomas. The #metoo movement adding layers of tangible insight into how badly things were handled back then pertaining to nearly all cases of sexual harassment, sexual assault, including rape right up until the movement broke wide open what privileged white, rich, powerful or all of the above men had been getting away with for endless decades; yet, because he’s running for president he’s being held to today’s standard for past actions/decisions made under completely different criteria. Progressives unable to reconcile how he tells media he believes Ms. Hill while Clarence Thomas remains on the bench after her providing details like his leaving a pubic hair on a coke can; walling off the political and legal practicality of how do you remove a sitting supreme court justice, he believes Anita Hill now, in the modern era, who doesn’t believe her now looking at the rawness of her testimony, the chauvinistic, insensitive questions asked by an all-male congressional panel, especially after what #metoo exposed? Unclear is what he believed then during the hearing 1, 5, 10 years later recalling the American public didn’t believe the reality of police brutality until the Rodney King beating video was released; still post the King video in the 21st century suburban America thought the problem of police brutality solved, failed to believe wrongful shootings until video cellphones became commonplace and we got to see cops pile onto Eric Garner while huffing out the words I can’t breathe a double digit number of times— his crime allegedly selling loose cigarettes, we saw officer Michael Slager tase Walter Scott for running away, shoot him in the back 8 times and rifling his pockets putting in paperwork he gave Scott CPR showing he blatantly lied— Scott’s crime a broken taillight and unpaid child support. It’s seeing the dashcam video of Laquan McDonald walking away from police as they responded to a call about a person breaking into cars and frightening people, several police cars following him, a singular officer firing something in the neighborhood of 16 shots into McDonald’s body so much so it was smoking— the purported threat he was carrying a knife, later found to have PCP in his system, no match for the officers firepower, exhibited none of the chaotic signs of a current high on the drug; it’s watching the single seconds long video that turned out to be the end of Tamir Rice’s life in a park gazebo for waving what turned out to be a airsoft/pellet gun reported by park-goers, they rationalized it was likely fake but wanted to be sure, video belying their claim they told the 12, thought 20 year old, to put down his gun, changing their story they shouted the instructions from the car once footage was given to their superiors and released to the public. Newly released video of Sandra Bland’s arrest from her perspective via recordings on her cellphone contradicting what the officer testified to as to why he arrested her, putting her behind bars awaiting arraignment where she committed suicide, recordings her family says were withheld from the trial of that officer— her crime a traffic violation, failure to signal; it’s the attitude of gun wielding citizens a-la George Zimmerman shouting self-defense for what many view increasingly as cold blooded murder, Zimmerman, though acquitted, constantly in continued legal trouble independent his nuisance calling 9-1-1 about punks who always get away, who followed 17 year old Trayvon Martin when dispatcher said he didn’t need to do that, bringing a gun to a fist fight, Martin armed with skittles and ice tea, Martin who did belong in the neighborhood staying with his dad. Theodore Wafer’s response to someone knocking on his door in the wee hours of the morning looking for help after a car accident was to shoot the young woman, Renisha McBride, in the back of the head through his screen door as she stumbled away— jurors not buying his fear; it’s Michael Dunn’s opening fire on a car full of teens and their loud music because he thought he saw a gun, saying nothing to his girlfriend when she returned to his car, going home to walk his dog and order pizza, sealing his conviction racist jail house writings and phone call recordings illuminating he believes his murder of Jordan Davis was a public service removing a ‘thug’ off the face of the earth. Relevant also as the citizen end of things not touched off by the Biden crime bill, a bill not responsible either for the spate of #LivingWhileBlack instances of African Americans going about their business only to have the police called on them spawning internet memes like Barbeque Becky who called police about a black family using the grill space at a public park, Permit Patty, I.D. Adam, Pool Patrol Paula, Coupon Carl, Golf Cart Gale, License Plate Linda, the latest Campground Cathy who chased a black couple from her Mississippi camp ground rental area waving a gun, saying they didn’t belong there and to git, the way you might speak to a dog; adding insult to injury the husband of the African America couple a military veteran remarking he didn’t have guns pointed at him overseas in the middle east only to happen upon his return home because they dared look at a place to rent a camping cabin, racism people would not have believed if they had not seen cellphone shot video of it with their own eyes. Correlating all that to our discussion and how it relates to candidate Biden’s behavior, the countless women who spoke out about Bill Cosby were finally heard due to shifts in culture, an evolving understanding as the prevalence of rape, assault, harassment and predation predominately victimizing women came to be fully realized over the last 5 years; the continuities, similarities between their stories, the uncovered network of enablers, security, hush money payments doled out to women to keep them quiet, keep things out of the media. Comparable network built by Harvey Weinstein to pay off women, hiring former Israeli intelligence agents to discredit his accusers via the tabloids, threatening women with their careers, blacklisting if they don’t service him with sex, if she tells about what he’s doing; the women coming forward accusing now president Donald Trump of everything from groping, harassment, sexual assault to full on rape, listening to these women’s stories can’t help but move you coupled with the volume of accounts and the things they hold in common, how much of these instances were already known, overshadowed by the star power, veiled in rumor and innuendo synonymous with Hollywood. That does not mean Ms. Hill’s calculation of history is infallible relating to her case asserting #metoo might have started in 1991 had senator Joe Biden done his job i.e. allowed Ms. Hill’s witnesses to testify, stood up against the condescension, misogyny, asked serious/pertinent questions not ones designed to impugn her character and credibility owing to she dared accuse her boss, a sitting judge, of frankly disgusting sexual harassment and abuse. Again what did we expect her to say, she lived with the aftermath of the Clarence Thomas hearing, saw him confirmed to the supreme court despite her falling on her sword, revealing her shame, humiliation to America, was badmouthed by sections of her country for standing up to him only to nearly 30 years later see #metoo take off, crumble viewed powerful persons previously thought untouchable, doubtlessly wondering why it didn’t happen for her; still realistically he was one of several men who asked horrible questions to smear her, didn’t ask important questions that would have laid out damming evidence against Thomas, he too was merely one vote who did vote no on his confirmation and was outvoted by 52 to 48 in favor. Framing it accurately, the best she could hope for 3 decades ago was Thomas not achieving confirmation to the highest court, if she were extremely lucky adjusting anticipated outcomes for the decade in which they transpired, he would have subsequently lost his sitting judgeship AKA his then current job, henceforth known as a sexual harasser, victory for her assuredly, practicality wise momentum stopping there. Why not limited to the cultural shifts of the intervening years, changing views on the level of acceptability for sexist, sexually abusive behavior perpetrated by men as normal, it’s social media’s role in solidifying #metoo’s famous stories within the public consciousness, Bill Cosby’s former rape allegations and lengthy credible history of drugging and assaulting women was touched off vis-a-vis a joke told by upcoming comedian Hannibal Buress; lines in his routine calling out Cosby for his campaign to chastise the black community for their baggy pants while he’s been accused of rape that went viral sparking memes and journalistic investigation, eventually bringing forth north of 50 women victimized by the entertainer. Harvey Weinstein’s exposure began with excellent journalistic reporting by Ronan Farrow among others, Farrow brother to famous Mia Farrow ingrained in public knowledge for her child sex abuse accusations against actor Woody Allen, conceivably a deeply personal topic for him. The director’s beginning of the end coming off the heels of Bill O’Reilly’s long history of sexual harassment and cover-ups of said harassment being made public, touched off when Fox News anchor Gretchen Carlson legally challenged her workplace’s arbitration clause suing him and executive Roger Ailes for sexual harassment, both opening the door to shine a light on famous sexual predators throughout all facets of entertainment from photographers to Charlie Rose; Donald Trump’s run for president lead to the Access Hollywood tape and resurgence of allegations against him along with those who came forward incensed by his denial of actions they knew had taken place because it happened to them. That next lead to the journalist hashtag tweet me your first assault, #NotOkay ordinary men and women opening up about the assaults they’ve experienced often from very early in life, showing adult, authority response saying they made it up, touting the line boys will be boys or utterly ignoring troubling behavior in young boys/men, perpetrators on busses, old men grabbing tween girls genitals, doctors groping teen patients seeing a dermatologist, being fitted for contacts. Small rocks begetting an avalanche, Ms. Hill’s comment discounting positives to come out of that train wreck of a hearing namely the droves of women who saw what happened, who ran for office and won, the women who marched on capitol hill to see that she got a hearing in which to tell her story in the first place, congresswomen who demanded a place on the committees overseeing hearings like hers going forward so no future woman would find herself subjected to what Anita Hill was; we’ve all heard of the butterfly effect, enough people having seen the Ashton Kutcher movie of the same title to know the dangers in meddling with time, we’ve all seen the apocalyptic films about the inherent dangers of time travel, elements of Star Trek took it on, Harry Potter’s series contains the lines “awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time Harry” when he wants to kill the person who facilitated the death of his parents altering the timeline in unfathomable ways versus allowing the animal Buckbeak to get away, his godfather Sirius to free for a crime he didn’t commit and avoid the gruesome fate of having his soul sucked out, events slatted to take place in one night harry has a chance to change bettering the future not altering the past. Agreed Jill Biden shouldn’t have said it was time to move on from Anita Hill the way she did, yet on second thought maybe Dr. Biden who holds a doctorate in educational leadership, lessening the idea she’s speaking completely out of turn, was trying to point us in a different direction. Not to deflect from her husband’s mistake carrying as many reverberating consequences for woman in the workplace 1991 to present day as the no touching social etiquette emerging in American if we lose nuance talking about Joe Biden; seeking to instead suggest we move on from Anita Hill in a constructive manner? Forgetting if it was her intent or she was momentarily frustrated with that being the singular thing people want to bring up, rehash associated to her husband, isn’t it a worthy question how we give what happened to Ms. Hill its due, and move forward rather than continuing to be stuck on it like a broken record or, for the current generation, corrupted MP3 file. Absorbing the lesson and forging ahead so that it doesn’t become the #metoo movement’s Benghazi people uttering the 2 words Anita Hill like it’s a omni-faceted answer to everything plaguing women; sadly too wasn’t Hill eclipsed by Christine Blasey Ford in the hall of excruciatingly horrible senate hearings facing off against Bert Kavanaugh, where republicans hired a woman lawyer to ask the questions, running their agenda of course, where he virally faced off with senator Amy Klobuchar, news anchors to fellow senators noting his attitude toward her when she asked about his drinking relevant to the stories being told about how these incidents happened. Still he made it to the supreme court as did Thomas because republicans outnumbered democrats; democrats, man or woman, the only ones willing to seriously contemplate the varsity of Blasey Ford’s testimony, the publicized stories involving other women he is accused of misconduct with, democrats who asked all the right questions of both her and Kavanaugh, him obfuscating, her memory vague in some places both with years and the details assault victims almost never remember. Average person opinion split to how can you test the truthfulness of knowledge on 1980’s high school/teen slang, an ancient calendar of his college or high school activities complete with friend nicknames, supposed euphemisms for drinking and anal sex. Finally here, there are plenty of people who won’t vote for Joe Biden based on his stance on bussing and what that shows about his views on race to their mind, which is their right, there are swaths of people who will choose almost anyone but Biden based on the crime bill he authored and the present day reverberating consequences for African Americans, minorities because of his legislation and his vote, unquestionably their prerogative, there are younger people who will refuse to vote for Biden citing his vote for the Iraq war and what we found out about the WMD that wasn’t there, the politicians pushing their own agenda whereas the people who spoke out against it were 1,000% right, their decision since they are the ones being sent off to war, full disclosure this author has already solidified their mind to vote for Berne Sanders in the primary and whatever democrat is on the final ticket in 2020. But to try and smear Biden as a pervert, to try and make Biden a #metoo case in the same vein as Weinstein, Cosby, moguls like Steve Wynn and what he was doing to female masseuses in his giant office space annex, the work culture at Kay jewelers still being made public, who not only had rampant sexual assault going on in various parts of the country but was practicing pay inequity and forcing employees to sign arbitration clauses keeping the details of both away from public and the court, the attractiveness rating system Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez reveals she encountered at a waitressing job before becoming a congresswoman, a case of bona fide workplace sexism/misogyny, is just as wrong.
It’s a sad commentary in America housekeeping staff for hotels need security services and panic buttons to prevent sexual harassment/outright assault, that women who chose to be long haul truck drivers are exposing themselves to increasing sexual harassment, that as late as 2018 when ABC’s Diane Sawyer unveiled her then latest Hidden America piece we hadn’t got the message ‘my working as a waitress isn’t carte blanche for drunk patrons of establishments that sell liquor or go by the unfortunate name Hooters to grope my chest and grab my backside at their will.’ That we are still hearing stories like those from congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez, T.V. shows like Bar Rescue showing it to be far from isolated incidents and old people in workplaces at still stuck in a different decade. Said disclaimer, caveat put forth, A-America is hearing about it, news stories like Sawyer’s are being aired, citizens being made aware, B-the people in those situations found a way to overcome workplace bullying, succeed in the male dominated trucking industry and at least one company was taking steps, drastic though they may seem, appalling though it is they are necessary, to keep workers safe on the job in a vital function providing the panic buttons and security. Pulling back from the common workplace harassment, touching we should all be against, cold, hard fact is uncomfortable encounters don’t always involve touch and have nothing to do with the sexual connotations touch can encompass, sexual connotations absent touch going well beyond weeny wagging flashers unsolicited exposure randomly showing women their penises, sexually suggestive, lude comments, catcalls, off color sexually laced jokes heard everywhere from on the street to in the office; further shouldn’t we be doing more about those problems ahead of talking about Joe Biden’s ‘victim characterized’ non-sexual gestures/behaviors? It can be the intimidation, workplace bullying scores of employees face minus any sexual harassment component at all; not helped in the least by the staggering percentages of CEO’s and like managers who may indeed be psychopaths and got into their positions by exhibiting such traits. In addition to the sexual harassment claims against the owners and anchors at Fox News there was the bullying, racist comments run rampant O’Riley himself allegedly referring to one employee as hot chocolate while grunting at her, a female executive who was fired after it surfaced she forced black employees to repeat words she believed black people pronounced incorrectly, ratcheting it up a notch, doing so with the entire accounting team in her office as well instead of at minimum in private, like the whole thing wasn’t the apex of absurd to begin with, and regularly mocked the Black Lives matter movement by mandating employees say good night to her and her response would be ‘hands up don’t shoot,’ when encountering back employees in the hall or walking to the bathroom she would do so in the same fashion as the BLM protestors. Seeing an employee with a large bag taking home her lunch or dinner she didn’t finish, making conversation offering the was planning to give it to her kids, boss responding oh you have children, upon learning the woman had 3, asking all by the same man i.e. the same father; inappropriate being the beginning of the analysis of things transpiring at what is supposed to be a business. Still more of a toxic culture to work in, that same executive referring to a breast cancer sufferer as ‘cancer girl’ one ‘boob girl;’ reminding us of the horrors exposed at Amazon breathtaking insensitivity to a worker who had had a miscarriage pressing her to go on a business trip the next day, doling out a low performance rating to an employee shortly post returning from thyroid cancer treatment, employees who spent their days seeing at least one co-worker crying at their desk. Remember the why behind women fleeing tech was never math is hard, coding too complicated/complex instead it was having to negotiate unpaid maternity leave only to be tethered to a beeper tearing yourself apart between it and your infant crying son, it’s not having any place to pump breast milk while trying to go back to work post childbirth forced to go home after 2 hours; it was/is the work environment where women found themselves the only member of their gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, the only mother with a new infant, school age child, the only older individual. Amazon’s work culture story was 2015 by 2018 it was the near slave labor conditions and bad handling of workman’s comp claims leaving one injured worker homeless sleeping in her car, doubtlessly detrimental to her injured back from a broken work station, reminiscent of the poultry workers denied bathroom breaks to the point of workers donning diapers; neither do you have to be an illegal immigrant or guest worker to be desperate enough for your job to ignore the pain and fingernails falling off from pant tools and conditions. Workplace violence surpassing the roughly 6 year old caught on tape video of workers destroying another’s cubical, computer, phone to ending disputes in fisticuffs; the anchor, Sean Hannity, who reportedly waved a gun at his fellow African American anchor Juan Williams off-air, who would want to work in such a crazy environment, has got to be just as, if not more, disconcerting than any harassment sexual or otherwise. Likely superseding the pilot’s plain clothes speech about her divorce that sent passengers scurrying for the exits before the plane took off, who could forget the rash of flight attendant meltdowns from ranting about job stress, railing on flyers, quitting over the PA to showing signs of true mental health disturbance shouting about the plane crashing or explosives on board; things we might want to deal with before we get lost in the noise of Joe Biden seeing as that particular subset of work stress can cause heart problems according to recent studies. Flight personnel meltdowns rivaled only these days by passenger freak-outs, unruly passengers screaming ranting, brawling in the aisles frequently drunk or having an Ambien reaction; decidedly uncomfortable and something we get through if we fly, discomfort that could be eased by making seats big enough for actual human beings (before getting into a side discussion about fat people on planes), retuning passengers leg room to what it was decades ago before profit and packing people like sardines was the goal and talk about the one place that should be a dry campus 30,000 feet if nowhere else. But Joe Biden; anyone else feel like we’re hearing a version of what went on with Hillary Clinton in regards to her private server and discarded correspondence, but her e-mails ring a bell? Violence taking on a whole new meaning in the modern era when you seriously have to think about what if your co-worker, god forbid boss comes in with a gun, weapon, a fired employee does the same seeing as the Virginia Beach man who killed 12 had just resigned before indiscriminately mowing down people with a rifle and at least one pistol, the Illinois man who opened fired on his workplace, a workplace as well as state background check that missed his Mississippi felony barring him from having a gun he was temporarily permitted for then law enforcement never removed upon getting the federal/national results, the young man who killed 6 at his Fed X job joking to friends about doing that exact thing before it happened, the man in Kansas who went on a rampage after receiving an order of protection to stay away from his girlfriend to name a few already etched in memory. When the nature of your job makes you a target from the therapist stabbed by her patient to the Arizona mental health professional who ran a court ordered psych eval as part of a woman’s contentious divorce only to have her ex-husband gun him down in an murder spree killing anyone associated with the case; beyond the hospital worker who was gunned down when a fired doctor returned to take out his revenge subbing for a different nurse, hospitals where devastated and distraught people learning bad news about themselves, a loved one making hospital personnel a target, ER increasingly a target for violence slaps, kicks bites commonplace, sandwiched in the middle of domestic disputes as the injured show up for treatment also spilling over into the workplace when their partners try to hurt them at work. The Maryland newspaper who found itself a target because someone didn’t like the accurate content printed about them resulting in 5 dead, the dawning realization no place is truly safe from the factory plant, to the grocery store to the outdoor concert to the college bar, when it’s not guns it’s crazy guys with machetes or hammers or just ready to pounce on you with their fists for no discernable reason, but we are talking about hands on shoulders, rubbing noses, kisses on heads and Joe Biden. Yet uncomfortable can only be the product of some sexually harassing, entitled misogynist, what Amy Lappos tried to imply Biden was, wrong; it can be uncomfortable to give a statement to police about your car accident, what you witnessed, to testify in court, it is still required. It can be uncomfortable to give a school presentation at the front of the class, participate in gym, you still have to do your homework, you still have to participate; it can be uncomfortable for you to get on an elevator if you have a phobia of elevators, it can be uncomfortably difficult to leave your house if you are agoraphobic, crowds at places like the mall can be a problem on a comfort level for people who are claustrophobic. You either work through it or around it the world is not expected to shift to accommodate you; discomforts that have nothing to do with another person. Of those scenarios involving touch we’ve all been in that overcrowded elevator, the packed subway, sold out concert having our personal space violated by circumstance, a large percentage of us have endured cheek pinching relatives, hugs from distant relatives we haven’t seen in forever or are meeting for the first time and do we need to give kids the room to push back against adults and say no to intrusive relatives they don’t know forcing hugs, cheek pinching on them; yes, yes, a thousand times yes, concurrently do we need to have autism, sensory processing disorder friendly public places, transportation yes, yes, a thousand times yes. But there is a reason for everyone else to come out shouting suck it up and deal, not every invasion of personal space that happens to encompass touch is either sexual or bullying sometimes it’s merely someone who is awkward, doesn’t pick up on the standard social cues, the drunk at the bar who is unquestionably hetero but insists on putting his arm around male patrons and attempting to get them to go along with his off key rendition of insert song here_____ doling out life advice to the entire establishment to lighten up in slurred tones, the person who believes themselves a greater/deeper friend to you than he actually is, is just that friendly and exudes that kind of energy; not everything that makes you, individual X, feel uncomfortable is socially wrong or legally criminal, has to do with sexual harassment, creepy/pervy people with no respect. Forgotten entirely is the people who draw others to them in this way and get something positive out of the interaction because that’s true. Getting back to the central topic, I’ve talked periodically about my personal experience with uncomfortable situations that were never sexual, didn’t always involve touch that could hardly be remotely misconstrued in such a way; from the teacher who only increased my growing dislike of her when while trying to ascertain why one of her students struggled so much in her class that functioned more like group therapy than the practical art it was described as, asking why I was afraid to have fun while the class was engaged in their usual daily goofing off was so close to me I couldn’t have formulated an answer if I wanted to for nervousness, who was looking at me even from a side profile and not once thought she should back up, take the conversation into the hallway in semi-privacy, the de-stressing room she set up for students who needed it coping with heavy stuff at home, nearly anything but look down on me, further dislike me for my non-answer, whatever stumbling word salad a threw at her just to get her to move away from me. In Biden’s defense he was standing behind Ms. Flores and couldn’t see her facial expression to pick up on her discomfort. I was further upset with her and all similar encounters with my teachers because they failed to pick up on those cues dealing with kids, students all day, possessing the training to recognize such things and not doing so. To the fellow job placement participant who treated everyone like one of her grandchildren who in the midst of giving me an attitude lecture was looming over me as I sat in an office chair and was bracing herself by inadvertently putting her hands over my wrists on the chair arms, so close I could also smell her coffee breath and how whatever it was she was saying, whatever value it had lost in my nervous bordering on panic at what she was doing; again I blame the astounding inability to pick up on a social cue, the tranced out to pained look on someone’s face that should have been an indicator for her to stop. I’ve described my college speech teacher misidentifying my race and ethnicity in front of the whole class and my conflicted feelings regarding his words asserting as far as he knew there were no African Americans in class that night as I said beside him in the circle desks were arranged into so everyone could see the speech segments we were viewing for analysis, words that I continue to remember today upset back then once more he’s an educator and he didn’t know if he had to preface his statement the way he did he shouldn’t have said it. Uncomfortable situations that forwent touch mostly and I’m writing in defense of Joe Biden on this singular issue because the chief reason I never spoke up too forcefully, never reported these persons to college administration, job placement supervisors, any form of authority is that I didn’t want to ruin another person’s life, didn’t think it worth, rising to the level of necessitating going down that road; seeing what happened with vice president, presidential candidate Biden only serves to solidify my stance. My examples hardly new to blog followers instead always couched in pieces on the dangers of ultra-obedience we expect our kids to give teachers, other authority figures laying out vividly the unintended consequences showcasing real-life scenarios that did indeed happen besides myself from the fast-food scam where a man repeatedly called such restaurants saying they were police, some aspect of law enforcement and getting managers to undress and perform sex acts on female workers only to face serious charges once discovered, the 18 year old fast food worker stripped naked, spanked then demanded to perform oral sex when asked why she put up with all that cited being raised to when an adult told you to do something you do it. Kids who’ve gone off with strangers because school staff mistook the adult for their after school care, thankfully usually confused grandparents picking up the wrong child. Conditioning bleeding into the workplace in less dramatic ways with people unable to do things as simple as stand up to their boss and say this isn’t may work (that instance a secretary berated for another’s shoddy work though their initials were at the bottom of the document and the initials did not match the person telling the story) dynamics mostly effecting women, but when they attempt to stick up for themselves they are called pushy, told they are too emotional. Encompassed in the negative experiences teachers, administrators, school staff orchestrate that aren’t seen as glaring bad, incompetent but are disastrous to what’s meant to be a learning environment, making kids hate school, absorb less information, even traumatized not by peer bullying but teacher abuse; beyond the remaining nuns smacking fingers with rulers, the lasting impact of what they did decades ago, teachers caught on video berating small grade schoolers, teachers dragging students around the classroom, down hallways for minor behavior issues, resource officers gone wild doing much of the same only with a badge. And I’m writing this now in defense of platonic touch because I’ve seen the other side of it, I remember the young man who frequently road the para-transit version of my area’s city bus who always talked out how much he liked me, fawned over me with the sweetness of a child years younger than his physical age owing to his developmental delay and I remember finally telling him to please not say things like that because others would be tempted to be upset, possibly hit him, physically hurt him; next I watched how crushed he was by what I said, I watched him crumple because I tried to tell him something that was over his head, something he couldn’t understand. Speaking of the developmentally delayed and the differently abled what do we do, how do we approach persons with conditions like downs syndrome, the love and hugs they put in the world just as much a part of themselves as their distinctive features; are we willing to sacrifice adaptive and inclusive workplaces like the ‘hugs’ café employing the developmentally delayed giving them a purpose and a way to contribute to society, are we ready to give them a pass while demanding everyone else never touch another person without a marriage license, without explicit consent for everything hugs, support via hands on shoulders to full on mutually desired sex? I talk regularly about my friend and the endless encounters she’s had with men bluntly asking her out, making lude comments to a woman who’s plain Jane, wears jeans and t- shirts, shorts and tank tops (that’s a sleeveless t-shirt, not a halter top/tube top) offering a practical reasoning for why she does at times wear her swimsuit top out an about (when your main mode of transportation is your feet, it’s 90+ degrees outside and you have asthma but need to go to the store, the pharmacy, laundry matt choices are limited); phenomenon happening to her husband frequently too having to relentlessly tell women he’s married therefore uninterested in their attentions, to get off him because he doesn’t want to flirt, he’s happy where he is so go away. I’ve talked about the number of professionals my friend has come across who can’t afford to miss the social cues she was giving off signaling she has a past, has some kind of trauma that needs to be respected; her problem was the male doctor who was helping deliver her son who would not get his hands off her neck when requested without both her and her husband detailing her prior abuse and him stepping in to focus his wife on breathing correctly to bring their child into the world, the level of detail she is repeatedly forced to give before people comply with her requests for strangers to give her space. The same with the number of nurses who have asked every time she delivered each of her 5 kids if she was safe with her husband, who for the record has never hit her, tried to, all because he was loud and took no nonsense coming partly from his military service. Her problem was the doctor at urgent care seeing her toddler 2 or not even yet 2 for suspected RSV who kept advancing on her in a small space, who kept getting entirely too close to her as she spoke about her son’s symptoms to where her natural defenses and having attended self-defense classes in her youth began it kick in, his interest in her not her son’s health; her issue is with women who randomly come up to her offering unsolicited advice whether it’s telling her she needs to wear a bra or trying to discreetly offer her one, commenting on her parenting, her fully aware she has 5 rambunctious boys, 2 with diagnoses, but she bit back perfectly looking at the one woman’s children she encountered saying at least hers had a personality versus her critic saying hers looked afraid of her. We’ve both had odd, unnerving encounters with the public, people eyeballing her or her children in a creepy way sans comment, sans touching, sans sexual undertone, her sensitive to such ogling because she’s literally thwarted attempted kidnappings of her babysitting charges; people who feel free to get up in her face because she dares verbally defend herself in a debate or argument. I’ve talked about the old lady in the pharmacy who mistook a total stranger for my mother and started babbling about career support services, both of us were at the local mall when a woman came up, said hello to me like she knew me thought I was a friend of her son Nick, though the woman was vaguely familiar I had no idea what she was talking about, while I was walking to my housing manager’s office I had I guy trying to be friendly hi, how are you, blathering in my ear at one point trying to get me to say cuss words for the fun of it plainly drunk or high while his friend sat back and watched the spectacle me ignoring the person who never made me feel either threatened or sexualized, annoyed a better description than harassed. Did I, either of us think any of the listed persons should be arrested, face charges, no, do I, either of us, want them publically shamed until they lose their job, have people surrounding their home, no, we just want them to stop doing such things, stop having to handle weird unprovoked interactions; the lone time she called police it was at my urging when she was walking to my house doing laundry to be hassled by my new neighbors across the street who were chronically loud at night, standing out more than the persons in the public housing units, scared her with their drunken behavior where there had been no problems before, plus we wanted authorities to talk to them, tell them they’re bothering others, whatever police did there was never another issue. I am writing in defense of Joe Biden because I don’t want any more little boys treated like the one in that corner store regardless what race he is or isn’t because touch has gradually become so abhorrent bushing against someone in a crowded space, when they are taking up an aisle, when you have things on your mind or are a child, becomes a crime; I voiced my fears about being similarly accused after bumping into someone because my cerebral palsy means I don’t possess the balance of the average person. I don’t want the story of the girl with a more severe form of the disorder turned away from the nail salon because of her jerky movements and inability to hold still to the manicurist’s satisfaction or ability level to become commonplace, acceptable; I don’t want the kindness of the store worker who helped an autistic boy with downs syndrome set up his i-pad as a communications tool, who when he ran into the store’s glass doors taking the time to calm him down, the worker who helped a person with cerebral palsy eat his McDonald’s order to disappear because after no touching comes don’t be kind lest it be viewed as sinister, exploitative. I’m worried about discouraging empathetic young people like those who had the perfect response to the younger autistic boy at the skate park who welcomed him, helped him learn to skate, accepted him and his quirks. Its bad enough most cities, states, municipalities have Good Samaritan laws stating if a layperson, civilian acts in good faith to say administer first-aid, CPR and you break a rib (outcome that can happen when done correctly) the recipient can’t sue them out of everything they own. The following taken from a YouTube news video exploring the Biden accusations, “I’m a senior citizen. I helped another senior citizen in the grocery store today to locate an item. To show gratitude to me, she hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. Should I accuse her of violating me?” It’s another sad day in America when this average person’s question has to be given serious contemplation while crafting counters to the meme nicknamed persons in paragraph 3; carry that out to its logical conclusion do we want these people so frightened by people different from them doing normal activities suddenly calling the police because 2 or more people are hugging, somehow touching in a platinic, non-sexual way? Worth finding is an episode of the short lived TV show Jerimiah the episode about the town of May Fair in a post-modern plague world where only the children survived 15 years before, authorities that grew out of the apocalypse forbidding touching of any kind in an attempt to ascertain whether or not the virus that nearly wiped out the human race was air born. What actually happened, they stoned 2 teenagers who ran to the woods to have sex, planning to live together the way a married couple would and stoned a woman who acted as mother to a young girl for comforting her through touch when she was sick, Jeremiah’s exposure of what they were doing and why putting a stop to it. Mika Brzezinski holding one last nugget of personal perspective worth hearing, remarking if the next time she sees Biden he doesn’t give her a hug and a kiss (his apparent customary greeting of her a years long friend) it won’t be the Biden she knew tone indicating the world will have lost something good and wholesome if that’s the case. As detailed in the paragraph above there isn’t one thing Biden could have done, can do to change the named women’s opinion of him, to put the genie back in the bottle where the inappropriate touching story is concerned, people who were/are more than willing to use that story as reason to hate him, choose not to vote for him so he might as well be himself, he might as well continue being who he’s always been whether the physical interactions he initiates are his way of putting more love in the world or actions that make him feel whole and connected as a fully actualized human being. Worth shouting 99% of the people he encounters don’t have a problem with, wealth and Wall Street isn’t the only arena where the 1% shouldn’t be the focus; isn’t authenticity something we are also clamoring for in our politicians, then when he is we flay him for it?
Utterly detrimental this is happening now when we ourselves have as a nation an epidemic of loneliness expanding across the country, people young to old feeling more alone and isolated than ever before, spikes in suicides decimating certain demographics in America; a section of the opioid crisis and following addiction deaths are labeled deaths of despair, consequence of drastic declines in areas like Appalachia, the rust belt, men who can’t provide for their family, get a living wage job, keep their farm, livestock and generate a living wage, something sustainable to pass on to their families, younger generations who are completely disinterested in the family business, and inducing a double emotional blow, are leaving their small town and parents for greener pastures via metropolitan areas. In addition to the staggering statistics on youth suicide, teen depression, teen mental illness going untreated, the changing dynamics of youth suicide tied to social media, pockets of suicide including 6 at one high school, the story of parents who suddenly lost their daughter, who couldn’t reconcile the kid they thought they had a solid relationship with, was still talking to them unlike stereotypical teens, who was excited about her school’s robotics team going to a competition just before she ended her life with the self-hatred, worthlessness found in her journal college loans are spelling suicide for recent borrowers coming out of education and confronting such vast numbers they now owe. There are the soldiers experiencing PTSD, anxiety and accounting for suicides 1.5 times greater than the general population; police officers so concerned about their fitness for the job, what their fellow officers would think, the fear they wouldn’t work with someone seeking help, they won’t take advantage of offered counseling services. Doctor known to be a stressful job long before you get to holding people’s lives in your hands, med school, internship, residency all-encompassing grueling hours, 24 hour plus long shifts a rite of passage; once achieving their full credentials, employment at a hospital, establishing a practice suicides have become a different kind of epidemic, again fearing to seek professional help or talk to anyone if it will go on their records. Physician burn out plaguing the profession; burn out, regardless your job, was just deemed a certified condition by the World Health Organization, suicides among the general population not separated by job, calculated stress level of that job on the rise, but don’t hug people, don’t offer physical comfort even when it’s obviously desired, don’t you dare do what Joe Biden is doing. And with it comes the subconscious message don’t take the time to listen to someone, whether they may be in trouble or not, get to know someone to the point they would be comfortable accepting a hug from you, an arm around them, a hand on their arm or shoulders. To the youth end of the mental health and suicide numbers which one of these schools do you readers think was doing a service to the community the ones banning hugs for the erroneous reason of curbing sexual harassment or the one creating a suicide prevention program training nominated students to help their classmates and friends, giving kids the vocabulary to talk about mental illness, to know how to ask for help and get it, reduce the stigma in getting help; do you seriously think some of the peer relationships and resulting connections didn’t involve hugs, hands on arms or shoulders, resting on someone’s back, but Joe Biden did something wrong in his leadership role in America doing those things. Reminds me of a news show I saw on the Kennedy’s the presidential advisor who thought he was going to lose his job for picking up a crying pre-school age JFK Jr., who of course didn’t because he was president not insane. Who’s doing more, schools who suspend students for hugging their teacher, their own parent on school grounds or the teacher who, drawing from her own experience of having attended the high school where she now teaches and witnessing a stabbing during those years, knowing how it affected her, added a mood board to her langue arts classroom encouraging kids to put down how they were doing/feeling that day including herself, checking in with students who put themselves in the bottom 2 categories ‘I’m having a hard time and wouldn’t mind a check in,’ and ‘I’m in a really dark place.’ Going back to her time in school, feeling invisible to almost of her teachers because she never talked about things bothering her, setting aside class time for her students to talk through a sharing circle, share things going on in their lives giving them an opportunity to open up, learn they are not alone and acquire valuable emotional intelligence in the process; who thinks this has never involved a hug, a pat on the back, an arm around a classmate, hands on shoulders, perhaps a kiss to the forehead, missing any claims of the inappropriate either against the teacher or other students, but Joe Biden is guilty of being creepy because he tried to give that to various members of the public he encountered in a plethora of situations. Results speaking louder than anything in the grades that went up, students who never spoke in class who now do, making them seem more outgoing and confident priming them to do well in job interviews and the workforce, students who described the class as feeling like family and making them more comfortable with their classmates; variations adopted as far away as New Zealand possibly the highest compliment for an education system and educators always getting a bad rap. Or calm rooms meant to help students learn to manage their emotions and deal with the traumas kids are exposed to today parents/grandparents didn’t face in their formative years during the 50’s 60’s 70’s and early 80’s producing marked improvements in student behavior particularly for the ones at risk; why do the addition of animals into schools as reading buddies, classroom additions always improve reading ability, classroom function, overall well-being of students and teachers alike, it’s not just linked to the documented calming effect animals i.e. cats and dogs have on humans but the non-judgmental aura coming off of them, the feeling kids, people get interacting with them of unconditional love, the sense they can tell them anything; incentivizing good behavior so students can earn time with the dogs. Which conversation is poised to have the greater impact, the parent lead coalition seeking to cut down on Iowa’s spiking youth suicide rate, highest in the nation according the parent compiled statistics, yoga classes for elementary school kids, an LGBT youth group, girl’s circles run out of one alternative school facilitated by 2 retired counselors getting participants to drop their mobile devices and spend time either listening or speaking, a program deferring kids from more serious juvenile court consequences to a literacy program filled with books exploring real barriers and challenges for youth, group meeting for analysis and discussion, or a conversation about Joe Biden’s unintentional instances of making someone uncomfortable? That loneliness certain subsets of society may find dramatic referring to is as an epidemic shown to be deadly, touching off conditions like depression in turn seen to be as detrimental to the body as high cholesterol, obesity and smoking, spelling decreased immunity that can lead to cancer in the long term but assuredly increased sickness in the short term, a key factor in cognitive decline, but don’t interact with people if it involves any physical contact is the message we are giving going after Joe Biden; social isolation defined as prolonged stretches without human contact shown to generate negative effects mirroring common lifestyle related illnesses to the point of causing heart failure patients to be 3.5 times more likely to die than ones with strong social connections, loneliness not sleep deprivation might be at another cause for truck drivers who see things on the road at night that aren’t there. The reason a dementia friendly town in Belgium produces such positive results in the community has taken it upon themselves to see sufferers have care givers allowing them to stay in their homes longer, continue participating in liked activities, be a contributing part of their community, carers providing increased connections and in Belgium they aren’t afraid of hugs, hands on shoulders, kisses on foreheads and so on are not synonymous with sexual harassment or misogyny; shops identify themselves as dementia friendly with signs and workers there know they will have to do certain things for their customers like help with money, listen to repeated phrases, stories exc., translating to they also understand those behaviors as signs of dementia, a medical condition not a horrid personality or character flaw. One of the consequences of modern life philosophies couched in pull yourself up by your bootstraps and no free lunches is projecting the idea we don’t need people, a community a physical social network, not the electronic one, people who lose their job and with it losing the social connections, pieces of their identity, the isolation of stay at home mothers from friends who aren’t parents, people at totally different stages in their life, the misperception stay at home parenting means less work and stress on that parent. Social structures and opportunities to make friends so regimented without immediately looking so, it is difficult for people to make new/different friends outside the institutions of pre-12 education, college, grad school; religious services no longer serve the mass communal function they once did especially for younger people and little has cropped up in society to replace it. Lagging connections exacerbated by struggling millennials moving to new cities consumed with building their career, paying off student debt and meeting their basic needs like housing neither have the funds to do fun activities available in their new area or the energy to participate, put in the effort; people marrying and having children later one listed cause for increased loneliness. How far individuals have to move away from initial social groups of family and friends to blame too; we see it with millennials who move states away to go to college only to constantly be ‘in crisis,’ unable to manage on their own, flunk out or drop out, move back home not necessarily with their parents but to their home town, attributed to helicopter parenting, over parenting, children bubble wrapped and duct-taped, written off as this generation and it’s litany of negative traits. Never considered they need that network of friends, social connections to thrive, to fully actualize, they are the embodiment of the notion humans are social creatures; but, if you are socially awkward, did not make friends in the usual way or were physically isolated for any reason, you’re out of luck on making lasting connections, forging bonds as an adult unless it’s through dating and marriage. We have a crisis among America’s male youth from toxic masculinity to the emotional/psychological dynamics that land people in to white supremacist groups most known for the rally in Charlottesville, synagogue shootings here, the mosque bombings in New Zealand; patterns of at risk boys products of chaotic home life not getting the attention needed falling into the jaws of hate groups as much for a place to belong, a sense of solidarity and comradery as belief in their ideology. So called incels have resorted to plastic surgery in order to get dates they are so desperate and sexually frustrated; while we know young boys need mentors beyond their parents to help mold them into the good men we want them to be, understand the positives of programs like Big Brothers Big Sisters providing that mentorship to children who don’t have that same gender parent influence in their life. Who will we scare off from such programs for fear if they put their arm around someone they’ll be called handsy al-a Joe Biden as if the molestation scandals surrounding adjacent organizations like the boy scouts hasn’t made potential mentors think twice, but we are talking about Joe Biden; god forbid he be an example of how you can put more physical, non-sexual affection in the world, how you can be a better man, express your emotions as a man in a constructive way key when we have a Gillette ad tackling negative male behaviors far below the level of toxic masculinity. A panel of high school boys telling MSNBC’s Stephanie Ruhle after Parkland things like they been told to ‘man up’ having no idea what that means, the hardest part of growing up is hiding their pain, feeling unable to express themselves, social constraints making them thus feel trapped; on the other side if they get through it, people will see them as strong and tough. Their attitudes on crying, not knowing what to do with a fellow guy who is crying, one brave enough to say he just needs a hug, that young man telling the story willing to provide it awkwardly, reluctantly both vowing never to talk about it; others when they cry actively confused about why they are crying, firmly believing they shouldn’t be crying about whatever it is, and when Ruhle tried to interject because it’s normal he says it is but it isn’t and the group knowingly laughs, meaning it’s normal but they are taught to be above it, saying it’s human bit it’s not man, i.e. manly, the picture society is giving them of what a man is supposed to be. Speaking to that boy becomes man isolation, that if they aren’t part of the typical guy group in their middle/junior high school, high school neighborhood, they essentially have no one, whereas girls branch out and have more friends to start with, a trend that lasts throughout men’s lives. They talked about how relatable the reasons for the latest school shooter were to them, the amount of emotions, emotional baggage they are holding inside and picking up a gun the way the parkland shooter did is a type of release for what they are carrying around, highlighting it will probably never be a girl attempting a mass shooting because they have more socially acceptable outlets than guys; let’s face it if a fellow woman had done the same thing to these women are calling out Joe Biden for, even to a man, there would be no conversation, isn’t that also sexist while being entirely factual? Listening to groups like the one moderated by Ruhle and we’re virtually saying don’t hug people, we’re telling people Joe Biden‘s age don’t you dare commit fatherly gestures like that kiss on the forehead or you will be labeled a pervert, a sexual predator, don’t be an example of the reality it is ok to show emotion, it is ok as a man to at least offer physical comfort hugs, hands on shoulders, exc. while elsewhere in the country addressing the ‘disease’ known under the umbrella toxic masculinity they’re pointing to Mr. Rogers as an instance of gentle masculinity, Mr. Rogers who do those things on his kids program and no one ever called him creepy, there were never any hints of accusations versus other famous personalities. We’re record stressed out in America, record unhappy not hard to comprehend why, the economic stresses of the great recession that haven’t eased for millions, realistic fears of another potential recession on the horizon, the rising costs of healthcare, student loan debt talked about earlier, job stress and the feeling no matter how hard you work you’ll never get ahead, provide the life you want for your family, meet their basic needs in some cases, fears about climate change and a president whose rhetoric throws the nation into chaos daily; at the same time, people aren’t talking about their issues partly because they don’t believe anyone to confide in, their problems serious enough to seek out a professional help and any man watching what Flores and Loppos said doesn’t dare seek support even from a girlfriend lest he be similarly accused. Voided from the conversation Flores at least wants to start is those who need to be hugged, who thrive on casual touch within our social norms to be fully functional, actualized sentient beings, on the other end of the spectrum people, we can safely assume Biden is one, who need to give touch and hugs, tactile comfort within the bounds of our social mores to feel like a complete whole human being; ignored the positive impacts of places like the nicknamed the hugs café that employs those with developmental delay the response generated by their hugs and bight cheery dispositions on the customers. Remember Kleenex’s let it out campaign inviting people to talk about the emotional things bothering them given, they are selling a product, a product people used to blow their nose, wipe their eyes and they will make more profits if people buy more tissues to do so, yet it resonated with the country speaking to a need some people have dido their care campaign putting personal inspirational messages on tissue packaging to send to someone. Post Secret still exists its creator still getting pounds and pounds of mail divulging people’s secrets indicating Americans need for a safe environment to share the deepest parts of themselves they sadly feel they can’t share with their family, romantic partners or friends. Worth legitimately asking is where this phobia of casual physical contact comes from for those who weren’t physically and sexually abuse throughout their life, experience no neglect in childhood, those who haven’t been constantly sexually assaulted or harassed throughout their time in society; studies showing our like or dislike for hugs can be traced to childhood and how you were raised if your family was comfortable with hugging and showing affection you likely are too, if they were less so you probably mimic them, all the more excuse not to go after someone like Joe Biden. Look at the veterans mental health support group/group therapy where you see participants holding the hand of someone sharing, hugging them, the founder of the support group going with a group of vets to the Vietnam war memorial helping a participant take an etching of a classmates name hugging him as he sobbed upon finding it; so the public’s future stance is meant to be don’t do that? In video of freshman congresswoman Rashida Tlaib testifying to a congressional panel on the domestic terror threat of white supremacy, describing the death threats her and her office receive, getting emotional talking about the attacks on Muslims being one herself, talking about wanting to go home to her 2 boys, someone reaching over and rubbing her back as she tried to control herself and continue her speech; they shouldn’t do that, that’s going to be the social policy from now on? Regarding the therapy/support group oh that’s ok precisely because it’s therapy, the only place we can receive the affection and care we need to meet our basic human emotional needs is to attach ourselves to a support group/pay significant amounts of money to psychotherapists independent it would engineer increased situations for unscrupulous therapists to exploit their vulnerable patients, consistent trope starting sexual relationships with them, compounded by the psychological phenomenon known as transference where patients during treatment who come to believe they are in love with their therapist. But millennials, gen Zers according to the mentioned progressives seem to understand what older generations do not that you can’t just randomly put your hands on people like that absent permission and if you do…uh gross; no here’s what millennials, gen Z understand the free mom hugs response generated at that pride parade again highlighting a need for such interactions for everyone not just the marginalized by sexual orientation/gender identity as exhibited by the proffered instances above. They are the ones responsible for buddy benches at schools across the country where those looking for friends can find one/ those looking to make friends can seek out companionship; their own brainchild solution to no friends and no one to play with. To programs where no one at school eats lunch alone, apps like sit with us that not only curb bullying but forge connections, friendships, making middle and high school something much brighter than the hell scape the tormented among us remember wishing we could forget. They are the ones who knew exactly what to do with that autistic grade schooler in the park, having no trouble accepting his hugs, warm and friendly demeanor They are the ones encompassing the 11 year old who set out to grant the simple wishes of the nursing home residents at her mother’s work happily fielding the grateful hugs again no one would dare call inappropriate; but the boys who are obsessed with WWII and made a friend from one of the remaining living vets from that era shouldn’t have run up to hug him when a meeting was arranged; blending the generations each learning from the other, the man having a place he finally felt comfortable telling his war stories he’d kept to himself, isn’t that what we’re always pushing for to bridge the generation gap? Recalling why those middle and high school kids were hugging each other from hello’s to providing support on a bad day, who in the world doesn’t believe we need a few more hugs and a few less guns, a few more hugs and a few less angry words, a few more hands on shoulders, pats on arms, kisses on heads instead of angry social media messages, hate crimes and the need to be superior over someone else, to dominate and annihilate someone else to build yourself up? Biden’s losses and hardships in life often create a comrade between him and voters who share similar experiences, who gravitate toward him at events because they know this about him; are we really to the point where we’re going to say don’t hug someone talking about their cancer diagnosis the same as his son’s, who’ve lost loved ones and are seeking a fellow human being who understands in a way people who haven’t lost a child, lost a child the way Biden lost each of his dead children can’t understand, a politician who can represent them in a different way? And if we did they would call him cold, unfeeling, disingenuous, rightly so; but, America has to lose something profound for 8 people’s comfort, that doesn’t seem right either.
Yes it is a delicate balance but surely we can come up with a better answer than don’t hug people, don’t comfort people, don’t offer compassion if it means touching someone without a signed contract of their agreement to the specified touching; never mind after the allegations against Aziz Ansari one author detailed why a consent app and consent contracts for sex can go bad fast i.e. what if someone changes their mind after signing the contract, changes their mind mid sexual activity, rights man or woman has during the encounter. Yes it’s a delicate balance and people’s personal space, autonomy should be respected but surely the answer has to be better than never touch another individual for any reason apart from first aide and that’s only if your city, state, county has the alluded to good Samaritan law protecting you from legal proceedings. An answer that encompasses all levels of interaction from hugs, comfort, aforementioned first aid to flirting, wooing and eventual consensual sex has to be better than continuously hammering Biden for highlighting accepted touching by the other party/parties in an exchange after what he has been accused of and what people have tried to make of it saying he needs to stop, as guilty of continuing with the handsy narrative as much as he’s guilty repeatedly telling the ‘bad’ joke; he said in the latest instance she pulled me close, is that true, then end of story. If that’s true, it’s obviously the kind of contact she wanted, Biden had no problem with, and therefore is none of our business; as Bill Maher said, there’s a reason there’s a relationship category on Facebook called it’s complicated, relationships are messy and there is no way to significantly un-complicate them; hardly limited to the romantic entanglements he was referencing, some of the most complicated relationships can be family from step parents and divorce to adult siblings, adoption and finding your birth parents to having known your biological parents all your life that being precisely the problem. Extended family conflict, aunts, uncles, cousins, second cousins; lacking any real extended family and feeling like you’re missing out, not having any family to feeling like you have decidedly too much, comprehending the biological relation but having nothing emotionally, morally, life goal wise in common. It doesn’t have to be friends with benefits to get complicated friends break up too from the parts of their lives they do share together, modern culture coining terms like frenemy, bromance to describe today’s friendships that defy other terminology, do spend years not talking to each other only to comeback together like nothing happened; what these women want is uncomplicated interactions that never leave them having to think, work out what’s happening , never engender a spec of discomfort well removed from anything sexual, harassment, bullying or wrong, things they aren’t going to get. The joke is his way of saying yes I understood what I was told about making select women uncomfortable but I don’t intend to stop interacting with people totally because a handful were slightly upset; people who are fine with the type of affection Biden gives to those around him have just as much right to experience it and say they like it as the ones who were uncomfortable, felt marginalized have a right to say that and be clear they don’t like it, each respected on equal measure. The answer lies in the school depicted having the right idea, letting kids decide greetings to each other when starting their day, getting people, regardless their gender comfortable with their personal boundaries and voicing what those are, giving kids the space to say I don’t like that; room for me to have said to that teacher I’m willing to have this conversation but you need to back up about 5 inches because I can’t answer you with you making me so nervous, the social structure for me to tell that woman at job placement you can make your point but don’t loom over me while I’m sitting and you’re standing, don’t hold my wrists down while your looming and chastising me like someone’s scary grandmother less for me and more for the fact you could have someone jerk up and punch you because you created a PTSD response, a flashback response or a simple defensive posture because they don’t know what you’re doing; don’t ever do that to anyone. Social structures it’s worth noting for all discomfort he supposedly caused Biden never used to mask what he was doing, ‘flagrantly’ out in the open with it, never used to silence anyone from telling their story about him, even after being accused didn’t use them to excuse his inadvertently hurting someone else. His doing this to everyone male, female, young, old removing the ‘he’s doing it to get his rocks off angle;’ Kyle Kulinski who has since allegations broke referred to Biden as handsy uncle Joseph virtually admitted the stories were exaggerated saying the republicans the former vice president thinks will experience an epiphany after Donald Trump has left office will instead use this to call him rapist, pervert exc. only to contradict himself in the next video done on the accusations and call out the presidential candidate for his interactions with a child, taking her hand and walking her over to the press at an event because she said she wanted to be a journalist or expressed interest in the reporters, saying you can’t do that because— the allegations, proving what was in front of our eyes all along but for distractions, Joe Biden isn’t the problem. What sealed it for me in deciphering Joe Biden was then compassionate treatment of Meghan McCain when she broke down talking about her ailing father on The View how he heled her hand and comforted her regarding her dying father, the calm, soothing fatherly aura oozing off the video versus the people who very quickly tried to use Lucy Flores, Amy Loppos and others words to turn Joe Biden into a pervert unworthy of office because he shows people affection. I am an African American and I get his stance on bussing in 1974, which shouldn’t be a surprise based on the parents circa the early 2000’s who lobbied their local schoolboards and legislatures to push back start times for at minimum elementary school to more in the neighborhood of 9 am citing they don’t want their p-k to 3rd grade especially child standing in the dark waiting for the bus, getting up at 6:30 in the morning and that was just in my city forget the national push; doctors knowing what we didn’t know then that times for middle, junior high and high school should do the same due to the body clock of adolescent wired not to sleep before between 11 pm and midnight still expected to be awake and alert in the classroom 7:45 to 7:50, teen sleep deprivation effecting everything from grades to mental/physical health, though most schools aren’t listening. Research even says college students who are naturally night owls shouldn’t be forced to take morning classes because their grades suffer when they do. I think we should be much more concerned about the segregation of now in the modern era the proms that were just integrated a few short years ago owing to private venues that made their own rules, the Mississippi school just in the last 3 years ordered to desegregate court case dating all the way back to the civil rights movement and Brown v. board taking that many years to reach legal finality, courts and judges that have shrugged their shoulders and upheld segregation as it has crept back in to educational institutions, the lack of vigilance toward integration because we assume we already have it, other types of inclusion for certain disabilities, LGBT rights have eclipsed the public’s attention. I am an African American who is not a race traitor, who doesn’t have an ‘Oreo problem’ and I understand the things leading up to the Biden crime bill and the feeling at the time of what were/are we supposed to do; having attended a college sociology class in the early 2000’s I also understand, relating to crime and the glut of non-violent drug offenders languishing in prisons today, goes back to directly after the prohibition days giving those law enforcement workers something to do targeting marijuana laid out in Reefer Madness. I likewise am not horrified by what Biden said in a congressional floor speech about his bill saying he would prefer it with the racial justice portions included but would take it without them, phrase implied by his words, if it means getting violent criminals/persons off the street, keeping them off the street longer for the safety of everyone else, framing conveniently forgotten by sainted progressives. When you can be shot for knocking on the wrong door while looking for your girlfriend’s new apartment by a civilian ‘scared for his life’ because you did so, we have far more important things to talk about than the Biden crime bill, when you can be shot by a neighbor knocking on their door asking for directions to school because you’re new to the area, for the sole act of appearing at someone’s door step we have far more important things to talk about than the Biden crime bill, when an officer of the law can shoot someone in her apartment complex mistaking it for her own, though she was at least one floor up and X doors down, see a shadow and shoot the rightful occupant of the dwelling, we have far more important things to talk about than the Biden crime bill—I am much more interested in criminal justice reform today correcting the background check system; I am much more concerned with police brutality, the works of programs like the innocence project getting the wrongly incarcerated DNA testing and other avenues to prove their innocence and get them out of jail. Speaking of which, what did we expect someone like Cory Booker to say who is himself an African American, those most targeted by the 90’s crime bill, defining his political career on his plan to reform the criminal justice system automatically pitting against Biden’s legislation if not his current stances? I am far more interested in talking about Kamala Harris as prosecutor threatening to jail parents of truant students for their lagging school attendance over devising real solutions to student absenteeism like the principal who went out into her community asking students and parents why they weren’t at school; upon discovering it was an embarrassment of dirty clothes, wearing dirty clothes to school because their parent spent the last of the money on groceries or the utility bill not the laundry mat, there was at least a washer at home but the electricity wasn’t on, wouldn’t be affordable running clothes cleaning machines, the principal reached out to the appliance makers who donated several creating a program where students brought a bag of clothes to school in the morning it was laundered by staff and ready by end of day. Or the high school principal in New Jersey who installed a laundry mat among several other initiatives to confront meeting student’s basic needs before demanding they improve their SAT scores, than I am talking about the ‘inappropriate touching’ of Joe Biden. Of course Biden’s record on abortion has evolved from the 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s changing science, changing culture changed in part by events what hasn’t changed is Joe Biden being a devout catholic as news pointed out struggling between his personal beliefs and his duty as a legislator, but I remember what he said in a 2012 vice presidential debate where he eloquently separated the two; isn’t that what progressives are always saying, the religious zealots they relentlessly counter have a right to their religion and to practice it, but they don’t have the right to foist it on others. So shouldn’t they be happy with his 2012 answer, his latest comments on the abortion issue that Row V. Wade is the law of the land Hyde amendment or no Hyde amendment? Piling on, has anyone assessed whether the Hyde amendment repeal funneling government money to poor women who desire an abortion via programs like Medicaid would be effective at preserving access to abortion; because, it does nothing to address the abortion clinic hallways have to be so big, abortion clinics must be mobile surgical theaters, doctors must have admitting privileges at a hospital only so many miles away, hyper adherence to state regulations to deny licenses barriers closing clinics nationwide. It does nothing to stem the tide of 2-3 day long waiting periods for women who want an abortion, the counseling they are subjected to about ‘alternatives’ to what they want/the decision they’ve made, the invasive pelvic exams, trans vaginal ultrasound requirement before performing the procedure even for those who want, medically qualify for the medical (pill form) of an abortion. Regardless his ancient record, I don’t fear for my personal reproductive rights under a potential president Biden the way I do under an existing president Trump, I don’t fear that if I were raped and became pregnant I would be forced to carry my assaulter’s baby because of when I learned I was indeed pregnant, if I became pregnant consensually and because of my disability carrying the child to term became impossible I couldn’t get an abortion because of the litany of new laws have made doctors are afraid to perform needed abortions under given circumstances; as it is, if either of those things happened to me I would be forced to travel 2 hours to a different city to receive an abortion because my city’s planned parenthood license expired predictably using the same tactics currently being used to shut down the one 2 hours away making headlines because it’s the last operating one in the state. I have much bigger problem with the local governments’ actions, local politicians that seem trapped in the 1950’s, who don’t understand the medicine or science behind abortion, who don’t understand the basics of the human reproductive system most high school kids could tell them; identical politicians who don’t understand contraceptives/birth control, all of its uses. I comprehend the dark side of repealing the Hyde amendment allowing government funding, ideally Medicaid to pay for abortions, democratic strategy to solidify Row V. Wade, is potentially doctors pushing abortions on poor, minority women of color they think can’t afford the child, they already have children and said doctor doesn’t approve of their parenting, believes them to be on assistance like food stamps, whether they are or not, and don’t want to see them on anymore, reviving fears of forced sterilization and other horrors previously visited on such communities. Just like Pete Buttigieg’s town hall where he presented his answer to free college progressives at The Young Turks hated the first half of because it began with reducing the cost of college, expanding service forgiveness of loans for persons who become teachers and the like as well as saying if you can refinance a house you should be able to refinance your student loan; never mind it’s exactly what’s needed for people who have outstanding loans all the way up to when the law/program takes effect, the senior citizens facing docking of their social security because they went back to school in middle age going into debt, who took out loans to help kids or grandkids attend college coming up against the same reduction of benefits, because even if we achieve free in-state college there is zero chance you’ll get retroactive loan forgiveness. Buttigieg’s answer telling effected voters he wouldn’t be apt to oppose passing laws allowing student loans to be resolved through bankruptcy, not legal or used now. I am more concerned about Donald Trump’s sneak attack on social security though his latest budget cuts that removes billions from the program, that changes the poverty calculations arguably so he can say his administration lifted more people out of poverty without actually doing it, than a man i.e. Biden who has said for years he supported cuts to social security in the context of entitlement reform to cut the deficit and save the program, and exactly how old is that low quality video anyway? I would much rather have an in depth conversations about barriers to jobs from automation gobbling up starter jobs for workers entering the employment world to the endless categories of people who don’t need anymore, degrees, certificates or training programs rather an employer to give them a chance and the training that comes with doing the actual, job, the training no employer can get away from giving an employee, I want to talk about employers who still 10 years out from the recession still think employees will come to then gift wrapped with a bow. I also want to talk about the people who don’t want even one round of retraining simply want their coal mining or manufacturing job back, close their ease slinging la, la, la and refuse to vote for any politician who tells them the truth that those jobs aren’t coming back but here are new jobs you can be taught and continue to earn a living; not about an iffy case of workplace retaliation based on possible employer misconduct the woman herself isn’t sure about. I would much rather talk about the reports of sexual abuse happening to migrants in government detention, most of them minors, most of it inflicted by staff not other detainees; a situation they were put into by a government who ignores asylum laws, who holds no understanding of the circumstances sending them here and plainly doesn’t care. No we could do a lot worse than president Joe Biden; why it is time to move on from the Joe Biden accusations, because he is not an existential threat to women and girls, he is not a threat to children conditioning them to tolerate creepy adults, he is not the poster child for sexual assault, rape, sexual harassment and abuse in the workplace or the larger world, and he never was.