I was hoping this whole thing with Joe Biden’s squishy boundaries would go away quickly. I hoped that women would, in a united front, confirm that while it is not okay for a man to plow into their space with physical contact and affectionate gestures, such gestures are not at all on the same level as sexual assault. As a woman who was assaulted over forty years ago and didn’t speak out about it until recently, when the #MeToo movement gave me the courage to do so, I really hoped that distinction would be made loudly and clearly.

I hoped that Joe Biden would do something substantive, address the matter in an interview (I’m sure Oprah would have sat down with him.) I wanted to hear him speak in depth about his generation, and how clueless most men have been about women’s discomfort. I wanted him to discuss his learning curve and admit that he’s been a bit behind the curve on this particular matter. And I wanted to hear him apologize, because – truthfully – he should have known better.

But here we are many days after Lucy Flores first came forward with Joe Biden’s 2014 hair-smelling and unwanted cuddling, and this is still one of the top stories. While Lucy Flores did make the distinction between what happened to her and sexual assault, saying clearly that she did not believe there was anything sexual in Biden’s actions, other women have blasted him for defending the fact that his intentions were simply to be friendly and comforting. His intentions don’t matter, they said. Really? I think they matter a lot. The man who threw himself on top of me on his office couch and forced himself inside of me had very clear intentions, and they were not to comfort and be friendly. That matters.

I realize it’s somewhat naïve to expect everyone to be on the same page about such an emotional issue, but as women we would have a much better chance of educating men if we were on the same page.

And then there is Joe Biden himself. His homemade video was a nice attempt at showing he is willing to learn and change, but not only did he not apologize, he made it clear that he wouldn’t apologize. Which brings us to April 5 and a speech in which he made two jokes about securing permission from people to hug them.

Note to Joe Biden: this is not a joking matter. You may be a million miles away from sexual assault, but you’ve just heard from a number of women that they felt extremely uncomfortable with you putting your hands on them and nuzzling them. It wasn’t funny to them, and it’s not funny now.

I have no idea if Joe Biden should run for president. But whether or not he runs, maybe he could figure out how to be a good example for other men. Maybe he could take ownership of his clumsy assumptions that friendly affection is okay if your intentions are innocent. I can’t speak for all women, but I think most of us would be understanding if he took this seriously, and said, As of this moment, I am respecting the boundaries that in the past I foolishly disregarded, and I’m sorry for my ignorance about this.

9 Responses to ABOUT JOE BIDEN

  1. Jonathan Moorehead says:

    I agree on every point. I understand that he is accustomed to the old attitudes of accepted behavior, but he is indeed a perfect vessel to help bring forth a new paradigm of conduct. Societal change comes in incremental degrees, and Biden is in an ideal position to usher it along.

  2. Brad Berger says:

    Excellent ! This could not have been expressed better. I appreciate you explaining this to all. As a man it is embarrassing to see Joe still not does not get it and to make a Ha Ha moment out of the incident is crass and juvenile.

  3. Ilene Duffy says:

    When teaching preschool many years ago, I learned from my mentor not to ask 3 year olds to “Say you’re sorry!” when they had done something wrong. We adults shouldn’t ask young ones to lie if they don’t really mean it. Likewise, perhaps Joe Biden doesn’t wish to apologize since he really doesn’t understand that he had done wrong. But making a joke about it just a few days afterwards….sheesh. Well said, Patti. As usual, you hit the mark succinctly. Have you thought of running for office? We need clear thinkers like you these days.

  4. Charlene Boland says:

    The GOP are trying to smear Biden, because he is a credible threat to donnie. The women “accusers” should be ashamed of themselves for their blatant disregard about the real #MeToo movement. The media ia as guilty of keeping Biden’s innocent hugs front & center in our daily news feed. Biden ought to move on about these accusations & refrain from joking about this matter-makes him look stupid. Let’s focus on removing the madman who currently occupies the WH. #RESIST

  5. Robyn Ringler says:

    Could not agree more. Can’t understand why Joe Biden didn’t handle this exactly as you suggested. Makes him seem like he has no clue or doesn’t care, yet from what I’ve seen of him as a human being, I think he does care. What is the freaking problem with people failing to apologize when they recognize they’ve hurt someone? I was brought up to take responsibility and say I’m sorry. When I became a lawyer, I was told by the partners to never, ever allow a client to apologize because it would be an admission of guilt. But over the years, I saw so much heartache simply because the person responsible would not or was not allowed to apologize (because the higher ups thought it was bad policy). Later, when I had my own cases, I decided to be human and if my client did something terrible, I encouraged them to go ahead and say a heartfelt apology. So often the lawsuit simply went away. And the person who had been hurt was able to accept the apology and move on. C’mon Joe, just say you’re sorry, that you made a mistake, that you take it seriously. It will make a world of difference to all of us.

  6. David Marks says:

    Patti, I want you to know that if this response offends you, please appreciate that it’s simply my opinion, and that is all. I’ve had misgivings about Biden for many years. I believe he attempted to destroy Anita Hill, plagiarized three of Bobby Kennedy’s speeches, supported archaic positions in the important area of justice in America, and has a long history of misogyny. I also believe he is very slow on the learning curve, and that he rarely understands that issues are not about him, even this one. It’s about how others feel, how others respond, how others react and feel. His character has been one rife with a lack of integrity and ethics for many years, and his approach to apologizing for this latest report was weak, at best. In fact, I didn’t hear an apology which was aimed at his accusers, or how they felt. How do we know whether there is a differentiation of sexual innuendo or not? Only the one who felt him approach them from behind, caress their shoulders, kiss their heads, their hair, can answer with veracity. Let’s make no mistake…..there will be many more reports in the wings, waiting to reveal themselves, but Biden rarely sees the consequences, looks to tomorrow. He will deal with each as they come, and politically, that is the crucial error. Without anger, allow me to please invoke President Reagan here, if I may. We will never see any video, read any report, of Reagan, touching, holding, kissing, connecting with women OR men is such an inappropriate manner. Joe hasn’t the right to assume to understand how others will respond. That is something we learn when we are very young. He’s too old to learn this now, too set in his ways, and while I am not entirely certain of these recent reports, I am certain that each and every time I saw Biden grab a woman from behind, I cringed. I knew it was wrong. Perhaps that makes me hyper-sensitive, but people deserve their space, so whether sexual or not, semantics play no role. I hope Biden steps aside. Your column is on target, and as usual, beautifully written, Patti.

  7. deb kim says:

    Patti, That sounds horrific about your own sexual assault that you suffered through. Thank you for sharing your thoughts..

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