Joe Biden and the #MeToo conundrum

Biden with Stephanie Carter during her husband’s swearing-in ceremony in February 2015. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

The #MeToo movement has raised a lot of perplexing issues, demonstrated most recently by Lucy Flores, a former member of the Nevada Legislature and 2014 candidate for lieutenant governor and U.S. Congress.

Last Friday Flores accused former Vice President Joe Biden of touching her inappropriately and kissing the top of her head — in 2014. I don’t doubt that it happened and I mentioned my intense dislike of Biden’s behavior in 2015. But as with so many other #MeToo accusations, this one wasn’t made public until the man in question was making headline news. Too often the timing of such accusations has seemed suspicious, as if the women had carefully plotted their revenge, waiting for just the right moment to inflict maximum damage on their aggressors.

With Irish President Mary McAleese on Capitol Hill in 2000. (Photo: Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images)

I don’t doubt Flores’s story. That’s not my point. My point is her timing. Four years have passed, but only now, with Biden contemplating a run for president, has she gone public.

#MeToo has encouraged women to speak up, mostly it seems with stories from the past. “Jump on the bandwagon. Tell us your story!” I think we need a new forward-looking movement that encourages women to react in the moment rather than dwelling on old grievances. Confront the man and call him out immediately. If he has offended you, if you think he has behaved inappropriately, stand up to him right then and tell him to his face. Waiting to kneecap him five or ten years later is cowardly.

Biden has been described as “a human golden retriever” and numerous photos prove it. But even golden retrievers, as lovable and smart as they are, need to be corrected in the moment if they are to learn what is unacceptable. Likewise, women need to administer an immediate and firm rebuke when an offense occurs … if they hope to correct the behavior. Playing the victim card four, eight, or ten years later won’t work.

Some people are just naturally touchy-feely huggers. Others take offense at having their personal space invaded without permission. All the more reason that everyone, including Joe Biden, needs to be more aware of how their behavior affects others and make appropriate adjustments going forward.

I think Flores and the media, as they so often do, are making much ado about (almost) nothing. He was too chummy. She was too diffident. Both need to change. End of story.

With Brazilian president-elect Dilma Rousseff in January 2015. (Photo: Eraldo Peres/Corbis)

17 comments

  1. It looks pretty harmless to me; he was being friendly and harmless; also going by that photo damned open.nothing sexually predatory about it; she;s making a mountain out of a molehill, and saying look girls I’m being sexually ravished by the VP..

    Women like this are doing more harm to those women that have real reason to speak out
    I’ve got to the stage where I’m now saying tough, you should have spoken up at the time! I’m fed up with all these people coming out of the woodwork

    1. None of these photos is of Lucy Flores and the incident she described, but they all look/sound about the same. Like you, I’m getting fed up with women coming out of the woodwork at politically expedient times to report things that happened years ago.

      1. Also, I saw a news report that the photographer who covered that event and took hundreds of photos during it has gone through the photos and found none of that moment. In my opinion, that speaks to it not having been a big deal, as those professional photographers have an eagle eye to capture whatever is going in the room that might be of import.

        1. I think I read that somewhere too. If one existed, it would have been all over the news. Just one more reason to deal with the situation yourself as soon as it happens. Minus photographic evidence or lots of witnesses, you’ll have a tough time proving your story later.

  2. That first photo had me shivering as I remembered a GP who worked at a practice I was with – if you didn’t watch where he was, he’d creep up behind you and do just that – stand really close and put his hands on your shoulders. Even if you were at the reception desk speaking with incoming patients.
    The other staff warned me when I first joined the company (1970s ) – I didn’t believe them – until it happened. And of course one never ‘tackled’ your boss in those days!
    Women these days shouldn’t be ‘afraid’ of what will happen if they speak out – should they?

  3. Nothing new there- I’ve watched him over the years and always felt he was/acted a little creepy ( and no one said a word!)
    I agree with you.
    It looks to me that with so many in the political running, that some campaigns are taking steps to knock some out to the running….more to come, no doubt.
    So much to be disgusted about

  4. What he has done is harmless but can be very uncomfortable for the woman. Personally, when it comes to work, don’t touch me. Friends-only can do that, and even then…..

    But when we have someone in the White House that openly admits to grabbing women’s pussies, then the media should bring that back up as a comparison. Hypocrites. And Biden needs to stop, which I’m sure he will/has now.

    1. Yep. The rules have changed. I wouldn’t blame Biden at this point if he decided not to run after all. On the other hand, not running will look like an admission of guilt and give his attackers exactly what they want. I hate what this country has become.

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