|Joe Biden, Lucy Flores (images via Twitter)
So, there’s this ‘thing’ about former Vice President Joe Biden going around.
Lucy Flores, a former Nevada legislator, has written an essay for New York Magazine’s ‘The Cut’ accusing Biden of making her uncomfortable in 2014 right before a political event where she was the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor:
Just before the speeches, we were ushered to the side of the stage where we were lined up by order of introduction. As I was taking deep breaths and preparing myself to make my case to the crowd, I felt two hands on my shoulders. I froze. “Why is the vice-president of the United States touching me?”
I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair. I was mortified. I thought to myself, “I didn’t wash my hair today and the vice-president of the United States is smelling it. And also, what in the actual fuck? Why is the vice-president of the United States smelling my hair?” He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head. My brain couldn’t process what was happening. I was embarrassed. I was shocked. I was confused. There is a Spanish saying, “tragame tierra,” it means, “earth, swallow me whole.” I couldn’t move and I couldn’t say anything. I wanted nothing more than to get Biden away from me. My name was called and I was never happier to get on stage in front of an audience.
Biden, who is mulling over a run for the Democratic nomination for president, is well-known for being a ‘touchy’ kind of guy.
Flores says she came forward now because she feels his past behavior hasn’t been part of the political conversation until now. She’s also called the act “disqualifying” for a presidential candidate.
Biden’s spokesman, Bill Russo, made a statement first which read, “Neither then, nor in the years since, did (Biden) or the staff with him at the time have an inkling that Ms. Flores had been at any time uncomfortable, nor do they recall what she describes. But Vice President Biden believes that Ms. Flores has every right to share her own recollection and reflections, and that it is a change for better in our society that she has the opportunity to do so.”
That was followed by Biden’s own statement, which read, in part, “In my many years on the campaign trail and in public life, I have offered countless handshakes, hugs, expressions of affection, support and comfort. And not once — never — did I believe I acted inappropriately.”
“If it is suggested I did so, I will listen respectfully. But it was never my intention.”
He added, “We have arrived at an important time when women feel they can and should relate their experiences. And men should pay attention,” he said. “And I will.”
I’m thinking that’s about as positive and straight-forward a response can be.
Flores responded to Biden’s statement saying she was “glad that he’s willing to listen” and “glad that he is clarifying his intentions.”
But, she added, “Frankly, my point was never about his intentions, and they shouldn’t be about his intentions. It should be about the women on the receiving end of that behavior.”
And that brings me to an important point.
I think intentions ARE important.
I believe the #MeToo movement has brought forward many important stories of men in positions of power over women making lewd and inappropriate gestures they knew were wrong.
And when someone acts too familiar, they should be told, “Hey, that makes me uncomfortable.”
I, personally, think there’s a difference between purposeful sexual intention and rubbing someone’s shoulders out of support.
There’s a difference between shoving your tongue down someone’s throat and a kiss on the head to express support.
I don’t think something like this “disqualifies” Biden from running for the White House.
Many people have come forward to defend Biden as someone who has been touchy-feely his entire career. But, they also note that none of that has been out of a sexual or lewd intention.
I’ve shared my own MeToo moment in the past when I was on Broadway and my direct supervisor made sexually-intended comments to me, pulled me down to sit on his lap, and more. When I didn’t respond the way he wanted, he began to write me up on made-up infractions.
I understand the idea that people shouldn’t use power to obtain sexual titillation, and I don’t think that happened between Biden and Flores.
Again – if Biden needs to be told to chill on his touchiness, then he should. But this is not a ‘disqualifying’ act.
By the way, did I mention Flores has been a vocal supporter of Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont – who also happens to be running for the Democratic nomination?
What do you think, readers? Is intention important?