Biden’s behaviour is so well known that his creepiness is a running gag on the satirical website The Onion, where he’s depicted more as a comical louche than a leader.
Democratic staffer Amy Lappos recounted a 2009 incident in Connecticut paper the Hartford Courant, claiming that Biden «put his hand around [her] neck and pulled [her] in to rub noses».
«I thought he was going to kiss me on the mouth,» she said.
Lappos said the incident was not sexual and there is no suggestion being made here that Biden is a sexual harasser. But, regardless of whether we label Biden’s unwanted touching as sexual or not, the fact remains that in many cases it is unwanted.
Biden and his supporters defend his behaviour as innocent, harmless and grandfatherly.
In a statement in response to Flores’ article, Biden said: “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.”
But Biden’s motivation or intent is irrelevant. The fact remains that Biden has repeatedly prioritised his desire to be affectionate over women’s desire to feel safe. He has been making women feel uncomfortable for decades and it is hard to believe he has been unaware of this.
If he has missed all the commentary about his behaviour over the years, and been incapable of comprehending its impact, then surely he is unfit for office.
The fact remains that Biden has repeatedly prioritised his desire to be affectionate over women’s desire to feel safe.
Biden’s behaviour towards women is an unequivocal abuse of power. Every time Biden touches, kisses, or sniffs a woman without her consent he is effectively saying, “I am in control of you. I can do what I want to you regardless of how you feel about it.”
It is the behaviour of a man exploiting his status to belittle, objectify, and – in some cases – threaten women and girls. It is worth noting that Mr Harmless-Just-Affectionate-Grandfather manages to control his wandering hands and invading lips with men.
So accepted and unremarkable is this attitude towards women that the current US Commander in Chief could boast of “pussy-grabbing” and still get the keys to the White House.
The lesson is that we live in a world where men can treat women as playthings and effectively be rewarded for it.
If Biden wins the Democratic nomination, the contest for president of the US in 2020 will be between a man who stands accused of multiple counts of disempowering women and a man who stands accused of multiple counts of disempowering women.
Why aren’t men who use their status and power to insult women or invade women’s personal space regarded as unfit for high office? The answer is as painful as it is obvious.
Because, as far as most people are concerned, it just doesn’t matter.
Writer, author of ’30-Something and Over It’. View more articles from Kasey Edwards.