When Lucy Flores, former Nevada State Senator and Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee, wrote an extremely detailed article in late March describing her experience on the 2014 election trail with “Creepy Uncle Joe” Biden, Biden felt the sting of a somewhat critical mainstream media for the first time in his professional career.
His “adventures” had been meme fodder for years, but Flores’ article put a new spin on exactly what Biden was doing on all of these campaign stops – essentially getting his jollies by touching the forbidden fruit. Despite the efforts of Biden apologists Nancy Pelosi, Meghan McCain, Alyssa Milano, and Stacey Abrams, the issue dominated the week’s news cycle.
On Thursday’s episode of The View, Ana Navarro angrily told everyone she’s “done, done, done” with the issue and that women just “have to get it,” that Biden isn’t going to do this anymore.
No, Ana, you just have to get it. Your comments show that you have no clue why women (and men) of all political persuasions are glad that Biden’s pervy, disrespectful behavior toward females is finally being called out.
“I am so done, done, done, done, done with this issue. We have been talking about this hyperinflated, overblown issue now for over a week. We’ve — you know, some in the media have given him the treatment as if he was a sexual harasser. He is not. He now says he gets it.
“You know who else has to get it? Women have to get it. The norms have changed. The dynamics have changed. If you feel your personal space is violated, say so, and say so at that moment….”
Women should just say so at the moment – to the Vice President of the United States? The man who’s, in Flores’ case, is there stumping for her? Isn’t there a slight power differential? Sunny Hostin understood this and pushed back a little.
“In every instance there is a power dynamic. I’m sorry; we’re talking about the Vice President of the United States…there were White House interns…and in certain instances…when you have the Vice President of the United States making you uncomfortable, you’re not necessarily going to feel as a younger woman, or even as an older woman, saying hey, stop it. You’re not going to do that.”
In a perfect world, they would do that, and the man who has shown no interest in respecting her space just moments before would magically, and in a gentleman-like way, apologize, and the woman would suffer no ramifications for speaking up. We’re making strides toward that perfect world, but right now the environment still closely resembles this scene from Love Actually:
Of course, Navarro couldn’t simply agree – she continued to push back, saying, “If they could say something now, they could have said something then.” Navarro conveniently ignores why Flores says she didn’t say something then, and why she spoke up now (emphasis added):
“Had I never seen those pictures, I may have been able to give Biden the benefit of the doubt. Had there not been multiple articles written over the years about the exact same thing — calling his creepy behavior an “open secret” — perhaps it would feel less offensive. And yet despite the steady stream of pictures and the occasional article, Biden retained his title of America’s Favorite Uncle. On occasion that title was downgraded to America’s Creepy Uncle but that in and of itself implied a certain level of acceptance.
“After all, how many families just tolerate or keep their young children away from the creepy uncle without ever acknowledging that there should be zero tolerance for a man who persistently invades others’ personal space and makes people feel uneasy and gross? In this case, it shows a lack of empathy for the women and young girls whose space he is invading, and ignores the power imbalance that exists between Biden and the women he chooses to get cozy with.”
Almost no one (including Flores) believes that the behaviors these women describe constitute sexual assault. They don’t fit any legal definition of sexual harassment. So, many ask, what’s the big deal? We all knew he was a little handsy and creepy. There are two reasons why Biden’s behavior is a big deal and why the media attention about it now is a big deal.
1. Biden’s behavior should never have been accepted, and similar behavior by other “old school”men should be stamped out. It’s demeaning, disrespectful, and pervy. Biden receives a certain amount of sexual gratification from touching these women and from using his political power to enable this otherwise-forbidden touching. Flores explains how frequent these interactions still are in what should be professional settings, and the effect it has on women who experience it repeatedly throughout their careers (emphasis added):
“Our strange interaction happened during a pivotal moment in my political career. I’d spent months raising money, talking to voters, and securing endorsements. Biden came to Nevada to speak to my leadership and my potential to be second-in-command…But he stopped treating me like a peer the moment he touched me. Even if his behavior wasn’t violent or sexual, it was demeaning and disrespectful. I wasn’t attending the rally as…his friend; I was there as the most qualified person for the job.
Imagine you’re at work and a male colleague who you have no personal relationship with approaches you from behind, smells your hair, and kisses you on the head. Now imagine it’s the CEO of the company. If Biden and I worked together in a traditional office, I would have complained to the HR department, but on the campaign trail, there’s no clear path for what to do when a powerful man crosses the line. In politics, you shrug it off, smile for the cameras, and get back to the task of trying to win your race.
2. The current media attention on Biden is noteworthy because, as Flores notes, his behavior has been an “open secret” for decades. For conservatives, it’s a rare time when a male Democrat’s behavior towards females is being questioned – although Navarro did her level best to blunt that by immediately pivoting to “what about Trump”?
Almost no one believes that Biden is a serial sexual assaulter. There isn’t any evidence that he used his position to intimidate women or to punish or reward them professionally. It looks like Biden is just a man who used his position to be able to touch women he wouldn’t otherwise be able to touch, in ways he wouldn’t have been able to touch them, to gain some kind of sick sensual/sexual gratification.
Instead of railing on women like Lucy Flores, it would be nice if Ana Navarro and others like her would step up when they see these incidents happening and tell the man that their behavior isn’t friendly or supportive; it’s creepy. It would be nice if the scolding Ana Navarros of the world pulled aside “that one creepy dude” in their office and asked them to not treat women that way, explaining that “norms have changed.” It would be nice if women like Ana Navarro took a chance when they saw other women being treated that way and spoke up.
But they don’t. They just wait until later and slam the woman who spoke up instead of the pervert who demeans her.