I cannot tell a lie…I have always loved me some Joe Biden. His whole story made him sympathetic and his gleeful smile felt contagious. Not to mention his oh too cute relationship with Obama that we all loved to watch. And let’s be real – none of us can actually be shocked by the recent accusations or discussion. We all knew he was handsy, flirty, and so full of gaffs. Oddly, to many of us, this may have made him all the more endearing. I am one of those people. And I have had to ask myself, ‘why?’
For most of my teenage and adult life, I have put a huge bulk of my worth into how males react to me. Do they pay attention? Do they even notice? Do they flirt? Are they attracted? Are they interested? Am I pretty enough? Am I the least bit engaging? My internal value has largely been placed on these criteria. How fucking SICK is that? And the thing is, I know I am not the only one. So, can this explain some of the female apologists when it comes to the poor behavior of men?
We were all heartbroken when it came to Franken. Even Weiner. The last thing we want is any scandal to surround our beloved Biden. As progressives, we don’t want to think of good guys behaving badly. We naturally (cringe) want to excuse it or deny it or blame the accuser. But deep down, we must know that is wrong, right? If we wouldn’t accept this behavior from an uncle or a boss or any republican…we simply cannot put our heads in the sand when it comes to those we admire.
Is what Biden is being accused of the most horrible or gross or even really THAT bad on the spectrum of patriarchal eye rolling conduct? No. Were his intentions ever malicious or victimizing? Of course not (I would hope not). But intention really doesn’t matter on these issues anymore. Even with decent intentions, if one is imposing themselves to a level of discomfort onto another – it is all about how it is being received. I will give some credit for good intentions, but they will never outweigh reception.
Instead of going on the defensive, we must make good use of these moments to grow. We must look at the ways “its always been” and the reasons why this is “just their nature”. Let’s explore and do better. Let’s learn from those who are finally feeling the freedom (or necessity) to speak out. They deserve that much. We all deserve that much.
I sometimes kinda liked it when an attractive man in power paid attention to me. Even when his behaviors were inappropriate at best and harassment if genuinely considered. That was because I thought that was all I was worth. And that is a sucky thing to realize and sit with. Change isn’t always pretty. But the uglier it is probably tells us how much it really needs to happen.
And dudes, no you do not need to be afraid to talk to us, joke with us, be in a room with us. Just try to do your best not to grab, touch, or tug anything. Don’t mention our boobs. It really isn’t that hard. We can do this, people. We can figure this shit out.