Joe Biden’s Hands-On Lessons: When Affection Turns Icky

Poor Joe. Yet a fourth woman has alleged that former Vice President Joe Biden behaved inappropriately toward them. There is speculation that these allegations could not just tank Biden’s run for the 2020 presidency, but destroy his career.

Personally, because I agree with many of Biden’s political views, I think it would be a shame to see his career crash and burn in this way.

Privately, I’m disappointed in Biden, because it appears that he’s yet another entitled, older, powerful guy facing nasty consequences of behavior-unbecoming at best, and disgusting at worst, with regard to women.

Biden’s been called clueless, and I can see why. The wince-worthy stuff he does, lips nearly in a woman’s ear as he whispers; hands around female colleagues’ waists as he stands behind them for photos; Biden’s hands grasping a woman’s head as he kisses it – all that’s been in full public view. Photographed for all to see for all of time. He knew he was doing it. The women knew he was doing it. Everyone knew he was doing it.

His behavior became part of his story, of who he was: hands-on, tactile Joe Biden. Psst. Ladies, keep your distance.

Biden’s lifelong reputation for being touchy-feely with women has been fodder for comedians, cartoonists and writers long before these four women came forward with their allegations. All the while, Biden’s legendary icky actions were – and continue to be – justified by his defenders as “overly affectionate” and even grandfatherly.

Pardon me if that’s not the kind of affection I’d want anyone to show my grandchildren, thank you.

Here’s my suggestion for guys like Biden who have difficulty keeping their hands off women: Don’t touch a woman (other than your wife or partner) or talk to a woman or behave with a woman any differently than you’d touch or talk to or behave with a male acquaintance, friend or colleague.

Fact: If one person is being overly affectionate, you can bet there’s an uncomfortable person on the receiving end of those unwanted affections, whether the giver is a respected, upstanding politician, a Match.com date gone bad, or a drunken aunt slathering a kid with sloppy smooches.

Fact: Sometimes, overly affectionate is just a more veiled way of saying sexual harassment.

Starting from about age 12, I experienced all kinds of unwanted “overly affectionate” behavior from men.

My overly affectionate foster father liked to pin me on the floor with his knees on my shoulders as he tickled me, copping feels over my body the entire time, saying that I must like it, because I was laughing.

Slight segue here about tickling. I always told my kids, as my mother told me, that tickling is taboo. Now, my grandchildren hear the same thing from me. They know that I don’t think there’s anything funny about tickling.

Segue over.

In high school I worked as a teacher’s aide for an overly affectionate man who, in addition to giving unwanted shoulder rubs, once slid his hand up my shirt and over my stomach, saying if I didn’t want him to touch me I shouldn’t have been showing off my bare skin (as I stood on a ladder and stapled snowflakes to a bulletin board).

In college, when I made an appointment to meet with an overly affectionate male instructor in his office to see about making up a missed test, he shut the door, closed the mini-blinds, then positioned himself in a chair inches from mine, legs splayed open, as he talked about my upcoming blue book test, touching me occasionally on the leg, shoulder and arm, for emphasis, I guess.

And I used to be friends with a couple that included an overly affectionate guy whose wet mouth-on-mouth kisses while saying hello and goodbye – in full view of his smiling wife – along with THE longest full-body hugs, was one of the reasons I crossed them off my friends list and never looked back.

That’s just my tiny sample from a lifetime of overly affectionate experiences, but this is not a Me-Too column.

Did those experiences ruin me? Obviously not. Did they scar me? Yeah, a little. But in a way, the scars served as reminders for future encounters with overly affectionate men, reminders for tricks to avoid unwanted advances from those hands-on guys. Sometimes the tricks worked, sometimes they didn’t.

I’m not unique. Every woman I know has her own list of stories about being hurt by men who behaved badly. These women haul around their own sacks of tricks for dealing with overly affectionate men. Women have been passing on those skills to their daughters, nieces and granddaughters since the beginning of humanity.

So far, there are no allegations that Biden raped anyone. So far, there are no allegations of overt sexual advances, stained blue dresses, drugging, breast-fondling, ass-grabbing, or presidential-level pussy-grabbing.

Do I believe that Biden’s unwelcome, creepy, lingering kisses on the top of a female colleagues’s head are grounds to shit-can a man’s entire career? No, sir.

But if this controversy ends up being the nail in Biden’s career coffin, does that coffin have a silver lining? Yes, ma’am.

The silver lining is that if Biden’s career is over, it makes room for younger, more enlightened men and women to step into the political arena.

The silver lining is that these embarrassing Biden stories offer yet another opportunity for men to finally get it, to understand that unwelcome words and unwanted touching and unwanted sexual innuendos are not merely overly affectionate, the key word is that they’re unwanted, at which point that behavior oozes into the arena of harassment. The silver lining is this conversation offers yet one more chance for men to realize that unwanted physical behavior by men can make women feel diminished, to make women feel as if we have to take whatever a man’s doing to us, whether we like it; whether we want it or not. And here’s the understatement of 2019: that’s not OK.

Just as important, the silver lining is that this dialogue offers another chance for women to change our behavior, too; to stop relying on thick scars and satchels of avoidance techniques to thwart some men’s bad behavior. The silver lining is it’s a brand new day and a brand new opportunity for women to change our tactics, for us to be more blunt, to be more bold and to be more clear about what we feel and what we want.

Stop that! I don’t like it. 

That’s a good start, and yes, I know that in some camps, we’ll be called bitches for talking like that, for making a scene, for not just smiling and letting it go. But unlike before, we women need to try something new when a man is behaving in a way that makes the hair stand up on the back of our neck. We can say something, we can do something, we can identify exactly what we don’t like and why. Right now. Not years from now, but in the very moment the unwanted action happens. We can say when a man’s behavior makes us feel slimed and shitty. No matter who they are: politicians, teachers, colleagues, employers, celebrity chefs, acquaintances, and yes, even overly affectionate grandfathers.

That’s what I’m teaching my grandchildren. Maybe their generation will be the one that finally gets it.

Joe Biden? I don’t believe he’s a bad man. I do believe he’s a well-meaning but clueless man stuck in a previous, sexist century who may end up as collateral damage in the 21st century war of the sexes.

Whether Biden stays or whether he goes, I think we’re all the better for it. We all win because we get yet another chance to know better, and one more chance to do better.

Doni Chamberlain
Independent online journalist Doni Chamberlain founded what’s now known as anewscafe.com in 2007 with her son, Joe Domke of the Czech Republic. Chamberlain is an award-winning newspaper opinion columnist, feature and food writer recognized by the Associated Press, the California Newspaper Publishers Association and E.W. Scripps. She lives in Redding, California.
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84 Responses

  1. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Nice work, Doni.

  2. Avatar Eleanor Townsend says:

    In a nutshell right there, Doni. I’ve been wondering ‘what is it’, just ‘what is it’ about Joe, and you got it. And the part about ‘tickling’ too. Icky is right all around. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I expect he’s really surprised. I hope the silver lining includes other guys seeing the light, but entitlement goes a long way……….

  3. Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

    My touchy feely experience happened last year. On April 2nd I had my pacemaker battery replaced. Out patient surgery where my bandage was small and hidden by my shirt. The next day we were eating in a Cheyenne restaurant and in an innocent touchy feely moment the waitress put her hand on my shoulder and squeezed. As I flinched she immediately realized her mistake.
    There are touchy feely moments all the time that have nothing to do with sex.

    • Nobody said that those moments all have something to do with sex. The point is if they are wanted or unwanted.

      Human touch is important. We need it. But what’s tricky is who’s doing the touching, and who’s receiving it, and whether it’s welcome or whether it’s uncomfortable.

      There are lots of gray areas, of course, that’s what makes this topic so difficult.

      It sounds like your waitress example was more of a medical situation, and in other circumstances, her hand on your shoulder would have been friendly and waitressly, and a lot of guys don’t mind that a bit.

      I read once that restaurant wait staff who can manage a subtle tiny touch of their customers end up with higher tips.

      I also once read that the human needs to be touched on average 14 times a day to feel good, and that people who lack those touches end up accidentally bumping into strangers a lot in grocery stores and places like that.

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        Doni, like other women the past history of unwanted harassment has come to light during President Trump’s rise. Before him, for whatever reason, women were silent on this issue that had gone on forever. I worked in a high school district and anyone who has worked in a school district has always known the pitfalls of touchy feely moments. As a man I had to be very careful around students and avoid any dangerous situations. Never be alone with a female student, be careful when a student comes up and hugs me for some students their only hugs came from school staff. Special Needs students always wanted a hug because the general population would jeer or avoid them.
        I have said this before, and been ridiculed, that one positive of President’s Trump reign is the rise of women’s self esteem and “nevermore” attitude. I truly believe if Hillary Clinton had been elected the harassment of women would have continued.

  4. Avatar Doug Cook says:

    Excellent points, Doni. I don’t believe that Biden’s touchy feely moments are sexual in nature…it is just creepy. He is an out of touch old man. Probably someone that shouldn’t be running the country. I am a straight arm person like Pelosi described. When I approach someone, I stick my arm straight out to shake hands. I won’t hug. I won’t invade personal space, especially when I managed employees. I had an employee years ago that was Biden like. He liked to sneak up on female workers and give them unsolicited back rubs. I begged him to stop, I disciplined him, I threatened to fire him…but he just couldn’t help himself. This was his way to show friendship. It cost him his job, by the way.

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      Doug Cook states: “Probably someone who shouldn’t be running the country”.

      Yet he’s OK with the country being run by someone who admits to (and brags about) committing countless sexual assaults.

      Very insightful article above, and one that most women can unfortunately relate to.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        But yet, this article isn’t about Mr Trump, is it? Joe Biden in his prime was awful at running for president, unable to garner more than 1% of the early primary vote, which forced him to drop out early. If he failed when he was in his prime, what makes you think he has a chance 12 years later? With the Democrats veering far to the left and Biden being an old white men which is now toxic to Democrats…and because he can’t keep his hands off of women…That is why he has no chance.

        • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

          After the last presidential election it’s obvious that literally anyone “has a chance”, given that Trump is a thousand times worse than Joe Biden could ever be (and in every way).

          If efforts to do away with the antiquated electoral college are successful, electing a president will no longer hinge on a relative handful of votes in a couple of backward states. I’m looking forward to the day when the vote of a college-educated professional in California will carry just as much weight as the vote of a white supremacist with an 8th grade education in the bible belt.

          • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

            As a white redneck living in Wyoming and now in Arizona my vote has the same weight as four college educated liberal Californians. Live with it.

    • I hate to say it, Doug, but you may be right about Biden being out of touch. I heard an interview with him and he says he never meant anything, that he knows the times have changed and people must be more careful. He says he’ll do better. We’ll see. I hope so, because it’s never too late to learn and do better.

      Now, your example about your employee .. he’d been warned and disciplined over it, but he wouldn’t stop. It was the right thing that he lost his job over it. It sent a message (hopefully) that you wouldn’t tolerate that kind of behavior, and let the other employees know that you had their backs … so to speak.

      • Avatar Doug Cook says:

        What was frustrating about that employee of mine, is there were some women that would encourage him and ask for a shoulder rub. so in his mind he took it as permission to do it to any woman. I pleaded with those females to not ask for shoulder rubs, to be professional while at work.

        • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

          Doug Cook,

          If, in fact, there were women who actually asked for a shoulder rub, unless he completely lacks the ability to reason he should be able to understand that those invitations don’t extend to every woman in sight.

          It isn’t the fault of the other women (as you imply). Your attitude seems to me like just more of the same age-old practice of trying to make women responsible for men’s bad actions.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Why do you insist on arguing with me even when we agree on something? My view was that giving someone a shoulder rub, even if the recipient asked for it is inappropriate in the workplace. It sends the wrong message to the person giving the massage. This person in question did indeed lack the ability to reason, which is why he lost his job. In addition, there were other males working there that saw these consensual shoulder rubs and thought that it gave them permission to do the same. I never implied that it was the fault of the women. I had the policy of zero intolerance. It was inappropriate if it was consensual or not. I simply expressed the fact that I was frustrated in setting a zero tolerance policy and some women were asking him for back rubs. If I saw it, I stopped it. What was the result? A safe and professional environment where everyone could succeed., both men and women. You want to argue with me about that too?

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            No Doug – what your comment implied was similar to a situation in which a man is having a consensual sexual relationship with one of his female co-workers, and the fact that one woman at work is willing to have sex with him somehow gives him the right to rape other female co-workers. By your reasoning the woman in a consensual relationship with this man would be to blame.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            Oh good grief…

          • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

            :::boggle:::

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            Steven,

            Yes indeed. When a man chooses to touch/maul a woman who hasn’t explicitly agreed to that contact, attempting to blame his behavior on other women certainly is mind-boggling.

          • Avatar Doug Cook says:

            I will attempt to explain this one more time for you Patricia…. It’s really not that difficult of a concept. In order to maintain a professional environment in my business, I had a zero tolerance policy against Biden like touching. I had a male employee that gave unsolicited back rubs, which I warned him about repeatedly to the point that I had to terminate his employment. …I also talked to the women who like getting these backrubs and told them it is inappropriate for the workplace, and to please stop accepting them. It is sending mixed messages to the young man. Where is that blaming the women that did not like his touching? I was protecting them. I had a problem with the women that asked him for the shoulder rubs. I simply reminded these women of my policy. I never disciplined these women. Reminding them is not blaming them.

          • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

            I didn’t say you blamed the women who didn’t want the contact – I said you blamed the women who supposedly did. There are no “mixed messages” in situations like that. It’s really very simple – if a woman doesn’t invite you to touch her, DON’T.

          • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

            Hm.

    • P.S. about Joe Biden possibly being out of touch in matters regarding women … clearly, the same is true of our president, and was true of Bill Clinton, and many, many male politicians over our nation’s history.

      The question is whether their behavior is so abhorrent that, like Doug’s back-rubbing employee, it should cost him his job. In Biden’s case, I say no, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it taints him forever.

      • Avatar Tim says:

        It’s funny, but if you took a public speaking, sales, Dale Carnegie, etc class in the 90s and 2000s Bill Clinton was probably held as the ideal example of body language/touch/charisma.

        • You’re right, Tim.
          I remember when I covered the story about Bill Clinton coming to Shasta College to stump for Hillary’s campaign. (Meanwhile, poor Jon Lewis was on a hot tarmac covering Trump’s arrival.)
          I ended up standing just a foot or so near Clinton as he walked around shaking hands. I was so struck by the man’s charisma and magnetism, and his ease with commanding hundreds of people’s full attention.

    • Avatar Doug Cook says:

      I meant to say that his touchy feely moments are NOT sexual in nature…sorry.

  5. Avatar Peggy Elwood says:

    I got nothing to add…you said it all perfectly Doni!

  6. Avatar Cathy Allen says:

    Doni, thank you. I want to emphasize a quote from your piece, above:

    “Every woman I know has her own list of stories…”

    Since the this topic has been elevated to a national discussion for the past couple of years, this is the point I come back to, over and over. Literally every. woman. I. know. has a story, or most often, stories about this kind of unwelcome behavior.

    Thanks for continuing to shine a light on this issue.

    • Cathy Allen, I think you hit the nail on the head. Women telling their stories shines light on those experiences, and takes away the experiences’ power.

      I know this is a topic that many people wish would go away. But I think it will linger until we’ve all learned from it.

      My hope is that in our daughters’ and granddaughters’ generations, they won’t have a bag of experiences, that men and women can coexist with mutual respect.

  7. Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

    “There are lots of gray areas, of course, that’s what makes this topic so difficult.”

    When a woman is new to my circle of friends and acquaintances, I seldom initiate a first hug. When you’re like me, and somewhat resemble a Sasquatch who has undergone laser hair removal, that’s just a piercing glimpse into the obvious.

    But yeah, gray areas. Twice in the last year, I’ve been invited to the homes of women who had previously hugged me in public. (The invitations were more or less for business reasons–get your minds out of the gutter.) I initiated a hug once inside their homes, and immediately felt that they weren’t comfortable. My puzzled moments didn’t last long before the “duh moments” arrived–I’d been given hugs in public by both of them, but it’s a different ball game when in private with nobody else around. Setting can dictate what’s appropriate. In both cases, I was complacent and didn’t keep that in mind. It was embarrassing, but it was a learning experience.

    Yeah, there are overt transgressions, but subtle ones, too.

    (A little aside: does it make any doggone sense to anyone that style guides and spell check say “Sasquatch” and “Bigfoot” should be capitalized?)

    • Hal, you make some excellent points. I’m a hugger, but I don’t hug everyone, and I have had times when I’ve hugged someone and thought better of it, and not hugged someone that I felt I should have hugged.

      And you’re right about settings dictating whether to hug or not to hug. Honestly, if I saw you at say, one of your music gigs, I’d want to hug you, because I feel I know you. But would that be weird if your wife was there, who I don’t feel I know, so now I’d be hugging you but not your wife, which might look suspicious and inappropriate.

      Oy. It’s all very confusing.

      Regarding the style guide, I’m thinking both Sasquatch and Bigfoot are capitalized because they’re proper nouns … but are they? I mean, if there’s more than one that changes everything. And if there IS more than one Bigfoot, what’s plural – “Bigfeet”?

      Oh, Hal, you are the master at bringing levity to tense situations. Thank you.

      • Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

        I agree. Hal, you are a master at bringing levity to tense situations.

        And I’ve had that same experience, Doni, trying to decide, wondering whether to hug or not.
        Sometimes now I’ll just ask, “Would you like a hug?” and sometimes the response is yes, and sometimes no, I’m fine. I agree, it’s all very confusing. Oy!

      • Avatar A. Gail Paulsen says:

        And yet, some people capitalize trump and he’s not proper at all. Thought we needed a little laugh about now.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      I’m a hugger—believe it or not—but I more-or-less subconsciously follow some rules of thumb. If I haven’t hugged a woman before, I don’t initiate the first hug. I don’t hug people who I’m not really close with. I don’t do a full upper body press. I don’t initiate hugs in private. I don’t hug employees (unless they initiate).

      Maybe a decade ago I noticed that among the younger cohort, dudes were hugging dudes left and right—a rarity in my high school and college days. Like I said, I’m a hugger and I’m adaptable, so yeah, I bro-hug the partners of my three daughters, and I bro-hug some of my male friends who are also huggers. It’s to the point where it feels weird if we don’t, like, “Are we okay?”

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        Our Redding across-the-street-neighbor is someone we both like very much but don’t see all that often. When we do meet, generally on the curb, he gives me a full-body hug then he and Jim do the same. So Steve, if we ever meet, can I have a half-hug?

      • I like your hugging guidelines. And your “bro-hug” made me laugh out loud.

        • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

          Doni — There are many variations, but one classic bro-hug goes like this: Offer the right hand for a shake. At the same time, lift and extend left arm. Touch right shoulders together while slapping each other lightly on backs. Bro-hug.

      • Hal Johnson Hal Johnson says:

        Working for the same employer for 34 years, I got to see guys become granddads. Many of them seemed to become more likely to touch and hug coworkers with the arrival of grandchildren, sometimes to the point that it was striking.

        I laugh when I think about some friends. When they’d show up back to work after the arrival of a little one, they looked like they were on drugs.

        • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

          Becoming a grandpa half turned me into a kid again. My dream job at this stage of life would be grandkid caregiver, as evolution and the gods intended.

          The struggle is real.

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      In my line of work, the bird biologists decided that the common names of birds have to be capitalized; so it’s “Mallard” and “Red-tailed Hawk.” Common names for all other taxa are not capitalized: “coyote” and “yellow-bellied marmot,” unless there’s a proper noun in the name: “California golden trout.” Throughout my career, I’ve had to explain to technical editors (usually English majors) that the document can’t be consistent across taxa, and it’s not my damned fault. It’s the bird people.

      Bird taxonomists are also notorious splitters, so that most every bird species is in its own genus. There is absolutely no valid reason for California Quail and Mountain Quail to be in separate genera, but they are.

      The bird people are crazy, I tell ya.

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        Oops. This was supposed to be below Hal’s comment about the capitalization of Sasquatch and Bigfoot, as imposed by spellcheckers.

  8. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    Doni and I do the half-hug. It makes me smile every time because it comes naturally to both of us. We are apparently adults.

    However, there was a time when I was a young-adult in the decadent early years of punk rock in the 1970s. I got a little tipsy and touch-feely one night at the club and a bunch of out of town rubes who weren’t high on cocaine cracked a two-by-four over my nose. Thankfully the nose-break actually improved my looks. Anyway, I didn’t learn my lesson, because back in those days a little squeeze almost always got you a squeeze back at the Wrex club in Seattle.

    Everyone knows the corporate workplace is a cesspool of extra-marital sex so I won’t go into my minimal foray into that world, other than to say I met my girlfriend of 11 years at work.

    Of course, greeting people in public is an entirely different thing, and that’s what makes old Backdoor Biden all the creepier. Sneaking up on the ladies from behind, sniffing their hair, hoping they’ll feel the heat off his loins. Say it ain’t so, Joe!

    Alas, it is so, and Joe has got to go, unless he can learn to do the half-hug like quick.

    • R.V., you crack me up.

      And come to think of it, you’re right; we DO do half hugs. I’ll have to watch for the smile next time. 😉

    • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

      My 6 and 8 year old grand daughters get, and give, full clasping tight hugs. My teenage grand daughters get, and give, half hugs. Any adult male that gives female relatives over the age of ten a tight bear hug is a borderline pedophile.

      • Avatar James Montgomery says:

        Then my whole family is a bunch of pedophiles, unbeknownst to ourselves or anyone else. We all give tight bear hugs; male, female, young, old, senile, nubile. As far as I know, no one thinks anything about it, except that we’re really glad to see each other. Families differ.

        • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

          This is where it is confusing to men. My son gives bear hugs to everyone female, his wife posted on Facebook how all her female relatives love his hugs, of course he is as big as a bear.
          But when it is unwelcome, as has been pointed on these pages by some it shouldn’t be tolerated. The huggee should be allowed to say no and that ends it but when the hugger says you enjoy it that is borderline pedophile.

  9. R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

    I forgot to add, that if you pull the kind of stuff I did back in the old days, today’s woman will knock you flat on your ass.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Er-sOPbvRVI

  10. Joanne Snyder Joanne Snyder says:

    Excellent article Doni. I remember decades ago during a “Sexual Harassment” training when a co-worker was incredulous that he had to stop hugging women at work. He liked the women. He was showing affection, but as you pointed out about this behavior Doni, he wasn’t hugging all the men too. And as Doug Cook wrote, this behavior is unacceptable in the workplace. This was the first time I learned that I didn’t have to endure unwanted affection in the work place, and the time when I learned that I had a habit of chuckling at bad jokes told by men, but rolling my eyes for the same bad joke told by a woman.

    • Interesting example of your co-worker.

      What a fascinating observation you made about your reaction to jokes told by men vs. women. I’ll have to check out my reactions and see what I come up with.

  11. Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

    Does Biden’s touchy-feely problem disqualify him? Yeah. Not because it’s a horrible and disgusting offense, but because it’s just one more datum telling us that he’s too damned old—I don’t think he understands at all that acting like he’s a grandpa to grown-ass women makes many of them feel like they’re being treated as children. And it’s part of a pattern of cluelessness….like when he’d drop F-bombs while yukking it up with Obama while standing next to a hot mic.

    That said, yesterday something like the 8th woman came forward and said she too had her personal space invaded by Biden and made to feel uncomfortable. Not doubting her claim, but why at this point go public? Hasn’t the point been made?

    • I think you’re correct, Steve, that Biden’s clue-less hands-on stuff with women is a sign of his cluelessness, a characteristic we don’t want in a president.

      And yeah, I think the women can stop coming forward now with their Biden stories. Point made and taken.

      • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

        A big part of the problem with this kind of piling on is that as the numbers grow, it increases the probability that a couple are just attention-seekers who are easily disproved. And then the deniers start braying, “See? It’s always ‘he said/she said’.”

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      The suspicious thing is Backdoor Biden keeps on a-huggin. I mean, people have been complaining for years.

      As a politician, I find him rather dull. He was there for Bill Clinton’s third way, which is an automatic disqualifier in my book.

  12. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    Yep. We all have our stories. My personal favorite was when working with a state agency, with a lot of men. At one meeting, one of these men brought up “pissing in the snow,” with snickers to follow. I was the only woman in attendance. I didn’t know what it meant, but I knew I felt uncomfortable. So I quietly removed myself from the meeting and headed for the restroom (appropriately named) for about ten minutes. They got the message.

    On the flip side, I briefly patted the shoulder of a man at the same work place. It was supposed to be a reassuring gesture for someone who had just lost their work on the computer. Later, I was called into the Superintendents office, and she raised the issue of sexual harassment. Naturally, I started crying.

    I decided to speak directly to the man whose shoulder I had patted. I explained my meeting with the Superintendent, and that I was sorry. I wasn’t asked to do this, it just felt like the right thing. His response was, “crap, that’s all we need right now. (The agency was going through a re-organization.) And I didn’t feel offended by your gesture.” Later, the two got married. Later, the retired Superintendent stopped by and apologized to me. Weird!

  13. Avatar James Montgomery says:

    Well, its a little confusing for men.
    Not the part about assault, which includes groping and such like. Also not the part about men using positions of power to pressure women for sex. Those are clear standards; easy to understand and absolutely right. The Me-Too movement started out as a powerful statement of right and wrong, an important hallmark of civility.
    But then, regrettably, it lost momentum when definitions got broadened. The term “sexual abuse” morphed into “sexual impropriety,” which is vague and encompasses anything a particular woman dislikes. Believe me, there are huge differences between what women consider offensive! The message got diluted.
    Then there came the political attack on a Supreme Court nominee who may have behaved improperly when he was a teenager, drunk at a party. I guarantee you there’s not a man alive who can meet THAT standard, me included, for sure!
    And then there is the enormous popularity among women of 50 Shades of Grey! This is truly hard to reconcile.
    Well, it IS a little confusing. I am sure glad I am not a horny young man, anymore!

    • Avatar Patricia Barrett says:

      James Montgomery,

      I’m sure that you never attempted to brutally rape anyone, while covering her mouth so she couldn’t scream (which of course goes far beyond “inappropriate” behavior). That you would describe what amounts to a violent criminal assault in such a way probably tells us that MeToo still has a long way to go.

      • Avatar James Montgomery says:

        No, I have never done that.
        However, please re-read my second sentence. Brutal rape is certainly covered under assault.
        That is my point; women really, truly need to be protected from sexual assault and harassment, and absolutely deserve to be. The irony is that feminists themselves defused the movement by broadening the definitions to the point that men are confused. I am not making that up; what was originally a clearly stated mandate became so complicated that a lot of men just shrugged their shoulders. Perhaps MeToo should take a step backward, and focus on what is clearly egregious.

        If you are referring to the Kavanaugh hearings, he may have been guilty of attempted rape 35 years ago. Or maybe not; who knows? Politically motivated accusations of events that old only muddy the waters.
        MeToo has the opportunity for a broad consensus of upstanding Americans and real improvement for women, but it will lose that opportunity if the debate becomes polarized along liberal/conservative lines, which may have already happened.

  14. Avatar Tim says:

    I definitely do not treat men and women the same all the time. I have done so in the past and found it can come off much more rudely than being old fashioned polite (e.g. giving a proper handshake seems to make many women visibly uncomfortable). The hard part is adapting to what is acceptable with ever changing norms.

    Other examples of different treatment:

    I’ll give up my seat to a healthy young woman, but won’t to a healthy young man.

    I’ll hold the door open for a man within 7 yards of me, but will wait longer to hold the door for a woman within ~15 yards.

    If I’m welcoming a couple who are carrying things (luggage, gifts, whatever), I will lighten the woman’s load first.

    If two strangers are fighting, I’m unlikely to physically intervene unless one is a man and the other is a woman.

    I also am treated differently by women than men – I’ve certainly never had a male friend/neighbor ask me to take care of a spider/snake/bat/rodent…

    • Steven Towers Steven Towers says:

      Interesting. I think my rules of thumb are a little different.

      I’m freakin’ old and my back hurts. I don’t often give up my seat to a healthy young anyone—male or female—unless it’s a very pregnant female (not unhealthy, but likely uncomfortable and tired).

      I hold the door for anyone who’s following behind me who, if I let it go, would reach the door before it closed. I give that a margin of about seven seconds. If I stand there any longer waiting for the person to eventually arrive at the door, it starts to feel weird.

      l help with the load of the person who appears to need it most, male or female. It’s rarely a tie.

      I’ll intervene in a male/male fight, especially if it’s a physical mismatch and one guy is clearly a bully. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen any kind of physical altercation like that, though. (I used to hang out at Red Rock far more than I do now.)

      I’m a wildlife ecologist—I’ve had lots of dudes ask me for help with wild animals, big and small. Those requests are not exactly on target, because critter relocation is not among my academic specialties.

      Some of my product-of-my-upbringing female-directed chivalry got trained out of me by the radical feminists in grad school.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I hold the door open for everyone, man, woman or beast.

      Like Steve, I wouldn’t give up my seat on the bus to a woman younger and healthier than me, but I would give it up for Steve.

      I automatically step in to break up fights between strangers at the bar. Last time it happened was at the Shingletown Pizza parlor place. A little Clamper-on-Clamper action. I find that yelling WTF at the top of your lungs usually works, but in this case I had to physically subdue the smaller, drunker dude who was about to get his ass kicked.

      In cases where it’s a tie concerning who got in line first, I always defer to the other person, no matter what sex they are, just like Jesus.

      If you’ve blown out the rear seam in your trousers in public, as Hal Johnson did recently, I’ll let you know regardless of sex unless you’re like really, really hairy.

      I have good manners cause my mom and grandma hammered them into me when I was a kid.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      Do you guys sleep on the side of the bed closest to the door so you’d be first to face an intruder? Do you walk on the side of the sidewalk closest to the street/gutter? Are you as likely to walk a male coworker to his car in a dark, sketchy parking lot? When you drop a guy off at his house, do you wait for him to open his door before driving off? Do you offer to pay for a male friend’s meal or drink as readily as if he were a she?

      • Avatar Bruce Vojtecky says:

        I sleep on the side of the bed that faces away from my wife so my snoring doesn’t bother her.
        I walk on the side closest to the gutter because that’s where my wife says my brain always is.
        Getting off at 2AM from working at the schools we all, men and women, walked to our cars together.
        I more readily by a male friend’s drink than a women friend’s drink because the male will buy me one while the woman just drinks hers.

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        I sleep on the side of the bed closest to the guns.

        You’re on your own on that walk to the parking lot.

        I do wait for the person I dropped off to enter the house. Not sure why.

        I buy drinks for both sexes, and expect to be reciprocated.

  15. I’m loving these conversations. 🙂

    That’s all. Carry on.

  16. Avatar Linda Cooper says:

    Well, dear Doni, since you are loving the conversations…

    About hugs. You and R.V. “do” half hugs? I recall laughing with a certain new thought Redding minister way back when about what we termed, “Big Sur Hugs.” Those really huge hugs with strangers for the first time, and yeah, just wanted to back off but don’t know how to. Plus, it was a “spiritual” environment.”

    And then there was my hug to last a lifetime. First week at a hotel in Redding, Carr Fire for those out of the area. Still no word about our home. Came across the Colorado firefighters, in the hotel lobby. I was inspired to ask how they were doing. One firefighter came up to me and asked, “how are you doing?” I had been managing two hours sleep, so I sarcastically replied, “pretty good for someone whose home is probably toast.”

    Mr. FireFighter replied, “I know how you feel, just heard news that we lost our house in the fire back home. May I give you a hug?” Hello? He’s out in Redding, California helping all of us with the fire, and he heard news that his home was lost. Of course you may give me a hug. Of course you know how I feel. And it was a really long hug. I embraced it. To this day.

    I still have ideas these days. Diaries, and working manuscripts gone. Yet, not the energy to implement at this point. There’s a book here people about hugs. I can visualize it clearly. Somebody go for it!

  17. Avatar CHRISTIAN GARDINIER says:

    In the new “Me To” age we live in permission is need for any social contact…. period. It’s a sign of respect for the other, as sign your reasoning part of the brain is working, not just the limbic system and we should never assume anything. As far as republicans like trump pointing at Joe Biden as a perp…. well just remember we have a self admitted sexual praetor in office who has paid for his physical affection from hookers using campaign funds, lied about it and I feel very sorry for his wife who has to live with it.

  18. Avatar Denise Ohm says:

    As gently as I can say: it’s a leap to compare Biden’s behavior to a tickling foster father or a splay-legged teacher who closed the blinds. However I see why your radar is up on this.

    Would he dream to treat a male colleague this way? That bugs me if he does in fact only treat women and girls in this manner. He would be elevated to dumb shit status in that case.

    It looks to me as though he is trying and as it turns out, sadly failing to show hospitality to these honorees. Clumsy I guess? Obviously his clumsiness was unwanted, so there’s no arguing with that.

    I like his policies and there are a bunch of Dem candidates to look over before I’ll get too hasty.