If you are like me and struggled with mustering up pretend shock when news broke about sexual harassment allegations against former U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, then, pull up a seat at the table for another edition of fake Democrat outrage.
In this post, I discuss three critical issues surrounding the Biden’s recent sexual harassment scandal. In effort to monitor my biases on this topic, I play devil’s advocate by exploring two counter-arguments.
1. Obvious in Plain Sight
Biden’s not-so-secret hair sniffing ways have been displayed in plain sight for years. Republicans, Democrats, conservative, liberals, moderates, Lassie, and people against creepy behavior have pointed out years upon years ago that Joe Biden has demonstrated inappropriate behavior with women and girls right before our eyes.
Suddenly, out of thin air, it is a salacious scandal rocking Washington, D.C. to its core.
The real scandal is the blatant and willful ignoring by almost the entire Democratic party until this election season.
Years ago, when I saw footage and images of Joe Biden’s hair sniffing ways particularly with girls, I lost significant respect for the ways various Democrats put on blinders. Were they hypnotized?
Considerable numbers of joyous liberals seemed to be too mesmerized by cutesy videos and photos of then President Obama and the VP making friendship bracelets, taking surprise trips to a local bakery, enjoying bromanticized ice cream socials, and eating pizza to speak up for survivors.
At least, Rome distracted the masses with bread and circuses. Instead, the United States society got an expensive circus featuring two dudes eating bread products together and making crappy arts and crafts to distract us from the painful class and race realities in our nation.
With all of these flavors of truth out here, certain out-of-touch Democrats still feel salty and confused about losing the 2016 presidential election. I digress.
2. Hair Cocaine: The Missing Strand
Biden’s hair sniffing has eluded the people defending him and even the ones writing think-pieces about sexism and physical boundaries. Thus far, this strand of his behavior patterns is one that seems to keep escaping Biden’s responses.
Conveniently, at the time of this writing, Biden has left out the part about the hair sniffing in his response to the allegations. Doing so allows him to lean on his warm and overly affectionate “Uncle Joe” persona to allude to the allegations as a matter of generational differences in nonverbal communication amid a changing social landscape.
Biden’s troubling “hair cocaine” problem, that is, sniffing hair, involved adult women and girls.
What about the children?
Yet, circuitous dialogues about hugs and hands on shoulders, readily ignoring the hands on thighs or hair sniffing, have created a vacuum inviting arguments about “overreacting” and problems in today’s #metoo climate.
Again, what about sniffing the hair of children?
If Biden only hugged and placed hands on shoulders, there would be a stronger case for over-reaction to affection.
Hair sniffing has nothing to do with a lack of awareness about contemporary social norms.
I am touchy feeling, and I have met touch feely people. Most of us refrain from sniffing others’ manes and rubbing our noses on their scalps and necks with longing inhales. Granted, if you do not have a hair cocaine fetish, there is little to no need for restraint. Whatever kind of kink you are into, a fetish does not permit any of us to violate others.
3. Social Justice Warriors Gone Fakeheart
This later rather than never response by Democrats has little to do with the #Metoo movement and everything to do with politics. I am not a sold-out Democrat or Republican and I knew about this issue.
I am neither a political big shot nor pundit. If I knew, then there is a 99.99999999999% chance that many politicians knew.
Ideally, if you are going to stand for what’s right, you do not wait until a self-serving time to plant your feet. Standing for what is right has become a disturbing political strategy to eliminate possible competition.
I think it is disgusting to turn your head away from someone’s sexual harassment issues, only to return riding in on your high horse as a social justice warrior, once this same person poses a potential threat to something you want to gain.
Principles do not change based on what you stand to profit. You do it when you stand to lose.
Therefore, I want every Democratic presidential hopeful to answer this question: Why did you ignore this complaint for years?
I want every Democratic politician in D.C., who is applauding women’s bravery, to respond.
If these individuals claim to have a lack of awareness about this issue, then they need to stop campaigning by reason of incompetency. Now that we have 31, 804, 725.9 politicians (a rough guestimate) vying to become the Democrat Party candidate in the 2020 presidential election, “Uncle Joe” has quickly become “Creepy Joe.”
One theory is that because he poses a threat to some of their aspirations, Biden’s competition decided to express public concern about his hair cocaine and lack of boundaries with women and girls. Remember this is supposed to be the party of social justice and woke folks.
Speaking of Democrats and social justice, the Biden scandal presents an opportunity for many us to leave our biases and bigotry at the door when discussing his or any mature person’s conduct. The ageist undertones in arguments, either condoning Joe Biden’s behavior or belittling his alleged interest in running for the presidency, pine for deliberate scrutiny.
Our national colloquy fossilizes Biden as either “old” and out-of-touch with the times or too “old” to run for president. I contend there are millions of older people who do not sniff hair. Likewise, millions of experienced people are highly capable of leading, from homes, to communities, organizations, corporations to nations.
4. Playing Devil’s Advocate
Because I felt at a loss as to why anyone would consider a hair cocaine violation to be friendly, comforting, or touchy-feely, I pushed myself to think of another perspective.
A. Cultural Misunderstanding
In my playing of devil’s advocate, I explored the idea of Biden’s behavior as an example of a cultural communicative mismatch.
Counter to dominant social conventions in the United States, in certain cultural groups, sniffing, and closer physical contact with another’s face are as normal as our hand-shakes, hugs and high fives. Normal is cultural.
In the article, “Beyond the Handshake: How People Greet Each Other Around the World,” Chris Ciolli writes,
In Greenland, kunik, the Inuit tradition of placing your nose and upper lip against someone’s cheek or forehead and sniffing, is limited to very close relationships. But on the island of Tuvalu, pressing cheeks together and taking a deep breath is still part of a traditional Polynesian welcome for visitors.
Here, one could argue that the moments where Biden pressed his forehead against another woman’s forehead or sniffed women’s hair could be his demonstration of welcoming them or an attempt to signal closeness.
Although tapping noses together is a greeting found in Qatar, Yemen, and Oman, sniffing is not involved.
Also, the New Zealand practice of hongi, could offer another way of analyzing Biden’s greetings. According to Ciolli,
While this pressing together of forehead and nose—in what Maori call a ‘sharing of breath’—is thought of as a quintessentially kiwi gesture of welcome, it’s actually symbolic of a sacred welcoming of a visitor into Maori culture. And it’s an honor not extended to everyone.
Perhaps, Biden, in an attempt at interrupting his White male privilege and sign of awareness of his position of government power, sought to be more intentional by welcoming and honoring women with his interpretation of the “sacred Maori practice of sharing of breath”—something he learned from his cross-cultural experiences there.
It takes a stretch of the imagination, and arguably my ethics, to stand by Biden’s physical contact on the grounds of cultural differences.
Even with the cultural misunderstanding argument, at least two issues remain:
First, Biden does not hail from Greenland or New Zealand. Secondly, the bulk (if not all) of Biden’s hair sniffing moves suggests a distinct gender focus.
B. Individual Preference
One could argue that appropriate physical contact is another one these highly subjective concepts. I considered that each of us have varying comfort levels with physical touch.
I decided to “Joe Biden” my husband two nights ago. He had just returned from out of town. After dinner, we stood, facing each other, and he wrapped his arms around me, as we continued our dinner conversation. Then, I pulled a Joe Biden hair cocaine move on him.
Because of our height differences, I stood on my tippy toes and moved my face close to his neck, taking long inhales as I made my way to the hairline on the nape of his neck. I took in another lingering sniff, trying to model the technique I had observed from video.
I repeated this action.
My husband became uncomfortable. He informed, “Okay, that is weird, and I am your husband.”
“I thought I would do a bit of informal research for a blog post I am writing about Joe Biden’s hair cocaine problem, ” I responded.
He replied, “You can tell them that even when you are married, it is still creepy. Your husband thinks it is creepy.”
Yesterday, I tried one more time. I thought that maybe it was a matter of how I approached my sniffing. Perhaps, the topic of Biden’s allegations during our conversation had subconsciously influenced my husband’s response.
This time, as my husband was sitting in a chair, I went behind him and began to perform a Joe Biden sniffing action. First, I kissed him at the top of his head, which I do from time to time, and my husband smiled. Then, I went all creepy and mimicked Joe Biden’s behavior.
My husband confirmed that it was still creepy.
I shall not do it again.
Although my sample size was extremely small, this experience is one shared by countless others. That is, a lot of us do not want random people or people we know sniffing our hair and neck. Similarly, we do not want adults or anyone sniffing our children and inappropriately touching them.
Respecting personal boundaries is not just for strangers, but it is also for those who are closest to us, including our children, partners and spouses. As you have read, intimacy does not grant license to sniff your love one “Joe Biden” style.
Closing: Caring and Principles
I call into question these Democrats who suddenly care about women and girls… or what is right. If the Democrats with knowledge of Biden’s alleged history of sexual harassment truly cared, they would have gone Brett Kavanaugh indignant and addressed the issue long ago.
They would have verbally grabbed Biden by the nose and simultaneously challenged Trump for grabbing women by their private parts.
It is precisely the lack of care informing such politicians’ actions because they were more than willing to overlook the alleged creepiness for years for self-serving purposes.
The people who truly care about sexual harassment are the ones who did not ignore Joe Biden’s alleged misconduct. They are the ones who chose to see without any motive to move the political tide in their favor.
I am not criticizing the survivors or people who choose to stand by people they personally know on either side in these kinds of situations. Women chronicling and speaking out about our lived experiences, as we navigate complex social interactions laden with power, are necessary for individual and social progress.
I question what appears to be maneuvering by politicians and pundits, who manipulate social issues, to get ahead instead of serving the public.
Hugs and hands on shoulders—even waists— can fall under social norms. On the other hand, actions like, placing hands on thighs and sniffing hair have not fallen under dominant U.S. social norms.
Where is Hillary Clinton at to identify “Uncle Joe” as a “super predator” who needs to be brought to “heel” when you need her?
Access to (Link opens in new window) Audio Version of This Post
Currently, I am exploring tools to use to help make Race and Grace more accessible through audio content. In the meantime, I have voice recorded this post.