RSN Fundraising Banner
FB Share
Email This Page
add comment
Print

Valenti writes: "In the days since Lucy Flores detailed an encounter with Joe Biden that made her feel 'uneasy, gross, and confused,' we have seen in real time the limits of how much Americans are willing to listen to women."

Ms. Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman. (photo: AP)
Ms. Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman. (photo: AP)


ALSO SEE: Two More Women Allege Joe Biden
Inappropriately Touched Them

That Kiss, and Other Daily Indignities

By Jessica Valenti, Medium

03 April 19


#MeToo isn’t just about rape and harassment

n the days since Lucy Flores detailed an encounter with Joe Biden that made her feel “uneasy, gross, and confused,” we have seen in real time the limits of how much Americans are willing to listen to women.

After Flores described a meeting where Biden put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair, and kissed her head, the former Nevada assemblywoman has been accused of everything from misunderstanding an everyday friendly interaction to deliberately trying to ruin Biden’s potential presidential run.

Some people have even compiled photo collages of Flores being embraced by other politicians — a sign, supposedly, of her hypocrisy. If she didn’t mind these touches, they say, why give Biden a hard time?

All these reactions demonstrate the same thing: We are not comfortable talking about the violations women endure unless they’re explicit, violent, or illegal.

I am sure Joe Biden is a nice guy. I feel confident that the former vice president’s trademark handsiness — which feminists have covered for years — didn’t bother all the women whose shoulders he rubbed or cheeks he kissed. I also believe Biden when he says that never in his years of giving “expressions of affection” does he believe he ever acted inappropriately.

But ultimately, this is not about him; it’s about the daily indignities women are expected to put up with because those experiences fall short of explicit harassment or assault.

The lingering hugs from uncles. The man at the bar who, instead of saying “excuse me” when he wants to get by you, places his hands on your hips and moves you himself. The unwanted hand on your pregnant belly. The too-wet kiss from a man you’ve just met.

One of the most difficult hurdles for #MeToo is that women don’t want to talk about just rape and harassment but also the mundane disrespect that chips away at our sense of safety and bodily autonomy. We want a serious conversation about what incessant objectification and diminishment does to us and changes how we interact with the world.

The response to this call has not been so nuanced. Women, we’re told, are enacting a “witch hunt” or “ruining men’s lives.” Can’t we even give a woman a hug?

This reaction seems to imply that any behavior that falls short of Weinstein-esque horror is not that big of a deal, and that the women who bring it up are, at their core, whining.

Why are women meant to put up with these small infringements? Because at least it’s not rape? Is it really asking so much that our standard for treating women well goes beyond “don’t sexually assault” and “don’t pull your dick out at the office”?

Those who believe this is simply a matter of misunderstanding must then fundamentally not trust women. But women have been dealing with these interactions since, unfortunately, before puberty. We are the utmost experts in what they mean — what’s appropriate and what’s demeaning.

I also wonder how many men would be fine with a boss who rubbed their shoulders while deeply inhaling the back of their head. The truth is that if men had to deal with a fraction of the indignities women are expected to endure, they would revolt.

The effect of these seemingly minor infractions is one that women know all too well: Every shoulder rub and unwanted kiss tells us how little our personal space, privacy, and dignity really mean. Women are reminded of our place again and again and again. And then, when we’re told it’s all in our heads, we’re reminded one more time.

Email This Page

e-max.it: your social media marketing partner
 

Comments   

A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

 
-10 # MikeAF48 2019-04-03 16:37
Joe Biden is a friendly toucher out of respect for that person he means no disrespect its total honestly. Don't forget he is a stand up guy.
 
 
+5 # SusanT136 2019-04-04 06:15
Hmmm.... why is it this “friendly toucher” and “stand up guy” never sniffs men’s hair, rubs men’s shoulders or rubs noses with a man? If you say because it would be inappropriate, I say “Exactly!”
 
 
+1 # librarian1984 2019-04-05 12:48
And what about the children he does this to?

He's a creep and you're an enabler.
 
 
+13 # DongiC 2019-04-03 17:15
Come on gals, tell these creepy men their actions are offensive. Call them out on it and watch them cringe. And, if they don't cringe, then avoid the bums. Don't let these guys get away with anything. You are entitled to your own space and your own sense of dignity. If you feel they have been violated, then, speak up, at once. It's a brand new age that we are entering.
 
 
0 # Thinking 2019-04-03 23:32
When autonomy and indignities being indistinguishab le from appropriate touch, a 22-year old tells me young people don't dare touch any more unless they have found each other on-line. Many young people are scared away from natural connections by the current, confusing environment.
 
 
+6 # janie1893 2019-04-04 01:22
DO NOT TOUCH ME UNLESS I, IN SOME WAY, INVITE YOU TO DO SO!!
 
 
-4 # johnescher 2019-04-05 07:08
Quoting janie1893:
DO NOT TOUCH ME UNLESS I, IN SOME WAY, INVITE YOU TO DO SO!!


Please invite me to do so.
 
 
+3 # economagic 2019-04-04 05:53
"But ultimately, this is not about him; it’s about the daily indignities women are expected to put up with because those experiences fall short of explicit harassment or assault."

"I also wonder how many men would be fine with a boss who rubbed their shoulders while deeply inhaling the back of their head."

It is not about Biden, but it IS about all men: Guys, I'm pretty sure that what Ms. Valenti is saying is, "Don't touch any woman--anytime, anywhere, in public or in private--in a way that you would not want another man, be he friend or stranger, to touch you in a similar situation, especially if he outweighs you and is half a head taller or otherwise has leverage over you."

If you still don't get it, ask around. Chances are that you have a male friend who was touched as a child, or possibly even as a young adult, by a friend or a family member or an authority figure or possibly even by a total stranger, in a way that made him feel afraid and ashamed. The only problem with that is that he may STILL feel so much shame about the incident that he would never tell you in a million years.

I am not speaking from my own experience, but I know men who have had that experience, also men who have been physically abused by spouses, and I believe what I read, from both women and men. If you cannot put yourself in the position of the men who were abused by priests, coaches, or their "funny uncle," YOU need to see a therapist.
 
 
+5 # they said what? 2019-04-04 09:15
Thank you, Jessica Valenti. Men like Biden don't get it. Perhaps men won't get it until they themselves are treated like that? Perhaps all women who meet Biden should start invading his personal space - touching him from behind, squeezing his shoulder, patting his ass.

DongiC, what you say makes sense but is unrealistic. Avoiding the bums would mean women could not go out in public.

And whistleblowers are almost always blamed. Women who call men out are derided as "too sensitive" or something else demeaning. "What, we can't hug you? We can't express affection?" Read what Jessica Valenti says again and again and again, imagine you are a woman who experiences this all the time, almost every day. Let it seep into you that men feel entitled to touch you and if you object you are sidelined and demeaned.
 
 
0 # johnescher 2019-04-05 07:16
Quoting they said what?:
Perhaps all women who meet Biden should start invading his personal space - touching him from behind, squeezing his shoulder, patting his ass.


After reading all the posts in this thread I think this is the best thought. The incessant touching would take up so much of Biden's time and energy that he would abandon all thought of foisting his stale ideas on the American public and running for president.
 
 
-5 # Anne Frank 2019-04-04 09:23
Biden is an asshole, but unwanted, offensive touching is a tort and probably a crime. It's hard to take seriously the complaint of a person who chooses whining to the media over her legal remedies.
 
 
+3 # lfeuille 2019-04-04 22:59
I don't agree. Maybe she didn't think it was serious enough to send him to jail but just didn't think he should possibly become president when many voters were unaware of his conduct. He's not really a criminal, just a creep and we don't need another creep president, even a lessor creep.
 

THE NEW STREAMLINED RSN LOGIN PROCESS: Register once, then login and you are ready to comment. All you need is a Username and a Password of your choosing and you are free to comment whenever you like! Welcome to the Reader Supported News community.

RSNRSN