Here we go again. Another political figure who can’t keep his hands (or his mouth) off strangers. Do we throw stones at him and make noises about sexual abuse? Do we just say ‘oh that’s just Joe.’ Or do we look at it with common sense, a bit of what we know about the man and the pictures that speak a thousand words. I’ll admit I’ve looked at the many photos. Were some of them photo shopped and are we that desperate for National Enquirer News? Some look like a man who’s just being affectionate and really likes people (I’m one of those ‘glass half full people”) Some look like the people being hugged or groped are tickled pink about it and can’t wait till they get home to tell their neighbors about the selfie they have with Uncle Joe.
The women who have turned him in as obviously someone who should keep their hands to themselves have a right to complain. We all have a right to personal space. Some of us are more militant about that than others. When I was growing up I spent a lot of time with my huge Finnish clan, uncles, aunts, grandma and grandpa, great-aunts and great-uncles and cousins. There were a lot of them and I loved them all. They were an affectionate bunch and I loved all the hugging. I didn’t like the kissing on the mouth business which apparently is part of the Finnish customs. I still don’t like anyone (except my husband) kissing me on the mouth. Before my abuse began when I was 13 my father came home from work and we all lined up to give him the Eskimo kiss, the Scottish kiss and the Finnish kiss. They were sort of silly, one of them had to do with holding someone’s nose with one hand, an ear with the other and kissing on the cheek. It was all done in good fun. And I don’t remember any trauma resulting from any of it.
Now that I’m grown and especially since going through recovery setting my own personal space boundaries is still a challenge. By nature I’m a hugger, but I’ve learned that not everyone is like me. I’ve also learned that if I feel uncomfortable about the other person, don’t know them very well and maybe don’t want to know them I turn into a non-hugger. Even shaking hands might make me uncomfortable. I cringe when I remember over the years impulsively hugging someone who I’m so happy to see after many years only to find out that they stiffen and turn away. The best thing to do I’ve discovered is when I meet someone new to wait to see what they are comfortable with. After all, I already know what I’m comfortable with but I don’t know them. Let the other person make the first approach. Many times I’ve turned my face away when some man wanted to kiss me on the mouth and cringed as I did it.
Joe Bidden has been in the public eye for many years now and is looking towards running for the highest office in the land. In today’s problematic world where the ME TOO movement is so prominent and so many public figures have been arrested for sexual abuse it’s wisest to be on the side of caution. One can be affectionate without being personal. You can shake someone’s hand, look them earnestly in the eye, may lightly touch their arm and say, “it’s nice to meet you” without stepping into their boundaries. He’s been doing this for so long that being overly enthusiastic, having little regard for personal space is probably more a habit than anything. He thinks it’s buying him votes, making him look at being, ‘good old Joe.’ But maybe what it’s really doing is creeping a lot of people out that have had others invade their personal space before, maybe even in a violent way. He needs to apologize for not realizing that some may be offended by his behavior and that he will be more mindful in the future. At the moment he seems to mostly be making jokes about it. That alone creeps me out although I can imagine his publicist thinking it’s a great idea. It certainly doesn’t sound like someone taking personal responsibility for their own actions. Is that the kind of man we want for President? Does being in the public eye mean you can get away with behavior that would censure others? Shouldn’t he be above reproach? In looking at the many photos of him with his hands on others even if half of them were photo shopped it’s a lot of groping. All politicians press the flesh but especially in today’s environment with cell phone cameras and social media it behooves those in public office to use their heads regarding touchy feely behavior. The president of the United States has sole authority over whether to launch a nuclear strike. He does not need to consult his military advisers, he does not need approval from Congress, it is his call alone. Do we want someone who can’t keep his hands off his public to have his hands near a nuclear button? Just a thought.