A porn President in the White House and a rival with a good chance of toppling him has his credentials called into question over harassment allegations. This has all the makings of the sort of novel on sale at airport bookshops, rubbish to read and discard, but, sadly, it isn’t.
There is only one question about the Democrats at the moment and it is not to do with their policies like the Green New Deal. Their attempt to snatch the Presidency from Republican Donald Trump has gone off the rails. What is being talked about in Democrat and Capitol Hill circles is whether Joe Biden ought to step back from the brink of announcing his expected run for the American presidency? Allegations have been made by seven women, to date, about the way he has touched women.
According to David Greenberg, “We are now witnessing a feeding frenzy over Joe Biden’s penchant for sometimes-unwelcome public displays of affection.”
There is something rather reductive about that statement which implies that the vultures are circling over very little.
The personal is political and the women coming forward are framing their stories within the political sphere. Politics is about power. Most political power is wielded by men. Political is misused by men many times and this often strays into the personal sphere. Bill Clinton had his encounter with a young intern. Donald Trump is alleged to have had affairs with porn stars. John Edwards, the Democrat nominee for Vice-President in 2004 had an affair which ended his political career.
The list goes on but topping this has to be Donald Trump’s admission of grabbing women by their genitalia and his various misogynistic remarks which lends a Presidential approval of female harassment that must seep into his MAGA fan base. Does this, nevertheless, excuse actions like Joe Biden’s?
Being a feminist is a political issue. Fighting for equal recognition and respect involves recourse to legislation, protest movements (#metoo) and activism. The women’s allegations are entirely contextual in this respect. If a future leader’s values cannot be analysed in public then it defeats democracy.
The #metoo movement is about personal autonomy over one’s body and personal space. It isn’t that social norms have changed over the years making life difficult for men now. It is that women’s voices are finally being heard. This isn’t being done to make men’s lives more difficult, as the grumbling goes, but to battle on to even out the power relations between men and women.
Joe Biden has apologised but has stopped short of taking responsibility for the way he made the women feel. Things are not looking good for him also because his path is littered with memories of the way he was seen as supporting Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas when a young woman, Anita Hill, made allegations of sexual harassment. In response to the 1973 Roe v Wade decision, Joe Biden said, “I don’t think that a woman has the sole right to say what should happen to her body.”
I have always admired Joe Biden. ‘Oh no Joe Biden’, was my first reaction when I read about the women’s experiences. He is one of my favourite American modern day politicians, though I didn’t agree with everything that he did while in power, but women need a true champion in the White House as an antidote to the present incumbent.
Come on Uncle Joe, you can do better. Apologise wholeheartedly and take the opportunity to educate other men, especially older men, about women’s personal space. Public service = public education.