Friday, April 5, 2019

Creepy Uncle Joe

Just wondering: if Joe Biden were Josephine Biden, would he be in trouble right now?

Like most other male persons of Biden's generation, I learned to maintain a substantial "personal space" — for me, it's about three feet.  When I greet another male person, we typically reach across the void to shake hands.  Two women, I've long observed, are not obliged to operate under the same constraints: women who are little more than casual acquaintances may think it appropriate to greet each other with a hug.

Of course, interactions between the sexes are subject to far more stringent restraints; but women still enjoy more latitude than men do.  Biden's "touchy-feely" approach always has violated cultural norms; but those violations never before impeded fifty years of success in politics.  His recent apologia on Twitter leaves one with the impression that he still feels his unorthodox displays of intimacy have "worked" for him.  Perhaps they have, in the past.

I find it hard to believe that Biden's behavior reflects a sense of "male entitlement," nor a propensity to abuse his "masculine authority."  I think it is far more likely that some peculiarity of his brain chemistry or his early socialization made him an outlier on the normal curve; but I also believe that, were he a woman, the current brouhaha never would have materialized.  Sexism cuts both ways.

If his recent problems dissuade Joe Biden from seeking the Democratic presidential nomination, I won't mind at all: I'm hoping for a candidate who is a lot more progressive, dissociated from Clintonian "moderation." Some have suggested that Biden is the victim of a left-wing "hit job" aimed at derailing his candidacy — and if that's true, it certainly violates my sense of ethics.  Still, if it works...

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