It’s an outright outrage.
A privileged white man of the patriarchal persuasion believes that his position allows him to violate a woman’s personal space. And that he can do it in public, in front of cameras, the better to show other men how it’s done.
It’s an outrage that a privileged white man can do it when a woman is defenseless, unable, for one reason or another to tell said man, abusing hisr power and their privilege, to keep his hands to himself.
It is worse still when said privileged white man performs his vulgar action in full view of said woman’s husband, asserting, for the world, his ownership of said woman’s body.
In a time when the nation is up in arms about predatory males taking sexual advantage of vulnerable women, one does well to ask where men learn such appalling behaviors.
Where do men get the idea that it’s alright to put their hands on a woman who clearly does not want to be touched by a stranger? Where do they get the idea that it’s acceptable to whisper in the ear of someone else’s wife when she is severely uncomfortable, but cannot say No?
Whatever happened to: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife….
Cue, the Vice President of the United States, Joseph Biden:
The Daily Beast described the scene:
For on Tuesday, at the swearing in of Ashton Carter, the new defense secretary, the vice president apparently couldn’t keep himself from pawing at Carter’s wife, Stephanie. It was extremely odd, and creepy.
This tactile cuckolding—Carter talks solemnly about being sworn is as the 25th defense secretary as his wife has her shoulders rubbed by Biden right behind him—was caught by the cameras.
It was made all the more exquisitely awful by the look on Stephanie Carter’s face, which was as much “Get your hands off me” as she could manage with the ranks of media watching her.
The Washington Post noted of her expression: “She certainly does not look happy. More like annoyed.”
And while the incident is being played as another “Oh Joe” moment, Stephanie Carter’s expression is also piercing: Furious but frozen, it is the expression of anyone being touched or groped who really, truly doesn’t want to be.
Biden wasn’t done with just a shoulder rub. Then he whispered something in her ear, or nuzzled it. What did he say? Was he simply asking if she was all right after slipping on the ice earlier in the day?
Those who are up in arms about the way that men sexually abuse and exploit women should denounce this grotesque public display of a patriarchal man behaving very badly toward women.
[Addendum: The Washington Examiner has unearthed some of Joe Biden’s prior statements about sexual harassment.
It has found this:
“There is no circumstance under which a man has a right to touch a woman without her consent other than self-defense," Biden said in October 2000 in relation to the Violence Against Women Act. "We are changing the attitudes of America about what constitutes appropriate behavior on the part of a man with a woman."
A few years earlier, in May 1993, Biden said, "No man has a right to touch a woman without her consent, and that's what we've got to get across."]