The internet was abuzz after a story broke in which former Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor of Nevada, Lucy Flores, accused former V.P. Joe Biden of touching her in ways that created feelings of ‘uneasiness’ when he kissed her on the back of the head and sniffed her hair. He is known for his hands-on affection with people (men, woman, and children), and some carry with them an ‘ew, ick’ sense about them at times. One question is, ‘Are his actions sexual in nature?’ What goes to the heart of the matter is the difference between sexual touch (as I define it, touch with the intent to arouse either person or seek or provide sexual gratification) and touch that is unexpected or without the consent of the one on the receiving end.
When I look at photos of him interacting with people who either came to hear him speak or who are fellow politicians, I see a man who reaches out without asking for permission. Although I can’t read his mind, I imagine he believes he is simply expressing affection, without ill intent. Is it denial? Might there be bubbling under the surface a predatory nature? Anything is possible.
The other thing to consider is that he is in a position of power, so how could anyone, unless they had unbridled gutsiness, turn him down? The same could be said for an employer or an older friend or family member. Power differential contributes to crossing the line of appropriate touch.