Boundaries, People

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Dander up, I must say some things that can’t wait until Monday next week. Plus the news cycle will have moved on to who-knows-what. My position today takes three parts: education, education, education.

First, our topic is Joe Biden and his hands-on approach to women. Learning moment: This is not about #MeToo. All touching is not about sexual harassment. Yesterday, all the chattering classes on networks and radio were wondering if the complaint (I hesitate to say allegation) against him should rule out a presidential bid. The Bernie people denied the bad news was coming from their side. The most notorious picture—Biden lingering on Stephanie Carter’s shoulder’s—was dismissed by Carter as a non-starter. They are good friends; it was nothing unusual; she resents the picture being abused. Etc. My personal favorite of the bad shots is this one, a video of Biden nuzzling the young daughter of a senator. She’s not having it, her mother pushes him away, and he is clueless. Word: inappropriate.

Second, touching women at all. Surely you’ve noticed that shaking hands is a manly operation. They almost always do it as a greeting. What you may not know is that a man should only shake a woman’s hand if she offers it. Learning moment: Wait for it. I don’t remember how I learned this. It wasn’t part of my upbringing. Yes, I learned to curtsy in case I ever met the Queen. Men weren’t shaking hands with women that long ago, so maybe it just went unsaid because it was obvious. You can see confirmation here if you don’t believe me. This Muslim woman talks about her culture more in detail, but actually, what she says applies to all women. These days, being proper doesn’t seem to matter as much, but now that you know, you can’t unknow, so perhaps your perspective will change. Word: respect.

Third, while my intended audience seems to be men, you’re also my main concern. I’m not saying that all men are as clueless as Joe Biden (calling yourself “affectionate” doesn’t get you off the hook) or that all women feel the same (Stephanie Carter allowing the touching aside). What I am saying is that this is for your protection, not ours. Learn about the sisterhood among women that I’m trying to give you a glimpse into. We put up with a lot without saying anything. Biden is being inappropriate and disrespectful when he sniffs hair or rubs noses. I’ll add conversation: You never have permission to comment about our bodies other than in the most general terms. “You look nice” is acceptable. Anything else can get creepy fast. Word: boundaries.

The rant has ended. Go out and have a nice day. And be nice.

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