Women Deserve Better Than Biden and Bernie
Picking the less sexist white guy isn’t a great political strategy
Joe Biden, America’s goofy uncle, is quickly proving why he’s the kind of guy you might avoid at Thanksgiving.
Former Nevada State Assembly member Lucy Flores published an account last week of being inappropriately kissed by the former vice president and probable Democratic front-runner at a 2014 campaign rally in Nevada. “I felt him get closer to me from behind. He leaned further in and inhaled my hair,” Flores wrote in The Cut. “I was mortified… He proceeded to plant a big slow kiss on the back of my head.”
Flores was careful to note that Biden’s behavior was not violent or sexual. Still, his actions were “demeaning and disrespectful,” she wrote, and clearly inappropriate for a work environment. “[H]e made me feel uneasy, gross, and confused,” she wrote, “and I felt powerless to do anything about it.” Flores’ account was far from surprising: There have been rumblings about Biden’s handsiness for years. Indeed, several more women have come forward with similar stories following Flores’ account.
Like many feminists, I’ve long carried a certain ill will toward Biden, who seems less like a person than a one-man demonstration of “failing up.” Flores is right that Biden’s archaic attitudes toward women — which are evident not just in his weird propensity to cuddle strangers, but throughout his career as a lawmaker — ought to be disqualifying. But removing Biden from the race does not get rid of that problem. Just look at who else is leading the polls.
Both of the Democratic frontrunners, Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden, are white men in their seventies. Both have been accused of badly mishandling sexual harassment. In Biden’s case, by overseeing the Senate Judiciary Committee in 1991 that treated Anita Hill’s allegations against Clarence Thomas with skepticism and hostility. In Sanders’ case, by failing to adequately quash the culture of sexual harassment that had apparently emerged on his 2016 presidential campaign. Both are currently pro-choice, but their commitment to women’s reproductive autonomy frequently seems half-hearted. Biden says he believes “abortion is always wrong.” Sanders has argued that Democrats should “get off the social issues…