Joe Biden and male affection in the me too era

April 12, 2019

Joe Biden

Opinion by Steve Brody, Ph.D.

Joe Biden is a hugger. He is, to date, not a sexual predator. He didn’t have sex with an intern as Bill Clinton did or brag about grabbing women by their private parts like Donald Trump.

It would appear from his public behavior that Joe Biden is an affectionate male. The question now is whether we want men to be affectionate or not. I would argue that we do. The psychological literature is replete with studies on how emotional father-absence affects children adversely.

As a clinical psychologist, I’ve seen hundreds of clients over my 40 years in practice struggle with not feeling loved by an emotionally and physically aloof father. How they would have loved to have received a hug now and then.

Personally, I get Joe Biden. I’m a hugger, too. I even hug the guys in my poker group. But depending upon one’s personal history, physical affection, male or female, is loaded psychologically.

We all have histories, some more traumatic than others. It’s been estimated that one of every three or four women has been sexually abused to some degree during the course of her lifetime.

You don’t need a Ph.D. in psychology to realize that survivors of such abuse are often triggered by physical affection. It can easily ring an old, unconscious bell of an earlier trauma. And we’re all capable of reacting to one-alarm blazes as if their four-alarm fires, depending upon our conditioning.

So if Joe Biden has hugged thousands of women over many campaigns, might it be reasonable to assume that a number of them would be uncomfortable. This is not to say that the women who have come forth publicly have a history of abuse. Certainly there are other reasons to feel uncomfortable. Family of origin values, being startled if the hug comes unexpectedly, especially from behind, would certainly affect how one would react.

Whereas we certainly don’t need uninvited male sexuality, we do need male warmth and affection. Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater and scare men into retreat behind the old male battlements of not expressing emotion or affection. We don’t need more cold, distant men.

Perhaps Speaker Pelosi’s suggestion that men “join the straight-arm club” and engage in just a handshake is a reasonable and safe place to start. This can be done with warmth and genuine affection.

My advice to us men who want to go a step further: Ask a woman what she would prefer, and let her preference be your guide. Then proceed with caution and sensitivity, but proceed. Be discerning and aware of body language. Does the woman (or man) tense when hugged? If so, back off.

Joe Biden has triggered a national discussion. It’s my opinion that it shouldn’t derail his run for office. It’s an opportunity for all of us to grow together.

Steve Brody, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist in Cambria, California, and a past president of the Division of Media Psychology of the American Psychological Association. 


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nunsense

So hugs and making someone uncomfortable is ok cuz every needs a hug but coarse bragging in a locker room bad. got it.


AmericaTheFree

And what was “bragged” about? A hug? No, more like sexual assault, don’t ya think? I don’t know how many locker rooms you’ve been in nun’ but the ones I’ve been in, and there’s plenty (including my time in prison), that kind of “bragging” isn’t acceptable and sometimes met with some pretty stiff consequences. Beside, the “bragging” we heard from Trump The Pervert was from a bus, remember?


smiley

This sounds to me like a backhanded apologetic endorsement of Joe Biden. But I dont want to be censored for being political so I wont say it.


smiley

Joe Biden has made dumb remarks as often Trump lies. Then theres that trip he took to China with his son and the boy came back rich, doesnt look good. Hugs are the least of his faults.


smiley

I dont care who Uncle Joe hugs as long as it’s not my mother. Dont like motherhuggers. How does he pull his foot out of his mouth without hurting his back? He is a better businessman than Trump. Look at all the money he and his boy made on that trip to China. He should straight arm old Nancy next time he sees her just to be safe.


rukidding

Pretty much agree with the column. But now everyone has become aware of the Avenatti’s and the Allred’s in the world who are the worst of society. Everyone deserves a hug or embrace at some time even during good times and bad times.


Mjd

Folks,


Although I am not a fan of Joe Biden’s liberal politics, I think this whole bruhaha about his behavior towards women is a bunch of BS, and #MeToo is all too often just politics.


The insincerity of those who make these phony claims of feeling ‘uncomfortable’ with a pat on the back or an occasional hug is highlighted by people like Lucy Flores, a Bernie Sanders supporter who used a phony complaint to try to derail Biden’s candidacy. It failed.


Women like Lucy Flores are insulting to real survivors of sexual assault, and these false claims give rise to a whole new saying: ‘The Girl Who Cried Wolf’


Just saying,


MJD


#BeReal

#GetOverYourself

#PoliticsAsUsual


shelworth

Joe, being a older, straight, white, male, must be disqualified.


deepsea

No, he’s a creeper. There’s this thing called personal space. One does not violate it unless welcomed in by the other party. It’s not something you just push your way into.


AmericaTheFree

So, if a woman does the same thing, invades your space and gives you a hug ‘sea, you’ll demand your space and an apology? Would she be considered a “creeper” too? I bet not; and if she is attractive to you the more enjoyment you’d probably derive from it, right? Equality is a two-way street there sport and the further we push men away from being able to show their emotions and affections, as women do, the further we get from equality.


pi-on

I wonder if the author would mind if strange men did that to his wife or daughter.


SLOBIRD

I’m sorry but I want to clarify the difference between a hug and pawing. If you watch the video’s and pictures of Mr. Biden putting his hands around a woman’s waist, lifting her hair and kissing her neck, grabbing a little girl and kissing her on the lips or rubbing her cheeks are acts that differ from a hug. I would love to see him stand behind a male and kiss his neck. There is a hug and then, there is a hug and adults know the difference. I have never seen him kiss the neck of a man!


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