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. 


Yes, my thoughts exactly


I wonder if this known democratic supporter would have made the same comments if Biden was a



Sniffing a woman’s hair is not affection its an affliction….Joe has issues…he always has…


Dr. Brody:

Men should hug their children and their spouses and tell them they love them everyday. They don’t need to stand in front of the mirror shaving while lip synching to Johnny Mathis’ version of “Feelings”.

They shouldn’t be out hugging strangers they just met. If I was as grabby as Uncle Joe I’d expect at least one punch in the nose from an angry husband ( because I don’t have a coterie of secret service agents protecting me) and a whack upside the head from my wife.. and no, that isn’t domestic violence on her part, but an appropriate response to boorish behavior.


Good article Dr. Brody. BUT really all a political smoke screen skillfully timed to keep Biden out of the field of whacko candidates by his opponents. Not about his well known “hugginess”, but just keeping Uncle Joe out. Period.


New Me Too! protection for men…hazmat suits!


So its okay ???? Cause Joe can blame his dad ???? So he has a legitimate excuse ???. Wow well when Over Friendly Joe is licking the back of your young daughters ears … We will we see if your tune changes . . As far as Trump goes ….if you’ve never had a women grab your jewels ya might want to get out more often


So the whitewashing begins. If someone did that to a member of my family I’d hit him.

Methinks someone is in denial of basic social norms.


Hugging and kissing and shoulder squeezes with someone you have a personal relationship with is fine if invited. Those kind of behaviors with people you don’t is a violation. I’m not saying this conduct on Biden’s part is a disqualifier necessarily, the fact that he is a shill for the globalist agenda should be.