regarding the equal-opportunity hugger
I’ve gotten a number of responses to the blog post I wrote about Joe Biden and the broken dishwasher, but one of the most common went something like this:
“But he hugs men too. He’s an equal-opportunity hugger. Why didn’t you talk about that in your piece?”
Here’s my problem with the “But Joe Biden hugs EVERYBODY!” defense.
Hugs are like peanut butter sandwiches.
Joe’s out there, handing out peanut butter sandwiches to everyone he meets – men, women, children – and hey, a lot of people love peanut butter sandwiches! They’re wholesome! Nice! Make you think of your mom!
A lot of people get a surprise pb sam-sam from a folksy public servant and think, “Score! This makes my day!” That’s not a wrong answer! Peanut butter sandwiches nourish some people. Peanut butter sandwiches are some people’s FAVE.
But of course, some people don’t like peanut butter sandwiches. Some people have never liked them. Some people have gotten carsick on peanut butter sandwiches and get the barf spits whenever they smell a jar of Jif.
Some people are even allergic to peanut butter sandwiches, and contact with peanut butter can result in actual harm. That’s not a wrong answer, either.
Imagine that Joe Biden was made aware of the fact that peanut allergies are dangerous and more common than he thought, and that a peanut butter sandwich could REALLY hurt a person he doesn’t know, if he just plants one on them without asking.
Imagine that he continued to drop PB&Js on everyone he met, before they even knew what he was handing out.
Is this a guy who’s here to feed people? Or is this a guy who really fucking likes being Captain Peanut Butter?
Would we call him “an equal-opportunity feeder” if what he’s feeding people has an equal opportunity of nourishing or poisoning them?
Or would we call him something the fuck else?
Personally, I think dang, this guy seems to care a lot more about doing things his way than he does about taking care of the people around him. Even though I personally love peanut butter sammies, that sucks.
Are you less cognizant of the harm his hugs do because the people he’s hurting aren’t visibly hurt by his actions?
Because they don’t turn blue? Because they don’t seize? Because all that harm happens invisibly, and an epi pen can’t stop the scary and painful blood-deep reaction to embarrassing fear and sexual discomfort?
If you could SEE the harm that he did by throwing peanut butter on strangers without finding out if that was something they were into, finding out if they could process that gift, or if it would actually fuck up their entire program, would you still be rolling your eyes at the idea that this man needs to ask before he touches people?
There’s seriously the simplest fucking solution to this problem. JOE. If you want to hand someone a peanut butter sandwich, ask them if they fucking want one. Even better, figure out another fucking way to meet people.
We all figured out other food to pack in our kids’ lunch boxes because as nice as it is to slap a PB&J together, it’s even nicer to NOT MURDER PEOPLE.
You can do that shit, too!
Do a little extra work to make sure you’re not dropping a sandwich on someone who can’t digest it, smiling for a picture, and then walking away with a happy feeling in your heart, leaving that person to deal with the fallout in their own body and mocking them when they say, out loud, “Don’t do that, please. That hurt me.”
Why didn’t I mention that Joe Biden is an equal-opportunity hugger?
“He poked me in the eye!”
“I poke everyone in the eye!”
“Oh, that’s fine then.”
That’s not how consent works. That’s not how ANY OF IT WORKS.
You like hugs?
You love gettin’ sniffed by Oval Office-adjascent Pappy Joe?
You love it when people you admire hold your squirming, uncomfortable children?
COOL I GUESS BUT NOT REALLY WHEN YOU THINK ABOUT IT PLEASE DON’T DO THAT TO YOUR CHILDREN
Since you love all of those things, please join me at the restaurant where we are all having dinner. We don’t know each other, but I ordered you the mushroom risotto and a white zinfandel. It makes me so happy to feed people.
Since you’re so on board with other people deciding what’s cool with your bod, welcome to our flight from New York to Staad. This is my favorite perfume, Clinique Happy! Here’s a snootful! Don’t worry! I’m spritzing everyone who boards. I’m an equal-opportunity spritzer! This is fun, right? This is a great perfume, right? I LOVE IT. IT makes me HAPPY to make you HAPPY.
On some level you already understand that your preferences are not automatically acceptable to everyone around you. You know you need to ask permission before you spray someone with perfume. You wouldn’t dream of plopping yourself down at someone else’s dinner table and ordering food for the gang.
You understand because even if you love hugs, peanut butter sandwiches, and Joe Biden, you’d be goddamn incensed if you got sprayed by a stranger’s perfume and had to deal with it for the next 17 hours.
You’d be fucking furious if a stranger told you what you were having for dinner. You’re a grown-ass person who should get to make those choices for yourself.
If you’re addressing the Joe Biden unwanted physical contact issue through the lens of Joe’s awareness of Joe’s actions, rather than through the lens of people who have just been spritzed on the flight to Staad, then on some level, you don’t believe that women’s bodies should have boundaries. Not like yours, when it comes to someone else’s perfume, or someone else’s dinner order.
You don’t find it rude, invasive, or jarring when a man reaches out to touch a woman. Of course you don’t. We are all accustomed to the visual of unwanted, uninvited physical contact. We are all accustomed to smiling.
Your answer is correct, even if you’re answering a question that wasn’t asked.
You answered, “He loves hugs!” as if I’d asked, “Is Joe Biden comfortable hugging all kinds of people?” As if his love of hugs explained his behavior. As if the question is, “Why does he hug so much?”
But I didn’t fucking ask why he hugs so much.
I asked, “Why does Joe Biden feel entitled to give hugs to all kinds of people without requesting permission to touch them and then dedicating some portion of his energy to noticing their physical cues?”
And then, when you answer, “He loves hugs,” you’re right. He is a hugger. An equal-opportunity hugger. He does this thing to everyone, which should be your first clue that it’s not about the people he’s hugging. It’s about him, and your answer was my first clue that your goal here is not to reach a resolution on the issue of consent. Your goal is to protect Joe Biden.
He hugs people because he feels good when he hugs them.
He doesn’t give a shit how they feel. He loves hugs. HE loves hugs.
Stand down, Captain Peanut Butter.
I say again, STAND DOWN.
If you liked this post, share it. For fuck’s sake, share it among all the peoples. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read some version of, “But he hugs men too so it’s fine.”
If you still don’t understand what the big deal is about Joe Biden hugging everyone regardless of their hug preferences: