#MeToo vs. Joe Biden, Is there a grayscale?
Before the possible official launch of his presidential campaign at the end of the month, former Vice President Joe Biden has become the new victim of the #MeToo movement after a Nevada lawmaker accused him of having "violated her personal space" in 2014.
As a result of the last three years of political life in the country, Americans seem to be in an unsolvable moral paradox.
After Donald Trump won the presidency despite explicit accusations of sexual harassment, many of the citizens have resized the reach of what is now a worldwide epidemic.
Massive movements like the #MeToo have spread through all professional corners, costing the professional career to many and condemning many others to public derision.
Simultaneously, we seem to become numb to this new "normal,” and it’s increasingly difficult to judge new cases that come to light.
In the dizzying race to get a candidate who can beat Trump in 2020, this is even more complicated.
One of the nation's favorites, former vice president Joe Biden, has been the new protagonist of the #MeToo crusade after former Nevada legislator Lucy Flores responded to his alleged candidacy for the primaries with a "j’accuse” of sexual misconduct.
In an interview on Sunday, Flores accused Biden of "giving her an uncomfortable kiss" in 2014, and declared her decision to go public with the intention of "forcing Democrats to confront his inappropriate behavior as the former vice president decides to run for the White House,” Politico reported.
Flores described the episode in which Biden "approached from behind at a political event, smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head without her consent," the media continues.
The legislator assures that the Democratic Party should nominate a person who "differentiates herself or himself from President Trump", and who doesn’t perpetuate the model of "sexual harasser, misogynist and probably sexual assaulter.”
But her story has shed light on another issue of debate in the #MeToo era.
It’s not difficult to embark on an infinite loop inside Google where images of the former vice president abound, showing him embracing, kissing, touching or standing "strangely" close to many women - including Hillary Clinton.
Are there any boundaries on the definition of harassment? Can there be a grayscale inside #MeToo inquisitor speech?
Biden is the best case study for it.
From his campaign against domestic violence, through his participation in the approval of the Violence Against Women Act of 1994, to his questionable response to the case of Anita Hill in 1991, Biden has been a political character whose trajectory is framed within the "normal" - let's say, "common" - in Washington.
While both men and women describe his interpersonal style as that of someone "very affectionate,” others (like Flores herself) believe that the issue has more to do with the violation of personal space and inadequate gestures.
"For the record, I don’t believe it was a bad intention," the lawmaker told MSNBC. "I'm not in any way suggesting that I felt sexually assaulted or sexually harassed. I felt invaded. I felt there was a violation of my personal space."
The key concept is then that of consent.
Perhaps not all women have felt as comfortable as Stephanie Carter in 2015 when her friend Biden hugged and gave her moral support in a delicate personal moment, and the testimony of Lucy Flores is as valid as that of the thousands of survivors of institutionalized sexual harassment, but the risk of a movement transformed into an inquisition could be even more dangerous in the long run.