By: Kyndall Cunningham, Columnist
It’s always good to hear from Joe Biden, or “Uncle Joe” as millennials have dubbed him on the Internet. He’s one of those kind, compassionate faces in politics that provide you a feeling of warmth and temporary safety knowing we once had qualified people in office. My favorite pieces of news over the past year involve the Obama administration emerging from the shadows, whether through a powerful tweet or a painting to give us a spark of hope that we all need. However, Biden’s latest denouncement of Trump didn’t give anyone much hope. Instead, it left me and many other women feeling tired.
At a rally for It’s On Us, his organization that aims to end sexual violence, Biden made a statement about Donald Trump’s admitted predatory behavior and overall disrespect toward women.
“They asked me would I like to debate this gentleman, and I said no,” Biden said. “I said, ‘If we were in high school, I’d take him behind the gym and beat the hell out of him.”
This isn’t the first time Biden has made a remark about fighting Trump. When the Access Hollywood tape were released featuring Trump admitting to grabbing women by the genitals, Biden said that if he were in school he would “take him behind the bleachers,” presumably to fight him. Now, I know what you’re thinking. This is simply a gallant statement from a man who claims to care deeply about women and protecting them from creepy men. However, this so-called expression of chivalry promotes hyper-masculinity and violence as an effective way to defend women. It’s not.
I understand that in certain circumstances one might disagree. For example, if you’re at a bar or club with your boyfriend and a man grabs you from behind, most women would hope that their boyfriend would confront the assaulter in an aggressive way. I believe that punitive justice should be served to every man or woman that sexually assaults someone. However, if you’re Joe Biden and your job is to illustrate and carry out strategies to end a systemic issue, you’re not going to get there by knocking out every guy who’s a creep.
The epidemic of sexual assault performed by men stems from male dominance and hyper-masculinity in our culture. Therefore, you can’t defeat one form of hyper-masculinity with another. It also reinforces the idea that women need a knight in shining armor to rid them of their problems. I’m reminded of a tweet that I recall slightly enough to paraphrase: women don’t want to be treated like we’re special. We want to be treated like we’re equal.
I know that Biden’s organization does a lot of great work in spreading awareness about sexual assault on college campuses. I also know that Biden is older, so the idea of physically defending women is probably wired in his brain. However, protecting women from sexual assault involves societal change against unhealthy hyper-masculine behavior. Encouraging men to prove their dominance physically is a step backwards.