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US politician and former Vice President Joe Biden has been accused by numerous women of allegedly making them uncomfortable during their interactions. According to The New York Times, multiple women have come forward after initial allegations were levied by Lucy Flores, a former Nevada state assemblywoman, alleging that Biden had kissed or touched them in ways that made them uncomfortable. The allegations against the 76-year-old, have incurred varying reactions from people.

SOME TAKEAWAYS

  • Numerous women have alleged that politician Joe Biden made them uncomfortable during their interactions.
  • Many are defending his conduct on the grounds that he is old school.
  • Can we let men over a certain age or with a certain upbringing get away with unacceptable behaviour?
  • Shouldn’t we instead remind that today there is a code of conduct you have to essentially abide by.

People are defending Biden’s behaviour on grounds that he is old school and thus we must cut him some slack.

While many have reprimanded him for his behaviour, there are others who defended him on the grounds that he is old school. And that ‘certain way of behaviour’ is ‘ingrained’ in such men and thus we should go easy on them. Though Biden has released a video, vowing to “be more mindful and respectful of people’s personal space,” we can’t let it slide how we give men belonging to a certain generation a free pass, because they are too old and too rigid to be sensitised.

Nowhere is this attitude more evident than in our own country, where we often pass off misbehaviour by older gents as a joke. Th**ki buddha, a word I’ve heard women use to describe older conservative men, drunk on the beliefs of masculinity, who think they are entitled to touching women as and how they please. Most of these men do not show any shame or streaks of guilt about their behaviour. When they pinch a woman’s bottom or rub their callous hands on your shoulder or bare arms, there is a sly smile on their faces, knowing they can get away with it.

They grew up in times when it was glamorous to stalk women and men were entitled to treating women as a piece of meat.

They can pass off sexist remarks and stare at your breasts without any shame. Women themselves joke about such lechers, instead of feeling offended because we believe that men in our society over a certain age are irreparable. We cannot straighten out their twisted old school sensibilities. They grew up in times when it was glamorous to stalk women and men were entitled to treating women as a piece of meat. When women were conditioned to endure quietly while men were oblivious to the fact that their transgressions were wrong.

I will concede here that not all men get uncomfortably close or physical with women intentionally. Sometimes they just assume that a woman would be okay with them a certain level of proximity. But times have changed. Personal boundaries are more defined these days and the sense of agency over physical contact have evolved many folds. I get to have a say in who touches me and how. Even if it is a matter of a pat on the head or a handshake. It may be too much of a boundary for many but they must learn to respect other’s wishes.

Not all men get uncomfortably close or physical with women intentionally. Sometimes they just assume that a woman would be okay with a certain level of proximity.

We do not live in that era anymore, when touching someone or invading their personal space was acceptable, and we should make that clear to everyone, including people who are old school. This is not about begetting consequences, but reminding older men that there is a line they cannot cross now. If we do not say anything, or take their behaviour lightly, how is it going to stop? How will they ever realise that they have crossed a line which wasn’t in existence even a decade ago?

The idea is to call out men and make them think about their behaviour. Their old age or conventional upbringing should bind our hands because the safety and dignity of women precedes every other argument on offer here.

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Yamini Pustake Bhalerao is a writer with the SheThePeople team, in the Opinions section. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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