Ethics Quiz: A Sexual Assault By The President?

"Kiss me, you saucy wench!"

“Kiss me, you saucy wench!”

I owe blogger Ann Althouse big time for this:  What an alert and accomplished troublemaker she is!

This seems like a “gotcha!” and it is certainly that. It is more, however, and raises both illuminating and difficult issues. Here is the video of Obama’s encounter while voting in Chicago today:

Here is Althouse:

“I thought only “yes” means yes: Did Obama get true, verbalized consent from that woman before he kissed her?  No. He did not…Obama orders her to kiss him: “You’re gonna kiss me. Give him something to talk about. Now, he’s really jealous.” As you see in the video, he makes that declarative statement and immediately grabs her and kisses and hugs her. Why is that acceptable? He’s using her in an effort to regain dignity and to humiliate the man who humiliated him. It might all be dismissed as play humiliation and play counter-humiliation. But the woman’s body was used as an object of that play, a means of communication between men.”

When I ran an all-female staff for a mostly rich old guy association, I gave a standing order that no staffer would submit to a kiss from a member, no matter how “playful” and no matter how high-ranking the man was. There can be no consent in such situations, and a man saying “You’re going to kiss me” and doing it a) without free and open consent and 2) under the duress and the compulsion of superior power (Gee, do you think the President of the United States automatically carries that with him? Not sure? Ask Bill Clinton.) has engaged in textbook sexual assault and battery. This conduct, which has been the subject of a major initiative by the Democrat feminist base this year, counts encounters just like the one in the video as the kind of campus sexual assault that gives them the “one in five women are victims” narrative to stoke this skirmish in the “war on women.” So your Ethics Alarms Ethics Quiz—and I suggest you reflect a while before you answer—is this:

Is what Obama did in the video ethical, in the sense that it was responsible, respectful, fair, acknowledging autonomy, not an abuse of power or position, and most of all, meeting the strict standard of male-female interaction that is being aggressively and pugnaciously advanced by his feminist supporters?

My answer, and what Althouse was getting at, I think, is this: by the standards that he is obligated to accept and estopped from rejecting, since alleged mistreatment and disrespect of women with the supposed  approval of Republicans has been effectively wielded as a political weapon by Obama’s base for years, no, the conduct wasn’t ethical. It was exactly what we have been hearing Democratic women protesting and using to divide the electorate by gender.

Yet when I first saw the video, I thought Obama was at his best: charming, funny, engaging. I Think he gave the young woman a thrill that she will always remember, and handled a potentially awkward situation with grace. It was the kind of thing JFK would have done…except that JFK would have sent a limo to pick up the young woman later.

But this was an abuse of power too, and it was sexual assault by all the definitions used by Obama’s feminist throng, as well as the kind of conduct that the Obama Education Department “Dear Colleague” letter was designed to force universities to punish. Are they saying that only Democrats are allowed to act like this? If so, they should be mocked, derided and ignored. That the President can order a woman to kiss him, as one of the perks of the position? How 19th Century of them! Heck, how 16th Century of them…

Althouse has pointed out, I think, that if feminists don’t criticize Obama’s mandatory kiss, then they are transparent hypocrites. And if they do, they will have exposed the extremism and robotic inflexibility of their own rhetoric.

Yes, it’s a gotcha all right.




106 thoughts on “Ethics Quiz: A Sexual Assault By The President?

  1. Can you please also hyperlink “Obama Education Department “Dear Colleague” letter” to your post on that? I see the tag, but I think the link within the post would be a good added touch.

    There’s that phrase, “abuse of power” again. I’m going to have to mull that over before saying more. Over the past year, I have become so confused about how to explain clearly and succinctly what an abuse of power is, even just to explain it over and over to myself, that I have quit using the phrase.

  2. This is the flip-side of when Republicans–particularly ones that run on religious values and/or social conservatism–are found out to have been cheating on their wives. The Democrats LOVE to criticize them for being hypocrites, even while claiming with a straight face that nothing wrong was actually done. (It’s okay for Governor/President Clinton to have multiple affairs, because he didn’t run on family values.)

    And I’m sure the media will treat this EXACTLY the way they treat those flip-side situations, right?


  3. Well after Zaprudering the video, she clearly leans in towards him and offers her cheek to be kissed after he holds his arms out (video around :49 second in). Conclusion: no sexual assault in this case. Next.

    • Wrong. He directed her to be kissed. If a boss does that, she can offer her cheek all she wants—it’s still not consent. Same here.
      You’re on a roll today… Could she possibly turn down POTUS? No. And he kissed her on the lips, not her cheek.


      • He isn’t her boss. She is a private citizen who is free to walk away at any time. Going by your reasoning, the President can’t ever be with anyone ever…including his own wife, as everyone in the U.S. is below him.

        • The issue is inequality of power, as perceived by the weaker party. The head of a nation or even a state has this…he doesn’t have to be technically her boss.

          This isn’t even a matter of controversy, just denial by those who have to defend inconvenient harassers. Those lawyers trying to feel up mu staff weren’t their bosses, but the women didn’t feel like they could say no.

          • There is a difference between civil harassment and sexual assault, a criminal charge. Would someone be able to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, in Illinois that the President committed the following:

            an act of sexual penetration by the use of force or threat of force;

            commits an act of sexual penetration and the accused knew that the victim was unable to understand the nature of the act or was unable to give knowing consent.

            commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim who was under 18 years of age when the act was committed and the accused was a family member
            commits an act of sexual penetration with a victim who was at least 13 years of age but under 18 years of age when the act was committed and the accused was 17 years of age or over and held a position of trust, authority or supervision in relation to the victim.

            I don’t believe so. I know Republicans get in a tizzy trying to find a “gotcha” they themselves don’t believe in, but it isn’t even a close call in this case.

            Plus, I still don’t see the mouth kiss. It’s really bothering me. Where in the video is it?

            • deery
              Did you understand the issue? The point is not whether he did this small thing or didn’t do some other small thing. The issue is that by the liberal definition (the one they made up) he sexually harassed her.
              Now, I don’t think he did, but, by their definition he did. The issue is the definition. And, after that, the acceptance of the violation of it from one of their own.

              It was cute and clever and not a violation if described by a decent human being, but we aren’t allowed to deal with it as decent human beings, only as partisan observers of the current social climate as written by liberal women.

              • Whose definition? Where? Even by the standards of the new California bill that has people in a frenzy, this does not qualify. It doesn’t qualify for anything, except in someone’s fevered imagination.

                    • According to the new California law, not only does it have to be verbal, it has to be enthusiastic and constant.

                    • You know what, you’re right. The bill does not require verbal consent. I apologise. The definition of consent under the bill requires “an affirmative, conscious and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity.” I think I may have been confused with the contemporary feminist position put forward by people like Jessica Valenti and Jacklyn Friedman, who wrote “Yes means Yes”, but that doesn’t exclude my mistake, I’m responsible for what I write.

                      I’m not sure that you can consider what happened there affirmative. But that becomes irrelevant. We have to approach the conversation consistently. If you put forth the argument that consent has to be verbal, that shouldn’t change when you talk about Obama. If you put forth the argument that consent can not be given between disparate power positions, then that shouldn’t change when you talk about Obama. I need you to do a little soul searching, because my next step will be to search the rape tag on here for times where you made those arguments, because I think I remember that. Although, I could be wrong again.

                  • A stranger can say, “kiss me”. If I then smile, lean in towards him, close my eyes, and wait expectantly with my head tilted towards him, it wouldn’t be assault. You, and almost everyone else on this thread seem intent in taking away the woman’s agency in the matter. She leaned in, she presented her cheek to be kissed, she engaged in the hug. Clear signs of consent. No assault, under any definition.

                    • He’s the President. Like King’s who ordered women to their bedroom. They are not equals, or even close. This isn’y as incomprehensible as you are pretending it is.

                      You do know that I agree this is harmless, right? Because that’s what I wrote. But it is thoroughly hypocritical for the “war on women” crowd to brush it off.

                    • It isn’t hypocritical. It’s tortured reasoning to say that it is. She consented. She’s an adult, of legal age, there is no formal relationship between the parties, and they are not related. I really don’t see a problem.

                    • Honestly deery, some of the things you say are so obtuse that I think you must put a concerted effort into it. There are certain relationships, for example: minor/adult, teacher student (regardless of age), employer/employee, or president of the United States/heckler’s girlfriend where the disparity in power between the two people is so extreme that the weaker party could be reasonable assumed to be intimidated or coerced into the act, consent can not be given.

                      That’s the entire theory feminists give in the intoxicated woman/anyone else scenario, even drunk woman/drunk man. In a situation in which a woman is drunk, even if she chose to be, even if she knew in advance what would happen, and was OK with it, in her intoxicated state consent is not possible.

                      I may not agree with the theory, but I at least understand it. And I think it’s intellectually dishonest to spout this rhetoric on a fairly constant basis, the way some feminists do, and then give their chosen few a pass. No. The behavior is either bad, or it isn’t. If it is, then it is when Obama does it, and if it isn’t, then what have they been talking about for YEARS?

                    • I guess the problem is that unlike your drunk example, where a person is no longer capable of giving or withdrawing consent, this was an adult woman who presumably was capable of either at the time. She gave consent, and did not withdraw it. To say otherwise robs her of her agency and also likens every adult who ever interacts with the President to the state of diminished capacity.

                      I have met two Presidents in my lifetime. If either of them had wanted to kiss me, I would have no problem saying no. It really isn’t that difficult.


            • We are talking about “sexual assault” as it is used by the Democratic, war on women “base.” You do know that when they say 1 in 5 women on campus have been sexually assaulted, they don’t mean under strict statutory construction, right? They mean there was an assault, and it was of a sexual nature.

              • And here is Althouse, in a subsequent post (she’s not letting this one go)…

                The truth is that we all have a right to sovereignty over our own bodies. It’s not just something for women to demand from men. It’s something we are all entitled to as human beings. We are now encountering the defense of female integrity embodied in the rather muddled campus policy known as “Yes means yes,” but it applies to men too. Women care about our bodily integrity, but too many of us believe that our sexual favors are so universally desirable that a “yes” from a man can be presumed, that a woman can impose upon a man. But that’s wrong.

                And now, today, we see this story of the President of the United States, Barack Obama, making the kind of assumption that is more typical of the female — the assumption that the person he chooses to touch must necessarily want to be touched. Obama is caught in a relationship with a man who postures as the woman’s boyfriend and says to the President: “Don’t touch my girlfriend.” The President proceeds to grasp at his own dignity by demonstrating to that man that he most certainly can touch that woman, but what of the woman, that woman possessed by two men? It was her choice whether to be touched by the President, and her choice whether to be owned by the man who said to the President “Don’t touch my girlfriend,” and yet both men assumed ownership over her autonomy — the boyfriend because he had a past with her and the President because, like too many woman, he thought of himself as so universally desirable that a “yes” from any woman can be presumed.

                • It’s laughable because in this case it is clear that the Presidents assumptions are completely correct. She does consent.

                  Unless you are saying that a woman can *never* make a decision to say yes to the President? Doesn’t that rob her of her autonomy as well?

                  • I am saying, as feminists and woman’s rights advocates and employment lawyers and sexual harassment consultants and workplace ethics consultants (like me) have been saying for decades–that’s right, NEVER. The disparity in power is so great that free and open consent is impossible. Just like with incest, or under-aged sex with a teacher. That’s why bosses must never have “consensual’ vertical relationships, and why a President can never ask or order a woman to accept any intimacy whatsoever without being guilty of innate coercion. Professor and student? No consent. Boss and underling? Ditto. President and stranger he meets while voting? Nope.

                    • Under your reasoning, that would be the President and anybody. Including his wife (prior consent is no evidence of future consent). Your are being silly. There is no formal or legal relationship between these two parties, unlike a professor/student or boss/underling. Even Paula Jones at least had the thread that she was a state worker when she sued Bill Clinton for harassment. There is literally nothing for you to hang your hat upon here. Sad to see people desperately trying to grab anything to make hay with. There is no there, there.

                    • You are denying reality. No citizen is going to say no to the President. Jack Kennedy and Clinton collected women using this power. People break the law, abandon their principles, swoon and cave in when the most powerful man in the world asks, and when he says jump, employee or not, they say “How high?” They have MORE power over a simple citizen than any of those other relationships.

                    • People say no to the President all the time. People scream at him and call him “LIAR!” in person too if you recall. People refuse to shake his hand, people draw cartoons making fun of him, people demand that he dance for them….I don’t see Americans being particularly cowed by the President, or the Presidential office.

                    • “People say no to the President all the time. People scream at him and call him “LIAR!” in person too if you recall. People refuse to shake his hand, people draw cartoons making fun of him, people demand that he dance for them….I don’t see Americans being particularly cowed by the President, or the Presidential office.”

                      Since we know you are intelligent enough to see the material difference in EVERY SINGLE example you cite and the one that this discussion centers on, there’s no need to demonstrate the silliness of this comment.

                      I’d like to chalk this one up to you trying to be funny, except that it really looks like you believe that completely non-analogous instances of opposing a President actually backs your position.

                      They don’t.

      • Look at the video again. It was not on the lips, and she clearly leaned in. I have an idea, revolutionary actually: why not ask the young lady if she was assaulted? Shocking, I know, but I thought assault and harrassment was all about perception, and if you FEEL like you’ve been assaulted, you probably have. My guess is that she felt nothing of the sort, and may, in fact, have felt rather great about it. All this postulating and rhetoric is complete nonsense. This was not a work situation, nor was it a boss taking advantage of the situation. That’s happened to me, and that is not what happened in this video. What’s happening here is over-reaction.

        • Because in sexual harassment, the exact same conduct can be harassment or not according to whether it is “welcome.” This means that George Clooney, Bill Clinton, the President, Brad Pitt, can engage in blatant violations of personal autonomy and get away with it…that doesn’t make it right, and it doesn’t comport with the arguments of Mr. Obama’ victim mongering female supporters. Monica Lewinsky was illegally harassed under a law Clinton himself signed, but she liked it—that’s not an excuse for Clinton. And again, with such a huge disparity in power, she is unable to consent freely, and unable to say no as she might to someone who doesn’t have the power to drone her.

          I said that she probably felt great about it. That doesn’t give the President the right to tell a stranger that he is going to kiss her–he didn’t ask…or to model behavior that will get non-Presidents fired or prosecuted. And Altghouse was right to flag it. You’ll give him a pass, but you’ll add a sophomore who does the same to a female classmate, who then reports him, to the “campus assault” statistics.

    • According to the state of California’s SB-967, he opened himself up to charges of sexual assault. The relevant section:

      “Affirmative consent” means affirmative, conscious, and voluntary agreement to engage in sexual activity. It is the responsibility of each person involved in the sexual activity to ensure that he or she has the affirmative consent of the other or others to engage in the sexual activity. Lack of protest or resistance does not mean consent, nor does silence mean consent. Affirmative consent must be ongoing throughout a sexual activity and can be revoked at any time. The existence of a dating relationship between the persons involved, or the fact of past sexual relations between them, should never by itself be assumed to be an indicator of consent.

      Add that to the fact that only a preponderance of the evidence has to conclude that he’s guilty, and this video is pretty clear she didn’t say yes. If he were faculty right now, the school would be required to investigate him or lose federal funding. By his own laws.

      • Agreed that silence does not equal consent. Consent, can, however be nonverbal, not just verbal. In thus case she leans into his arms and presents her cheek to be kissed. All nonverbal indicators of consent.

          • That isn’t illegal either. Someone can tell someone else to do lots of things. Without some overt threat or coercion behind it, the order isn’t illegal. Plus, its pretty clear that he is joking, as is the woman in question.

            • It would be harassment in every workplace in America. It would count as sexual assault with any feminist keeping score. It is an unconsented touching, and while it might never be prosecuted, it would sustain a valid complaint for battery.

              • Not a sexual assault. Not battery either. Watch the video. She clearly consented. A workplace can make up whatever rules it wants, this was not a workplace. This does seem to be a simple case of Obama Derangement Syndrome run amuck.

                • 1. Never. I’m from Boston. We don’t even hug there.
                  2. She can’t consent one the President has made his desires known, and Democrats are insisting that there can be no implied consent, applying pressure fromy Obama’s own Dept. of Education—have you not been paying attention?

                • Did you really just insinuate that Jack’s analysis of this can only be derived from some negative personal experience he’s had in the past?


        • Could she do otherwise, without leaving the President with egg on his face? How would it look on camera if she refused, backed away, and maybe gave him some lip? She knows she can’t.

      • I am years late to this discussion, but you did read the part where it said “sexual activity,” right? The idea that the kiss seen in the video above counts as “sexual activity” is absolutely bonkers to me.

        • WHAT? That is exactly what has been referred to for months as sexual activity. An unwanted kiss is treated as sexual assault! What do you think the outcry was about Trump boasting to Billy Bush that celebrities could just pull in women and kiss them at will?

          • Context, my friend. Trump was bragging about kissing as well as sexual activity on that tape. He was not talking about a friendly peck on the cheek. We all know the difference between a sexual kiss and a non-sexual one, right? Pushy aunts that kiss their nephews aren’t committing sexual assault, either. I’ve watched the video several times now; it’s not even clear his mouth ever even touched her face. There is absolutely no equivalence here.

            Like I said in the more recent thread, I don’t think Obama’s behavior was appropriate throughout the video. But it was not sexual.

            • In sexual harassment terms, a kiss is ALWAYS sexual in a workplace setting if the boss asks for it. Bragging, meanwhile, is not evidence, is not proof, is not conduct, when it is general and involves no specifics, names, times or events. That speech was hypothetical at most, meaningless at as demonstrating anything but .boorishness.

              • None of that has any relation to my comment or this conversation whatsoever, Jack. We weren’t talking about a workplace setting, and I did not say Trump’s tape was “proof” of anything.

  4. Consent? She can’t give consent. He’s the first black President and she is a black woman and on camera. What happens to her if she declines or struggles? She will be crucified online, she will get death threats, and she will be considered a race-traitor. With that type of societal coercion, she can’t consent. She was assaulted whether she knows it or not. In those initial college studies, only around 5 percent of the women initially said they had been sexually assaulted. It took counseling on the variety of forms of sexual harassment before 20 percent realized they were victims. Do you think a determined, feminist counselor couldn’t convince her that she was assaulted?

    • Still not assault. But glad to know that people’s ideologies can change on a dime when it suits them. I’m assuming that everyone arguing the President committed a sexual assault are merely being tongue in cheek, because real sexual assault is such a hilarious subject.

      • Because exactly what he did would be called sexual assault and risk discipline on a thousand campuses, would get an executive fired, and is old style Mad Men 101. All that would be required is for the woman to file a complaint.

        • Not a campus, not a workplace. The rules are, of a necessity, different there. Two citizens standing and joking next to each other while trying to vote. Tortured reasoning to find some fault in the President’s actions on your part.

            • No. There is no legal or formal relationship between the parties. Under your analysis, anytime someone made more money than the other in the relationship, it would be an ongoing sexual assault.

              As there is no formal relationship, the threat has to be a lot more explicit than what anyone has demonstrated in this thread at least. There has to be something more than “He’s the President! Evil!!!”, explanation that’s garbling up in this thread. And the strawman feminist arguments are way tired too.

              • So – not a workplace, not a campus. Two strangers meet on a bus – public transportation. The man is smartly dressed, obviously wealthy, with a commanding presence. The woman is a little less well off, a bit more timid. Because they’re strangers, he can demand a kiss from her – she doesn’t say yes, he takes her in his arms and kisses her. And she has no reason to complain, although she did not give a clear and consenting “yes”?

                I mean, I think the rule is ridiculous, I’m just surprised to hear YOU arguing it’s ridiculous.

                If I feel bad for anyone, it’s the boyfriend. He stated himself clearly, and his girl two-timed him in front of him and the entire world, by this point, just because the president said so. What can he do about it – deck the president? Well, he might get away with it, the secret service being what it is these days.

                • Because they’re strangers, he can demand a kiss from her – she doesn’t say yes, he takes her in his arms and kisses her.

                  Without any other indication of consent, the guy is in the wrong. However, if she leans in, smiles, laughs, puckers her lips, etc, then I would say she consented. If she is just sitting there frozen, then no consent.

                • I got the impression from the clip that previous to the clip Obama had not actually touched her, and that the guy was actually trolling.

                • What can he do about it – deck the president?

                  Right there. Right there it is.

                  The single best example of the disparity of power and position between POTUS and a typical US Citizen.

                  The President can make a move on this woman, but if the boyfriend responded in any kind of threatening manner, he’d be on the ground in handcuffs within seconds.

                  Right there it is. I wish I’d thought of it.


              • Under my analysis and that of anyone else who is honest and fair, the leader of a nation has ultimate power and inherent coercive influence over a citizen in this situation, making consent impossible. You can deny it until you turn chartreuse…that’s sexual harassment 101. It need not be a boss.

                The only counter argument is that POTUS should have special privileges. That’s un-American.

                • Then the President must abstain from all sexual encounters, including from his wife, until after he leaves office, under your analysis? Nor could a President who is single ever date while in office?

                  • His wife? How does that figure, exactly? Husband and wife are presumptively equal…that’s what the marriage vows do. A blatant straw man fallacy.

                    No, a President should not date while in office, nor should any high ranking executive.

                    • The President’s wife does not have the same status and power as the President. Heads of states are not equal to their spouse who is not the head of state. Look at Henry VIII and his wives for a clearly illustrated example. Thus, going by your reasoning, the President should not have a wife (or husband as the case may be) either.

                    • To the Wretch who Governs these Electric Parlances,

                      Sir, this is the second time I’ve had to sally forth to parry attacks against my honor! The first time you tossed about the innocent image of my sweet Frances for your low associates to ogle and deflower with your eyes! Now, here again I see you dashing against the rocks my pursuit of the young damsel!

                      I see you wisely removed the portrait in question which you pushed like a low pimp from Murder Bay! (to be fair to you youngsters, I am delighted to see you have tidied up that part of town and swept the prostitutes slightly west and south-east of their former hideouts!) I can only assume you removed the likeness of my young bride due to my promise of of a pugilistic response. I thank you for that.

                      However, to the recent offense at hand – now I must leap to her defense yet again, if only vicariously through a defense of my virtuous pursuit of her hand and her heart! You have asserted that I was un-ethical to chase that chaste and modest woman whilst dis-charging the Great Office. Why sir? Why? I utilized only the most sound and time-tested procedure of courtship.

                      Her father, my peer and friend, allowed her to visit me one warm summer in office and I, sir, was dazzled! But did I play patty-fingers with her like a knavish school-boy with amorous intent? NO! She was off to school that fall, and I wrote her mother and asked permission to exchange correspondence – and my was that a heated correspondence, if you know what I mean.

                      We were wed the next year and it distracted me not from my duties despite what those confounded New England Republicans say about my conciliatory stance regarding fishing rights off the coast of Canada! You must admit it was becoming quite awkward having my sister, gracious as she was, playing the role of the First Lady… you can understand that she couldn’t perform all of the duties that come with that role.

                      Unless you can demonstrate why pursuit of my fair Frances led to neglect of this great Union, I demand you withdraw your diatribe! Had I waited until the end of my term, some young swain may well have had her for his!

                      Now, I must be off – I need to throw my weight behind certain measures to keep the China-men from our shores!

                      Low Tariffs, Gold Standard, and Harumph!

                      Grover Cleveland

                    • Your Excellency,

                      I couldn’t heartily agree more! The observation needed to be made. I will however add this juʃtification – without wives, how else is a Preʃident to father children? This young nation of ours cannot possibly hope to achieve greatneʃs if it is not peopled to such an extent that it can take on all challengers. If the vagabond proprietor, nay, the cuʃsed villain, who runs this salon will be a man and explain why a Preʃident shouldn’t be wed, then I shall see him on the outskirts of town, and he may chuse the weapons we will use to decide this matter. We cannot purʃue our great deʃtiny if our President doesn’t lead the way as an example!

                      John Tyler

                    • Well, you, sir, certainly did your duty in THAT respect. I’ve visited Sherwood Forest, your plantation, and your grandson was a gracious host. Give my regards to Tippecanoe!

  5. I’m carefully saving this thread so that when a conservative man does something similar deery will be most willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

    • If Dubya did the same thing, I guarantee I would not care. I’ve actually seen him kiss babies, without them saying it’s ok even, and never once thought about it being a sexual assault. People need to come back down to reality. Some things can look like other things from very away, but when we look closer we realize that they aren’t the same thing at all. Insisting that they are the same thing, facts be damned, just makes you look foolish.

      • You continue to miss the point.
        I have no problem with these common cultural ways of touching.
        Militant feminists do.
        They should be decrying Mr. Obama’s breaking of their rules.
        They are not.

          • The people who are imposing new rules on campuses. As you well know. You feigned inability to see hypocrisy here is signature significance about the way you present yourself.

            • Even with the new campus rules (which wouldn’t apply here anyway) a person can give nonverbal consent to a sexual encounter. I don’t see the issue.

          • Look deery, I am willing to put that effort forth if you really need me to, all I need you to do is ask again, I’ll do a Google search, read some bios, and give you a list of the first 10 I find. It exists. It’s a view, it isn’t uncommon. Don’t be lazy.

            • So let’s see this list where they support the position outlined, and let’s also see on this list where they approve of the President’s actions. Right now there are accusations of hypocrisy, with nothing to support it.

              • Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti jump immediately to mind, read their book. Or don’t. But “Yes means Yes” does mention several times that consent should be verbal. And Laci Green, or Mary Koss (who coined the phrase “coerscion by authority”) are great examples of feminists who believe that consent cannot be given between disparate power groups. Jillian Horowitz describes herself as a ‘sex-negative’ feminist, which she has described to mean that because all men hold power over all women via the patriarchy, all penis in vagina sex is in fact rape. She’s published on Jezebel.

                And the hypocrisy is in the silence. The grating, white noise, pin drop, halogen buzz silence. Again, I can find examples from any of those names decrying behavior just as seemingly benign as what Obama did, and I challenge you to find one that actually holds Obama to it. (There probably are a few, to be fair, because some feminists are attack dogs, and they’ll bite the hand that feeds, but I bet those examples will still be few and far between)

  6. I find the President’s behavior pretty boorish all the way through. It started going downhill when he called her boyfriend “a fool.” I always find him inappropriate when he tries to be jokey.

    He lost my respect a few years ago when he made a “joke” on one of the late night talk shows about calling a drone strike on the host (because drone strikes are hilarious!).

  7. Why do I have to get busy when the juicy discussions break out? This was exploded quickly and I was busy…

    Quick summary: Spot on Jack. Deery quit playing a colossally obtuse hero-worshipper, the points made are glaringly obvious. Typical Leftist strategy of special pleading won’t work here. All your exceptions based on “it isn’t the work place, it isn’t a campus, it isn’t….” actually make the situation worse because IT IS THE PRESIDENT. INFINITELY MORE IMPLIED POWER than just a boss or just a professor.

    • But no legal or formal relationship. The stupidity is too great for me in this thread, as it tends to be whenever the subject of Obama comes up. Is Obama also abusing babies by kissing them? Why or why not?

      • There doesn’t need to be a legal or formal relationship…for blitheringly dumb reasons, making that distinction actually makes rape a little less bad…

        Can’t you see that?

        • There is definitely no rape. Either under Illinois or California law. So that is out of the window.

          Some on this thread are trying to spin it as sexual harassment instead, as the sexual assault is an obvious non-starter, but even that doesn’t work for reasons I’ve already outlined.

          I realize people are bored, and can’t stand to see Obama joking around and having a mutually pleasant interaction with another citizen, but the sheer amounts of misinformation, tortured reasoning, and specious logic on this thread is disturbing.

          • Illiterate friend, I didn’t call this rape. I merely stated that using the distinction you used to dismiss the President’s clear power ratio as irrelevant- that is “there’s no legal or formal relationship so it isn’t bad” would also happen to make rape less bad. Duh. Go back and re-read.

            It’s the friggin president. There’s really no relationship between him and EVERY friggin citizen?

            How do you take yourself seriously?

            • Power differentials don’t apply for rape, except in the cases of the underaged perhaps. Such things have some relevancy in the realm of sexual harassment laws. For rape it is use or threat of force or coercion. But, it is completely irrelevant in this case.

              As there is clearly no rape (sexual assault) per the headline of this post, the conversational goal post has shifted to the realm of sexual harassment, where power differentials might come into play. However, as stated, there is no legal or formal relationship between the two parties, so it is very difficult indeed to even have a plausible case of sexual harassment.

              Power differentials, even huge ones, between two adults alone are not enough. Otherwise poor Prince William could have never married Kate. Perhaps she was implicitly coerced? People could only interact with, date and marry people who were exactly equal to them, and god help us if there was a shift in either direction by one of the parties. I don’t think even the craziest wild-eyed radical out there is proposing that.

              It’s almost election time , the silly season has fully descended upon us. That has become obvious.

                • The point of the post and most of the pro-post arguments seems to be: Obama jokes around with some lady and her boyfriend, kisses her on cheek, to which she consents to, lady leaves looking both thrilled and dazzled. OBAMA BAD!!!! Lady cannot give consent, ever, because he is the President. Sexual assault. Not really, ok sexual harassment.. not really. Sexual harassment by analogy. Crazy Radical Feminists Bad!!! California Bill says there can’t be nonverbal consent…oh wait, it doesn’t? So what, California Bad!!!!

                  I think that sums most of the arguments on this thread in a nutshell. LOL.

                  • Pretty sure the objections would be just the same if Bush did it. And I have a sneaky suspicion you wouldn’t be defending him one iota. It isn’t about Obama, so quit showing your hand on that one. The whole last bit about California is simple blather and irrelevant.

                    1) He is the President, there is an undeniably massive power imbalance in any new casual encounter he has.

                    2) Massive power imbalances automatically exclude the possibility of consent, simply on the grounds of appearance.

                    3) The stance taken by the Left on these sorts of encounters would COMPEL them to condemn Obama for it, but they don’t.

                    It’s glaringly obvious. You have to deny one or more of those 3 TRUTHS to reach your conclusion. Keep on however.

                    • 1) He is the President, there is an undeniably massive power imbalance in any new casual encounter he has.

                      True. At least possibly true.

                      2) Massive power imbalances automatically exclude the possibility of consent, simply on the grounds of appearance.

                      False. Massive power imbalances + coercion + some sort of legal/formal relationship can lead to a lack of consent. But power imbalances, even large ones, by themselves do not erase consent, especially active consent. Under this formulation people would only be allowed to date/have sex with/ interact with people exactly as powerful/same age/ same strength/ same income/etc as themselves. Completely unworkable in this society.

                      3) The stance taken by the Left on these sorts of encounters would COMPEL them to condemn Obama for it, but they don’t.

                      False. This is the strawman argument that I have had the most problem with throughout this thread. Presidents kiss/ hug/ shake hands with their constituents and future constituents all the time. I have never heard anyone bring this up as a problem until now. I think the “Left” has better things to do than protest and take away agency from an adult woman who is clearly enthusiastically consenting to an interaction, as they advocate.

                    • Your objections to #2 have all been debunked in previous comments here, so it still stands.

                      Likewise #3.

                      Your spin on this requires some serious self-delusion or willful obtuseness. It is useful for discussion however to have someone play the foil for logical arguments.

                    • To be clear also, this isn’t about “removing a woman’s agency”. The man-woman thing is IRRELEVENT to the issue of consent. This is about “removing the agency of someone on the lower end of a massive power imbalance”. And the agency IS removed by the power imbalance.

                      The man-woman issue only becomes relevant to this topic when discussing the silent hypocrisy of the militant feminist Left (but I’m redundant).

                      To stay clear on this topic (something you desperately need at this stage), you need to avoid inserting the man-woman component of this too early in the analysis.

                    • Debunked? I haven’t seen it. Not any logical ones at any rate.

                      Should the President no longer shake hands/kiss/hug his constituents? Under your reasoning, the answer would be yes. People do not have the power to say no, therefore every meet and greet line is just a string of batteries and sexual assaults.

                      And not just the President. This formulation of yours works for everyone on down too. The VP, senators, governors. And of course, that is just the government officials. Bill Gates and his massive income must also create huge sexual assaults and batteries when he meets someone/requests/demand things from people too.

                      It is interesting to see how some would try to expand the formal/legal relationship power imbalances and impute it to *everything* and *everyone*, but ultimately it becomes very obvious very quickly why one cannot do that, strictly from a logical viewpoint. I am satisfied with the line being currently where it is, adults/children, students/teachers, employers/employees. It seems you want it to be broadened to include every power imbalance situation?

  8. I’m back – more confused than ever about what “abuse of power” is.

    “She was assaulted whether she knows it or not.” – Michael R.
    “…the agency IS removed by the power imbalance.” – texagg04

    Those summarize my thoughts on the incident. Thanks, guys.

  9. If you hold liberals, particularly liberal feminists, to their own standards you are a bigoted hater. Liberals have few “moral” standards, as in standards that are traditionally Judeo-Christian in origin. Even ethics standards are not universally applied. This makes it much easier for them to never endure being called hypocrites. One standard that is simply unassailable is that ALL rules apply to the enemy, as in all liberal rules, ethical rules and all “moral” ones, none to myself or my friends.
    It’s been my experience on these threads that most commenters will acknowledge hypocrisy when someone on their own side commits it as well as when someone on the other side does. The exceptions are feminists and gay marriage activists. When you are a committed partisan, ideologue you will allow no dissent. I call it the New Puritanism and this thread is an outstanding example of it.

    • It’s gotten to the point where disagreeing with or criticizing individuals in a group for traits demonstrated by that person is being misconstrued as vicious attacks against the whole group. I just cringe when I hear “racist” or “misogynist” or “bigot”, they’re overused, they’re inappropriately used, they are becoming devoid of meaning. It’s tragic, those were useful labels at one point, If someone who disagrees with a black woman who says the world is flat is now a racist misogynist, what do we call someone who hates her for being black and a woman?

    • Wyogranny – I’ve been saying the so-called Progressives were Neo-Puritans for a couple years now, to the point of calling them “Regressives”. The past couple years have been showing that quite explicitly.

      As for Leftist discourse and morality? It’s simple – they have no actual principles, only goals. Mere reaction. That’s why they can look at two scenarios that are the same in most respects and come up with different reactions because of whom the participants are. It’s junior high mentality.

      Evidence of this is found all over Marxist writings where they even redefine words to make sure they win.

      (PS – I tend to avoid the “liberal vs. conservative” thing, especially on sites such as this. It’s false dichotomy most of the time. Many conservatives want to uphold the US Constitution, which is rule of law and laid the foundation for the modern legal concept of maintaining human rights. If THAT is not liberal, I don’t know what is.)

  10. Open Comment, but also addressed to Deery:

    It’s common business ethics and is covered in Sexual Harassment Training, everywhere. I wouldn’t say he committed sexual assault, but harassment? Definitely.

    Have you been in a professional workforce as an employee? Not just the private sector, but public as well? There are reams of legal paperwork and policy that outline just what harassment is, and sadly, the POTUS did that. I won’t get into the nuances of “assault” – as defined by some feminists, all male/female interaction is assault, which is ridiculous.

    What Jack is saying that a male in a position of power does not need to be in direct power over the person, but they merely need to be in a lower position.

    For example: I teach at a college. I could sexually harass a student employee. They aren’t “my” student, YET, it is still harassment. I’m abusing power as a member of faculty, and I know it. Just because I don’t control their grades doesn’t mean I can’t use the modicum of authority I do have to instill that power onto others.

    In fact, it’s this kind of thinking that condones the continuance of sexual harassment. And no, asking a person on a date or giving them a compliment is not harassment. Continual insistence on certain behaviors after a party does not consent? THAT is harassment.

    • Before Bill Clinton, nobody among women’s advocacy groups or the liberal establishment would have aregued with you. They made a U-turn the second Bill was imperiled, and the anti-harassment field has been hopelessly compromised and conflicted ever since. Deery’s protests reflect this perfectly.

      • Person-based relativism, I guess? And agreed – the moral snifting about for Clinton was pretty bad where in his case, it was pretty clear that he abused his power and committed perjury. Not a comment on his job as President/politics, but his personal behavior.

    • Of course, using that logic, no one could ever ask out anyone in out there in the *public* who wasn’t exactly in their own social station, income level, etc. Which is ridiculous. As an employee at the college, you still have a legal relationship contractual with a student, as both of you have the legal entity of the college as the common fulcrum. No such contractual relationship exists here. I get that people are trying to do a sexual harassment by analogy deal, but it doesn’t work. There has to be something more than just unequal positions between two people to make it sexual harassment, especially between two adults, and especially when there is no contractual relationship between the two people, and consent is clearly given. Otherwise you basically forbidding relationships between 99% of the people in the United States. Silliness.

      • We agree I think on the silliness factor. Where the issue comes is that the silliness is a result of feminist double standards regarding who is doing the harassment. What they deem harassment for men in general they waive for men they like. That is the point that you refuse to concede and that is the point that makes you silly.

        • That’s exactly it. Real sexual harassment does occur and is pretty easy to view, even through legalese – repeated, unwanted sexual advances and remarks intended to intimidate, offend, etc.
          That it gets watered down by some/few people into “ugly or smelly guy asked me on a date” is different. It cheapens real harassment.
          And because of that spuriousness, dating in/around the workplace is very very touchy.
          Deery, my comment is basically that – it seems like harassment. It’s up to the girl. A figure of authority using that authority to gain something is not using that power ethically. Kinda simple. Again – repeated, unwanted advances, commands, ultimatums, threats, etc. all fall under that. It’s not an either/or thing here. I do agree to certain extent – it’s a thing that can be abused (which happens) – and some people don’t date people they work with out of fear (it happens). Doesn’t mean just because one person you like kind of did that, sexual harassment doesn’t magically exist anymore.

          • Agreed that harassment exists on a spectrum. And what seems to infuriate people is that it revolves around the notion of consent, which can be different from person to person (so does plain old assault, but people have less of a problem with that.)

            And if in this case, if he had asked, and she seemed hesitant, or squicked out, or refused, and the President had done it anyway, then I would have agreed that it was sexual harassment by analogy, or even assault, depending on his actions. But in this case, she was clearly thrilled, and quite clearly consented. Not sexual harassment. Not assault. The person seems to be an adult woman in her right mind, in her right faculty, clearly having a good time bantering with the President, and who wants to give him a hug and kiss. I hate to see that agency taken away from her. The right to say yes is just as important as the right to say no. I find it patronizing in the extreme that people feel that in spite of her clear actions, that she had no affirmative right to say yes. She is not a child or a college student in need of protection. She does have the right to say yes, and she did.

      • But that’s not the logic, and not the discussion. This is the reverse-slippery slope rationalization, or the slippery slope logiccal fallacy, take your pick. That the President of the United States is abusing power and women by ordering one to kiss him, in public, on camera, does not mean that we have to look askance at a GS 10 asking a GS 7 out on a date. Are you intentionally avoiding dealing with the issue by playing games like this?

        • The whole discussion already is the slippery slope rationalization writ large. Thus the whole “sexual harassment by analog”y thing I mentioned upthread. And depending on the situation, we can look at in askance at a GS 10 asking out a GS 7 out on a date. At least there might be a chance of some sort of formal legal relationship between the two of them. Invalid example.

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