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:
“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.