Supplemental Comments On The President’s Ordered Kiss

I’m in NYC for a law firm seminar, and expect to get back to Ethics Alarms late if at all, so I want to make a couple of clarifications lest the comments on yesterday’s Ethics Quiz go astray.

I am not blaming the President for what is a standard, culturally embedded demonstration of male dominance, presumed female submissiveness and abuse of power. He is part of the culture that tolerates this, and while it would be immensely beneficial if he used his influence as a role model to move us away from this conduct that is a major, if under-recognized, way that the glass ceiling is kept intact, I recognize that this is a lot to ask, and that he has other pressing matters to deal with.

Make no mistake, however, that the male power-hug, power-kiss is a stubborn remnant of the patriarchy. I know that astute feminists (and others, like me) know this, and the fact that they don’t have the integrity or the courage to condemn the conduct when it surface’s in  a political ally is disappointing if not surprising.

To those who (absurdly) claim that the woman’s response in the video was consensual, I only ask them to speculate what her alternative to submitting to the POTUS ordered smooch was. She knew the incident was on television. He is the leader of the free world, she is, by comparison and to the public, at least, nobody. Should she have embarrassed him by refusing? Should she reject the President of the United States when he his being “nice,” thus instantly making herself the center of a controversy? Of course not. This is why the position the President placed her in was unfair.

It is, however, incredibly, disturbingly common. From Richard Dawson’s mandatory kisses from female contestants on the original “Family Feud,” to the old lions of the plaintiffs bar trying to cop a feel with my young female staffers at an association convention, men in power, and men generally, feel they have a right to this culturally accepted invasion of a woman’s physical person, and women feel obligated to permit it. Every time they do, they do their little bit to keeping men in a step ahead of them.

That’s the real issue here, not sexual assault.


18 thoughts on “Supplemental Comments On The President’s Ordered Kiss

  1. Like I’ve said in the previous thread, this is deeply stupid, and robs the woman in question of all agency. She is clearly thrilled before the cheek kiss, consents to the kiss, and looks quite thrilled after. If there is any confusion on the matter, she isn’t dead, we can ask her.

    Only Obama Derangement Syndrome would suggest otherwise.

    I’m through with this discussion, as I should have remembered why I generally avoid the Obama-centric threads on this site. On a related, but funnier note, here are Key and Peele noting the differences in Obama’s greeting styles and vernacular with different crowds:

  2. I think this whole topic is deeply stupid.

    “Make no mistake, however, that the male power-hug, power-kiss is a stubborn remnant of the patriarchy. I know that astute feminists (and others, like me) know this, and the fact that they don’t have the integrity or the courage to condemn the conduct when it surface’s in a political ally is disappointing if not surprising.”

    You and I have discussed this before Jack, so while I acknowledge your consistency, I just can’t agree with you about what constitutes a violation. I’ve watched this video a dozen times. These fake air kisses/lean in for a hug episodes are becoming part of our culture. This happens to me every day — casual meetings, business, etc — and I am a proud feminist. Sometimes the man hugs me, sometimes I initiate the hug. We do it to the same gender or opposite gender. My four-year old leaned in to me yesterday and sad, “Give me some sugar,” and gave me a light peck on the cheek. She had learned that from her 20-something cousin over the weekend.

    It’s okay — BREATHE everybody. Did everyone miss the 3 minutes of banter leading up to this superficial kiss? It was a little act for the cameras. There was as much passion here as with the encounters of the hundreds (thousands) of infants that Obama probably kissed while on the campaign trail.

    Now, if President Obama announced that he was going to kiss her and then gave her a passionate lip lock – or grabbed her ass or something — then we should be outraged. But this was normal human touching. If Hillary had done this to another woman or man, not one word would be written about it.

    • I’ve refrained from commenting on this issue because I grew up in a culture where kissing a stranger upon meeting them is the standard reaction. All I can say is that it’s been an instructive look into the weirdnesses of US culture.

    • Who said it was really a violation? I know most women don’t recognize the thousands of ways men, many without realizing it or intending it, diminish women and send messages to them, as well observing men and observing women, that women are inherently subordinate, may ornaments, delightful luxuries in the workplace and elsewhere, being patted on the head–“Boy, doesn’t she brightens up the room with all these ugly (Hard working, serious, caring about the job and not attracting bees to honey) men.”

      It’s a trap, of course, and women, like you, I guess, are being gulled into your own marginalization. It is part of the reason for pat disparity, leadership deficits, lack of respect from other female staff, it’s old, it’s wide open, and women fight the whistle-blower like me as hard as the male pigs who benefit from it. I know you don’t get it, Beth. I hope you do eventually, because I am right, and I’m not the one being hurt by it. You are.

  3. That’s the real issue here, not sexual assault.

    I get what you’re saying and I agree.
    I was also annoyed with the change in his manner of speaking and his joking around while people are supposed to be voting.
    Imagine the horror if Romney had done similar.
    MSNBC would have to go in crisis mode and begin 24 hr coverage of THE WAR ON WOMEN yet The Golden Boy gets a pass. @@

    • Remember, for when Romney even talks about candidacy in 2016, that of course he has completely condemned himself to the Earthly Hell for Sexist Bigots for uttering a sentence with the phrase “binders full of women” in it.

    • This issue really isn’t about Obama. It is about the acculturated conduct of males to women, celebrities/powerful officials to ordinary citizens and superiors to subordinates, and the hypocrisy of prtisan interest groups and pundits applying different standards according to political loyalties and agendas. I don’t see partisan saides on the issue itself at all. Abuse of power is abuse of power.

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