Tarana Burke, founder of the Me Too movement, spoke out Friday in support of the women who have come forward to accuse Joe Biden of inappropriate behavior, calling out the former vice president’s joking response to the scandal as “disrespectful and inexcusable.”
In a Twitter thread, Burke argued that the seven women who say they received unwanted physical contact from Biden were right to speak up and that the likely 2020 contender appears be deeply missing the point they are trying to make.
“It’s about bodily autonomy, it’s about power and leadership,” wrote Burke, who first started using the phrase “Me Too” to raise awareness about the pervasiveness of sexual misconduct in 2006.
Burke’s comments came the same day Biden opened up a speech by making light of the news about his unwanted touches. He said of the man who introduced him onstage, “I just want you to know, I had permission” to hug him.
Burke reiterated in her tweets that nobody is “calling for [Biden] to be incarcerated or sent away.” But just because his behavior isn’t as extreme as that of disgraced film producer Harvey Weinstein ― who is facing rape charges ― that doesn’t mean it should be ignored, Burke said. Doing so, she argued, will only “help deepen a culture of silence around all sexual harassment and violence.”
You can read Burke’s whole tweet thread here.
Former Nevada Assemblywoman Lucy Flores was the first person to publicly accuse Biden of inappropriate conduct, writing in an op-ed last week that Biden approached her from behind at a 2014 campaign event, put his hands on her shoulders, smelled her hair and kissed the back of her head. Six other women have since come forward with similar accounts.
Though Biden released a video this week addressing the allegations and promising to be “more mindful about respecting personal space in the future,” critics have said he should make an outright apology if he wants to take ownership of the incidents.