Lilly Jay, a survivor of sexual assault in college who came to the White House in 2014 as part of Vice President Joe Biden’s It’s On Us campaign, said in a new op-ed in Slate on Monday that she felt “duped” when she read of other women’s allegations of inappropriate touching against Biden.
During her visit to the White House five years ago, Jay said she remembers thinking it was “a little odd” that Biden had held her hand, but said it was the least memorable part of the day. She dismissed the feeling as mere annoyance that she had been primarily photographed touching him instead of standing on her own.
“The feeling of questioning my own experience was a familiar one. Why hadn’t I been more aware of Biden’s contact with me? Why didn’t it occur to me to be perturbed? Why had I so quickly discredited my annoyance at having to hold hands with him like I was a little girl?” she wrote of the day she read about Lucy Flores’ and Sofie Karasek’s allegations.
“What I will say is this: That day, Biden’s gestures toward me felt more paternalistic than predatory; there was nothing prurient about him holding my hand. I think he believes, like the waiter who recently squeezed my arm during dinner, that certain kinds of touch are friendly and fatherly. But neither of those men are my father, and there are lots of ways to be friendly,” she continued, adding she was disappointed by Biden’s jokes about the allegations last week and suggested the former Vice President should start learning how to ask permission, and apologize.
“While some people enjoy hugs from strangers and others do not, I don’t know anyone who enjoys not receiving an apology when hurt, or having their lived experience made into a joke,” she wrote.
Read the full op-ed here.
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