Stop twisting my words about Joe Biden and start talking about consent

When I decided to come forward with what it felt like to be on the receiving end of Joe Biden’s inappropriate behavior, I knew I would face criticism. I didn’t anticipate that my truth would be so easily manipulated and distorted.

I intended to describe what it was like to be inappropriately touched by a powerful man who would likely declare his presidential candidacy. Instead, I watched as the conversation about my essay, published in the Cut, morphed into a simplistic — and misguided — discussion of hugging in America. I had made it explicitly clear that I didn’t consider Biden’s unwanted intimate touching to be sexual in nature and his behavior to be harassment or assault. Nonetheless, one of the first headlines out of my home state of Nevada inaccurately stated, “Nevada Politician Has Accused Joe Biden of Sexual Harassment.” Other commentators and defenders took it to the other extreme, describing Joe Biden as nothing more than a serial hugger. What everyone missed was that what I was describing — the ease with which Biden physically, and often inappropriately, engages with some of the women around him — is part of the gray area that is being left out of the national conversation launched with the #MeToo movement.