News & Politics

#MeToo Founder Blasts Biden's Jokes About Allegations: 'Disrespectful and Inexcusable'

WASHINGTON — Tarana Burke, the founder of #MeToo, slammed former Vice President Joe Biden’s response to the women accusing him of inappropriate behavior.

“So now he’s making jokes? This is disrespectful and inexcusable. People have been asking me all week if what @LucyFlores experienced was worth coming forward about. My answer is YES. I support her wholeheartedly,” Burke wrote on her Twitter account on Friday.

When speaking to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers on Friday, Biden joked about getting “permission to hug” a union leader and “permission to touch” a boy who was on the stage.

Burke referred to Biden’s behavior as “deeply problematic.”

“He has *not* been accused of sexual assault. No one is calling for him to be incarcerated or sent away. He has been called to task for deeply problematic behavior that many folks, particularly men, engage in regularly – and that’s a GOOD thing,” Burke wrote.

“It’s not that people become more ‘sensitive’ over time as Biden suggested. And it’s not just about personal space or intention – it’s about bodily autonomy, it’s about power and leadership, and it’s about living into who we say we are and who we want to be,” she added.

Burke argued that Biden’s past work on women’s issues does not shield him from criticism.

“Yes, Biden has been instrumental in work to support women. No, that doesn’t mean he’s above reproach or can’t course correct – but FIRST – he has to do some personal work and not just ‘being mindful’ but apologizing and using the tons of resources available to him,” she wrote.

“I honestly think this moment is a gift for Biden. It puts him in a position to do what so many of his peers and colleagues have not. Set an example: be accountable, be transparent and be proactive,” she added.

Burke concluded that the bottom line is “not that times are changing, it’s that the spotlight is finally on those who have been made to stand silently in the shadow of powerful men. It’s on them to step out of the way.”

Burke was honored on Thursday night at the Newseum’s Free Expression Awards. PJM and other media outlets tried to ask Burke about the Biden accusations but she declined interviews.

“Our work is far from done. This movement is far from over. One of the things I’ve realized in the last year and a half since this happened is that people really don’t understand the movement in a real way,” she said when accepting her award.

“Hashtags aren’t movements. Hashtags are tools, they’re wonderful galvanizing tools that help bolster movements but movements take time and #MeToo has dropped down in the middle of an ongoing movement. We didn’t create the fight to end sexual violence. We’re just here to take it to the next level. Our work is about healing and action, period. Everything else is a distraction,” she added.