May 26 2009


Picture Obama giving this patronizing hug to a dude Supreme.


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  1. humanbein

    Picture it in a world where dudes hug each other without cringing. Not that such a world could ever exist.

  2. Mare Island

    Googling “Obama hugging” and clicking “images” brought up a whole fleet of pics of Obama hugging men and women equally. I think the dude is just a huggy kind of guy. I’m afraid I can’t hop on the blame train for this one.

  3. Haley

    I’m with Mare Island there – Obama just seems like the huggy kind of guy.

  4. belenen

    well, I don’t know the context, but it’s hard to hug someone who is shorter than you without looking a little parental.

  5. B. Dagger Lee

    I like it when Twisty harshes on huggies & kissies. I may not agree on the premise, but I like it. Someone’s got to do it.

    In this case I agree. WTF touching someone you’re not close personal friends with?

  6. PhysioProf

    Does anyone know how well-acquainted Obama and Sotomayor are? At a minimum, they must have met at least once in order to discuss the possibility of nomination.

  7. magriff

    Well at least it’s better than Bush’s Merkel-groping, I guess.

  8. thebewilderness

    I don’t like all that public pawing of women either.
    Show a little respect fer cryin’ out loud.
    I don’t care if he is a huggy kind of guy. It is inappropriate to touch people without their permission, no matter who you are.

  9. martine

    Twisty, B. Dagger Lee and thebewilderness – I agree. “Public pawing” is quite frankly nauseating and fake.

  10. Hattie

    Wow. At least he’s not beheading her or something.

  11. Hattie

    In fact, I wouldn’t mind getting a few hugs off that guy even if he weren’t offering me the best job in the world for life!

  12. Secondwaver

    I agree, Twisty, and Joe Biden the VP is NOT a touchy feely guy and he also had no business hugging Sonia Sotomayor.

  13. Apostate

    Eh. I’m no Obama fan, but men do do those side-hug thingies.

    He’s chosen a woman of color. I’m not gonna complain too hard even if I hate the whole system on which said woman of color is going to preside and even if I’m afraid Obama will consider this his bone-fragment to the feminists for the rest of his term.

    He picked a woman. He could’ve done worse than Sotomayor. Good.

  14. Ayla

    I was happy to discover that a WOC was nominated, but that faded quickly when I started researching her past rulings. Mexican women? Nah, they don’t need access to or information about abortion!

  15. Virginia S. Wood, Psy.D.

    Actually, I cringe more when white guys who are inferior in status to the President touch him. It’s a power thing and very inappropriate. The VP did it the night they won the nomination, and it’s happened several time since.

    Also, there are lots of photos out of the Pres and the Nominee together in which he’s not hugging: Wonder why the press wants to give this one so much play? IBTP.

    And non serviam, by the way. I haven’t had a chance to say that in a while! Feels good.

  16. Notorious Ph.D.

    I think heads-of-state should start giving out foot massages.

  17. Larkspur

    Hugs like that are a bit cringe-worthy. More cringe-worthy, though, was the festive atmosphere around the nomination of Clarence Thomas. It was weeks before the Bush administration clued into the fact that everyone saying “Clarence this” and “Clarence that” was more than a little demeaning. Then they started saying “Judge Thomas”.

    Then they annihilated Anita Hill, but that’s another topic.

    One of these days an avuncular famous guy is going to accidentally hug a ninja woman. Messy.

  18. thebewilderness

    Actually I have been hoping against hope that he would nominate Anita Hill.

  19. BadKitty

    Obama hugs everyone. He even hugged George W. Bush (shudder).

  20. Agasaya

    Speaking of ‘shudderworthy’, George Bush used to give backrubs to females, up to and including one head of state. I really shudder at the thought of what Clinton might have given her.

  21. Felicity

    Noo not Obama here!

  22. Tata

    I would actually love this picture if it were captioned, “Judge Sotomayer and President Obama giggle about whoopie cushions for Justices Scalia and Thomas.”

  23. Larkspur

    Yay, Tata!

  24. The Menstruator

    Right the fuck on!
    I thought the SAME thing when I saw that crazy many reaching out and lingering. If that man ever tried to touch me I’d make sure I pissed all over myself before hand. And I’d hold him tight and linger. I’d actually like to change a messy tampon and shake his hand right after. No washing.

  25. sonia

    oh, Twisty, totally. did you hear his speech? it was so condescending. I can’t say I have much against him (besides the King of Patriarchy thing), but yes. definitely. I know it’s not “on purpose,” but if I were her, I wouldn’t care for it.

    She handled it very graciously.

  26. TwissB

    Now where did I put that treasured news photo of a top-ranking Annapolis graduate recoiling with horror as George H. W. Bush, lips pursed, grabs her to plant a big congratulatory kiss on her? Couldn’t he just give her the diploma and a hearty handshake?

    I also treasure the moment when Barbara Bush horrrified the press by acting naturally on having her hand fussily kissed by Mr. (Margaret) Thatcher on their first meeting. She impishly kissed his hand in return.

    Where do men get the idea that a woman is supposed to just melt with gratitude when any stray guy puts his hands or whatever on her? And if you stiff-arm them, they get very very very offended and let you know it.

    The patriarchal reversal cliche is that tv commercial, book illustration, comic strip, you name it in which a little boy scornfully wipes off the kiss deposited on him by an effusive, large bosomed matron.

  27. Lurker

    Obama grew up in Hawaii, and he still has friends and family there. Believe me, hugging is the norm in Hawaii. I know because I used to live there, and I was very uncomfortable with all the hugging at first. After about a year, I was hugging just like everyone else. The hugging goes on between men and men, women and women, and women and men. It’s not sexual. It’s not paternal. It’s cultural.

  28. Chai Latte

    Funny–when a random dude puts his arm around me, my usual response is to jump a a mile in the air and scream “What the FUCK?!” no matter where I happen to be.

    Yeah. Nervous kinda gal, anxiety disorders, you get the picture.

    Though this isn’t AS bad as the usual. At least, I’m not foaming at the mouth and ready to deliver the verbal smackdown to the nearest male carbon-based life form.

  29. Twisty

    It’s cultural.

    Fuck culture. Culture is just another word for “status quo.”

    And of course it’s paternalist. Do you actually suggest there’s no power differential between a dude President of the United States and a female Hispanic judge upon whom He bestoweth shit?

  30. PB

    Speaking of ‘shudderworthy’, George Bush used to give backrubs to females, up to and including one head of state. I really shudder at the thought of what Clinton might have given her.

  31. Miss Andrist

    Howsabout: picture a d00d putting up with being snuggled by another d00d, even when the Snugger is the President of the United States, and the Snuggee is a Supreme Court nominee.

    Something Positive We Can Take Away From This: This is a 100% increase over the score as of this time last week.

    …Good guys 2, bad guys 108.

    I kind of feel like a party pooper ‘cos I’m secretly thinking, “Whoop de $%^&.”

    Food for thought: Justice Ginsburg smooched President Obama on the cheek, much as one would smooch a dear neice or nephew. Michelle Obama cuddled the Queen of England, O Dowager of Legendary Frost.

    For females, it’s just sort of assumed okay to extend, extend to, receive, and be the recipient of physical expressions of affection. Why? Don’t give me that “males can’t express affection like females” crap, because males can do whatever the hell males want (see: making up the rules, one of the many privileges enjoyed by the dominant class.)

    It’s because the concept of personal boundaries is decreased when those personal boundaries belong to a female. It starts when little girls have to let Grandpa pinch their cheeks and go give a kiss to Aunt Bertha, despite the fact that they hate it. That a little girl doesn’t want to means jack; what she thinks should happen to her body is irrelevent. And that’s how we end up with a different standard of respect – individually defined male boundaries, and democratically defined female boundaries.

  32. Martha Maus

    Twisty is right. Blamers who are relieved/happy that they can be proud of their President might return to the question: cui bono ( who benefits ) from the status quo?

  33. DJM

    I didnt see the hug on the short version shown on Dutch TV, but I did notice he was talking about her using her first name. A bit informal, I thought, and immediately wondered if he would have done the same if she had been a he.

  34. Antares

    As I’ve seen plenty of pictures of Obama hugging all manner of humans, this particular hug didnt bother much. What made me cringe, though, was the kiss on the cheek. How many men has he given a congratulatory kiss on the cheek? Not many, I’d guess.

  35. Sophie

    Right on. It winds me right up how we are just supposed to let total strangers kiss/hug us because we’re women – and it’s not just men who do it to women, it’s a between-women thing too – particularly when they’re giving us an award or whatever. I’m a touchy-feely person with my friends but if you wouldn’t kiss me when you see me in a meeting or in the pub, why the hell is it OK to put your lips on my face any other time? It’s such an invasion of personal space AND I have no idea what I’m supposed to do with it anyway. Usually I just dodge away and give as firm a handshake as I can but sometimes it just takes me by surprise and I end up looking coy and embarrassed and feeling stupid. Maybe next time it happens I’ll stick my tongue in, see what happens.

  36. Antoinette Niebieszczanski

    Having been tossed out of a club on my ear for biting a bouncer who handled me disrespectfully, sign me up for the anti-hugging group. I don’t like to be touched, and imagine there are many, many more like me who permit the touching with a level of squeam rather than fuss about it.

  37. tinfoil hattie

    Obama is a condescending asshat. And not a feminist, despite Ms. magazine’s exhortations to the contrary.


    Yay for Sotomayor, though. Woo-hoo. 2 & 7. If she makes it through the confirmation hearings.

    Not that I am a bitter, dried-up, man-hating feminist or anything.

  38. MLH

    I am with DJM. The Huffington Post yesterday mentioned her by her first name. Sonia this, Sonia that. Drives me nuts. It’s Sonia Sotomayor, or Sotomayor or whatever her title will be (judge Sotomayor? Justice Sotomayor), just stop calling her “Sonia.”

  39. Twisty

    So, Obama is just “huggy”? And because he has this natural, cultural, hardwired proclivity, he can’t help it, and it’s OK for him to hug his way around the globe, planting one on whoever? He’d like to buy the world a Coke and keep it company? He isn’t infantilizing Sotomayor even a little?

    Does “it’s OK to be huggy” extend to all men, or just to a head of state to whom everyone else is, essentially, socially inferior?

  40. Pantsuit Sally

    “One of these days an avuncular famous guy is going to accidentally hug a ninja woman. Messy.”

    Best internet comment EVER.

    Why is it that women are expected to swoon over being treated in a completely infantilizing manner? Just once, I would like to see Obama beam with pride upon receiving a pat on the head from Putin.

  41. yttik

    It’s paternalistic and patronizing. I watched the video, Sotomayor has Biden on one side trying to lean into her personal space and Obama on the other. Reminded me of sharks circling prey. She has no choice in this matter, she’s not the one initiating contact, she’s trapped between the two and has to cooperate in the name of protocol. She can’t resist their touches, their hugs, or people would think there was something horribly wrong with her. She has no choice in the matter, this is how we do things in the patriarchy.

  42. gayle

    “Yay for Sotomayor, though. Woo-hoo. 2 & 7. If she makes it through the confirmation hearings.”

    Now we can all party like it’s 1993!!

    At least he’s not petting her on her ass and telling her to live in some sort of 1962ish time-warp nightmare where she gives up on her Princeton education and channels Jackie Kennedy so that she never ever, ever reminds anyone of another First Lady who had the audacity to hope her Party and her nation wasn’t full of a bunch of sexist asshats!

    So Sotomayor should count herself lucky in that regard.

  43. tinfoil hattie

    Now we can all party like it’s 1993!!

    Ha! Back in the good ol’ days, when the president was a sexist asshat who used his position of power and authority to “convince” women to have “sex” with him.

  44. Agasaya

    It isn’t cultural but marketing. Our culture doesn’t get physically demonstrative with superiors and strangers. We shake hands to show we aren’t holding a knife or gun. Would you enter a job interview and hug the boss or expect him/her to hug you?

    Politicians are trained to touch by idiot PR people. Washingtonians trade hugs like they do carbon credits. The insincerity of it is as disgusting as the truly disrespectful nature of grabbing anyone who isn’t an intimate friend.

  45. gayle

    In fairness, Presidents have been convincing women to have sex with them pretty much since the beginning, Tinfoil Hattie. Clinton was more the rule than the exception. Sigh.

  46. Human Bean

    Eh… yeah, okay. I didn’t interpret that way, because I grew up in a huggy culture too. I never thought of the public hugs between everyone to be patriarchal. I’ll have to think about that one more.

  47. Hattie

    Meh. I am a happy Hawaiian who likes to hug, kiss and schmooze in general. So shoot me, Texan!

  48. tinfoil hattie

    yeah, I know, gayle. My point was sort of along “la plus ca change” lines.

  49. Mare Island

    Okay, I get the big picture now. Not the sharpest knife in the drawer sometimes, me. Mahalo!

  50. beethovenqueen

    That foto made me cringe too. Don’t anyone kid yourself: Obama’s “touching” is manipulation. I’m sure he’s been coached on it.

    Respect = keep your distance, offer your hand. Wanna hug? Do so in private.

    I just hope the day doesn’t come when we are calling this woman Soetoromayor…

  51. beethovenqueen

    awesome Lt. Dan Choi video here:


    spotted at Tennessee Guerilla Women


  52. speedbudget

    Hattie and human bean: The difference between to relatively equal social counterparts hugging upon seeing each other and the Most Powerful Man in the World foisting a hug upon an inferior social counterpart (due to position, not gender) is huge.

    The difference between a man foisting an unwanted hug on a female counterpart in a social situation and two relatively equal social counterparts hugging upon seeing each other is huge.

    In both cases, one person is using their privilege to act out their domination upon the other. In the first case, Sotomayor has no choice but to suck it up and take it lest she be chided by society, the press, and probably White House staff.

    In the second case, you can always tell a man to kindly go fuck himself.

  53. Jonathan

    Here’s another cringeworthy piece on Sotomayor, courtesy of NPR.

    Neither the left nor the right can say with any certainty whether Sotomayor will turn out to be an anti-abortionist godbag, but Charmaine Yoest of ‘Americans United for Life’ did manage to phrase the question in the most misogynist way possible: “as to whether or not she’s going to approach a decision like Roe v. Wade as a jurist or as a woman.”

    Leave it to the anti’s to turn the word “woman” into an epithet against justice. Vicious self-hating tools of a godbag.

  54. Jezebella

    “as a jurist or as a woman”. Wow. Just, wow. That’s so telling, so clear that they just don’t think it’s possible for a woman to be anything else, not a jurist, or a doctor, or a journalist, and that the only real jurists are men. Wow.

  55. procrastinatrix

    My verdict on the Obama Presidency so far (I know everyone here is gasping for it): Hail to the Liberal Dood in Chief!

    And I like the guy-I’m susceptible to certain kinds of LD charm.

  56. Gayle

    Who are you calling liberal?

  57. procrastinatrix

    Ha! Good point, Gayle. Moderate Dood?

  58. thebewilderness

    One of the most delightful white male bobblehead objections to Judge Sotomayor is that she is too, too, too, judgmental to be a judge.

  59. Biscuitnapper

    And thus Twisty has earned my everlasting(!) devotion. Obama has his good points, but this? It’s patronising. Personally I find it icky. I can’t think why anyone in the political sphere would like to be hugged in public over something that should be a matter of policy.

  60. Pally

    Nope, this makes me cringe too.

  61. Laughingrat

    All the other power-balance stuff aside–and it was all pretty perceptive and good reading–I have to wonder if these little huggy moments between Obama and Sotomayor aren’t a different kind of marketing entirely, designed to make Sotomayor, an intelligent, driven, competent female professional, palatable in the eyes of a gynophobic public.

    Already we’re seeing nasty remarks about Sotomayor in the various news media outlets (that “woman vs. jurist” one, for example). Over the weekend, the AP wasted an entire article on whether or not Sotomayor was too “tough” and “intense” to be a good Justice. Did you know that Sotomayor is persistent when she asks questions of attorneys in her courtroom? That she makes eye contact? That she sometimes sounds “annoyed”?

    Would the news media give a shit about these characteristics if she was male? Hell no, they’d say, “Gosh, what a driven, determined judge this Sotomayor is. He’d make a fine Justice.” IBTP.

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