No, I think if he was grooming them at least one would have reported more serious advances later. Are there sexual triggers in smelling hair? It’s hard to say. I associate certain scents with the older women who used to smother me with Avon drenched hugs, and there’s no sexual triggers there. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I avoid hugs. Nor do I think they hugged me from sexual attraction so much as a need to nurture.
But hugging is not a space encroachment only in male hugging female situations. I spent six years working with one of Texas’ first charter schools, and many of the female teachers and counselors shared the belief that they should hug the male students often. Their thinking was that these affection-deprived at-risk boys needed hugs to improve their self-esteem. (These same women would have been extremely upset if I hugged one of my female students.)
I suggested often, and was not well-received, that this was a false assumption and the teen male psyche is wired differently than that of girls. A few of those boys appreciated the hugs from the older teachers, but none could escape reading sexual connotations into the hugs of the twenty-something female counselors. Some found them creepy, some were turned on. This was every bit as much a personal violation as anything Biden may have done.