Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Ban Promiscuous Hugging

Were you wondering what Miss Manners thinks about Joe Biden’s hair sniffing fetish? OK, you probably weren’t. It would be beneath your and her dignity to ask such a question. It would grant you a stern and deserved rebuke.

And yet, Miss Manners has just added her voice to the chorus of those who are working to stop sexual harassment in the workplace, and not just in the workplace. Naturally, she is not proposing that all unwanted and inappropriate gestures be criminalized, process that does little more than make it more difficult for victims to make credible accusations.

In her eminently sensible way, she is recommending that we ban what she calls, correctly, promiscuous hugging. She does not wish to ban all hugging, only the hugging that involves two people who have not previously established a defined intimate relationship.

Have you imagined that this absurd habit, which has become pervasive in our therapy addled age, might be contributing to our epidemic of sexual harassment? Surely, Miss Manners is correct to see that hugging your colleagues and business associates produces a cultural environment where people are more likely to take liberties.

Keep in mind we are living in a world where corporate honchos, seeing that there is too much unwanted intimacy in the workplace, have chosen to allow more casual dress. This comes to us from Goldman Sachs. Think about it, would colleagues respect each other more if they were dressed more formally or if they dressed more casually. Doesn’t formality say that you are there to do business? Doesn’t casual say that you are not there to do business?

Anyway, allow Miss Manners her word:

Sure, go ahead and hug your partner — and your children, if they have not asked you to pu — leeze stop doing that in public. And hug anyone else with whom you are on mutually intimate terms. But stop thinking that you are conferring a blessing on anyone else and exhibiting your own warm feelings about your fellow creatures by thrusting yourself on others.

Clearly some of this activity is illegal harassment. But there has been so much pop-psych nonsense going around for decades about the humanitarian benefits of putting everyone in everyone else’s arms that Miss Manners is half-willing to believe that there are some people who just don’t get it.

Thus, hugging is appropriate for those with whom you have an intimate relationship. For the rest, it is not. The fault, as Miss Manners deftly suggests, lies with the therapy culture, the pop psychobabble that has infested our society and that has told people that hugging everyone is therapeutic. If hugging is therapeutic, just think how therapeutic it is to sniff a woman’s hair.

As for the therapeutic benefits to promiscuous hugging, they are the same as those we are supposed to garner from any and all promiscuous behavior. There are none. Saying that it's therapeutic is a rationalization for violating someone's private space. Anyway, MM makes the concept less gender neutered:

This is because they cast the gesture in terms of the target’s presumed feelings. Their intention, they assure themselves and others when objections are raised, was not to gratify themselves, as would a sexual move, but to make those who are hugged feel comfortable, accepted, relaxed, included, validated — not violated.

Says who?

Says the male, putting himself in charge of dictating female feelings.

Somehow or other, the therapy culture has persuaded us that promiscuous hugging makes us all feel validated. And yet, when a man hugs a woman, without her being involved in an intimate relationship or having otherwise consented, it is a sexual act, one that borders on a violation.

Miss Manners continues:

But one person’s idea of being a tactile humanitarian is another person’s idea of what constitutes a creep.

Throughout the touchy-feely era, which started decades ago, Miss Manners has tried to expose the premise as a hoax. If a hug is welcome, as a sign of affection, empathy or solidarity, it is because it is the physical expression of a genuine emotion. Believing that it represents that, when coming from a stranger, an acquaintance or anyone not previously close, surely requires a stretch.

How is it possible to detach the gesture from one’s feelings about the person who is making it? And if touching is so important, shouldn’t the person being touched have some say in whether to allow it? Shouldn’t the hugger be trying to fathom the possible reaction, instead of congratulating himself on bestowing a treat?

She is saying that when someone you barely know walks up to you and hugs you, he does not wait on consent. In truth, promiscuous hugging eliminates the element of consent. Can you see how this might pose problems?

So, Miss Manners, as always, is spot on. It’s time to ban promiscuous hugging… or at least to discourage it seriously.


MikeyParks said...

I'm pretty sure this hugging mania started in the 60s – about the same time all the wheels were falling off the wagon.

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

The huggy thing is annoying.

My perspective is that it adds an artificiality to embrace. You’re somehow expected to embrace someone who has their arms outstretched. If you don’t, you’re considered cold, unfeeling. If you do reciprocate, you’re doing what is expected... whether real or not. It’s +2 points for the person with the oppressive, demonstrative happy-happy-happiness for you. Don’t want to play? You’re a meanie.

It speaks to the symbolic artificiality of relationships that aren’t huggalistic in nature.

In many ways, it’s feminizing... I’ve watched so many women who ostensibly hate each other warmly embrace. It’s horrible because I’ve had to listen to endless bullshit about what a bitch “she” is, only to watch this luvvy-dubby hug, complete with high-pitched expressions of phony excitement. Followed by more bullshit complaint when we’re driving home from the event, “Can you believe she DID THAT???” Uh-huh. Yes. I can.

I’ve always enjoyed the joke that “Presbyterians don’t hug.” More power to ‘em.

Sam L. said...

I recall being in a AF Exchange with my wife 40+ years ago, when I heard "SAM!" and was strongly embraced by a woman...whose house I'd bought two years before. Her husband was with her.

Ares Olympus said...

Toastmasters in college certainly convinced me firm handshakes were the way to go for half-strangers, except for weddings and funerals, but still a good first gesture to offer. I had enough compelled hugs among relatives and by age 8 until I learned I could decline and only reassessed in my late teens. IAC's joke “Presbyterians don’t hug.” is actually "face saving" enabling different behavior without taking it personally.

I do think there is an art to hugs and other affectionate gestures, and people who are good at it can read expressions and body language for who is interested, and not shame those who decline, and probably people who are most successful as politicians learn this art of touch, and had better like it they're going to be successful, and since insecurity abounds touch says at least something is going alright.

Meanwhile we've moved into a world for the Millennials that becomes ever more virtual by the day, so social skills how to negotiate anything gracefully like affectionate touch probably gets even harder to practice or refine. All touch can be sexual so it must be, and sexual is reduced to drunken hookups. I'd say the still touchy-feely youth (which is promoted in church youth groups I've seen) have the advantage, and will be less likely to jump of a bridge or eat a tide pod because everyone else is doing it.