Don Rogers: Embraces touchy with Me Too
August 16, 2018
Is it just me or have the politics of hugging changed?
Seems that Me Too is a rock thrown in the pond, ripples everywhere. Here's extra reason to mind what you say, where you look, most certainly how you touch.
But look, humans do touch, all the time, and almost never with the intimacy we reserve for romance or lust. A kiss is just a kiss, and a social hug even less so. Except for when it's not, sure.
We seldom touch this way, even the randiest of us. Considerably more of our thinking goes there, however. Otherwise I wouldn't be overthinking this, I don't think. Me Too, after all, is about unwanted sexual contact.
Harvey Weinstein, Les Moonves, half of Fox News; what, all of Hollywood? Priests, politicians, CEOs. Big Oil, finance, tech. Bosses of all sorts. HR is swamped.
The president still largely gets a pass: "Boys will be boys." Clinton as well as Trump, so no need to get huffy on partisan grounds. Let's give W and Obama their due as upstanding, unimpeachable.
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The news focuses on power, you may have noticed. Who has it. How it is wielded. Almost every news story is about power and conflicts with it, especially among the powerless. Me Too's no different, out in the world or here at home.
My superpower, or lot in life, is as the observer, which fits the day job. I'm always watching, taking stock, processing, evaluating, thinking about how the moment might work someday into a story.
The only relief comes in flow: reading, writing, surfing, snowboarding, playing basketball. And then I lose myself only fitfully. Better if I didn't stop to ponder the experience while having the experience. Kind of defeats the whole point.
Huggers don't seem to suffer this malady. Even today they just go right in. Everyone must get hugs.
I envy the huggers as I watch and wait, observing. Is it OK? There's little fretting about misinterpretation with a hugger. How could there be? And if so, well, they're prepared to deal with that, too, a joke or sharp word. No hard feelings. It's just a hug, after all.
So I wrap a hugger warm in my embrace, too. This is easy.
Others need to be more sure. Am I a friendly or other? Let's talk and share stories, maybe some wine or tea. A handshake to start and maybe a hug goodbye. There are cues.
Then those who reserve their hugs for established friends, fully vetted and trusted into the hug circle, no offense.
And a few more prickly souls. For them, a hug means an invasion of space, a minor violation. Shaking hands shows respect, reading boundaries correctly, trustworthy, appropriate. This communicates what a hug communicates with a more deft touch.
But they are no match for huggers, who will break through every puny defense, every doubt, every shade of reluctance. They just hug good and tight, love you right up. Roses even for the thorniest souls.
I envy them, so free, such perfect confidence. They know what to do, which is only expressing what they feel. Simple, uncomplicated. Me Too isn't an issue. How could it be?
But it's a splash of cold water for me, one more point to consider, a reminder of the gender divide overriding our humanity in common.
And this power thing, too, all these cases of males in higher positions losing their sense of limits and propriety. My company has opened a line to an attorney in San Francisco who specializes in such things if HR isn't enough or not trusted.
This is serious. No one should have to fend off unwanted attention in addition to the pressures we already have on the job.
Ah, here, the workplace or socializing with colleagues after hours, here it gets more fraught. Best be prickly. But that's not me, either. The huggers are warm, not wrong, seeking human connection, their splash of oxytocin.
Our biology rewards hugs and fosters social bonding through hormonal prompting. I overthink, but there's a whole lot going on with our minds and bodies beyond our awareness. We refer to the intangible quality of our connections as chemistry for good reason.
And even here it's complicated. Oxytocin itself, the social glue, bonds new friends and mothers closer to their infants, but also showers lovers in their intimacies.
There's no getting away from it. But it helps to remember all this runs on a continuum. Relationships are not binary.
Such are the intricacies of being human, so touchy.
Don Rogers is the publisher of the Sierra Sun and The Union, based in Grass Valley. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4299.