Is it right to make a woman feel unclean?

(410 Posts)
camel1 Sat 29-Jun-13 09:08:25

I was saying 'thank you' to a male colleague and touched his upper arm as a reinforcement of that thanks. He recoiled in disgust, his body language, his facial expression and his yelp surprised me so much that I apologised profusely. The incident happened in front of many children, as I am a teacher at a school. And within a minute he had shook hands with a male colleague. Whether it was his intention or not, I felt that he felt I was unclean. I was/am greatly upset by this. I understand that his cultural or religious beliefs does not permit him to touch women, or vice versa. However, I have lived in many different countries and cultures, and I adhered to their cultural rules and would never have reacted in such an offensive way. What do you think?

Moominsarehippos Mon 01-Jul-13 11:38:46

Especially religions that profess to treat women equally (which does imply that they are 'other') all brother/sisterhood etc.

Jesus touched lepers and prostitutes!

Crumbledwalnuts Mon 01-Jul-13 07:09:30

Plain wrong to defend bigotry with religion. Any woman should be embarrassed and ashamed to do so.

Onesleeptillwembley Mon 01-Jul-13 01:34:15

Even sadder when they attach it to a fairy in the sky.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 30-Jun-13 23:50:48

It's always sad when people dress up bigotry as feminism.sad

defuse Sun 30-Jun-13 23:37:36

Love the electric shock theory. grin

Moominsarehippos Sun 30-Jun-13 19:34:42

He did yelp. I have never made a grown man yelp!

I don't think we know where the OP is. If she's in the UK Mr Yelp would know full well that culturally, touching an arm is ok. I wonder what the kids thought.

If she's in somewhere like Saudi, ok not such a good idea but it's the other side of the coin for those saying 'give his culture a break'.

Electric shock theory is funny though! Unless she crept up behind him and jumped on him. That's the only thing that makes DS yelp.

merrymouse Sun 30-Jun-13 19:12:14

Has anybody considered that they might have been standing on nylon carpet and perhaps the OP gave her colleague an electric shock???

yamsareyammy Sun 30-Jun-13 18:04:14

Have you read the op?

larrygrylls Sun 30-Jun-13 17:57:14

She didn't. Read the thread.

yamsareyammy Sun 30-Jun-13 17:52:55

It isnt as simple as saying that it is intention that matters.
The op knew how the man was about being touched. But she touched him anyway. So what was her intention?

larrygrylls Sun 30-Jun-13 16:54:41

It is always humorous when two sets of right-on left wing beliefs co-exist in the same thread. This one is the "bodily integrity is all" belief and the "all cultural/religious beliefs should be respected, no matter how weird or what the intention of the transgressor is" belief.

The reality is that a polite touch to reinforce a point is in no sense rude and it is the intention that matters. Non extreme versions of all religions allow exceptions for accidents or those who do not know the religious code. I bet (although I do not know for a fact) that no moderate Muslim man would object to an innocent touch on the arm from a non believer in a work context.

The OP politely touched a colleague to reinforce a point. He responded rudely. Her intention was good. He could see that and chose to ignore it. That is rude. End of.

thebody Sun 30-Jun-13 16:15:20

It was a pat On the arm not a pinch in the bum.

Quite frankly if this had happened to me op be it from a man or a woman I would have been hurt and angry.

Totally ott.

DioneTheDiabolist Sun 30-Jun-13 15:55:14

YY TheToys.

Emmeline your right to have your feelings unhurt certainly doesn't trump my right to decide who touches my body.

jacks365 Sun 30-Jun-13 15:24:51

If the op had offered her hand to shake and it had been refused then he'd shaken another mans hand then I would say he was wrong but you can't compare a hand shake and a touch on the arm as I said earlier I'm happy to shake hands but hate being touched otherwise.

The op has been looking for a reason why he flinched and assumed it was due to religion and that he viewed her as unclean, she's admitted that it never occurred to her that he just wasn't happy to be touched. It was suggested that she ask him rather than making assumptions and until we know for sure that is what everyone else is doing too.

Irrespective of religion or culture my right to refuse to be patted on the arm by anyone overrides anyone else's feelings,

Moominsarehippos Sun 30-Jun-13 15:15:22

If you're at work and are left hanging at a handshake as the crickets chirp then that would be awful.

I'm not a touchy touchy person naturally. We scots aren't by nature. I can't remember being hugged or kissed as a child (I realise how sad that sounds). However I have mainly mainland european friends and its rubbed off a bit but I don't lunge at colleagues or aquaintances! Although even my muslin relatives will pop an arm around my shoulder and jig it when having a joke or taking the mickey out of me.

TheToysAreALIVEITellThee Sun 30-Jun-13 15:13:00

Is anyone else really hoping for a man to start a thread about how he touched a women who recoiled but she didnt yelp as that would be over egging it and he is a bit hurt by it?

I wonder what the replies would be like......

Snog Sun 30-Jun-13 15:09:35

I would touch women like this at work but not men OP
Recoiling from social touch does seem rude to me though

Moominsarehippos Sun 30-Jun-13 15:05:48

In our church you do whole shaking hands/kissing on the cheek thing. Nothing to do with physical attraction.

Any religion that says you can't touch or look at a member of the opposite sex in case they are unclean in some way, or likely to drive you to the heights of lust is puting a bit too emphasis on carnality. It usually puts one gender on the back foot with regards to what they do, where they go, what they wear, etc and no guesses which gender ends up with the short end of the stick, or the most rules and regulations.

I don't lust after random blokes or am driven to mad passion if a friend kisses me on the cheek or gives my arm a squeeze.

It cuts both ways - I won't put my hand an the arm of someone who - know would feel uneasy about it, if by the same tolken they won't squeal and rub themselves down with a brillo pad, assuming I am one step away from seducing them.

Why is it so hard for someone to just think 'bloody touchy/feely brits/christians/french' and shrug it off as not a deliberate come-on? Or even take a deep breath and explain why this is something that makes them feel awkward.

Some 'rules' are very difficult not get get insulted by - so having to pull a whole batch of paper cups from the bottom one only and not handle any others, then hand it to someone who selects one from the middle that you haven't possible have contaminated. Now that's a hard one to smile and nod to.

Of course there are people who just don't like being touched, for whatever reason and it isn't always obvious. Again, "please don't".

In the OPs case the touched man went on to shake another man's hand with no problems. I'm assuming the OP wasn't in Saudi or other country where the no touching rule generally applies? What if the OP was a black man and had the same reaction?

EmmelineGoulden Sun 30-Jun-13 14:58:35

Am I arrogant enough to think my feelings trump someone's religion? Yes. I don't think religion is a defence for actions that are unkind.

I can't just accept that another persons culture is the bottom line because there are lots of things that have been culturally and religiously acceptable at diffrent times and in different places that horrify most people nowadays. I'm glad people faught against those practices and positions, I'm not going to sit back and accept injustice and discrimination just because lots of people find it acceptable.

crashdoll Sun 30-Jun-13 14:44:11

Why can't you just respect another person's culture is the bottom line?! Are you that arrogant to think that your feelings trump someone's religion?

EmmelineGoulden Sun 30-Jun-13 14:33:00

So crashdoll - if I recoiled when a lesbian touched me but happily turned round and shook the hand of a straight woman, would that be OK? Sounds damn rude to me.

Not wanting to be touched by anyone is a bit socially awkward in our current culture, but it isn't rude in the way discriminating between two people is.

crashdoll Sun 30-Jun-13 14:21:26

Typical MN making this about misogyny. hmm It's actually about men and women not becoming attracted to each other a.) out of marriage and b.) to remove temptation once they are married. People can ease off with the anti-Muslim diatribe too - orthodox Jews won't touch people of the opposite gender either.

I also don't need anyone's pity because I don't wish to be touched nor I do need therapy. My body is my own and not to be touched without my permission.

The "We Believe You" campaign was not so long ago. Is it beyond comprehension that many women and men have had very bad experiences of unwanted touching and wish to establish very clear boundaries?

fwiw I second moomins view re french smackerooing. It does my head in, and how do you know if it's 2,3 or 4 kisses?
I'll do a very scandinavian stand offish type thing from now on, and proffer my hand at least 5 steps away to avoid it.
Apart from that I'm good with the touching upper arms business.
I also have no problem if anyone simply do not do touching as a personal choice, but as has been pointed out, then it should suffice to just explain it nicely afterwards. If the toucher then were to insist on arm patting or back holding or what have you ,they would be in the wrong imo.
If it has to do with religious convictions of uncleanliness which have nothing what so ever to do with the actual situation, then I think it's ridiculous.

Moominsarehippos Sun 30-Jun-13 12:13:44

Its more likely a personal intepretation of religion maybe?

I used to be on a committee at work where we had a group of islamic mullahs, scholars and experts in sharia law (we were creating an islamic financial product). We were not sure how the women in the team would be treated and is was absolutely fine. They shook our hands and spoke to us as equals.

There was just the one we didn't want to shaoe hands with but used to sit picking the wax out of his ears with his fingernails and for obvious reasons, we didn't really want to shake his hand.

The most 'hands off' I've heard of have been from Jewish men.

I really don't like all the kissy kissy stuff though. DS has a lot of french pals and I really don't like being smackerooed by blokes (and women) I barely know!

Boomba Sun 30-Jun-13 12:03:16

crumbled I am interested to hear what you think would be a satisfactory solution here?

I understand that ideally the man in question would have no objections to OP touching him. He does have objections;

so next best is to moderate his response to being unexpectedly touched. Im as certain as I can be that jumping and yelping, was not his premeditated response of preference and it was his knee jerk response of suprise....

....so what....do you think he should apologise to OP? How do you think this should play out?

FWIW I think a hand waving gesture in response to OPs apology was a 'no apology needed' type gesture. I would have interpreted as an acknowledgement that he had overreacted/jump in response to the 'touching'.

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