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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?

TheCatIsUpTheDuff Sat 29-Jun-13 09:13:00

It doesn't make me feel unclean. I used to clean for an Orthodox Jewish family. If ever the husband had to pay me he would go to such lengths to avoid touching me, or even us simultaneously touching a £10 note, that the money fell on the floor. I accept that he thinks I am unclean, but that's his issue, not mine.

BoysAreLikeDogs Sat 29-Jun-13 09:15:53

If you know he is uncomfortable for whatever reason with being touched why did you touch him? He recoiled as a reflex.


BoysAreLikeDogs Sat 29-Jun-13 09:17:21

And yes, why feel unclean?

Justforlaughs Sat 29-Jun-13 09:17:40

Tbh, if you knew that his culture/ religion or whatever meant that he is permitted to touch/ be touched by women, I'm really not sure why you did. confused Why would YOU be offended by his reaction?

A woman with the same beliefs would react the same way if a man touched her. It's not about women being unclean, it's about physical contact with "strangers".

NeoMaxiZoomDweebie Sat 29-Jun-13 09:20:09

What JustForLaughs said...why did you touch him??

Eyesunderarock Sat 29-Jun-13 09:20:37

You knew his beliefs and you touched him anyway?
Yes, it doesn't make sense to you, but most cultural and religious rules don't make logical sense. You were inappropriate.
If he treats your opinions and work with disrespect and indifference, then you'd have grounds for being offended.

GetStuffezd Sat 29-Jun-13 09:22:03

Another one wondering why you touched him. On the other hand, I have no respect whatsoever for any beliefs that dictate "men must" "women can't" etc.

LoveBeingUpAt4InTheMorning Sat 29-Jun-13 09:22:09

So you did it expecting him to hold in how you knew he would feel? Yabu

AdmiralData Sat 29-Jun-13 09:22:40

I absolutely shit myself if a stranger touches me, even briefly but not because I think they are unclean ... just because I really do not do physical contact with anyone I am not extremely bloody familiar with. Perhaps he is/was just as jumpy as me? I would try not to be too offended, he may not necessarily think you are unclean smile

camel1 Sat 29-Jun-13 09:23:55

I didn't know and never said I did. I now know of course and it is this I understand.

turbochildren Sat 29-Jun-13 09:24:03

I don't agree with the religious idea of women being unclean. In this case it seems you knew he adheres to the rules of no touching, and yet you touched him. Just puzzled as to why.
I think his reaction sounds rather over the top. Maybe this is a good opportunity to talk about different cultures and religions, and what is the going norm here in our culture. And make it clear that recoiling in disgust from a small gesture is rather offensive.

I don't accept that someone would think I'm unclean simply because of my gender. At any rate I despair of religious logic, in that it doesn't exist, so not sure how to talk someone out of such a belief.

Eyesunderarock Sat 29-Jun-13 09:25:08

'I understand that his cultural or religious beliefs does not permit him to touch women, or vice versa.'

So does that mean you understand now? Or that you were aware at the time?

turbochildren Sat 29-Jun-13 09:26:07

x post. So you didn't know about his beliefs before hand. He should wear a big sign in that case. How on earth does he ever travel on public transport?

Jamillalliamilli Sat 29-Jun-13 09:26:11

He can't make you feel anything.

What would you say to one of the children if they said to you: 'I know X doesn't want me to touch them, but I decided to do it anyway, and now I don't like the way they publically objected?'

Roshbegosh Sat 29-Jun-13 09:26:59

I think he should apologise actually. Carrying on like that, really.
I am not touchy feely myself at all and never do touch work colleagues so maybe it is best for you to stop that all the time. Even so, he is a rude man and should apologise for behaving like that. Fucking mysogenist.

claraschu Sat 29-Jun-13 09:27:12

I have no respect for people's unreasonable religious beliefs, any more than I have respect for their unreasonable non-religious beliefs.

I would still never do anything to let people know how I feel about their unreasonable beliefs, unless they were interested in a friendly argument.

DonDrapersAltrEgoBigglesDraper Sat 29-Jun-13 09:27:31

YANBU to think he is being ludicrous - sorry, I just don't have the wherewithal to respect silliness excused as 'religious beliefs' - but surely the response is just to feel a bit sorry for someone like that? I know I would.

Roshbegosh Sat 29-Jun-13 09:27:45

Hope you weren't menstruating, he might have died.

camel1 Sat 29-Jun-13 09:28:52

I think he could and should have explained nicely. There were no niceties at all. Shaking his colleagues hand whilst still talking about work with me, I also find offensive.

diddl Sat 29-Jun-13 09:29:07

I don't understand why you touched him tbh.

It's not against my religion/culture, but I would have hated it it-from a man or a woman.

Somehow it seems too intimate from a work colleague.

Maybe that makes me odd, but I'm just not into touching/being touched by people unnecessarily.

I also hate the faux hugs & air kissing of people you don't know when you first meet.

Eyesunderarock Sat 29-Jun-13 09:29:38

Exactly what claraschu said. What harm would it have done to keep your hands to yourself?
Why does his outdated, irrational and strange response affect you in any way? Do others in your workplace struggle with this, or do you need to be touchy-feely to feel validated and accepted by others?

turbochildren Sat 29-Jun-13 09:30:25

Well, Rosh. I hope we get an update on Monday regarding that very thing.
How do males escape the whole unclean thing, seeing as they all have spent months swimming about in a female at the very beginning of their lives. Surely that would mark them somehow?

Justforlaughs Sat 29-Jun-13 09:31:09

So you didn't know about his beliefs but now you do. How do you know? did he take the trouble to explain? In your shoes I would be apologising for making HIM feel uncomfortable. I don't like being touched by strangers/ collegues, I often back away when people come over for a hug and a kiss. I don't mean to imply that they are unclean, just that I don't like it.

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