Friday, May 18, 2018

No Thanks

Dear political people, especially men: do not hug me if you don’t *really* know me. Ok?

I posted this on Facebook last night after coming home from the campaign kick-off event for Jen Terrasa. (I’m not a big fan of political events but it was an easy decision to come out for Ms. Terrasa.)   At any rate, I was surprised at how many folks responded to my statement.

First of all, I want to clarify that I love hugs, from people I know well, and with whom the expression of affection through hugging is appropriate. The act of pressing a hug on someone you’ve never had more than a two minute conversation with is creepy to me, especially if it is in the service of forwarding a political campaign.

“I want something from you. So I’m going to hug you as a ritualized symbol of a familiarity we don’t actually have. Now, vote for me.”

No thanks. Being a political candidate is a bit like being a door-to-door salesman. One is not required to hug the Fuller Brush man.

Let’s face it. A hug is an intimate physical act in which one must lower one’s defenses to participate. Yes, there are many more intimate physical acts than this, but still, pressing your body against someone else’s and squeezing should at the very least require consent. If you want to show you have a positive connection with someone, then take the time to actually forge that positive connection. Otherwise it comes across like marking your territory.

A sad footnote to this is that I received a private message from an old friend worrying that he was the source of my complaint. The reason he is a friend is because he actually cares what I think and feel, and has taken the time to get to know me. He isn’t the sort to carelessly violate boundaries. It’s people like this that one can trust with a hug.

I felt this way before the the #metoo movement, by the way. I’m just surprised that men running for office haven’t gotten the message that consent and respecting boundaries are front and center this year. My goodness, I hope they stay front and center forever.

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