What Are the Rules for Men and Touching?


Joe Biden has opened a new can of worms in the #MeToo universe. Where are the lines?

The conversation Tarana Burke began to help female victims of sexual violence with #MeToo in 2006 in 2019 has mostly men, but indirectly, both genders trying to draw the socially acceptable boundaries of contact, whether friendly or sexual, whether men or women. When can you hug someone? Should you ask first? Does touching require line-of-sight recognition? If someone can’t see you is it always wrong to touch? Are men being held to standards of conduct that don't come with clearly defined lines? Is there a rule book? What is the responsibility of women in the equation? Can a woman touch inappropriately?

Those are questions that didn’t trouble your grandparents. Or your parents. Or probably you until a couple years ago, and now you live in the habitual spin cycle of a washing machine of societal propriety unable to cleanse itself. How do you teach your son and daughter what is appropriate if you don't know yourself?

“Behavior has to change and fast too,” says NYC Psychologist Frieda Birnbaum PhD. “With the #MeToo world we live in, what was once brushed off is now inappropriate and unacceptable.”

Yes, but where are the lines?

“The person who is doing something should be able to move forward and acknowledge that he is doing something that is not right for someone else,” she tells KTRH News.

Yes, and where are the lines? Does it vary with generations? Is it cultural? Is it never acceptable for a man to hug a woman? How do we know the lines of acceptable conduct and who do we ask? Does this only affect men? Can women touch inappropriately or is it always appropriate if a woman does it?

“Somebody behaving in a way that makes you uncomfortable is good enough,” explains Dr. Birnbaum.

Yes, but where are the lines?

One might conclude that the lines of socially acceptable behavior regarding physical contact remain murky and undefined and are leaving everyone lost and confused, but is it okay to shake on that, or should we only nod our heads from a respectable distance?

How far is a respectable distance?


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