You know, it happens sometimes. It is the danger of the written word. Sometimes, regardless of the care you take to say things just right, someone reads a bit too much into your words or misinterprets their meanings or takes them too seriously. It is always a surprise to the reader and to the writer when this happens. And for the times that has happened here, I sincerely apologize. I may be a lot of things, but I am never intentionally cruel. So, dear reader, know that my ramblings are always a reflection of my thoughts but never a reflection of my feelings toward you.
Here is what I am currently contemplating: I recently read an article about two girls in middle school (not in our school district) that are being disciplined for hugging at school. The school they attend has a no hugging policy, surely a sincere effort to control inappropriate touching, etc. The rule sounds fine on paper, I suppose, but it makes me kind of angry.
If you've been visiting me for long, you have certainly ascertained that my childhood was less than wonderful. I often had to get my love and affection in places outside of my home. My friends and I (males and females) hugged at school A LOT. If it were not for that outlet for nonsexual human contact, I would have had none. Let me restate - girls and boys expressed friendship and affection through hugs. I never felt at any time as if the hugging was inappropriate or "icky" in any way. And I had lots of experience with "icky," I know it when I feel it. I'm betting you do, too.
There is plenty of research out there that supports the theory that human beings need physical contact to flourish and that they will fail to thrive if they are denied contact. We just need to touch, to feel connected, to feel supported, to be reminded that we truly do exist and belong to the human race.
It's easy to forget that we are animals, but the fact remains that we are. Have you ever noticed just now much physical contact occurs among other species? Turtles lie atop one another when they sun themselves. Cats groom each other (which means getting each other's cat hair in their mouths... ewwww). Primates sit hip to hip, picking and stroking one another. And this may come as a shock to some folks - these animals don't immediately engage in intercourse the second they are finished touching one another. Touching does not equal sex, people!
I have real concerns about the messages attached to no-touching rules. I am concerned that children will not form the attachments they need to thrive. I am concerned that parents will limit touching their children for fear of being reported to authorities. I am concerned that children will equate all touching (from any source) with sex. I am concerned that our entire society has become so negatively obsessed with sex that we sell ourselves short, telling ourselves that we are incapable of separating concepts like friendship and love and lust.
But mostly, I am insulted that some people consider us less capable of controlling our desires than other species of animals. I really want to believe that we are better than that.
[Hey, I just had a thought - could this be a reason that so many people are opposed to breast feeding? If someone, anyone, is sucking on a nipple, then someone must be experiencing sexual pleasure, 'cuz breasts certainly weren't designed for any other purpose, right? And that would just be gross, right? Right? I trust that sounds just as ridiculous to you as it does to me.]
These are my thoughts, not necessarily representative of anyone else's opinions. But I'd love to hear what you think.