Women love to touch men and be touched by them. Men love to touch women and adore being touched by them. And yet, with a 1.3 billion population, we have men and women wandering around in India, desperate for love and affection, just to be held and caressed. Why?
I believe Indian men have not been adequately socialized to women so that they can touch women with honor and respect.
Today I saw a friend of mine kiss a male friend of her on the cheek with all her heart several times. The male friend, who had a beard, and had all the semblance of a macho man, accepted each kiss with a smile, and put his arm around her. She loved being in his arms. And I know for a fact that they were friends, and appreciated the trust each placed in the other. Publicly.
In my work as a somatic therapist I touch men and women very intimately. I work with their bones, and have to maneuver around sensitive areas like breasts to get at ribs, and the pelvic region for pelvic bones. Both among men and women, they trust my touch, and know it to be safe enough for them to be vulnerable in.
Our desire as human beings is often interpreted to be sexual desire. Oh, not just by others, by ourselves even. Its not. Much of our desire is for touch, intimacy, and most of all, trust. Trust that the other will not touch more than we offer, will not misinterpret this affection either physically or emotionally. We look for people who can engage with us by taking full responsibility for their emotions, and accepting what we offer them with humility and gratitude.
There are stages of emotional intelligence in terms of attitude towards women. The basic one is to think of a woman as an object. A higher one is to accede her respect as long as she fulfills your desire. A higher one than that is to approach a woman with respect, and respect everything she says, whether it is what you want or not. Even with lovers, it is critical to establish nights of non-sexual touching.
In India, comfort in touching between the genders is looked down upon, even sniggered at. The assumption is, if a man and woman touch each other in public, it is left to a (wild and perverse) imagination as to what must be happening in the bedroom. And the guy has ‘scored’ and ‘nudge-nudge, wink-wink’. No. Whole men are completely capable of holding women in their arms in safety from their sexuality. A famous Indian guru, Ammachi, knows the joy and power of hugging.
The first job of a male friend is to establish trust with a woman. The second job is never to violate it.
Men and woman can be loving, intimate friends, taking care of most of our needs as humans. We would be a much healthier, happier society for it.