Thursday, April 23, 2015

Can I touch you?

Some responses to the PM's failure to get that a waitress was not enjoying his slightly juvenile but (he thought) harmless shenanigans, have been strident and uncompromising.

Unwanted touching is assault, they say.

I touch people I barely know reasonably frequently. Something about the territory. People come into my 'studio' and we get talking about art, portraits, lost loved ones,  etc. The conversation can easily turn to personal sadness and it is my wont to touch someone's arm. Occasionally I might even hug someone. Never did I ask their permission.

Someone once asked me if it was OK to give me a hug (in the same environment). It felt weird.

We seem to have a subset of a generation that considers their right to not be touched paramount to anybody else's spontaneous demonstrations.

It's unnatural and anti-social.


Brendan McNeill said...

Hi Lindsay,

I agree with what you have said, in the context of your home and studio.

The problem for public figures including John Key and Roger Sutton, is that they hold a dual responsibility, both as a human being and as a senior public figure.

A human response may be to hug, tug or express feelings and emotions in this way, but as a public figure you can always guarantee that someone will be offended by such actions.

They are unsolicited and often unwelcome.

For this reason, the 'golden rule' for men especially in this context, is 'keep your hands to yourself'.

It was probably harmless, but it was stupid.

Lindsay Mitchell said...

Comment via my email from David:

Brendan it sounds as if the café was somewhere that Key felt that he was able to 'let his hair down' and that the owners and most staff were perfectly happy with that. If you force your public figures to be paragons all the time, you end up with Berlusconi antics behind closed doors. I think I prefer my senior public figures to be seen to be human.


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Anonymous said...

Big difference between and employee initiating a hug to a client and vice versa.

How'd you feel if some creepily liberal guy came in to try to commission a portrait of John Key along the lines of Dorian Grey and insisted on hugging you before and afterwards?

Brendan McNeill said...

Hi David, how human do you like your public figures - Berlusconi human?

Is there a scale of touching that is universally acceptable, or might it impact people differently?

I had long hair (once), I wouldn't have wanted John Key or Rob Muldoon (at the time) tugging my locks, thank you. :-)

Psycho Milt said...

Occasionally I might even hug someone. Never did I ask their permission.

Did you ever pull their hair?

Imagine if this waitress had decided it would be some jolly, good-natured banter to tweak the Prime Minister's ear every time he came to her cafe. Even assuming the PM's goons didn't wrestle her to the floor the first time she did it, how often do you think she'd get away with it before her mortified employers gave her the arse? He did it because his sense of entitlement led him to imagine he could get away with it - waitresses don't get to indulge themselves in similar levels of entitlement. It's great that he's being dipped in shit for what is inexcusable behaviour from someone in his position.

Urban Redneck said...

It if was just one single isolated incident with the waitress then one could cut him some slack. But doing it to a young girl, twice, with cameras rolling and John Campbell a mere three feet away suggests a very strong fetish-like compulsion that is perhaps sexual in nature.

Anonymous said...

As a married man I touch no woman outside immediate family (except shaking hands as required) apart from my wife's friends who always initiate contact and only in wife's presence. I learned a long time ago to respect a woman's space.