Jennifer Gunter @DrJenGunter The Gray Lady’s gynecologist (@NYTStyles), sexpert, appropriately confident, lasso of truth, I speak for no one but me. The Vagina Bible (8/27), Jensplaining. Apr. 02, 2019 2 min read

I’ve been thinking of the “he just likes to hug” is “touchy feely” and it is all meant “paternally” narrative.
1st reaction was it’s just a nice fatherly/friendly gesture. BUT
A) Not everyone wants to be touched and until very recently women haven’t had the power to decline 1.

B) Has patriarchal enculturation led men and women to believe this handsy behavior is ok? I admit, looking back I was touched a lot in a gropy (sp?) uncle kind of way by some doctors when there was a power differential. No differential, no paws on me. Curious, no? 2.

C) Until recently I would have said “Oh they were just being kind or fatherly” but I was taught to believe that by the system.
D) These men who handle women a lot, do they handle men that same way? Do they touch their bosses the same way they touch women at dinner tables? ...3.

In general, i doubt they put their hands on their male CEO or chair the same was they do a female Intern. Touching the Intern may not have sinister intent, but intent doesn’t matter if unwanted. Also, does it subconsciously negatively affect career decisions? Self esteem? 4

E) The myth of the male bumbler. This is one of the truest things ever written. When men cry bumbler, I cry bullshit. 5 

Summary: a society created by the patriarchy has led some men to think that being handsy with women is a sign of compassion or interest and has led many women to consider it as fatherly. I have had many male mentors who never once touched my body and a few who did 6

This idea that women should be ok with excessive handling by “fatherly” figures in professional or any situation is not acceptable. It’s hard to say, “Stop touching me.” I used to say, “U checking for my bra strap?” Which usually worked. I was also considered “difficult” 🤔7

No one should have to defend their bodily space. Men, especially those with immense power differentials, should be learning from the women who are speaking up. As should women. And we should all be mindful of who has set the norms (spoiler alert, not women) and who they protect 8

Final thought: everything I now view with “how does that protect the patriarchy” which is the stays quo. It’s a red pill. Before you pass judgement on any action, do that. I can’t stop now.

You can follow @DrJenGunter.


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