How I Learnt to Sense the Right and Wrong Kind of Touch
Not all men are bad.
“Nothing is so healing as the human touch”.
— Bobby Fischer
My entire childhood was spent around boys. This is because I have an elder brother who is five years older than me. Naturally, I was bullied by him, and he treated me like a toy. I was dragged into playing cricket and football even though I wouldn’t say I liked it at times.
Sometimes I was the only female on the field, and boys surrounded me. My brother was my protective shield, so no one dared to mess with me. I was taken care of, and my brother unknowingly taught me a profound life lesson that women can do anything.
The Sense of Right and Wrong Touch
My mother wasn’t worried at all. She knew that I was in safe hands. However, there were times when an elbow nudged me, or someone grabbed my shirt when things got messy during a football match. But I never felt unsafe. I learned then to identify the right touch and identify the wrong ones that make me feel uncomfortable.
Sports then helped me to come out of my shell and learn the art of screaming. I would cry my guts out if my brother yelled at me for dropping a catch or if I didn’t make a run on the last ball so that he would maintain strike in the next over. Playing along with my brother and his group of minions helped me identify a key lesson — the sense of right and wrong touch.
Much Ado About Nothing
With time we all grew up, and I entered college life. Travelling in crowded buses and trains had become a daily routine. My height is 5'10, which is considered highly tall compared to an average Indian woman. I would barely manage to sit between two seats in buses, and in a lady’s compartment on a local train, I would tower over other passengers.
While travelling in the metro, I mostly get into the general compartment. Women can be nasty and brutal in a metro lady’s compartment. Due to lack of space, I have often faced many shoulders and elbows brushing my back or my waist. But they never caused any alarm bells as I knew if it was done on purpose or by accident, thanks to all the training I received while playing football with all boys.
However, there have been many instances when there was ‘much ado about nothing’. Innocent men minding their own business have been ridiculed only because of lack of space. Now I know that there are plenty of evil men with harmful intentions. But to generalise that all men do is wrong. Some are just trying to work hard and make ends meet.
Understanding Non-verbal Cues
Identifying the right kind of touch is one of the most vital lessons of life. My mother encouraged me to learn salsa, jive, rumba, and others to know it even better.
Dance is the best way to get out of your comfort zone and treat one another with respect. It helped me embrace myself, stand up tall, and be proud of being the tall woman I am. But I also learned not to shy away when a man dips you for a step or holds you by your waist. I knew that a woman’s inner sense is quite capable of understanding when things get uncomfortable.
While dancing, every touch or embrace has its meaning. Our dance instructor would educate all of us on several body language cues, which are pretty sexy yet respectful. Not all touch is terrible, but we must know what they mean and what it’s trying to communicate. Maintaining eye contact and understanding emotions instead of verbalising them is an art that everyone must attempt to try and learn.
Today I am confident in my sense of identifying the right touch and what every contact means. Some are protective; some are by accident, while some need to be shunned then and there with a scream and a hard shove. But in the process, we need to understand that not all men are bad, and some are genuinely there to protect you. Some would never attempt to touch you without your permission (while dancing or otherwise, you know best), and some are just trying to get done with a long working day and travelling home in a crowded metro.
Thus, we need to identify what’s right and what’s wrong. Because we don’t want to punish anyone innocent, that’s a guilt that weighs on you for a lifetime.
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