The Radical Center
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The Radical Center

Touch is Not Rape

I saw a report about a woman who used a handgun to stop a man from “taking” a child. If true I thought it illustrated the use of firearms in self-defense.

I read the description and rejected the story. I found it bizarre. The man in question was from Egypt at a West Virginia shopping mall. My first question is why would someone fly from Egypt to West Virginia to try to kidnap a child? It seemed highly unlikely.

Second, I know all this non-sense hysteria about “human trafficking” appeals to the paranoid types who imagine the world an evil place with monsters around every corner. These people live in a cocoon of fear created almost entirely out of their own imagination. It’s not the menace the hysterics pretend it is. That caused me to be skeptical.

Third, the man in question was Egyptian and I thought it highly likely ignorant prejudice was involved in the panic as well.

I thought the odds were too high and the case was probably crap inside and out, so I rejected it.

Now police say the man arrested was released. The hysterical woman claimed the man grabbed the child by the hair. The man, who doesn’t speak English, said he patted the girl on the head to be friendly. Now the horrified woman told police she may have made a mistake after they noted her own story had inconsistencies.

The is part of the widening hysteria permeating American culture where every stranger is a predator and every touch is interpreted in the worst way possible.

Touch is psychologically and emotionally needed and not just by humans. Many mammals seek it out. Just think of how your cats and dogs act. Even as I’m writing my cat is standing next to me insisting on attention. The moment I pet his head and neck he starts purring loudly and happily. Animals in the wild seek out touch with other animals.

More and more Americans are living alone, young people seem horrified of sexual contact and have far, far less of it. Some are so devoid of physical contact with others than offer “free hugs” to strangers on street corners. One aspect of the torture of “solitary confinement” is the lack of human touch experienced there. Yet we have extremes on the Right and Left demanding all people live in a desert of human contact—where every form of touch is scrutinized in the worst possible light. Bizarrely the Far Left screams of “atomized individualism,”—largely a bogeyman they invented—while themselves pushing a sexual agenda that isolates humans from one another with a bureaucratic nightmare of permissions before you can even pat another person on the back.

In 2016 there were the first hints something was arising that demonized touch. I wrote about horrified conservatives hysterical teen males were physically affectionate with their same-sex friends. Right-wing hysteric Christie Blatchford was disgusted witnessing a group of boys meeting one another on the street who “immediately began hugging each other.” She said the scene made her “mortified and appalled.” She said she was “just plain sick of hugs, giving and getting, from just about anyone.”

When the Far Right bitches that’s a sign, when groups on the Radical Left join them with the same or a similar campaign you can expect a witch hunt will follow. When radical chic left “counselors” joined fundamentalist Christian lunatics to hype “Satanic child abuse” the result was a hysteria across the U.S. where thousands were prosecuted and hundreds were falsely incarcerated for crimes that never took place.

It’s not that NO children were ever abused in day care centers, it just wasn’t as prevalent as the hysterics imagined and there was no organized Satanic presence. It was all an imaginary fear and it destroyed the lives of hundreds of people.

Touch is not inherently evil—it is normal and healthy. To interpret all touch as assault is sick. Yes, there are people who hate being touched — and it is their right to hate it. If someone touches them they should say “Please don’t touch me, I get really bothered when it happens.” People do have a form of anxiety over touch, haphephobia.

We have reached a point where people are so physically isolated from one another that human touch is being commercialized to replace what a normal, emotionally healthy society would provide. People pay to attend cuddle sessions or to hire professional cuddlers to hold them—it’s not sex they crave—it’s human contact, something becoming taboo under the New Puritanism that is being pushed by both extremes—left and right.

But, those who are anxious about touch are the exception not the rule. They are not the emotional or psychological norm but the exception. It’s their right to feel that way but god forbid we make pathology the norm and assume every form of human touch has to come with notarized permissions slips in advance. A pat on the back is not sex, it is not assault. Touching a person’s forearm or shoulder is not some milder version of rape.

Without human touch we become emotionally stunted. Dr. Kory Floyd, using the term “skin hunger” to describe this lack of physical contact said his own studies showed:

Just as lack of food, water, and rest have their detrimental effects, so too does the lack of affection. In a recent study of 509 adults, I examined the construct of skin hunger — and the social, relational, and health deficits with which it is associated. The results were consistent, and striking. People with high levels of skin hunger are disadvantaged in multiple ways, compared to those with moderate or low levels. Specifically, compared to people with less skin hunger, people who feel more affection-deprived: are less happy; more lonely; more likely to experience depression and stress; and, in general, in worse health. They have less social support and lower relationship satisfaction. They experience more mood and anxietydisorders, and more secondary immune disorders (those that are acquired rather than inherited genetically). They are more likely to have alexithymia, a condition that impairs their ability to express and interpret emotion. Finally, they are more likely to have a preoccupied or fearful avoidant attachment style; they’re less likely to form secure attachments with others in their lives.

In other words, the lack of contact makes people even more fearful of contact. We are truly isolating people into their own emotional cocoons making it harder and harder for them to relate to the needs, wants, and emotions of others. It creates an emotional barrier between people and replaces community with fear. Even a pat on the head from a smiling man is interpreted as “kidnapping” and a kiss on the back of the head is sexual assault or something close enough to damn one over.

Human touch pacifies our species, it makes us less aggressive. A study of adolescents hanging out in McDonalds in Miami and Paris found American teens “spent less time leaning against, stroking, kissing, and hugging their peers than did the French adolescents.” But they were more aggressive verbally and physically. Because of a panic about sexual abuse the schools often forbid touching of all kinds, leaving room not for hugs but fists alone. The fear of human contact only allows one form of touching to dominate—violence.

Research suggests that touch deprivation in early development and again in adolescence may contribute to violence in adults. Prescott (1990) found that cultures in which there was more physical affection toward young children had lower rates of adult physical violence, and vice versa. Further, the amount of touching that occurs in different cultures is highly variable. Jourard (1966) studied touching behavior in several countries; couples were observed sitting in cafes for 30-minute periods, and the amount of touching between them was recorded. Among the highest touch cultures was France (110 times per 30 minutes), while the U.S. was among the lowest (2 times per 30 minutes). Interestingly, high-touch cultures have relatively low rates of violence, and low-touch cultures have extremely high rates of youth and adult violence. The National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (Centers for Disease Control, 1994) reported that the homicide rate of males 15–24 years of age was 1 per 100,000 population in Fran ce and 22 per 100,000 in the U.S.



A blog for the Moorfield Storey Institute: a liberaltarian think tank.

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James Peron

James Peron is the president of the Moorfield Storey Institute, was the founding editor of Esteem a LGBT publication in South Africa under apartheid.