I’d like to get personal again. I’ve already confessed to sleeping naked. I’ve also made clear that I see foreplay as the highest of virtues. Now, I’d like to highlight another important trait of mine, one I actually mentioned in my post on foreplay. This trait isn’t as lurid or sexy as others, but it’s one of those traits that has the potential to be in the right context. So what is it? Well, here it is:
I, Jack Fisher, am a hugger.
Yes, I understand that it’s one of the least macho things you can do these days. It’s right up there with wearing makeup and crying over soap operas. It’s a taboo and a bad one at that. I don’t know when it happened. I don’t know why it happened. For reasons that defy logic, understanding, and basic human nature, it actually became cool to be a callous, detached, unemotional douche-bag at some point. I usually try to research the complex cultural reasons behind such a movement. This time, however, I found next to nothing.
The only educated guess I can make, which is pushing it because I’m not that educated, is that society’s collective fears and scorn over men sexually assaulting women went a tad overboard. It’s a perfectly legitimate concern, wanting to discourage sexual assault and sexual harassment in general. It’s a terrible crime so I can’t blame society for overdoing it, but there’s a fine line between fighting crime and turning people into callous douche-bags.
From a purely evolutionary standpoint, there’s no reason why hugs and intimate contact should be discouraged. According to Dr. Fahad Basheer at Collective Evolution, there are at least 11 medical benefits to hugs. These benefits include, but aren’t limited to, relieving pain, elevating mood, alleviating depression, improving immune function, and reducing stress. If hugging were a pharmaceutical drug, it would be hailed as wonder drugs and probably banned by the DEA.
These health benefits, much like the health benefits of orgasms, strongly indicate that we’re hard-wired for hugs. Nature wants us to hug each other. It doesn’t matter if it’s a lover, a family member, or a stranger. Our biology, being so basic and crude, doesn’t care where the hug comes from. It still benefits us.
The benefits aren’t even restricted to humans. Nature is rarely that specific. Animals do it to and they seem to gain similar benefits.
My parents and siblings seemed to understand that. I come from a family that is big on hugging. It’s not necessarily a cultural thing. It’s just how we are. However, I notice when I go out into the modern world, I’m terrified of making too much intimate contact with others. I don’t think that’s healthy.
I don’t exactly know where this fear comes from, but I have a pretty strong feeling it started during my time in the daily prison sentence that was public school. I don’t know if anyone knows this, but public schools have a big problem with students touching each other in any way. How big a problem? Well, in 2013, a student in Georgia got suspended for a year for hugging his teacher.
That’s right. A school punished a kid for hugging someone. Let that sink in for a moment. Hugging is not like sex. It doesn’t cause pregnancy. It doesn’t cause disease. It doesn’t cause emotional distress of any kind. It has so many natural benefits that transcend species, yet we punish kids for doing it. Then, we wonder why they grow up to have emotional problems and personality disorders.
Now the school I went to never did something this extreme, but I do remember from a young age hearing all sorts of lectures about harassment and inappropriate touching, as they called it. I may have been a dumb-ass kid, but even I knew what they were getting at. They wanted to discourage kids from getting too sexual when they were too young and immature.
That’s all well and good, but it’s worth repeating that I was a dumb-ass kid in a whole building full of them. How are we supposed to know what constitutes inappropriate touching? A hug for some people might as well be slap on the ass with a wooden spoon for someone else. We never learned much about context and communication. Most of the time, we just got a thorough run-down of all the terrible punishments we can expect if we ever got caught inappropriately touching someone.
Being kids who still had some respect for authority figures, we naturally focus on the punishments. We don’t want to get in trouble. We don’t want to explain to our parents why we got suspended or sent to detention. Naturally, we’re going to play it safe and just avoid it all together.
As kids, fear of punishment tends to make us overcompensate. It’s just human nature. Again, it’s caveman logic. We’re not going to just stand a few feet away from a shady area where a lion might be hiding. We’re going to make sure we’re a long ways away from that danger.
It doesn’t just affect us as kids in school either. After spending our entire childhood terrified of making too much intimate contact with other human beings, we carry that terror into the adult world, both in college campuses and in the workplace.
We currently live in an era where harassment doesn’t even need to occur. There only needs to be an accusation that a man assaulted a woman and that’s it. No trial. No jury. No indisputable evidence of any kind. Just the accusation is enough to assure guilt in the eyes of the public. This leads to legal clusterfucks like the Duke Lacrosse ordeal and the false UVA rape case.
So as a man, it’s dangerous for me to hug someone. It could cost me my reputation, my freedom, and a boatload of time and legal fees. It only takes one woman to misinterpret a hug, accuse me of assault, and my life is over.
This actually played out very recently. Earlier this year, I went on a date with a girl to see the movie, X-men: Apocalypse, which should come as no surprise to anyone. I really liked this girl. I thought she was cute. I thought we had a good connection. However, I didn’t know how she would react to a hug so I was fucking terrified of getting too intimate too fast. That may have worked against me because we never went on a second date.
As a self-professed hugger, how the hell am I to function in a world like this? How am I supposed to find love, affection, and intimacy with others outside my immediate family? This modern world sends so many conflicting messages. We’re more connected than ever thanks to technology, but a single hug can get us sued for sexual assault if we hug the wrong person.
I don’t like this trend. I don’t think it’s good for huggers like me or people in general. We’ve become too callous and isolated. We’re scared to death from a young age, albeit indirectly, into avoiding contact with one another. It goes against our own nature. It goes against our own humanity. I may never live to see the day where hugging a perfect stranger won’t get you sued, but I’d like to aspire to such a future, both through my love of hugs and through my books.