Friday, July 10, 2009

The Intimacy of Touch

Random thinky:

This is something else that we seem to have lost. Whether intentionally or not, because we dress with so much skin showing - and I mean even people who dress fairly conservatively here, I dressed 'modestly' in comparison to society before, and I wore short sleeves and sleeveless tops all the time - we get *touched* all the time.

Bump here, bump there, grab somebody on the arm if you want to talk (only if you know them, or you might get in trouble...).

Touch, especially between a man and a woman, has ceased, on many levels, to be intimate.

Hijab (or anything I would count as real, proper modest dress), prevents all this random touching. Not only are you visually covered, but if someone does grab you on the arm (and I'm thinking here of just random, nonviolent interactions), there's no physical contact.

Physical, intimate touching is meant to be between a husband and wife, right? But if we're all just randomly touching skin, all the time (with or without any intentional meaning behind it), it looses it's specialness. Certainly, this doesn't mean we're not going to seek the touch of a spouse, but... it's *lost* something, something that I can't quite put into words, at the moment.

Here's the cause for my realization of this:

Without really consciously thinking about it, I've stopped touching people in that random fashion. No, really, I thought back on this yesterday, and even taking receipts and things, where your fingers would brush? I've managed to not touch anybody.

So, the other day, I was walking down the hall past a meeting room, and a friend of mine was standing in the door. He was joking around, and said, 'Save me, I don't want to go to this meeting!' Without really thinking about it, because we've been friends forever and joke around all the time, I grabbed his upper arm, to 'drag him to safety'. We laughed, I let go, he went to his meeting, and I went on about my business.

But here's the thing: The contact was a shock! The feel of skin and muscle and heat surprised me. I could still 'feel' it for quite a while afterward.

And this is what got me thinking about this stuff. Constant contact takes away the specialness of contact.


P.s. I went looking for illustrations for this, but nothing really caught my eye. However, when I google things like hijab, or muslim women, or niqabi, I will get naked women (well, really, only partially naked, because they're wearing a niqab and nothing else, or a chador and holding one side of it up so you can see that they're not wearing anything under it) mixed in with the good pictures - this is wrong on so many levels...


  1. I loved the last line of your post about constant touch losing it's specialness. Oh Amber, I love that you will wait for marriage to touch. This is so wonderful and you are going to be so happy. Not to mention, find a much better husband that way!

  2. Lisa,

    Yeah, it sounds good, alright.

    *laughs bitterly*

    Of course, at this point, I just may never get touched again!

    *thwaps hormones down with a stick*

  3. Hmmm, I see your point, however, I like touch. NOT grabby, sexual touch or touching inappropriate places which makes people uncomfortable..NOT AT ALL. However, I read something a while back and it made sense to how I thought of touch. I wish I could think of it all now.

    But touching shows people you care, it's helpful when babies are small to be touched by their parents (and I know you don't mean little ones...I'm just showing how touch is important to people) and it can reassure people, show them you want to get involved (in a love-thy-neighbor way) and that you want to help them.

    I liked reading your thoughts on it though. I truly can understand what you mean especially as far as touching your friend's arm goes. I have experienced that before ... hmmm, maybe it's better not to touch. I don't know. I don't do it a lot. I'm NOT one of those hug-every-male-friend-you-meet kind of people. I don't even shake hands all the time. Just depends.

    Anyway...enjoyed your thoughts on this. :)

  4. Susanne,

    Well, if you find what you read before, let me know. :)

    Also, no, there is a *huge* difference between casual touch and wildly inappropriate touching. That's why it's generally considered okay to shake hands, hug, link arms, etc. Depending on individual comfort levels and levels of familiarity with the other person.

    This friend I speak of, I would never hug him. It would have been inappropriate when we were both single, as we didn't have an attraction to each other, and hugs between opposite sex hint (at least to other people) of a deeper relationship, and now that he's married - entirely inappropriate. But, obviously, I'd think nothing of grabbing his arm in jest.

    We're herd animals, and we certainly need touch in our development. I *think*, if I'm recalling it correctly, that 'failure to thrive' in infants/children is linked to a lack of interaction (including physical), with adults. Also wire-cage monkey experiments spring to mind. But yes, at a certain age, we're taught that there's a time and a place for touching - I'm just wondering if maybe we've lost a little 'specialness' between spouses because we allow so much skin to skin contact?

    I can sling an arm around an elderly neighbor to help them across the street, feel connected, etc. And it's still reassuring and comforting through my sleeve. Skin to skin contact is not required. I can link arms with a girl friend in the mall and I don't think it makes us less connected if it's just the cloth of our shirts that's touching.

    Skin is an's...very intimate, when you think about it. Skin to skin, you're touching organs. It's like reaching in and touching somebody's heart or spleen or something.

    Then again, I'm not a particularly touchy person by nature. I actually jumped out of a chair when a (female) teacher hugged me from behind one time. And she didn't mean anything by it, she was just a very touchy feely person, and that just did not work for me. I do *not* like to be touched in a lot of scenarios, so that might play a part in my thinking. :)

  5. I just awarded you at my public blog! Love you lots!

  6. I've noticed those "hijab porn" web lines, too. And I was just searching for hijab style photos! Isn't that horrible? So much for not objectifying women...

    Great observation! I wear gloves, on top of the abaya and hijab and khimar and niqab (is all of that overkill? :P), but I cut out the very ends (from the last knuckle to the fingertip) so that I can do things like type and get my debit card or keys out of my bag. The gloves were too long, and I don't like wearing them very much, so I compromised and altered them so that I can wear them without going crazy! It does make me more cautious about accidentally touching someone -- like the cashier at the store. I try to go to lines where there's a woman at the register, just as a precaution. I've always been more contact-shy with the majority of people, though.

  7. Heather,

    *sigh* It's just...worse than regular porn somehow. Like porn with women dressed up as nuns or something...

    Hehe. It's only overkill if you don't feel it's necessary. :)

    *nods* I don't go out of my way to avoid men at all, but it's surprisingly easy to not touch.

    Given my reflection on this, I can understand a little better why many niqabi's also wear gloves.

  8. It makes me pretty uncomfortable to touch people... I'm not touchy AT ALL... I notice the slightest touch, like when exchanging money or something...

    I don't know if this makes the touches with my husband more special since I've always been this way, but I think it does. I:)

  9. Candice,

    IMO, I think it makes it even more special. If you don't like touching, and you find one person who you like to touch, that makes it even better. :)


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