Hugging

I know it’s still obvious to other people that I am a woman, and using a female name and pronoun doesn’t help. So I wouldn’t expect anything else than to be seen as a woman. But there’s a difference between being seen as a woman and being treated like one. I don’t want to be treated like a woman but it doesn’t matter how hard I try to show with my body language that I’m not a very feminine woman, I still get treated like one. The hugging is a great example. Women who knows each other always hug when they meet, and also if you meet someone for the first time together with someone you know, like the friend of a friend. You then hug again when you part. When men meet women for the first time they shake hands, when they say goodbye or meet again, they hug. Some keen huggers try to hug you the first time you meet them regardless, but that’s another blogpost. It’s socially acceptable for men to hug each other – when something big happens, like winning a game, landing a big business deal, getting a baby etc. or if the guys know each other well. I always hug my best male friend every time we meet for instance, it helps that he’s a hugger 🙂 The point is that men don’t normally hug each other unless you know the other person well. You don’t hug acquaintances, not even when you say goodbye.
I try to show other people that I want to be treated like a man. I dress like a man and I behave (mostly) like a man. When I meet someone, I give them my hand – not my arms. Women usually ignore this completely, especially if they already know my wife, but since it’s on their initiative and they probably know my gender it feels ok. The same scenario with a man however feels utterly wrong. I know they know my wife, but I have never met him and have never heard of him either. He is a stranger that try to hug me. This is exactly what happened the other day when we visited one of my wife’s colleagues and her husband. My wife and her colleague normally meet each other every day, but haven’t seen each other for a while now due to the baby. They hug. My wife have been to their house once before and met the colleagues husband. They hug. I’ve met the colleague a few times when I picked up my wife from work. We hugged, heartily from her side and a bit awkward from mine. I’ve never met her husband. He try to hug me, I shoved my hand in his. We then spent a few hours talking about bending machines, cranes, hail and cupboard doors (when we could have talked about their grandchildren, their summerhouse and dogs) while the women sat in the next room talking about babies and work. When it was time to leave I got overpowered by his hug. He moved so fast that I didn’t have time to react and put my hand forward. He is still a stranger to me, and strangers don’t hug!!! At least not me.
The next day one an old friend of my wife came to visit (to see the baby). She is primarily my wife’s friend and have little interest in me (we hug when we meet, though). She came alone, but got picked up by her husband later in the evening. When we’re at their house, he’s either not at home or in another room. When he came through the door he hugged my wife, and I held the baby 😉 – no hug for me! He stayed a few minutes, and by the time they left I had put the baby down (BIG mistake!). He hugged my wife again and then came to hug me. To be honest – we know each other, so it is ok to hug, so there was no way to avoid the hug. I made it a quick, manly hug though. Three taps in the back and then we’re done.
I don’t know why I’m suddenly so sensitive to being hugged, but I suspect it has little to do with the hugging part and more to do with the symbolism of it. Generally people treat me manly during the visit. I spend time with the men, talking about manly stuff (?) and overall they’re just respecting me for the person I am. When it’s time to leave it’s a different story. By forcing the hug on me it’s like they’re saying they don’t care about who I am – they KNOW that I’m a woman and they feel the right to treat me that way when it comes down to it. For me it’s the ultimate act of disrespect.

9 thoughts on “Hugging

  1. Most of my men friends are gay and they are a hug and kiss bunch. But yes, straight men don’t really hug each other and when they do the amount of whole body contact is minimal.
    I have a firm/masculine hand shake, which I learned to do at work reflexively. I have to remember to relax it when I shake hands with women.

    Body language really is a language, with intonation just like how women end sentences on a high note as if it was a question.

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    • True!
      I think my spoken language has always been more masculine than feminine, I’ve always been a “statement” person rather than a “question” person. But body language is a thing I have to de-learn and re-learn.

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  2. Lesboi says:

    This has been on my mind a lot lately. My family were not big huggers so I didn’t really get trained on the whole hugging thing anyway, but now that I’m transitioning I wonder about what’s proper in a lot of circumstances. My father in law hugs me but I kind of turn my body to the side so it’s more of a bro hug than a full hug. I tend to instinctively do this with guys that insist on hugging me. If nothing else it makes me feel better. I always appreciate a good hand shake from a man. It makes me feel seen and acknowledged.

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