Okay so this is totally a First World problem and a very minor one at that. If that offends you, stop reading now.
Ahem. There's this woman I know only very slightly and only from work-related meetings that we occasionally both attend. I don't know her outside this context at all. We have never had a conversation or indeed exchanged more than a couple of sentences at a time, if that. But every time we are in the same room, she greets me by patting or stroking my hand, arm or shoulder. She will occasionally do this again during the meeting if I am within striking distance. I haven't observed closely but I don't think she does this to any of the other people present.
Now I am not a cold person as a rule. I am on enthusiastic hugging and cheek-kissing (not mouth, not air) terms with family and with friends of both sexes. But I am so repelled by this woman's touching me that I can't control my distaste. I don't actually brush her off but I move away and am quite sure that my reaction is showing on my face. I hate doing this as it seems rude and hurtful, but it really is out of my control, like sneezing.
While it's a very long way from the hardcore sexual harrassment I occasionally experienced from men in my (much) younger days, and while it's hardly the sort of 'inappropriate touching' that we warn children about, I think any touching from such a slight and wholly professional acquaintance, much less stroking and patting which frankly I find a bit creepy, is inappropriate. I feel like the brat Hugo in The Slap saying 'Nobody is allowed to touch my body without my permission', and that can't possibly be a good thing.
Of course one can never know these things for sure, but I'm pretty certain that if I were attracted to women at all, this woman would not be among those to whom I was attracted. If I were a hot young thing myself then I would probably say philosophically with a flick of my blonde locks that inappropriate touching from people of all sexes was the price one paid for hotness. But, you know, seriously not the case.
If she has so far not been put off by my obvious distaste for being pawed, then it doesn't seem likely that discreetly murmuring to her 'Hello, boundaries' is likely to work either. In the meantime, I have to work with her, if only occasionally, and it's making me much more thoughtful and reserved about when and how I touch other people, which may be a good thing, but also may not.
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