Women have been conditioned to accept certain norms when it comes to physical contact. As in many other areas of life we have been moulded to cut ourselves off from our intuition because if we used our intuition it might upset the status quo.
I think it’s important to call out some of these norms. What needs to happen is that women recognise certain things they were used to when they were young (and even now) weren’t and aren’t okay. These are things that may seem minor but actually meant that we were being cut off from our intuition and what our bodies were telling us.
- When it was insisted that we kiss or cuddle certain relatives but we didn’t want to.
- Perhaps, like me you had to sit boy-girl at school. They did it by surname and I was unfortunately next to the school bully who, on several occasions, shoved a ruler between my legs. I didn’t tell anyone because I was too embarrassed.
- Anyone else have to have naked showers after PE? I’m hoping that this doesn’t happen any more but I’m sure there are plenty of us around who had to endure it.
- Perhaps you were forced to wear clothing that didn’t feel comfortable for you. For instance, perhaps you were made to wear pretty dresses and this didn’t feel authentic.
I’m sure I could go on for a long time thinking of similar examples. (Please comment below if there are examples you can think of. It is important that there is awareness around these issues.) It isn’t surprising that many women don’t feel connected to their intuition or their bodies because they were basically told that what they wanted or felt was wrong.
This even continues into our adult life. In many job roles we are forced into open plan offices where, in many organisation cultures, it is the norm for people, with no warning, to loom over us as close as they like without any consideration for our physical boundaries. Please know that you are entitled to have physical boundaries and outline them to people.
I’d like to use a personal example to illustrate what I am saying. Just over two years ago I went on a Continuing Professional Development course for Somatic counselling (so it was all about how we store trauma in our body, processing that trauma and generally being more in touch with what our body tells us). One of the exercises we did was around physical boundaries. We were told to think of someone in our life who we would rather not be near. I was able to think of someone straight away. I was asked to imagine the course leader was the man I had in mind and to explore how far away from me they should be for me to feel comfortable. They stood at the other end of the room and started to step closer, telling me to let them know when I wanted them to stop because they were too close. They only took two steps before revulsion coursed through my body and I told them to stop. Yet, I regularly stand a few feet away from this man and have even accepted hugs from him! This is surely due the way I had been programmed to bypass my intuition and go with what is expected from society.
Whatever stage you are in life take some time to explore areas where you would like to exercise stronger physical boundaries. We should live in a society where women (and everyone in fact) are able to state clearly what they do and do not want in terms of physical contact and what happens to their bodies.