Friday, January 18, 2008

No Touchee

A question from my college days:

Why, when you identify as shomer negi‘a, do people think they can't sit within 5 feet of you — and when you identify as not shomer negi‘a they think you're a whore?

Just wondering.


Blogger Phillip Minden said...

The key might be in realising that tertium datur here, because many people don't, and not so long ago nobody did, think in these new categories.

So, while limiting physical contact is and was certainly around, you make an active statement when you identify or often enough even define yourself as a "(non-)shomer negia", at least in the eyes of those who react the way you describe.

About the two reactions:

If you say you're sh. n., there are two aspects: people might think if you expressly mention it, even the slightest accidental cloth-to-cloth touching will inconvenience you. Secondly, they might think you're a fanatic, mentally impaired and/or plain boring, even if they have no intention of physical contact with you.

If you say you're not sh. n., it might look like you want to imply you're davke interested in advanced interaction, because what else would make you stress that?

Imagine you've invited some people to your home. You're standing next to a table with glasses and a bottle of 1998 Ramat Ket-Pit. Somebody approaches you and says: "Hi, I'm not an anti-alcoholic."

1/18/2008 4:11 AM  
Blogger tmeishar: said...

i have a joke with my camp friends - everyone has to be shomer negiah in camp, at the very least in front of everyone else. so, the only way to know if someone is REALLY shomer negiah is if someone of the opposite gender sits next to them, and even though they're nowhere near touching they still scootch down a little bit.
come to think of it, it's not so much a joke...

1/18/2008 5:36 AM  
Blogger J. "יהוא בן יהושפט בן נמשי" Izrael said...

"bottle of 1998 Ramat Ket-Pit. Somebody approaches you and says: "Hi, I'm not an anti-alcoholic.""

mmmmmmmmm.... the analogy to that is sorely missing from the story. Of course, in case the situation allegorized would occur, anyone with an IQ higher than 21 would not voice his, um, not being teetotal...

1/18/2008 5:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


1/18/2008 8:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

definitely Cooties.

1/18/2008 9:45 AM  
Blogger The back of the hill said...

This reminds me of the furious argument that erupted in the Netherlands when some Imam would not shake the hand of a government functionary. It was decried as a horrid example of the Muslim community's unwillingness to integrate. Not handshaking... feh!

I felt distinctly odd reading about it at the time, because the most handshaking bunch I know are Indians and Pakistanis who have learned that it is a western custom that goes along with speaking English well. I always found their constant handshaking more than a little unpleasant. And it is only within the last few years that I've learned to give a firm brisk ahndshake upon intros..... though (especially to women), I still feel more comfortable not touching, just doing the half-bow with a "how do you do".
[Some people have a kissing thing upon meeting - now that is guaranteed to make me intensely uncomfortable. What is it with all that touchy-feeliness anyhow? Eye contact does NOT require the actual rubbing of corneas!]

More colds and flue-germs get spread by immodesty than by any other means.

1/18/2008 3:24 PM  
Blogger the chocolate doctor מרת שאקאלאד said...

I think sometimes a quick kiss is less invasive than all the enforced handshaking to which you get subjected, once you are on the record as willing to shake.

1/22/2008 10:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

People think you're a whore?

1/31/2008 2:08 PM  

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