The Dreaded Hug

Worked for a new place today.  The instructor was fine – acted professional, made me feel comfortable – except at the very end where we were saying our goodbyes and he went in for a hug.  A couple of instructors do this.  I do not like it, but thus far I have not had the intestinal fortitude to ward them off.  I’ve been practicing polite refusals in my head, trying to work up the nerve to say them out loud;  in this particular case the dude was hard-of-hearing so I would have had to yell them, and so I wussed out again.

Just…what is the fucking deal with people who are not my friends presuming to press their bodies against mine?  I don’t see the point of it with an acquaintance and I feel like it’s actively sketchy when it’s a) an employer who b) has just seen me naked.  The power differential makes it awkward for me to refuse their presumptuous advance, lest I cause enough offence that they don’t hire me back.  And a hug is thought of as an innocuous, friendly thing, so of course I’m gonna look like a hostile bitch (or at least, I assume that’s how the instructor will make me feel) if I throw my hands up, step back, and say no.

I would expect the hugging thing from someone who gave me an overall skeevy vibe.  It’s weird when it comes from someone who acted totally nonchalant and professional the whole rest of the time I was there.  It’s like these guys know how to contain themselves and be cool even when they think a chick is sexy (no staring at her body, no standing too close, no lewd comments), but they can’t resist making an excuse to press against her if they think they can get away with it.  And although if I made a fuss I’m sure the excuse would be “I was just being friendly!”, I do not understand this friendliness.  A three hour class, during which we’re each just doing our jobs and barely speak more than five sentences to each other, is not some huge bonding experience to me.  I suppose it’s just barely possible that most models are total fuckups and the very fact that I showed up on time and held still like I was supposed to fills these instructors with hug-worthy gratitude, but it seems iffy.

Overall, though, I have to say that the art modelling thing has been a lot less fraught with peril than I once feared.  Nobody (knock on wood) has ever done anything sketchier than the hugging thing* – not even the students, who don’t have reputations on the line and could say gross things to me without anything much happening except me going “Yeeeah, don’t.”

Also, only three instructors have hugged me out of probably over 20 that I’ve worked with.  It’s not something they all do, by any means.


*And even the hugs aren’t too gross – I mean after I hit puberty my great uncle (now dead, yay) developed this habit of asking me for hugs constantly, and somehow managed to administer these hugs in a spectacularly creepy way.  I can’t put my finger on what it actually was – the amount of arm tightness or what his hands were doing or what – but he really managed to wordlessly convey that he was savouring the feel of my tits on his chest.  The hugs these art instructors give me have thus far been firm, but not…eerily clingy.  



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5 responses to “The Dreaded Hug

  1. rm

    You might try saying “I’m sorry, I’m just not much of a hugging type of person” and then smiling and offering your hand for them to shake. It’s worked for me in the past, although granted, I’ve never had to use it in a professional situation.

    • That was my idea, too. I just haven’t executed it yet. Partly because I’ve apparently been so thoroughly trained to be nice and accommodating that when someone does something inappropriate, my stupid body just goes with it for a second before my brain cuts in. 😦

      So usually, I’ve already started moving toward the person by the time common sense kicks in and I realize I do not want to do this. And I’d feel stupid trying to bow out at that point.

      • rm

        Heh, that’s understandable. You’re right, once precedent has been set, it’s difficult to change without causing offense. I know how hard it can be to overcome social programming, but I wish you fortitude in the future, if you ever get another situation where you need to set a non-hugging precedent (which hopefully you won’t).

  2. Pingback: Happy things. | hiding in plain sight

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