The No-Touch Taboos: An Understanding of Sexuality and Gender in the Indian Context

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Author: Anna Maria George, Independent Researcher, Kerala, India
Email: annus.maria@gmail.com
Published: June 05, 2020
https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.7.1.09

Citation: George, A. M. (2020). The No-Touch Taboos: An Understanding of Sexuality and Gender in the Indian Context. IAFOR Journal of Arts & Humanities, 7(1). https://doi.org/10.22492/ijah.7.1.09


Abstract

The sensation of touch and the need for physical contact are fundamental in the development of human behaviour. As an intimate medium of communication, tactile interactions between men and women can make their social bonds more profound. But there are both “contact” and “no contact” societies that differ in their attitude towards tactile communications. While “contact” cultures are largely touchy-feely communities, “no contact” cultures like India problematise touch between opposite genders due to reasons related to the caste system, fear of sexual vulgarity, subversion of gender roles, and so forth. On close observation we find that all these reasons are interconnected and interdependent. With its prime focus on the “no-touch taboo” among opposite genders in India, this paper explores the underlying role of sexuality, patriarchy and conventional gender roles in perpetuating the established social structure in India. A deeper understanding of these mechanisms reveals that, in India, a touch-averse culture is essential in the preservation of its systems of power.

Keywords: touch, taboo, sexuality, obscenity, disciplining, power, gender roles