At an open air flea market a woman is haggling for a price and gets an extra $5 off with the offer of a hug. A hug of gratitude. A comment is made in my hearing along the line of, “Sure, rub your breasts against my chest and I’ll give you another $5 off.”
There was a time, as a very young woman, I would have been put off hugging any man after hearing such an immature comment, no matter their relationship to me. Now I merely ask Hubby if that is really the way men think of the offer of a hug, because most women, certainly not myself, would think of the offer of a hug as a way to treat a man to a chest rub with her breasts. In fact, as a woman, I don’t think of my breasts much at all. Breasts are a part of my body, as are my arms that I would hug you with.
So what does an offer of a hug mean? In the case of the flea market negotiation it means a show of appreciation, a thank you, perhaps even a small feeling of affection toward the person who was willing to make an extra concession to you. While I don’t think the offer of a hug would be made during a negotiation with a woman, I do think a hug might still be given after a successful negotiation where extra concession is given by the seller to the buyer, and few (if any) would imply any sexual payoff in such a hug.
Women hug each other all the time. Wherever women meet, they are likely to hug. Saying something nice, or doing a small favor for another woman will most likely result in a hug.
Women are also free with hugs to men they feel comfortable and safe with. Men mature enough to see them as whole people, and not as sexual body parts. These are men who treat them respectfully, and take their cues from the woman, making sure she is comfortable.
When a woman’s body is sexualized then everything she does is viewed through a sexual lens. Breast feeding is seen as a woman exposing herself. A woman dressing attractively is seen as asking for male attention (and deserving whatever attention she may get). Young women learn that hugging an uncle is asking for it, and that women are not safe with any man, resulting in a rape culture.
It is true that some women use their sexuality to get what they want from men, but that is a blog for another day.