She’s lovely, innocent, and deserves to enjoy a developmentally appropriate holiday free of un-wanted touch, and yet that human right is often undermined by “socially accepted” norms. In an article about brainwashing,

In psychology, the study of brainwashing, often referred to as thought reform, falls into the sphere of “social influence.” …It’s the collection of ways in which people can change other people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. For instance, the compliance method aims to produce a change in a person’s behavior and is not concerned with his [or her] attitudes or beliefs. It’s the “Just do it” approach.

As I read about this compliance method I had to wonder if the socialization we receive in our families is not in fact a form of brainwashing. The approaches she described, have now been identified by the Girl Scouts of America as common practices that should be questioned and guarded against. Check out their recent article under advice for parents titled: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone A Hug. Not Even At Holidays. 

The Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald warns that when parents insist “Uncle just got here—go give him a big hug!” or “Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss.” It forces compliance and sets the stage for a girl to question whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection… It forces compliance and sets the stage for a girl to question whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life. And that it can also be a time when daughters gets the wrong idea about consent and physical affection.

In my Top 10 List of Abuses I Now Refuse to be Silent About, I related that at my first job interview I was offered a joint by my prospective boss (I was 16 and his hair was graying), and told to make myself comfortable on his lap to smoke it. I should add that I got the job interview through my boyfriend who already worked at the establishment. He and his brother (who also worked there) gave me their best advice for getting an edge on the other candidates: “wear something sexy”. Oh boy, some Girl Scout could have earned a merit badge drying-up our brains. As a child I had been coached repeatedly by my mother to “just do it”. Just hug, kiss, and/or allow myself to be hugged and kissed by men in and out of the family – as if my affection was a gift she was giving them.

If we can prevent girls from being served up on a silver platter as part of holiday treats, then it won’t matter how much power Harvey, or Charlie, or Kevin, or Donald, or Matt have in the workplace. The free and natural development of women’s instincts, and minds will be even more powerful.