General Etiquette > general

Is patting someone on the head rude?

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--- Quote ---Touching strangers in a non-emergency - always rude.  Treating disabled people the way you would treat a child - extremely rude.
--- End quote ---

This.  Rude and condescending.

rude and condescending to anyone.  I am vertically challenged and have had people do this to me.  I want to slap their hands.

It is highly offensive in Thailand to pat someone's head. 

Here in N. America, I would only pat the head of someone I know well. 


--- Quote from: Psychopoesie on July 20, 2013, 10:41:08 PM ---I read an interesting article* by a disability advocate about how often complete strangers seem to think it's okay to pat her on the head simply because she has a disability (she uses a wheel chair). The author felt the gesture was condescending. She wrote about how she usually feels too humiliated in the moment to say something to the person doing the head patting.

To me, patting a stranger or even someone you've only just met on the head would be rude.
Some of the comments on the article agreed it was inappropriate. A few thought it was part of the culture (apparently we're a touchy-feely bunch in Australia - news to me).

Anyway, was curious about whether Ehellions believe patting someone on the head is okay and, if so, under what circumstances.

*haven't included the article link because I'm trying to avoid the politics (article was prompted by a politician's actions).

--- End quote ---

To me too, but then I've never lived in another culture so I can't say. I wouldn't think twice about gently tapping a stranger's shoulder to get their attention if it was appropriate (e.g. they'd dropped something) and they hadn't heard me call them verbally, so to me it's not horribly rude to touch any stranger, ever. I will pat a student on the shoulder for a job well done and that seems totally unacceptable in some cultures as well, so maybe I am 'touchy-feely' by world standards.

However, patting someone on the head is horribly condescending. Horribly. I don't even pat small children on the head unless they are closely related to me and I am affectionately ruffling or stroking their hair. Patting on the head is what you do to *dogs* for heaven's sake.


--- Quote from: *inviteseller on July 21, 2013, 12:19:15 AM ---rude and condescending to anyone.  I am vertically challenged and have had people do this to me.  I want to slap their hands.

--- End quote ---

I get this too. It makes me immediately incited, and I make a note to never spend time around the offending party at all costs.

I'll pat an animal or a small child, but not an adult. From what I've seen, I think this is pretty normal. So if I were to pat an adult it would be condescending; the fact that people with disabilities seem to be subjected to this more than others doesn't speak well at all for how a lot of people view them. The woman in the article is rightly offended.

Anyone have any ideas on what can be said to people who do this? I can only think of snarky stuff. I'll always recoil very obviously and give them a look of disgust before leaving or keeping a very noticeable distance if I can't leave immediately.


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