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Friday, April 16, 2010
All this business about the lesbian couple kissing in public got me thinkin'... Who am I kidding? I'm always thinking! Or at least thinking things that a good girl shouldn't be thinking. But anyway...
It got me wondering...what IS it about Public Displays of Affection? What is it about watching someone else being affectionate that bothers us so? I'm not talking strictly about gay or lesbian affection, although as I said before, I do think they tend to "stick out" from the crowd, becoming a focal point largely because of the sheer strangeness of it all. But as highlighted in that article, even heterosexual couples are often criticized for gettin' a little too friendly in a public setting. But there are two questions that come to mind with regard to that.
First off, you have to wonder, what is the definition of "too friendly"? Is holding hands okay? How about a hug? A peck on the cheek or the lips? What about a long, lingering tongue-free kiss? Or what of a long, lingering kiss that does include a little tonsil-hockey? What about a wandering hand that creeps up to a breast? Or...lower?
You may shake your head at me and say, "Don't be ridiculous! Obviously that's inapproprate behaviour for a public place!" But, although I agree that the last two scenarios are widely accepted as inappropriate and would likely net you a trip to the sidewalk vis-a-vis some not-so-polite warnings...I still have to ask...WHY? There is no bare skin involved. What's so different about brushing a hand across a bra and T-shirt clad breast as opposed to a bare knuckle? Or a bare cheek? "It's more sexual," you might say. But I would argue that a long, lingering look or a gentle kiss on the ear can be just as sexual, just as arousing--if not more so--than cupping a breast.
At this point my best answer is that it's simply about culture and normalization. A few days ago I had a conversation with an East Indian colleague about this very thing. I asked her whether seeing people kiss in public made her uncomfortable. She said, not so much anymore, but when she was younger she was horrified to see a couple holding hands in public! In her culture, such overt public affection was highly taboo. However when she came home and told her mother what she had seen--i.e. the couple holding hands--her mother's response was, "So? What business is it of yours?" Obviously that response went a long way towards changing my colleagues views on such things.
And that would be my answer as well. If you don't like what you see, don't look at it. If you do like it...feel free to watch. If someone is engaging in a little overt affection in a public place then they damn well better be prepared to be watched. I don't think they'd have a right to criticize you for THAT. But there have to be lines, you say. Standards. Rules and limitations must govern all of society. We can't have people fucking in alley-ways, after all. (Uh....of course not. That never happens.)There are certain standards of behaviour that we all must agree on, and I would agree. But these lines are constantly shifting, changing. Mutating. And it's all about socialization.
In the past few years I have been out to a lot of interesting...places. Met a lot of interesting people, and seen a lot of...er... interesting and illuminating things. (Just wait for my report on the gay pride parade in July!) And let me tell you...now, I don't even bat an eye at things that a number of years ago would have had me blushing and gasping in horror.
Maybe that's not a good thing, you might say. We don't like to hear of people getting jaded to the effects of death and war, for example. Of course not. That is a horrible thing, and will always be obscene, regardless of the context. But here we're talking about seeing people express affection and desire for one another. I have a hard time understanding why that is ever considered obscene.
Just as an aside I was THRILLED to hear of Obama's new legislation guaranteeing gays and lesbians equal access to their loved ones in health care settings: Obama Extends Health Care Rights to Gay Partners. I had no idea of the discriminations that have taken place over the years and that have caused so many, so much heartache. Good for you, Obama!!
Posted by NikkiS at 7:29 AM