Is A Kiss Sexual Harassment?

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 06 October, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 06 October, 1996, 12:00am

No It takes more guts to kiss someone for the first time than to have sex with them, don't you think? I'm not talking about some kiss when a hostess inclines her hawkish face towards you for a Mwa Mwa kiss the air my social life is sad beyond belief kind of kiss. I'm talking about the kind of kiss that both parties knows leads one way and one way only - a sexual kiss, a kiss that reeks of desire and howls of sex.

At that moment when the conversation stops and the gap is filled with a movement of the head forwards in what is obviously about to become the first kiss, you confront rejection face on. All it takes is a slight movement of the head to present a cheek, the wrong kind of smile or a glib phrase and that's it you can kiss your chances goodbye.

Everything that can be or is to follow depends upon the reception you receive when attempting the first kiss. Once you have successfully accomplished the kiss, the inexorable progress to the sack is practically habitual.

In the horribly metaphorical language of sex, the automatic unclipping of a belt and the rapid drag of the undergarments down bucking legs is a familiar theme in the love overture. But the kiss is the first note upon which the rest of the symphony depends.

Of all the things a person can do to indicate they are sexually interested in someone a kiss is the most delicate and gentle. What else is there? A subtle grab to the ass? A lazy stroke of the breast? Anything of that ilk is and should be considered sexual harassment. The difference between a kiss and that kind of lechery is that the owner of the ass has no choice in deciding it is going to happen. But when you kiss, it is a two way thing. It only takes one to harass, but it takes two to kiss.

But while it may take two kiss, there is a problem. There is the kisser and the kisses. In the first moments of every kiss there one person who initiates the kissing and one who receives the kiss. If the kisser is willing but the kissee is not, there is potential for a harassment confusion situation to arise, as our American brethren would say.

I can see that someone who is kissed against their will would resent it, but a kiss is the most gentle way possible for a message of desire to be conveyed. It is simply a brushing of lips in an animalistic ritual stemming from the days when we used to pluck grubs from each others skin with our teeth.

It is not harassment but confusion that leads to unwanted kisses. How can we tell the messages we convey to people? Your idea of charm may be another's of licentiousness. A kiss is a gentle and simple way of either confirming or denying mutual attraction.

YES Oh all right then, not always . . . But it can be, even when the lips are attached to a six-year-old which is what they've been claiming all week in North Carolina. Little Johnathan Prevette has been sitting cooling his passions at home, suspended for planting a peck on the check of a female classmate (a mild curiosity compels me to wonder what the politically correct brigade would have said had the school-friend been male, but we'll let that pass). 'Unwelcome behaviour.' harrumphed the authorities, while the Prevettes cried all the way into the arms of the media.

Not being personally acquainted with Johnathan, I can't speak for his charms or his maturity. There have been suggestions that he was rather a rascal and the school made the awful mistake of doling out deserved punishment for the wrong crime. I have a lurking suspicion that he might be the descendant of the ghastly Georgy Porgy - you know the nursery rhyme roly-poly who 'kissed the girls and made them cry'. Any little boy I ever met when I was that age used to threaten loose-lipped smackers (yeuch) as a routine form of torture, egged on by beastly little girls, and really I'm now rather sorry I didn't spend my early childhood in North Carolina.

While I was discussing this with a Canadian friend last week, she went into a diatribe about a second-grader who had done a Prevette on her and how embarrassed she'd been and how it took her years to get over the shame of it and, you know, we ending up agreeing that we'd been sexually harassed. Except of course we didn't know how to spell that back then (or such usefully related words as litigation, osculatory stress, offshore account and Oprah Winfrey).

You can see, therefore, how damaging it is if little boys are allowed to get away with it. A lad is never too young to start learning that when a girl says no, she means it: it's a vital lesson in the schoolyard of life saving many misunderstandings, slapped cheeks and painful knees-in-groins. I bet little Johnathan will be the perfect date when he's 18 - no messed-up hair and lipstick smears from him. Unless by request, of course, which is an entirely different matter altogether.

In any case, women get their revenge later on with that form of sexual harassment known as the kissogram. I read a piece recently, written by a man who had suffered public humiliation when a strange, ill-clad woman began giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation at his birthday party. He said it was the worst evening of his life, ever and that he still woke up in a sweat thinking about it. I have the strangest feeling that that poor, under-dressed woman was once assaulted by a pair of lips in a playground many years ago . . . I wonder if they've banned kissograms in North Carolina too.