Once upon a time (well, like 3 years ago!) an incredibly articulate gentleman asked me the million dollar question : ‘Can I kiss you ?’ (NB – He was the same guy, who, when I eventually ended things and told him we could be friends (out of politeness) replied with that classic line: ‘Friends or Friends of an intimate nature’ PEWK!). At that moment, I scoffed and offered him a glass of water. The next day, I debriefed the said encounter with a few girlfriends and oh, how we laughed! They also laughed at me for my terrible attempt at deflection. One friend even said : ‘If he had to ask the question then answer should have been obvious!’. However, since then, it seems things have changed. I guess that whole #metoo movement had something to do with it. But suddenly there is the whole ‘consent is sexy’ thing happening!
Call me old-fashioned, but even 3 years on, I’m sticking to my guns and PUBLICLY ridiculing any guy that asks me if he can kiss me (just FYI I laugh at men who ask girls out on coffee dates too – potential romantic encounters should never feel like an informal job interview). However, it does seem perhaps I am in the minority. Having asked around, it seems that its now protocol to ask before falling onto another’s humans face. Oh my! Anyway, it was pointed to me that my initial reasons for turning my nose up at the ‘can I kiss you ?’ question were quite predictable. Fair enough. Although, this article, did force me to dig a little deeper, nothing has fundamentally changed. I still don’t think any significant relationship in my life will begin with such a question and here is why:
Alternative Ways To Get Consent
Nope I’m not talking about reading body language which is yet another grey area. In any case it seems that literacy levels (in every sense) are pretty low these days. Some people are the brightest crayons and need everything spelled out for them. Sigh!
And yeah, I get it, the odds aren’t really in a guys favour these days. You never know if when you go in for a romantic smooth whether the raging feminist will lose her mind and start shouting ‘PERVERT! PERVERT!’. So, perhaps so verbal cues are necessary for a dude’s peace of mind.
And maybe its because I work with words all day or the Brit in me but a surely a simple matter of phrasing can make the whole situation a little less lame if you ask me. I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before but there have been a few instances where men have felt the need to do a Mr Darcy and ANNOUNCE their intention to kiss me before going in for the kill. Rather than asking you, they are tell you. Yes, we know some women are going to start ranting about equality, gender roles and blah blah but I don’t think assertiveness is necessarily a bad thing especially in an age where noone seems to know what they want in life. Furthermore, this way of doing things not only allows the guy to feel like a BIG MAN, it also gives the girl a certain amount of time to a) RUN away or b) mentally prepare herself for what could be the start of something wonderful. Win-Win!
Guilty Until Proven Innocent
I think a big part of why this whole thing irks me so much is that I think having to explicitly ask something so basic is that it seems we now live in a world where people (men, basically) are guilty until proven innocent when it comes to contact (physical and verbal) with the opposite sex. I mean in some fields of work there are strict protocols on what one can say or do when dealing with humans. You see a colleague balling their eyes out because their dog died, you may instinctively want to hug them in an attempt to make it all better BUT you better think twice before initiating contact who knows 2 years down the line it may be held against you in a sexual harrassment trial. Of course, you may think I’m being a drama queen here but that’s not to say such a thing has never happened.
Look, I’ve experienced my fair share of perverts. Old ones, young ones, good looking ones and ones who should stay at home chained to their computers. Even the ‘Hunk on Wheels’ well he recently spotted me in passing (have I mentioned Cape Town is a small world!) and suggested that I sit on his lap (just ewww!). That said, I also know lots of guys that aren’t all that bad. I mean, questionable fashion choices aside, they are just nice, fairly normal people. And even those that have tried their luck tend to back down once you subtlety (or not so) put them in their place. I just think its a shame that good guys are going to have to question their every move because of the likes of Trump and Co.
When The Tables Are Turned….
I know the ‘Can I Kiss You?’ Rule is intended to everyone – guys kissing girls, girls kissing guys, guys kissing guys and so on. But is the situation really the same? Following, #metoo we saw lots of guys coming forward with incidents of sexual harassment at the hands of woman. Sure, its debatable how widespread it is but it does happen. But does society really react in the same?
Back in the days when I used to drink copious amounts of box wine, I remember literally having to chase a friend around in circles as she ran after a guy who she just planned on jumping. It was like a scene from a Tom and Jerry cartoon. But we’ve all probably be THAT drunk girl, who uses booze to get rid of all inhibitions and pluck up the courage to make a move on a guy. The move could be as innocent as a beautiful, public declaration of love through poetry, or more likely throwing oneself (in some cases down a flight of stairs) at the guy and desperately hoping he’ll kiss back. You see we are not all that different.
‘Can I Kiss You?’ Is Still Not The Answer To The World’s Problems
I’m not much of a touchy-feely person. The way I see it if you are not my Significant Other, I have no reason to touch you and you have no reason to touch me either. But we live in a social world and sometimes you have to awkwardly hug people (however much you’d rather just fist pump!). Should we be asking people ‘Can I hug you?’, ‘May I hold your hand?’…. Where do we draw the line?
And then there are words. I could argue that sometimes the things people are say are often more vulgar and intrusive than a simple kiss. Of course we don’t need to be idiots about it. Clearly, asking a girl to sit on your lap is far more offensive than telling her she is pretty. But people take offense at different things. Believe me these days, with the PC police out in full force you could get done for referring to another person as ‘baby’, ‘sweetheart’ or ‘darling’ (when in fact you are probably only having to use those terms because you are bad with names – jokes!).
Maybe you think I’m just taking things to far. But like with all things to do with human relationships – its a case of different strokes for different folks. People have different boundaries shaped by culture, personal experiences and whole of host of other factors. How is the rest of the world supposed to gauge what these are? Million dollar questions right there. In any case, there are no hard and fast rules here. Perhaps I’ve just gone and got a bee in my bonnet because ‘Can I Kiss You?’ is just another thing that destroys the fairytale image of romance that I grew up with (after all, I don’t recall Prince Charming requesting Cinderella’s permission before kissing her ?!). In any case if it works it works and for those that prefer to err of the side of caution, go for it. (Ugh, and while we are at lets start signing contracts before engaging in any form of sexual activity – Christian Grey style!). The people that are intent on asking ‘Can I Kiss You?’ will continue to do so and I hope for their sake they’ll be out with the type of person that appreciates the gesture, as opposed to some chick from the dark ages who chokes on her chardonnay, trying not to LOL in their face!
OK Dear Rinsers. Destroy me in the comments below! Do you ask a potential conquest ‘Can I Kiss You ?’ Is such a question even necessary? Where do we draw the line? Have you ever asked or been asked this question? What was your reaction? Share your horror stories or fairytales with us.