Saturday, December 26, 2009

Kissing, Worldwide

Since I'm insanely tired for no clear reason, here's a small post also concerning Sex is Not a Natural Act, this time, the chapter on kissing (which is only about 4.5 pages). As Tiefer tells us, the subject of kissing is pretty much absent in sex research. This strikes me as odd, considering that kissing seems to be so important to our culture. However, not every culture feels this way:

But sexual kissing is unknown in many societies, including the Balinese, Chamorro, Manus, and Tinguian of Oceania; the Chewa and Thonga of Africa; the Siriono of South America; and the Lepcha of Eurasia. In such cultures, the mouth-to-mouth kiss is considered dangerous, unhealthy, or disgusting, the way Westerners might regard a custom of sticking one's tongue into a lover's nose. Ford and Beach [researchers] reported that when the Thonga first saw Europeans kissing, they laughed, remarking, 'Look at them-- they eat each other's saliva and dirt.' (78)

I wonder if, with the advent of global communications, these cultures will start to adopt "Western-style" kissing. It's unclear whether these are just traditional beliefs, or if they're actually still in practice. But either way, it made me feel good to know that there are entire cultures of people who, at least at one time, were/are grossed out by kissing. What's "normal" here isn't actually "normal" for everyone-- that fact made me smile. I think it's important to know that some sexual people, like some asexual people, don't like kissing, just like it's important to know that some sexual people are aromantic. Apparently in Bali, their version of a kiss is "...lovers bring their faces close enough to catch each other's perfume and to feel the warmth of the skin, making contact as they move their heads slightly" (78). To me, that sounds a lot more pleasant than our coveted "french kiss".

12 comments:

heidi said...

W00t! So the accidental nose-lick can now be chalked up as multicultural affection ;-D

.::.~*Dovie*Lee*~.::. said...

AWWWWW OMG THAT SOUNDS SO ROMANTIC MOVING IN CLOSELY TO SAMPLE EACH OTHERS PARFUM......AND U ARE SOOOOOO RIGHT. WHAT WE THINK IS ACCEPTABLE HERE OR MODERN IS EXACTLY THE FINAL AS FAR AS WHAT IS RIGHT. I THINK A LOT OF PEOPLE REALLY CANT SEE PAST AMERICA ON A MAP OR WHAT THEY THINK IS JUST THE "IN" THING TO DO.

Anonymous said...

i recall reading about the origins of kissing. to the best of my memory, it said it began when mothers would chew their babies's food before passing it to them. kind of an oedipal beginning... i think this was back in the days before much cooking was done, but it's been so long ago that i've read this that i cannot say for sure :)

Mystic said...

i enjoyed reading your post

Ily said...

Apparently, we have more sense receptors in our lips than we do in our entire torsos. I think kissing might be a natural response to that. Maybe it started out as curiosity and just caught on.

Also...just a reminder that I get a TON of spam comments on this blog (no, I don't want to buy Nikes), so if you want your comment to get through, please don't call yourself "penis enlargement pills"...also, if anyone knows how to block spam on Blogger, I would be really grateful for the information.

heidi said...

Ily, it's probably the title. If you delete post and re-post it with a less... spammable title, it should weed out 90% of the stupidity. Nose-licking worldwide probably only has a relatively small fetish following, anyway ;-)

gatto said...

"W00t! So the accidental nose-lick can now be chalked up as multicultural affection ;-D"

My kitty Colette loves to lick my nose and eyebrows. It's cute. Kitty kisses are the best, even if they do sometimes smell like cat food.

Ily said...

Sadly, I get spam on posts with all sorts of titles... :-(

I had a cat that used to bite people's noses! It was actually kind of funny, though...

pretzelboy said...

I tend to skeptical of anthropological claims about how such and such culture didn't kiss (or whatever.) I've seen such claims before, but you have to wonder about the source of evidence that they're using. Do they just rely on what a few people say that people don't do? In modern American culture people have very little idea of what other people are like sexually, what they do behind closed doors, etc. I fail to see why other cultures wouldn't be the same (or more so as they don't have the internet.) What cultures think about something might not tell us much about if people actually did it. (In fact, they have to know that it happens to have a taboo against it.) Although condemnations or something might make the people who do it reluctant to tell anyone...

Stilitano said...

Did you ever read Robbins' Jitterbug Perfume? It has something in it about kissing not being known in polite society, as I remember.
The Balinese kiss-alternative sounds more intimate to me than your traditional lip lock--maybe that's why we as Anglo Saxons prefer the more agressive tongue?
And who said licking a Westerner's nose isn't fun, in a kinky sort of way?

Ily said...

I support a healthy skepticism...it would be interesting to read a more in- depth look at some of these cultures' practices, but it seems like the point of the chapter was mostly to illustrate that as far as sexuality research goes, a lot more research could be done on things like kissing.

Jitterbug Perfume- I've not read that one...

Himmel said...

Its interesting to hear about other cultures having different views - and kind of sad because I'm sure some sexologists or what have you will just call these cultures repressed - after all EVERYONE wants sex, right?