Well, I consider September 1st to be the end of summer. I know that’s not official, but September feels to me like school and changing leaves and chilly evenings. Summer lovin’, I suppose to had me a blast. Sort of.
As summer romance winds down, I have noticed an idea trend that I find sort of wrong but fascinating. It has to do with how my friends and I think about intimacy, how we think about the physical part of romance. Here is some evidence:
Ok, so a song about the importance of a kiss. Cher (obviously full of wisdom) is saying that not only is kissing important, it’s really the most important. So catchy.
Now for the real douzie (ignore the subtitles):
Ok so, we can ignore for now all the very ridiculous notions this movie has about sex workers and sex consumers, and really about men and women in general, and focus on one lesson that I think, for better or worse, has stuck. And that is that kissing is more intimate, more romantic, than sex. In this movie, spunky hooker Julia Roberts (singing ‘Kiss’ by Prince, so appropriate) has sex with men for money, but on the advice of her sassy best friend Kit won’t kiss on the mouth. There is actually a scene in Mad Men, Seas 3 I believe, where Roger Sterling calls up a high class pros and she too has the no kissing on the mouth rule. And the turning point in the movie, when the audience knows they are in love, is in fact when she kisses Richard Gere (arrogant yet someone sweet rich dude) on the mouth, breaking her own rule and losing control of her feelings. Eventually he climbs a fire escape with roses and they live happily ever after.
Now, fictional characters aside, every single girl I’ve talked to in the past months agrees with me that kisses mean more than sex. It is by no means the first step or the gateway to the real intimate experience. In fact, kissing is more confusing that just good ole’ sex, whether it be first date sex or friend sex or whatever. We get confused with just a kiss, convinced that sex is always the goal and therefore dumbfounded when the physical interaction stops there. What does it mean, just a kiss? It feels important, romantic, and loaded in a way that getting completely naked doesn’t. Like Julia, we all seem to be tuned into the idea that sex can be given and taken as a commodity, that it can be more of a transaction than a connection. But a kiss, something is going on in a kiss.
I get a little uncomfortable when I realize this is a phenomenon, for a few reasons. One is that sex can and should be intimate, at least sometimes, and it makes me sad that all my friends (myself included) see it is something different. It goes along with my theory about how girls are giving it up to get to what they really want. And I guess what we really want (or at least [maybe] what I really want at the moment) is the kiss. It’s the intimacy part. The part where you kiss under streetlights and dole out compliments without strings attached and hold hands and cuddle. And for the girls I know, all that is way more romantic than sex, and I think this makes for confusing interactions. If girls are thinking that a kiss, just a simple kiss goodnight, means more than an actual naked interaction, then we have a serious problem if guys don’t also know this. And I’m not sure they do.
It’s hard to understand, but being sexualized is something that women experience all day every day. Sometimes it’s ok to feel like an object, but sometimes it’s exhausting and annoying. I suspect that this is tied into the idea of sex being less than intimate. If we are being ogled, watched, and even touched all day every day, it’s easy to see how sex can feel more public and out of our control than private and safe. And this intimacy hierarchy is one that gets proliferated in pop culture, and not just as adults. We all know that in fairy tales, its the kiss that leads to happily ever after. And for awhile, in the bliss of youth and naiveté, we have no idea that there could be anything sweeter, more romantic, more life altering than a kiss. Maybe those ideas are simply too charming and too big to be blown away, even with the changing of many seasons.