Commentary

Why the Surprise Kiss Must Go

Korra surprises Mako with a kiss

A typical surprise kiss includes interrupting the target while they were speaking. Because shutting someone up is soooo romantic.

A while back, I made a list of creepy things we oughta stop romanticizing. In response I got mostly nods all around, except for one item: the surprise kiss. Unlike everything else, people kept defending it. Rather than arguing with every commenter, I decided to expand on why the surprise kiss should not feature in our stories.

First, I’ll need to define it. The surprise kiss starts with two people who aren’t a couple, and by that I mean they aren’t engaging in smoochies regularly. One of them wants to kiss the other. Instead of asking whether a kiss would be okay, they dart in and plant one before their target has the chance to object or even dodge. If they lean in slowly, it’s not a surprise kiss because the other person has the chance to pull away. However, it’s still not as good as clear communication.

Surprise Kisses Are Forced Kisses

aang-surprise-kiss-katara

A peck on the cheek might be innocent, but mouth-on-mouth kisses are a sexual activity. The target of a surprise kiss does not have the option to refuse this sexual activity. What choice they would have made about the kiss doesn’t matter, because they didn’t get one. The person kissing them might as well have held them down; it has the same practical effect.

If you doubt this, think about how it feels to be groped from behind when you’re out in public. Public groping also uses surprise to circumvent consent. Just because it relies on speed and stealth does not make it cool.

We have a name for non-consensual sexual activity, in any form. It’s called sexual assault.

Yet it’s romanticized in otherwise fantastic stories. In both Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra, the main romance starts with a surprise kiss. In both cases, the target character expresses unhappiness with the kiss they did not consent to, but they later end up in a romance anyway. This sends the message that non-consensual kisses are a valid way to court someone and that the target’s indignation will disappear later.

Now, if you’re a fan of Aang, Korra, or another protagonist who uses the surprise kiss, you’re no doubt ready to pull out all the contextual excuses for their behavior. But every one of those excuses is a contrivance created by the storyteller for the purpose of justifying behavior that is wrong. It’s not real life.

In real life, people don’t enjoy being forced to kiss anyone who wants to kiss them. But when real people are continually shown stories with non-consensual kisses presented as sweet and romantic, they might think it’s okay for them to force kisses on people they’re attracted to.

That doesn’t mean everyone who’s planted a surprise kiss is a bad person. We’re all dancing to a cultural tune that’s difficult to hear. But that cultural endorsement doesn’t erase the harm, especially when we consider all incidences across a highly fallible population. So regardless of whether or not you’ve been lucky with your previous surprise kisses, next time you or your heart-throb should ask.

Consent Requires Clear Communication

Seven of Nine looking irate

The idea behind the surprise kiss is that, somehow, everyone knows when someone else wants to be kissed without talking about it. In the Voyager episode Body and Soul, an alien captain gets friendly with Seven of Nine. He mistakenly thinks Seven is romantically interested in him, so he decides to get Seven alone on his ship’s bridge and force a kiss on her.

This is a rare example that shows us why the surprise kiss is bad. Seven didn’t want to be kissed, and she’s very upset that some dude put his tongue in her mouth without asking. Fortunately, she’s strong enough to throw the alien across the room; a different person might have been too scared to resist the advances of a much larger man. Every surprise kiss can lead to this result, but fiction insists on showing us a world where kissers magically know their target wants a kiss.

Regardless of cultural expectations, body language will never be sufficient to communicate consent between people who are hooking up. It’s simply too subjective. Nonverbal signals are incredibly easy to misinterpret or exaggerate, even for people with strong social skills. Add in the people with compromised social skills and people who are part of a different culture or subculture, and mistakes are guaranteed.

If we want to reduce the occurrence of rape in our society, we have to get over the idea that romance happens through some magical mental connection. The last time I checked, the human race didn’t have telepathy.

This means that in real life or in stories, if anyone wants to kiss someone new, then they should ask. It may seem cumbersome or scary at first, but we’ll have to get over that, because it’s not fair to put the burden of refusing sexual contact on potential victims. The person initiating contact is responsible for getting a free and informed “yes” before they reach each base on the field.

Think about it: If we can’t ask for consent for one little kiss, how will we ask for consent for sex?

Consent Is More Romantic Than Sexual Assault

Kristoff lifting Anna up playfully.

Like many other storytellers have done, you can depict sexual assault as romantic using any number of invented justifications in your story. But there will always be some people who see through this guise, and over time, that number will grow. Stories can last a long time. Twenty years in the future, do you want people to cringe during your romance scenes?

Consent doesn’t bother anyone and won’t become embarrassing in another generation. If it seems out of place in your romance scene, it’s only because you aren’t used to it, not because there’s anything unromantic about it. It can be unromantic if implemented poorly, but that’s true for any other line of dialogue.

If you want to see an example of consent implemented well, just watch this short clip from Disney’s Frozen.

Writing romance is about adding tension and affection to even the most mundane things. Consent involves two people talking about kissing each other; it’s giving you a head start. If you can’t make that romantic, then you should put those romantic plotlines aside and focus on other things for a while. Or simply leave sexual activity out. There’s no kissing in Pride and Prejudice.


It can be difficult to see the harm in something that’s both ubiquitous and widely treated as innocent. But the logic defending surprise kisses falls apart with the slightest glance. That’s because it’s the same logic that justifies rape.

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Comments

  1. Tyson Adams

    Need a version of this article for Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. Just need to replace kiss with groping.

  2. Foxcalibur

    You Mythcreants guys are super good at proscribing things to write about it. Which is on its face the absolute worst advice to give writers. I’m a loud and proud Social Justice Warrior, but this is such milquetoast cabbagewater nonsense.

    No, characters on romantic adventures do not need to stop what they’re doing and lay out detailed terms of consent, establish safewords, discuss their triggers, and then experiment with hand-holding. There are ways to write spontaneous kissing that are clearly not even a little rapey, such as when two characters express through indirect dialogue and body language they’re interested in one another. Which is how non-raping humans have known to advance to the kissing portions of their relationships since the dawn of humans.

    No, authors are not going to have every character ask other characters if they would please like to be kissed now if that’s okay and if it doesn’t violate their safe space. The reason all your friends defended surprise kisses is because there’s nothing wrong with a good surprise kiss. Nor is there anything wrong with someone misreading cues and trying it only to be rebuffed. That’s how human interaction works.

    Sheezus, the digital ink you wasted proscribing a perfectly fine trope when you could’ve described the difference between a positive and toxic use of it. Makes a man wanna go complain about ethics in videogame journalism. I’m not gonna, because yuck, but this was some ol’ strident silliness.

    • Tyson Adams

      I think you have missed Chris’ points completely and appear to be putting forward an argument that wasn’t made.

      I take your point that there are ways to portray mutual attraction and acceptable physical contact without bashing readers or viewers over the head with overt establishing of consent (show don’t tell). But that is one of the points being made: the physical romantic gesture is often forced upon a character before they are wanting it. Just because they are happy with it later – usually because they are swept off their feet by the fawning, or worn down, or worse – doesn’t make it better. It makes it toxic storytelling that in a small way perpetuates bad sexual relationships.

      • Foxcalibur

        I read the article.

        “body language will never be sufficient to communicate consent between people who are hooking up. It’s simply too subjective. Nonverbal signals are incredibly easy to misinterpret or exaggerate, even for people with strong social skills. Add in the people with compromised social skills and people who are part of a different culture or subculture, and mistakes are guaranteed.”

        The article presupposes that both parties must discuss the act of kissing before kissing can take place, or the act perpetuates rape culture. Talking beforehand can be very romantic or it can be hopelessly, irredeemably twee (like that bit from Frozen, for example.) Kissing spontaneously can be a stand-up-and-clap moment or it can creepy.

        It’s all about execution. Yes, the world is largely over, “Come here, you saucy wench!” “Oh you brute!” *ineffectual beating on chest becomes willing embrace, roll credits* But, say, a girl working up the nerve to kiss her companion and going for it is not rape culture. Without looking at statistics, I can say with some certainty that the vast majority of people who kiss a potential partner without express written permission would not assume it is therefore okay to have sex with them without permission.

        This is the 40 oz. coke ban of writing articles. It forbids a perfectly innocent trope rather than discussing its healthy and toxic uses.

        • Cay Reet

          As a former girl, I can tell you one thing, though: most women don’t enjoy a guy they hardly know, don’t really like (instant dislike leads to love trope), or have seriously argued with suddenly grab and kiss them.

          The article doesn’t state your characters need to make a written contract before the kiss, but if the kiss results in a first reaction of ‘oh no, why is he/she/it kissing me,’ then it’s a bad kiss.

          If you’re good enough at it, you can work with body language beforehand. You can use gestures, glances, or other small signs to show both parties are willing. And, of course, you can make the reaction of the kissed character one which shows he/she/it likes being kissed, even if they were supprised a little.

          And, yes, a kiss on the mouth is much more of a sexual act than a kiss on the cheek (exchept for cultures where it’s perfectly normal to kiss a stranger on the mouth, too).

    • Inkris

      I understand what your talking about but the surprise kiss has to go.

      It doesn’t matter if the two parties show romantic feelings with body language but the thing is, consent matters first.

      The person who received the surprise gift may not want it. If someone want to kiss the other and it’s obvious they have feelings for each other, they should ask first. It might seem weird and anti-climatic but if you do ask, you are respecting that person’s morals, and body.

      The fact that the surprise kiss can be done right or wrong really rub me the wrong way. The surprise kiss violates the person receiving it, even if they want it because again you may not respect their morals or their body.

      • Inkris

        I apologize

        “kiss”

  3. Foxcalibur

    First, “express written permission” was hyperbole.

    Second, yes, I’m up really late.

    Third, I’m definitely not discounting your lived experience, and indeed I agree with it: being grabbed and kissed by a stranger or someone you barely know or someone with whom you’re disagreeing is skeezy on the part of the smoocher. In fiction, such a thing highlights a person taking liberties or badly misreading social cues or both.

    MY lived experience (yes, cis het white male privilege is a thing I unironically understand I possess) is that I have never in my life asked anyone if I may please kiss them. In those words or any other. I’ve kissed people on the mouth when they weren’t expecting it at that very moment. Because I read the social cues and body language like a responsible person.

    But, like, Aang kissing Katara because he’s going off to possibly die, and neither of them have worked up the nerve to discuss their feelings is NOT creepy. It’s sweet and sad and very fitting for an action-adventure or war story. Her reaction is initially surprised (not terrified or affronted) and she clearly returns the kiss, even if her actual feelings are in turmoil.

    Literature is full of effective, powerful surprise kisses. Looking at cartoons alone, see Elisa kissing Goliath in Gargoyles, or Harley kissing Batman in “Harley’s Holiday.” Goliath has unspoken feelings for Elisa. Neither dude feels violated.

    And their not feeling violated is not a “contrivance.” Bad critics call narrative events they don’t like contrivances. It’s CinemaSins bollocks. They’re character-driven reactions. Katara has feelings for Aang but is too choked up in the moment to express them. Goliath loves Elisa but is, y’know, a gargoyle. Batman has no attraction to Harley but is flattered at the rare appreciation from someone he’s actually trying to help. They’re all nuanced, characterful reactions.

    My point is: It’s a complex trope that can be played for good or ill. It can be used poorly to glorify eliminating someone’s agency or played well to highlight a character’s boorish attitude toward consent. It can represent characters breaking through a social barrier to acknowledge their feelings. But it’s not like, say, the trope of playfully spanking a nonconsenting woman because gosh-golly she needs a lesson!

    Telling people “never use this because rape culture!” is utterly alarmist. And then saying the only way to write healthy kissing is by having people ask for verbal permission, and if you can’t do that, don’t write kissing? Beyond condescending. I like Chris’s work in general, but an exploration of the trope would be more useful than an outright proscription.

    • Cay Reet

      This is where we will have to disagree.

      I don’t like this trope at all, even if, in some cases, it is a way to finally have people admit to their feelings (Aang/Katara, Elisa/Goliath). It’s very much up to the situation, too. Still, kissing someone of whose feelings you aren’t sure, because you could be dying, isn’t that good an idea. In the case you list (Aang/Katara), it works out, because there are feelings. It’s okay, because it’s in a series and the whole audience has worked out those two are going to end up as a couple ages ago. The same goes for Elisa and Goliath, who clearly have feelings for each other, but are weary, because they’re not even the same species.

      Portraying the suprise kiss over and over in movies and on TV, however, also means a lot of people who see it think it’s a valid thing to do in real life, since everyone is doing it. But in real life, quite often, there might be no apprechiation on the other side. And, unlike Seven of Nine, most women who get kissed without wanting to be can’t throw the man who oversteps his bounds through the room. Especially movies or TV series aimed at a younger audience (like Avatar or Gargoyles or the animated Batman series) should be careful with such tropes, because the audience has little experience in that kind of social interaction and still is in a phase where they try to figure out how life works. Different for adults who should know better (but might have been taught it’s okay by movies and TV series as kids).

      No, a kiss isn’t the same as being raped, but it is overstepping the bounds. If the other person is okay with it, there’s no harm done, but that is the point: how to know whether or not the other person is okay with it? Most TV series or movies give little to no indication beforehand – at least when seen through the eyes of the one doing the kissing. Yes, the audience knows about the mutual attraction, but the characters are still angsting about ‘does he/she love me or not?’ To them, it’s not clear whether or not the other person wants to be kissed. So Aang, to stay with him, just wants to kiss Katara once before he dies, for his own feelings. That’s not exactly romantic and shouldn’t be portrayed as being romantic. That’s a young boy acting on his wishes. And Aang, despite being the Avatar, still is a relatively young boy.

    • Sophie the Jedi Knight

      I don’t think Aang kissing Katara because he could have died counts as sweet. What would have been sweet is him confessing his love for her instead – not by kissing her without permission. He could have just said, “I love you.” That would have been cute and would have gotten his feelings across without anyone being violated.
      Also, your logic is that if two characters have feelings for each other, then a surprise kiss is okay because it makes them acknowledge those feelings. How does the person initiating the surprise kiss know that the other person likes them? From a viewer’s perspective it makes sense, but when there is no way for someone to know that the other person likes them a surprise kiss is creepy.
      In real life, few relationships start with a random kiss. This just seems like a speedy way for them to get together by skipping all that ridiculous stuff like asking them out.

  4. Indigo

    I agree with this. It may be different in a world with aura-reading, where the aura colors change due to emotions that you feel, as well as the ability to use telepathy (even then, usually consensual telepathy). In that world it would be easier to guess how someone might feel. But we humans only have our verbal voices and body language. As you clearly outlined, body language is highly subjective.

    Hell, even just dancing around the subject or attempting to flirt with someone subtly when they’re not used to picking up those cues will also go flat. Speaking as someone who’s regularly doubted whether the cues I’ve gotten were indeed what I thought it could be, flirting, or if I was making too much of it and should just assume a safer, mundane reason. I usually assume the safer, mundane reason. I don’t know how much of the flirting I therefore missed due to my assumptions and pure cluelessness with the changing “trends” in how to flirt in this culture.

    I was glad that my boyfriend was such a darling as to confess his wanting to court me, and then listen and respect when I said I wanted to see how well we worked as friends first before potentially taking it further. We discussed how we felt with each other (cutely, shyly, but earnestly) and he actually DID ask me if he could kiss me. It was adorable, I was amazed at being asked, and it really helped me to be more interested in being kissed in the first place. So I said that I was interested in seeing how that felt and he then kissed me and it was great.

    Whoever said that consent isn’t sexy simply does NOT have imagination, truly.

    To someone raised in this rape culture as a girl (even though I am a man now), seeing consent asked for and then given at all is an amazing thing. (Said to say, but true.) I thought the scene in Frozen was so amazing, literally one of the first I’ve ever seen in media (and I’m over two decades old) and thereby thought the whole exchange was adorably cute and awesome. I loved now, having watched it over again, how she pecked him on the cheek and then said he may kiss her. She showed with BOTH body language and verbal consent that she was willing, and showed with the body language with a kiss in a more neutral area (the cheek) instead of having accidentally forced herself on him as well. The way he stammered that he wanted to kiss her was adorably sweet and endearing. It is certainly something that would make my heart melt and my nervousness about my safety with a man go down and allow me to relax.

    To return back to where I started this from, even in my world of aura-reading and telepathy to complement the body language and verbal speech, even there I have people asking for kisses first before getting them. Even if they go with body language only, they go in very slow, maybe nuzzle someone’s nose, search their eyes, and let the other person decide if they want to lean in the rest of the way and kiss them. I’ve had some do the slow leaning in, then after they nuzzle the noses they ask “May I…?” in a hopeful whisper and look down at the lips. It’s really quite exciting and engaging that exchange, somehow. It usually makes me hold my breath too (both as the writer and reader) as I wait for the answer to come.

    Some other cute ways people have asked for kisses ranged from the stammering adorable awkwardness of Frozen fame, to what I described above, as well as this: Person one gently holds the other person’s hand, looks at them through lowered lashes while blushing, and asks, “There’s something I’d like to do…” (Sometimes, if they’re really a gentleman they’ll brush a kiss slow and lingering over the back of the person’s hand.) Then the other person asks, “What?” and blushes a bit in return. Then the first person’s response is “May I kiss you?” And it’s somehow sweet and sexy and a slow burn all at once.

    Hell, there’s several places where people did ask for consent to kiss, and got a “no,” then backed off immediately. They may ask for the “why” behind the no, just to understand what is motivating the other person so they can be sure of how to be more respectful to them in the future. Then when they discuss it, the first person promises not to make the other person uncomfortable that way again in the future and usually backs off in their courtship and stays as friends until and unless the other person finally decides to take it up another level. Then when the other person goes in for the kiss themselves in a consenting way, it feels all the sweeter because you KNOW the first person doesn’t want to and won’t take advantage of the other person. They already proved themselves by respecting the no and finding out what they can do in the future to make the other person more comfortable and safe. So that adds a whole ‘nother level of romance and sweetness to the scene that just makes me swoon with happiness. ~

    Truly, whoever said that consent isn’t sexy simply does NOT have imagination.

    As writers and creators of media and new content, imagination should be the standard tool of our trade. So why not use that imagination of yours and come up with ways that consent is romantic and sexy, especially with a nice slow burn of dramatic tension as the audience waits for the other character’s answer. Go out, go forth, and create!

    • Cay Reet

      Well said, Indigo.

      Consent is immensely sexy and makes a scene a lot more romantic, because it shows the potential kisser respects the person he or she wants to kiss. They’re not just going for something they want, they make sure the other person wants it, too.

  5. GeniusLemur

    It strikes me that the problem with the surprise kiss is like the problem with beating information out of people: something that in real life is dubious at the very best and yields good results in 1% of cases or less is consistently portrayed in fiction as being just fine and practically always yielding the results you wanted.

    • Bronze Dog

      That’s a good comparison. Had torture on my mind from catching up on Daredevil on Netflix, since it got used in the episodes I watched. It worked once out of three times.

  6. roger

    When did people start using “okay” and “that’s all right” to mean “no”? Why don’t people mention the ambiguity? Dictionaries don’t seem to mention the ambiguity. Why not?

    “That’s okay”
    “That’s not okay”
    “No, that’s okay”
    “No, that’s not okay”

    “May I buy you a drink?”
    “That’s okay, my boyfriend is coming.”
    “Um, that raises a whole bunch of follow-up questions…”

    It also happens in contexts with no romantic element.

    While a cashier is ringing up items, the customer asks for the price of one item, learns the price and then says, “That’s okay.”

    How does one respond to ambiguity? Reciting dictionary definitions?

    Thanks.

    • Cay Reet

      By erring on the side of caution, I’d say … taking “That’s Okay” to mean ‘no.’

    • Chris Winkle

      In storytelling, you can choose to avoid ambiguous statements. In real life, you can ask for clarification. “So you’re saying you don’t want me to buy you a drink, right?” If you feel awkward and don’t want to follow up with a question in a situation like that, I think Cay Reet is right in that the best policy is to assume no.

      • GeniusLemur

        Alternative to the surprise kiss:
        BOY: Well, I’d better get going.
        GIRL: …yes, I guess so.
        *Both stand there being sexually tense*
        BOY (impulsively): Kiss before I go?
        GIRL: …Sure
        *They kiss*

  7. AceOfLances

    It’s different if a character leans in, there’s a pause, you lock eyes, move closer, pause, then go to it…maybe that’s where people are getting hung up. But that’s not a surprise kiss. Each character gets a chance to pull away.
    When you’re little girls come home crying because some pervy kid grabs them and kisses them on the mouth at school, believe me folks you’re tune changes.

    • Cay Reet

      I agree … in this case, the other person has a lot of time to remove themselves from the situation. I wouldn’t call it the surrpise kiss, I’d call it the shy kiss or the slow kiss instead.

  8. Melissa

    I agree with the article, there are some valid points of advice. But since we are talking about clear communication here, then I think a few more examples of good and bad uses of this type of scene would have clarified the distinction between innocence taking the next step and Trump-esque groping. One great example is in the movie ‘The Sound of Music’, and though musicals tend to be over-romanticized, I think this one defines the difference well. After the song ‘I am 16, you are 17’, Rolph finally plants one on the eldest Von Trapp daughter’s lips, but it’s only after they have established that a sweet and innocent relationship has been brewing. The song is basically the couple playfully talking about her future and if other men besides him, will be in it. A subtle way to influence Rolph to take the next step. We were quickly made aware by her body language that she would welcome a kiss, but times and propriety say that she’s not allowed to do this. At the end of the song he finally makes his true feelings known by acting in the moment of spontaneity and kissing her. It’s a surprise to her, but it’s not out of the blue so completely because they have known each other for a while.

    This is the big distinction between two people who really like each other but are too worried or awkward to take the next step, and two people who barely know each other and someone steps in to dominate the other in an ‘I know you really want me’ sort of way, regardless of the other’s feelings. That sort of surprise kiss usually shows a disregard for the other’s wants, and is off putting because of its selfish nature.

    As a lover and writer of fantasy that usually has a strong romantic element, I understand that certain tropes define certain genres. But even in the genre of romance it’s overdone and overused, and though it was once thought of as acceptable in the bodice-ripping era of masculine dominance in romance, times have changed, and our clichés need to change with them.

  9. Siderite

    I find it strange that I cannot find a side I want to be on. Certainly it makes logical sense to have a preexisting protocol for human interaction agreed upon by both parties. Not very romantic, but logical. It implies respect, the desire to achieve a goal through cooperation, both important aspects of any possible relationship.

    On the other hand, forcing one’s hand may be the only way to go over the awkward moment when both people don’t want to “cede” their position of power. Admitting a desire to kiss implies opening up for rejection. Admitting to agreeing to a possible kiss is in the same category, the responsibility of the act now passed on, or at least shared, to the other person.

    Now, imagine for a moment that the “surprised kiss” is not a manifestation of force applied on an unwilling subject, but rather a way to assume full responsibility for the act. It’s all or nothing. Asking for forgiveness rather than permission and all that.

    I find it funny that this discussion would have sounded silly a mere decade ago. Society would not have considered a “stolen kiss” as something akin to sexual assault. My conclusion after all the thinking about it is that it is a numbers game after all: if the cost of the act, even in the worst case, it lower than the gain, then people will do it. It just happens that we now live in a very sensitive society where anything can be (mis)construed and the possible cost is greater. Too bad that the imagined reward of a perfect kiss with a possible perfect match will always be immense.

    • Cay Reet

      The point we all have been making is that in a story this usually works out (apart from rare cases like that of Seven-of-Nine), because the surprise kiss will be between two people who feel for each other.

      Unfortunately, the real world does not adhere to the rules of fiction where everything happens as by the writer’s (or at any rate the story’s) will. In the real world, in many cases, you will force a kiss on someone who doesn’t wish to kiss you at all. You will misinterpret actions, because you want them to feel something for you, too. You might simply misinterpret actions, because you have a different social or cultural background.

      Having the surprise kiss in so many different stories all over the media, from movies over TV into books and comics, makes some people think it’s a way to resolve such feelings in the real world, too. And would you really want a random person you don’t know very well and perhaps even dislike to sudden launch themselves at you and force you into a deep, intimate kiss? Because that is what would often happen in the real world and it rarely happens in fiction.

    • Katie

      “Not very romantic, but logical.”

      You going to provide any support for this claim, or…?

    • Katie

      ” the responsibility of the act now passed on, or at least shared, to the other person.”

      So?

  10. GeniusLemur

    “Admitting a desire to kiss implies opening up for rejection.”
    “a way to assume full responsibility for the act. It’s all or nothing.”
    Doesn’t this mean that if you want something (in this case, a sexual, intimate act with another human being) and might not get it, you should just take it? Isn’t the whole point of the article that it’s wrong to force someone to participate in an intimate act without any regard for their views on the matter?

  11. Cay Reet

    *blows dust off the comment thread* I actually found a surprise kiss I fully approve of this weekend: when Evie kisses Imhotep to destroy his concentration in “The Mummy” (the one from 1999). There is no love involved (at least not between the kissing parties), Evie does it, because she sees it as the only way to make sure the guys coming to rescue her will not perish in the sandstorm Imhotep conjured up. You can see her working up the courage and you can see his truly surprised face when she grabs his head and kisses him.

  12. Dragonborn

    If some leans forward and makes a clear kissing motion leaving the other the option to reciprocate or decline, is that consent?

    • Cay Reet

      It’s a little ambiguous for me, to be honest. It depends on the situation, since it also might be a joke of some kind.

      • Dragonborn

        Have you seen Hitch? It’s a lot like what Will Smith’s character teaches Kevin James to do.

        • Cay Reet

          a) No, I haven’t seen Hitch.

          b) It’s not a good idea and I wouldn’t rely on something which is taught to a character in a rom-com or suchlike. Those are the usual perpetrators when it comes to giving bad advice for the surprise kiss and other creepy romantic topics.

          What about something like ‘how about a kiss?’ Or about ‘I’d like to kiss you?’

          • Dragonborn

            I read the description and it said lean ins are fine.

          • Cay Reet

            Lean ins are fine, but most women will laugh at you or run in terror, if you also make kissing sounds or motions.

            Also read this in a thread on a similar topic, for those who think ‘can I kiss/touch/whatever you?’ is too tame and not interesting enough. How about ‘I’m gonna tie you up and have my way with you, okay?’

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