“You may now kiss the bride” is a rather common line expected and accepted in most traditional Western marriage ceremonies. And it is not only the bride and groom that look forward to concluding the ceremony with ‘the kiss’; the guests also look forward to this magical moment.
Nowadays, however, you don’t need to go to a wedding to see people kiss passionately in public – you just need to go to the Aula grass (or any patch of grass on campus for that matter) and you will find couples snogging away.
First year students Jacobus de Beer and Jenny Moote were found smooching on the steps of the Auditorium. “Things are different in high school and university. My girlfriend and I often kiss in public, but I would not have done that in high school,” said De Beer. Moote commented: “We have only recently started dating so we are still getting to know each other. We sometimes look at other couples and see how they are with each other.”
Couple Anna Milenova and Kenny Sampaio say they prefer to kiss in a private environment. “When we do happen to kiss in public, it’s nothing hectic so we don’t really care who watches,” states Sampaio. It is true that a kiss shows affection, but not everyone fi nds public displays of affection to be appropriate behaviour.
Single people showed they were more bothered by any form of public affection displayed on campus than couples were. Silvânia Salvador, an international student, says couples in Angola are very affectionate. “But on campus I feel it is just a little too much. It is actually kind of disturbing. It is okay for couples to get affectionate when they are alone but not everywhere is acceptable. Couples should not be affectionate in places like lecture halls.”
“Public indecency is not acceptable,” is the opinion of Chemical Engineering student Thabo Mankga. “Baby kisses are fi ne, but making out on the grass is disgusting. If you ask me, those couples are just trying to show off. We all know how to kiss you know.”
Three out of four single guys interviewed on campus said they were not bothered about what couples do in public places. Surprise Morwaswi says he’s okay with a public display of affection. “It doesn’t bother me that much although at times it makes you want to get a girlfriend too.”
Friends Niël Grimbeek and Jonker Lourens have different opinions. Whereas Grimbeek says he can understand why people may get bothered seeing these couples on campus, Lourens says he isn’t bothered because he is dating someone.
Although it can be seen that individual views on public displays of affection vary significantly, it also depends on social values and context. Whereas extreme forms of public displays of intimacy may be considered indecent exposure, some acts of affection we consider innocent may even be criminal in some surroundings. For example, in a country like Indonesia, there is a proposed law that prohibits kissing in public.
The Supreme Court of India has described public displays of affection to be in bad taste and has defi ned such behaviour as unacceptable. In South Africa, as well as in many Western countries, it’s normal to see people holding hands and kissing. But even here, public passion can be too much to stomach for some.