Author Topic: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?  (Read 6403 times)  

Offline PermaStudent

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #125 on: August 14, 2017, 07:08:59 PM »
I think the examples above are clearly instances when surprise kiss = sexual assault. Really if you're kissing someone who is taken off guard, surprised then there is no grey area. You didn't have consent. And it shouldn't be depicted in fiction that its acceptable behavior.

Yes, and this is exactly what I wanted to clear up when I posted the expanded story to my short comment earlier in the thread.  How surprised is surprised, exactly?  The details matter, in real life and in fiction, and I don't think sweeping generalizations do any good.  I think that the surprise kiss is very different in real life than in fiction, and what I wrote is the experience I have that colors my opinion of what I read.  I respect that it's different in fiction.  What makes it different (to me, and context always matters) is that the words on the page can communicate consent *to the reader* even if there isn't explicit spoken dialog between the characters. That's a luxury that most movies don't have.

I've read surprise kisses that I was okay with.  I've read some that I thought were done in poor taste.  I don't judge anyone for having different experiences and holding different opinions.  This discussion has been enlightening, so I thank all who have participated.
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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #126 on: August 14, 2017, 10:48:45 PM »
If my nephews had been in the room and had seen one of their 18-year-old friends suddenly kissing their 13-year-old sister on the lips, I guarantee that guy would have been carried out of the house minus a couple teeth.

Sure a young teenage girl thinks it's exciting and romantic when a grown man pays her romantic attention. That's why we have laws and mores around it. I thought it was romantic too at age 16 when a 30-year-old got close to me, gave me alcohol, told me I was pretty, and kissed me. Didn't work out so well for me. Glad your experience stayed at the "so exciting and romantic" stage. But a lot of child sexual assault occurs or begins in the child's home with a trusted adult or older teenager. That's why another adult would normally step in there and make it clear to the child (and especially to the person grabbing her) that it was unacceptable--so she didn't get the feeling it was supposed to be fine and everybody else thought it was romantic also.
Is that what you see in an innocent kiss? Grabbing and groping?

I knew someone would make something nasty out of it. There was no touching at all, just the gentle meeting of lips. I would go so far as to say there was nothing sexual about it; it wasn't a long kiss, it was a short, gentle kiss on the lips. Some people just have dirty little minds.


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Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #127 on: August 14, 2017, 11:06:10 PM »
People are getting caught up on the phrase 'surprise kiss'.

In a romance, the two leads are romantically interested in each other. Within the story, there is sexual tension, lust, hoping for more, etc. In that sense, there can't be a surprise kiss in romance. Both parties want the kiss.

This isn't real life. This isn't some random, unprovoked person kissing another. This is the two leads kissing after a battle of wills and flirting. They both want each other and the reader knows that.

In the context of a romance novel, this article just seems silly and tone-deaf to me.

^This. You made this point much better than I could with so fewer words. In fiction, the surprise is not some consent or non-consent thing because the whole reason why I'm reading the book is to watch these 2 characters fall in love. If she's going to not consent, when that's the whole point of the story, then I must be reading the wrong book. And yes, I'm nostalgic for those 80s sweep me off my feet romances before all the PC stuff.

In real life, the situations of surprise kiss would definitely be less likely. But it can happen. The way that I've known it to happen is this: You like the guy. You REALLY like the guy. You've dropped hints although you couldn't outright be too explicit about it because, well, you're not entirely sure he's as into you as much as you're into him. And you're a teen or young 20something so you feel a bit insecure about yourself and you don't know if the guy likes you the same way. You analyzed every microscopic detail between you and him ad nauseam with your girlfriends and read tea leaves to try to get a clue if he might like you back that way too. You feel like there is something--there has to be something because this and that-- but what if you're wrong? You keep hoping he'll make a move but you don't know that he actually will. And what more can you do? He's the guy. He needs to make the first move. And you want the guy to make the first move because, heck, because biology and basic instinct, and no amount of social progress or enlightenment will ever change that (at least for yours truly here). Then one day, you're doing something together that may or may not mean anything, and the moment happens where, if he wants to make a move, he could. You have no idea if he would. You get pessimistic and you're sure he won't and you don't want to get your hopes up. And then -- Yes! Surprise! He kissed you. He likes you too! You had no idea that was coming. Really you didn't know!

And that moment, is sublime.

On a more serious note, I do note that a few authors had shared that they really want explicit consent because of past history of sexual assault to the level of rape. I can see where you're coming from. And when I think about it, it makes me angry because some a--hat took something away from you, including the possibility of experiencing that incredible feeling that can happen where spontaneity and surprises are with the right person in the right circumstances. But I don't think the answer then is to take that away from everybody else who can derive joy from it (as the blogger suggests). Rather, I think the answer is that through your own writing, you add your voice to how you would have a kiss happen. And if that means explicit spoken or written consent, then so be it. In your story. In your world. There are more than 5 million books on Amazon. There is room for every voice to be heard to share a different POV or experience.

As for others who insist a fictional book has to include explicit consent to be "responsible". No. I don't buy it. I write fiction. I'm not a public service announcement. It's not my job to educate anyone and my opinions are not superior to others so that readers need to be educated by me. My job is to give them the story they want. If you don't like reading stories where the characters don't offer explicit consent, and surprise kisses in a romance plot or subplot bothers you, then all that means is you're not my target audience. It doesn't mean I'm here to educate you.

ETA: As I got older, I realized that it wasn't that easy on the guy either. It takes a lot of nerves to make the first move (again, talking about two people mutually interested in each other, not some predatory or weirdo force kisser). Often they too are fumbling along and part of the joy of the relationship are the trials and errors and discovering. If there's a set of rules that supposed to be "the right way" that everyone has to subscribe to, then a lot of joy of romance would disappear for me.





« Last Edit: August 14, 2017, 11:22:51 PM by AlexaKang »

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #128 on: August 14, 2017, 11:16:48 PM »
Just randomly chiming in here, but...

I think every time I've ever kissed a girl it was a "surprise kiss." I also was pretty damn sure in every case that they wanted me to. Every girl we had been on 'dates' or 'hung out' one on one. Usually you can tell by a girl's body language and attentiveness to you if they want you to do something.

Also, you can usually tell by their body language and attentiveness if they DON'T want you to do something.

I don't think there's anything wrong with asking "can I kiss you?" to make it fully consensual. But I think the problem more lies in guys who just bulldoze ahead and kiss a girl just because they want to clearly when the girl doesn't want to or isn't sure. I don't think it's necessary to have to ask as long as you're paying attention.


Quote
I'm going down the rabbit hole here (no pun intended), but it's an interesting challenge sometimes for guys, because many girls I date when it comes to hooking up and sex want guys to be very dominant/aggressive. I like that, personally, but they also usually don't want to have to talk about it, which to me is just crazy. I'm pretty aware of this stuff and I default on being very respectful, but i'm often led to a place of being more aggressive by the girl. It'd be alot easier (and hotter) if they just said something, lol.


I think this is actually where reality lies in most normal cases.

Evan, looks like you got a good grasp of how romances go. If you ever decide to take a break from writing dystopia and churn out a romance story, let me know. I'll tell my subscribers and give you an instant audience.

Offline Nic

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #129 on: August 14, 2017, 11:44:27 PM »
Is that what you see in an innocent kiss? Grabbing and groping?

I knew someone would make something nasty out of it. There was no touching at all, just the gentle meeting of lips. I would go so far as to say there was nothing sexual about it; it wasn't a long kiss, it was a short, gentle kiss on the lips. Some people just have dirty little minds.

This is why I refrained from commenting, when you answered my question. This was clearly harmless, something you obviously cherish, and something which I can't condemn. It happened to me as well in an LGBT version. I also was under 16 and the other boy was over 18. I can remember my utter crush on him now still, and it has been quite a few decades.

And yes, absolutely, not all kisses, not even all kisses out of love are sexual in nature. This is a pretty significant divide I think existing between US and UK cultures. Or at least it used to be so.

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #130 on: August 14, 2017, 11:47:21 PM »
This is why I refrained from commenting, when you answered my question. This was clearly harmless, something you obviously cherish, and something which I can't condemn. It happened to me as well in an LGBT version. I also was under 16 and the other boy was over 18. I can remember my utter crush on him now still, and it has been quite a few decades.

And yes, absolutely, not all kisses, not even all kisses out of love are sexual in nature. This is a pretty significant divide I think existing between US and UK cultures. Or at least it used to be so.
Thank you :)


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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #131 on: August 15, 2017, 12:07:25 AM »
For a good example of a non-sexual, surprise kiss, see my avatar!  ;) The only sort of kiss I'd want nowadays.


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Offline PaulineMRoss

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #132 on: August 15, 2017, 12:42:12 AM »
And that moment, is sublime.

Snipped for brevity, but great post and very well expressed. Agree with every word.
   

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Offline PamelaKelley

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #133 on: August 15, 2017, 03:46:18 AM »

Interesting thread. The first thing that came to mind for me is something that used to be very common in romance novels, particularly in Harlequins--when you'd have a heroine and hero that were initially super attracted but at odds, even hating each other and the hero decides to 'punish' her with a kiss--which of course morphs from hatred to wonderful in an instant when she realizes how much she enjoys his touch.  I've always found that particular kiss annoying and insulting, but it was very common and popular and I think it feeds into women's fantasies to be swept away by a hero. I'm not a fan of it though. The idea that you could punish someone with a kiss always struck me as idiotic--and it would often be described with the word punish.

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #134 on: August 15, 2017, 05:35:52 AM »
I don't believe in real life women doubt themselves because of some rom-com. Come on, Julie! Give women more credit than that. This is where I feel like the whole protecting women's rights/respect, however well-intended, starts to fall into women are so weak they can't protect themselves or think for themselves, where it all defeats the purpose of self-determination and empowerment.

Alexa, your belief is not a prerequisite for something to be true. There are actually hundreds of studies on the impact media has on women and men. Self-determination is learned behavior. And we know...we KNOW...from scientific studies that when people are exposed to mountains of media that depict things a certain way, they begin to absorb those beliefs. Particularly if they are not coming from an environment that supports self-determination. My mom was a bra-burning hippie. She taught us early what self-determination meant. That inoculated me against a lot of stuff. But in 2017, my niece at the end of the school year had a teacher, a female teacher no less, dismiss her complaint that a boy in class was pulling her hair because "Oh, he just likes you." I am still now sure how my sister-in-law managed to not kill the woman.

How many little girls don't have a mom like my sister-in-law willing to raise hell over that?

It has nothing to do with inherent weakness (victim blaming) and everything to do with learned behavior and societal expectations. The recent Taylor Swift trial is a great example. When she filed that lawsuit, it opened up the floodgates of women sharing their stories about being groped. Most of those women never reported the groping. Were they weak? No. They were bound by learned behavior (nobody will listen/believe you) and societal expectations (don't make a big deal out of it. It isn't like he actually raped you.)

This is why depictions of actual consent are important. It shows both women and men that consent is empowering and good. It creates positive learned behavior and pushes against the negative societal expectations.

Again, society evolves. And that is a good thing. Up until the 1970's, there was no such thing a marital rape. It was believed that a man could not actually rape his wife, because she "owed" him sex. And when people started pushing for laws against it, the opponents of those laws sounded a lot like you. That women weren't that weak and didn't need protecting from their own husbands and she can always just leave him if it was really that bad.

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #135 on: August 15, 2017, 05:52:59 AM »

Up until the 1970's, there was no such thing a marital rape. It was believed that a man could not actually rape his wife, because she "owed" him sex. And when people started pushing for laws against it, the opponents of those laws sounded a lot like you. That women weren't that weak and didn't need protecting from their own husbands and she can always just leave him if it was really that bad.

Hard to believe, but that didn't happen until 1991 here in the UK. I thought it was much earlier, until I was told by someone about her own experiences and I looked it up.


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Offline Charmaine

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #136 on: August 15, 2017, 06:08:05 AM »
I think people are really jumping the gun on the importance of a little kiss in a romance novel.  ???
It's a kiss in a romance novel. It has nothing to do with these wide-reaching societal implications.

Take this with the best intent: A small scene in a book is not important in the grand scheme of things. No one's book is that important in the grand scheme of things. No one should be placing this amount of responsibility on a scene in a book within their own work or others' work.

Seeing this amount of condemnation for having a different opinion is scary and uncalled for.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 06:12:06 AM by Charmaine »

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #137 on: August 15, 2017, 06:16:13 AM »
I think people are really jumping the gun on the importance of a little kiss in a romance novel.  ???
It's a kiss in a romance novel. It has nothing to do with these wide-reaching societal implications.

Take this with the best intent: A small scene in a book is not important in the grand scheme of things. No one's book is that important in the grand scheme of things. No one should be placing this amount of responsibility on a scene in a book within their own work or others' work.

Seeing this amount of condemnation for having a different opinion is scary and uncalled for.
Condemnation? What condemnation? All I see are different views, some a little extreme, but otherwise still civil. It's an interest topic and shows how far we are heading into the mire, I think.


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Offline Charmaine

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #138 on: August 15, 2017, 06:24:01 AM »
Condemnation? What condemnation? All I see are different views, some a little extreme, but otherwise still civil. It's an interest topic and shows how far we are heading into the mire, I think.

Condemnation, a little extreme, tomato, tamato. People are basically being called rape apologists for refusing to see a simple kiss in a romance novel as rape.

How are you playing oblivious when you quoted one instance of it?
Read the third sentence of what you quoted before my comment.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 06:26:14 AM by Charmaine »

Offline NicoleSmith

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #139 on: August 15, 2017, 06:26:11 AM »
My attitude to discussions like this:

I don't have the answers ... but I'm glad someone is asking the questions.

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #140 on: August 15, 2017, 06:26:42 AM »
Condemnation, a little extreme, tomato, tamato. People are basically being called rape apologists for refusing to see a simple kiss in a romance novel as rape.

How are you playing oblivious when you quoted one instance of it?
Read what you quoted before my comment.
I have no idea how you see marital rape, or the abolition of it, as having anything to do with a kiss?


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Offline Charmaine

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #141 on: August 15, 2017, 06:29:49 AM »
I have no idea how you see marital rape, or the abolition of it, as having anything to do with a kiss?

So what you quoted isn't calling someone a rape apologist, huh? Sure.

Quote
Up until the 1970's, there was no such thing a marital rape. It was believed that a man could not actually rape his wife, because she "owed" him sex. And when people started pushing for laws against it, the opponents of those laws sounded a lot like you. That women weren't that weak and didn't need protecting from their own husbands and she can always just leave him if it was really that bad.

Either way, this is the last I'll respond to this issue so it doesn't get the thread derailed or shut down and people can continue to discuss.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 06:37:09 AM by Charmaine »

Offline C. Gold

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #142 on: August 15, 2017, 06:32:43 AM »
Interesting thread. The first thing that came to mind for me is something that used to be very common in romance novels, particularly in Harlequins--when you'd have a heroine and hero that were initially super attracted but at odds, even hating each other and the hero decides to 'punish' her with a kiss--which of course morphs from hatred to wonderful in an instant when she realizes how much she enjoys his touch.  I've always found that particular kiss annoying and insulting, but it was very common and popular and I think it feeds into women's fantasies to be swept away by a hero. I'm not a fan of it though. The idea that you could punish someone with a kiss always struck me as idiotic--and it would often be described with the word punish.
Oh I hate those too. I do like it when they are arguing and he kisses her as long as they both have the secret longing for one another underneath the 'hate'. I guess in that case it's kind of a surprise for both of them but not the reader since they were seeing the underlying thoughts of each character that led to the moment.

Characters in stories are super good at reading body language and eye expressions. So I can buy into consent without any words being said if the author's prose shows it. I would hope people can separate fantasy from reality. Otherwise, what about writing protagonists as thieves or assassins? It's not like I'd condone those professions, yet they are a staple of fantasy.

Offline MClayton

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #143 on: August 15, 2017, 06:47:51 AM »
This is an interesting question, and I don't think there's an answer. Several years ago, around 2009 or so, when I was first published and discovered the KDP fora, I happened upon a romance thread in which the OP was asking for a recommendation for a book in which the protagonist overpowered the female and she came to love him. I was a psychotherapist for many years, so that (obviously) raised a concern with me, and I posted some sort of psychobabble in response to her request. Upon which I was summarily smacked upside the head by other readers.

Readers are varied and interesting, and they want what they want, which might be something they'd never admit to in the light of day. Far be it from me (in my enlightened state) to tell readers what they should read. 
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 06:52:05 AM by MClayton »

Offline Word Fan

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #144 on: August 15, 2017, 06:55:23 AM »
Readers are varied and interesting, and they want what they want, which might be something they'd never admit to in the light of day. Far be it from me (in my enlightened state) to tell readers what they should read.

Probably the most sensible response of all of them here.

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #145 on: August 15, 2017, 06:58:36 AM »
Probably the most sensible response of all of them here.

It was a lesson that stuck. The side of my head still hurts.  :)

Offline Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #146 on: August 15, 2017, 07:07:28 AM »
My attitude to discussions like this:

I don't have the answers ... but I'm glad someone is asking the questions.

For me, it isn't about answers. It really is about asking the questions. We are writers. We should think about how what we write influences our readers. The arts do not exist in a void. They both reflect the world we live in and the world we want. So thinking about concepts of consent, concepts of inclusiveness, have value. I don't think anyone is saying the concept of the surprise kiss should be eradicated from the universe, but making it less prevalent and encouraging more open consent is I think a good thing.

Consider the Bechel test, which emerged in the mid-80's. Plenty of people still get bent out of shape by the concept, but THINKING about it has changed in a positive way how people portray female interactions and has encouraged people to think about media in a new way. Nobody (nobody sane, anyway) expects every single form of media to always meet the Bechel test. But thinking about it improves our work as a whole.

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Offline Crystal_

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #147 on: August 15, 2017, 08:02:10 AM »
I think people are really jumping the gun on the importance of a little kiss in a romance novel.  ???
It's a kiss in a romance novel. It has nothing to do with these wide-reaching societal implications.

Take this with the best intent: A small scene in a book is not important in the grand scheme of things. No one's book is that important in the grand scheme of things. No one should be placing this amount of responsibility on a scene in a book within their own work or others' work.

Seeing this amount of condemnation for having a different opinion is scary and uncalled for.

Ah, someone writing off romance as irrelevant and unimportant. That's a new and edgy idea.

Offline AlexaKang

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #148 on: August 15, 2017, 08:23:12 AM »
Ah, someone writing off romance as irrelevant and unimportant. That's a new and edgy idea.

I don't think Charmaine is dismissing romance stories. She's saying one scene in any one book among millions shouldn't be saddled with sweeping social responsibility, and I agree with that.

Offline Charmaine

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Re: Surprise Kiss: Yay or Nay?
« Reply #149 on: August 15, 2017, 08:38:56 AM »
Ah, someone writing off romance as irrelevant and unimportant. That's a new and edgy idea.

How did you get this from what I wrote? You can go back to every romance thread where this was implied and you'll probably find me in most of them defending romance writers.

I'm saying any work of any genre shouldn't be scrutinized to this degree for such a small scene or detail. No writer should be scared that their work is somehow contributing to societal woes. No writer should feel as if they have this much responsibility on their shoulders.

I keep stressing the romance novel bit because you're reading the book for the couple to get together. The reader knows there are mutual feelings. The characters by the time there's a "surprise kiss" have been sending nonverbal signals of their mutual attaction and interest for about 30-50 pages.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2017, 08:51:15 AM by Charmaine »