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Is PDA Ever Okay?

Is PDA Ever Okay?

Shyla Batliwalla | Divine Caroline

December 22, 2010

I was at brunch with my girlfriends this past weekend when we spotted a beautiful, newly-in-love couple. They were sitting across from each other holding hands and staring adoringly into each other’s eyes. He leaned over and whispered something into her ear … she giggled and scooted closer. His hands started wandering … she tilted her face in; before we could swallow our Eggs Benedict, they were swapping saliva and grabbing each other’s unmentionables. I felt like I was watching a particularly graphic and bloody open-heart surgery on Grey’s Anatomy.

Do I pretend it’s not happening? Do I sit and stare? Should I have yelled, “Get a room!”? Needless to say, brunch conversation turned from pancakes and bacon to public displays of affection, commonly called PDA. When it comes to showing your partner some public lovin’ what’s too much?

Cross-Continental Kissing

While the term “PDA” is considered an American expression, every culture has written and unwritten laws governing what’s acceptable and what’s not when it comes to smooching. In European and Latin American nations, PDA is common—especially among the younger generations. Head to El Parque Gran Retiro in Madrid, Spain or El Plaza Dorrego in Buenos Aires, Argentina any Sunday of the year and you’ll always find dozens of randy couples publicly locked in tender embraces. In these and other parts of the world, it’s customary for young adults to live with their parents until marriage, making it hard to find a place to get some nookie. Their cultures have consequently evolved to a place where young couples in love (or lust) showing affection is a societal norm.

On the flip side, in India, the Supreme Court has deemed PDA unacceptable. Indian citizens are subject to fines and convictions if they’re caught being affectionate in public. When Richard Gere planted a public peck on Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty’s cheek, he was the victim of harsh criticism and ridicule by the Indian government and society. Similarly, in Indonesia, kissing in public is outlawed and a punishable crime. Most Arab nations permit very little—if any—affection in public. More intimate touching can lead to being jailed for indecent exposure. In South Africa, PDA is outlawed for citizens under the age of sixteen. This controversial ruling started a rebellion among young South Africans. Groups of adolescent citizens gathered in public places across the country to engage in kiss-a-thons displaying their dissidence.

Next Page: Stateside Smooching →



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