FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Head Kissing: An Issue for Our Times

It strikes me as an unusual action, kissing the back of someone’s head. Sounds like a ritualistic early-Christian thing, like the baptismal kiss of the Apostolic Tradition, or the papal foot-washing and foot-kissing (such as Pope Francis does), more than sexual aggression.

I just wonder—idly, as I do—about the appeal of the act to the transgressor. Probably has to do with scent. Pheromones are most abundant on the face, forehead and scalp. Those plus the smell of shampoo and conditioner could affect someone close up.

The vice-president perhaps felt drawn to the back of the woman’s head, and breathing in the mix, planted a quick kiss with his lips on the crown just over the Occipital bone. Never a thought thereafter that this would be any sort of problem, it being quite public and perfunctory and after all, kind of weird.

Not like Brett Kavanaugh pulling his penis out in front of a woman’s face, which Congress forgave him for, as you recall. But unusual.

Lucy Flores says she felt violated. I don’t doubt she did. I probably would have. I don’t know; hard to envision.

You’re missing the point, you’ll say. It’s one thing for a man to be kissed unexpectedly, unwanted, on his head from behind (by a man or woman, presumably). It’s quite another for a woman to experience it, as an expression of unwanted advances in general, and to want to expose it at this particular time as Biden approaches the announcement date she has probably effectively quashed.

Surely it’s good that we are rapidly heading towards zero-tolerance for sexual harassment and “unwanted body contact” in general. It’s a question of how widely we conceptualize, define and challenge it.

My Japanese wife was uncomfortable when, while visiting Spain some years ago, our exchange-student son’s home mother embraced and kissed her, as is the routine automatic greeting in Madrid. Very different ideas about acceptable body contact pertain in different cultures. Italian-Americans hug more than Scandinavian-Americans. There are different degrees of reserve and respect for private space.

“Inappropriate behavior” includes everything from statements that make someone uncomfortable to rape. Unwanted kisses of the Trump variety, or even his pussy-grabbing, fall somewhere into this spectrum. But head-kissing?

If it were protracted, and wet… yes. That would be, among other things, gross. But I doubt Biden did that. He did something arguably strange and obviously unwelcome (thus inappropriate). And I’ll be happy if this causes him to drop out of the Democratic race, maybe noting woefully that these times (with their added demands for political correctness) have passed him by. I’d like to see Sanders get the nomination, which his current strength suggests he can do—if MSNBC and CNN don’t do him in, arguing (as they already do) that it’s impossible for a socialist to win in the U.S., and that a “socialist” candidate will hand the election to Trump.

I just hope that Sanders, a physically more reserved person than Biden, has no head-kisses hanging in his closet.

More articles by:

Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa JapanMale Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: gleupp@tufts.edu

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550
September 19, 2019
Richard Falk
Burning Amazonia, Denying Climate Change, Devastating Syria, Starving Yemen, and Ignoring Kashmir
Charles Pierson
With Enemies Like These, Trump Doesn’t Need Friends
Lawrence Davidson
The Sorry State of the Nobel Peace Prize
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Scourge in the White House
Urvashi Sarkar
“Not a Blade of Grass Grew:” Living on the Edge of the Climate Crisis in the Sandarbans of West Bengal.
Thomas Knapp
Trump and Netanyahu: “Mutual Defense” or Just Mutual Political Back-Scratching?
Dean Baker
Is There Any Lesser Authority Than Alan Greenspan?
Gary Leupp
Warren’s Ethnic Issue Should Not Go Away
George Ochenski
Memo to Trump: Water Runs Downhill
Jeff Cohen
What George Carlin Taught Us about Media Propaganda by Omission
Stephen Martin
The Perspicacity of Mcluhan and Panopticonic Plans of the MIC
September 18, 2019
Kenneth Surin
An Excellent Study Of The Manufactured Labour “Antisemitism Crisis”
Patrick Cockburn
The Saudi Crown Prince Plans to Make Us Forget About the Murder of Jamal Khashoggi Before the US Election
W. T. Whitney
Political Struggle and Fixing Cuba’s Economy
Ron Jacobs
Support the Climate Strike, Not a Military Strike
John Kendall Hawkins
Slouching Toward “Bethlehem”
Ted Rall
Once Again in Afghanistan, the U.S. Proves It Can’t Be Trusted
William Astore
The Ultra-Costly, Underwhelming F-35 Fighter
Dave Lindorff
Why on Earth Would the US Go to War with Iran over an Attack on Saudi Oil Refineries?
Binoy Kampmark
Doctored Admissions: the University Admissions Scandal as a Global Problem
Jeremy Corbyn
Creating a Society of Hope and Inclusion: Speech to the TUC
Zhivko Illeieff
Why You Should Care About #ShutDownDC and the Global Climate Strike  
Catherine Tumber
Land Without Bread: the Green New Deal Forsakes America’s Countryside
Liam Kennedy
Boris Johnson: Elitist Defender of Britain’s Big Banks
September 17, 2019
Mario Barrera
The Southern Strategy and Donald Trump
Robert Jensen
The Danger of Inspiration in a Time of Ecological Crisis
Dean Baker
Health Care: Premiums and Taxes
Dave Lindorff
Recalling the Hundreds of Thousands of Civilian Victims of America’s Endless ‘War on Terror’
Binoy Kampmark
Oiling for War: The Houthi Attack on Abqaiq
Susie Day
You Say You Want a Revolution: a Prison Letter to Yoko Ono
Rich Gibson
Seize Solidarity House
Laura Flanders
From Voice of America to NPR: New CEO Lansing’s Glass House
Don Fitz
What is Energy Denial?
Dan Bacher
Governor Newsom Says He Will Veto Bill Blocking Trump Rollback of Endangered Fish Species Protections
Thomas Knapp
Election 2020: Time to Stop Pretending and Start Over
W. Alejandro Sanchez
Inside the Syrian Peace Talks
Elliot Sperber
Mickey Mouse Networks
September 16, 2019
Sam Husseini
Biden Taking Iraq Lies to the Max
Paul Street
Joe Biden’s Answer to Slavery’s Legacy: Phonographs for the Poor
Paul Atwood
Why Mattis is No Hero
Jonathan Cook
Brexit Reveals Jeremy Corbyn to be the True Moderate
Jeff Mackler
Trump, Trade and China
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima’s Radioactive Water Crisis
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Democrats and the Climate Crisis
Michael Doliner
Hot Stuff on the Afghan Peace Deal Snafu
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail