BY KJ ADLER
Howdy from the southern world. Seeing as how I am down here in Argentina this semester most of my works are going to inspired by certain things that I have seen or heard around the Fair Wind City.
One interesting aspect about the Latin American culture, at least from my own observations and inquiries, is that Public Displays of Affection, a.k.a. P.D.A., are huge. Everyone who is in a relationship, from the age of 14 to as old as 40, is not afraid to declare their commitment to their significant other by locking lips and not letting go.
Everyone in my study abroad program gasped with shock and discomfort. I have heard the phrase “Wow, they sure do make out a lot around here” more times than I can count, and have even found myself making eye contact with one of the make-out participants, who looked back at me with indifference.
Personally I am not a fan of P.D.A., since I have been raised on the idea that unnecessary touching of a boyfriend is considered either awkward or rude, especially when hanging with friends.
The expression “Get a room” is used freely towards couples sharing an intimate moment on a park bench or in a restaurant, and in most cases the general public will look down upon the couple with contempt.
But here’s the rub: The good girls of Argentina kiss in public because that is all they can really do in public. It is the bad girls who are out of sight, doing things that aren’t allowed in public.
After being exposed to it nonstop for over two weeks, I have to say I am beginning to see the light. P.D.A. is a way for young couples to have a million chaperones, all the while being secluded in their little bubble of love.
It’s so common that no one will bother them or think less of them. It’s not a way for the couple to declare to the world how much cooler they are. It’s just an act between two people considered normal and safe.
And while I am personally still not a fan of showing off my kissing capabilities to any joe schmo who walks by me, I will proclaim to the United States masses: let there be P.D.A.!
Think about it. If we just allowed sex to be a normal part of our daily lives, wouldn’t it eventually just become less of a big deal?
I remember when I first went over to France for a month-long exchange program during high school. I lived with a family whose daughter would live with me in America later that year.
When she and I were watching television one time, I remember being shocked at how many people were naked, acting sexual, or referring to sex. The French girl, Martine, barely even flinched. I asked her about it, if it bothered her at all, and she replied that she barely even noticed.
It’s just sex. Everyone does it. Why be so shy about it?
The best part, though, was when she came to live with me. After one night of being exposed to the local news she announced that she had no interest in watching it again. It was too violent and sad.
I had never noticed how violent a lot of our American programming is before she said that.
While Martine had been numbed to the images of sex and physicality, I had been numbed to the images of violence. All the while I had been fearful and shocked by images of physical affection, when violence barely scathed me. It blew my 15 year-old mind away.
Of course, as the years went on, sex became less and less of a big deal to me. Society still freaks out about it, especially with parents who try to keep their kids from even thinking about it.
Censorship, repercussions for experimentation, shunning those who are open about it: it’s all so confining and repressive sometimes.
But in my present here and now, affection is just another state of being. It acts as a little piece of a backdrop to a huge city that seems to have many more pressing priorities to take care of. And with both practice and restraint, I believe that our culture can be on the same level as those of other countries.
I mean, generally we’ve already gotten numb to violence, so what’s one more shot of cultural Novocain?