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It's Just a Kiss ... Really?

Mom of 2, Rosa has worked with non-profits to provide educational and health programs for local children, and improve the local workforce.

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Every now and then new stories pop up about rape culture. Everyone gets worked up and agree: It's a bad thing. Boys should be taught consent. Boys should be taught to keep their hands to themselves. Girls should be allowed to dress without being blamed for how boys (and men) react. Girls should be able to walk to and from school or work without being harassed or assaulted. And, they should.

When a tween boy in Pikesville, Maryland grabbed and kissed a girl without her consent on a dare in 2015, folks weren't as supportive of the announcement that the target of the dare decided to file sexual assault charges.

A 13-year-old boy grabbed her by her shirt, pulled her toward him, and "open-mouth kissed her with his tongue," according to police.

Why was everyone making such a big deal about a 13 year old boy kissing another 8th grader? Is the girl's response too harsh of a response?? In a word:

No.

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Excuses

I've been that kid kissed by a boy who was dared to do it. It was terrifying to be held down and have someone force a kiss on me. I was told by adults that I was making a big deal out of nothing. This was in first grade. It was the first of many similar incidents that was permitted to happen to me and they never stopped being terrifying.

When I was grabbed by an elderly man and French-kissed against my will a few years later, I was told, "He doesn't understand what he's doing".

When I was cat-called, followed, groped, and grabbed in high school, I was told, "He's just showing you that he likes you."

When I was stalked and a dude snuck into the house to watch me, "He's just being friendly. He comes over all the time."

... He just wants to show how much he likes you .... It's not a big deal ... It's just a joke ... You're over-reacting ...

These dismissals and the reactions I got from others told me I should welcome this behaviour and, moreover, I should be FLATTERED. How ungrateful of me to complain or report this “normal boy behaviour”. And, when I snapped and retaliated against one of these boys, I was the problem. They said there was something wrong with me for being upset.

Sex gets equated to care and love. “If you really love him, you’d put out” ... “If you don’t give him what he wants, he’ll find someone who does and you’ll be all alone.” These are things that were actually said to me by adults.

Where does it end for a girl taught that this is “normal”? Or, the boy who is given permission by society to take liberties? Let me share an incident from my past with you ...

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The Harm

Games can get out of control, especially when it comes to "dares". When I was in cadets, we took a trip to England. During our travels, we were left without adult supervision. You'd think a bunch of teens could behave themselves for an hour or so, right? Apparently not. See, someone suggested a game. "Truth or Dare" to be exact. I wasn't into it, so I curled up in a corner and had a nap. When I woke up, I could tell something was wrong. There was a strain. A darkness that hung over everyone's heads. No one could look each other in the eye. The camaraderie was gone. "Why?" I asked. "What happened?" A game happened. A stupid dare.

See, there had been some flirting between one of the guys and a female cadet. One of his friends dared him to have sex with her. Right there. In front of everyone to prove it happened. They were pressured by the group - their "friends" - and the stakes of the game. He felt like he had to in order to save face and the others pressured this young girl ... Remember we were all about 15 at the time.

To this day, I wish I hadn't fallen asleep. I was always the voice of morals and conscious (which usually meant I got ditched). I would have said something. I would have ratted them out before it happened. I could have stopped them somehow - some way ... But, I was napping and no one else spoke up. So, right there on a boat these 2 terrified teens were pressured into having sex, surrounded by strangers and supposed friends. It destroyed them.

Debate all you want about whether or not young men should face criminal charges, but understand this:

It’s not about a kiss. It’s about a social mindset that’s dangerous and wrong.

Originally Published Sep 14, 2015

© 2021 Rosa Marchisella

Comments

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on June 16, 2021:

I think it shouldn't be allowed. Kissing someone on their cheeks without permission is not decent nor is it appropriate.

dashingscorpio from Chicago on June 15, 2021:

I can see suspending a (13 year old) for kissing someone against their will and making them apologize but I don't know if it should be something that gets him listed as a sex offender life and creates a criminal record making hard for him to get a job.

In my era he would have been sent to principal's office and given a few swats with a paddle and when he got home his parents would have spanked him and put him on punishment of some kind.

"Dare games" usually spell trouble no matter what the age of the players are but when you combine that with being young and immature with no thought for potential consequences people get hurt.

One kid dares another to stick his finger in an electric socket, jump out of a tree, or do whatever and that kid is stupid enough to do it.

When a 13 year old has sex we say they are too young to give consent and yet we are willing to try 12 and 13 years as "adults" in our criminal system. There should be punishment for their actions but a kiss shouldn't ruin a life. Odds are if the boy in Pikesville, Maryland had punched the girl in the face instead of kissing her he would not have been charged with domestic violence at age 13.

If our goal as society is (change children's behavior) we probably need to invest more money and time providing psychological services not only for victims but also the victimizers.

Something tells me no matter what we come up with every generation will continue to play "dare games" and give in to peer pressure in order to be accepted by each other.

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