Giving Women Unwanted Kisses
Watch this video and tell me what you think!
This happened I believe this past week. Two men, supposedly students, decided it might be fun to do this experiment on random female and male students at Utah Valley University. Andrew Hales and Stuart Edge knew that in other cultures, it is acceptable to greet people with a kiss, although they don’t specify whether other cultures do greet total strangers this way, strangers that these people would never otherwise meet. So they wanted to see what the reactions of the women, and a few men, would be. There are a lot of mixed reactions to this experiment from the public and the school. On the one hand, many people say that this could never be sexual harassment. (Besides, these women didn’t try to defend themselves except a little recoil in the end; plus, they agreed to put their footage on Youtube.) On the other hand, many others say that it was sexual harassment, including one of UVU’s philosophy professors, Shannon Mussett. (The fact that the women put their hands up was a cue to Hales and Edge that they didn’t want the kiss.)
I saw this video just today, though I’m not sure when these shots were taken. I was at UVU’s library. But I have to say that I agree with the latter response: this was undoubtedly sexual harassment. The fact that nobody has really complained against them tells me that perhaps this type of behavior might be more and more acceptable at this school. This is my first semester here. If it becomes more and more acceptable as time goes on, then I might have to leave it behind and never look back. Even now, after seeing this video, and knowing that this happened at my school, I’m not sure if I could feel safe walking down the halls anymore. Especially with my background with sexual abuse, if I had been one of those random women they decided might be fun to plan unwanted kisses on, I would have put my hands on them and pushed them as hard as I could. I would then break theirs and other bystanders’ cameras, and reported the whole thing to the campus police, if I knew where it was. This might be a completely unnecessary and strong reaction, but I feel very strongly about this issue. Nobody should be touched, and especially kissed, by somebody they don’t even know without their consent.
My SLCC philosophy teacher has a good sense of boundaries. He came up to one of my classmates and asked for permission to pat him on the back. (He was illustrating a point, by the way, of how simple words can change meanings completely: “I will give this student an A and a pat on the back,” vs. “I will give this student an A or a pat on the back.”) I am grateful for people like him. But the people that do not think kissing a woman when she doesn’t want the kiss is sexual harassment, and that seems to be the majority, seem to be think that it is okay for people to give any kind of unwanted touch to anybody. What would be next? Unwanted touch on the waist will be okay. And what’s next after that? Unwanted sex is okay? What has this country become?
If you think that my reactions are too strong and unnecessary, then I am sorry, but this is just how I am, and I am not going to change who I am. I am a sexual abuse survivor, a woman who has come to distrust many men, a woman that wants to study as much as she can while still alive, and a woman who has decided that UVU is the place to do it. But after learning about this, perhaps UVU might not be the best place. I thought Utah County was predominantly LDS, and LDS people would never do such a thing…or would they?
What do you all think about this little “prank”?