Sally’s First Kiss and The Princess and the Kiss

When I was a teen, I did a lot of babysitting for other homeschool families. One day I babysat two families worth of children while their moms went out for lunch—I think there were about ten kids total that I was watching. I was in the kitchen cleaning up from lunch and the kids were in the living room putting on a play wedding as kids sometimes do. The nine year old was presiding over the wedding of the two five year olds, a girl from the one family and a boy from the other. All of a sudden I heard the older child say “now you’re supposed to kiss each other” and I freaked out and ran into the living room to break it up. I wasn’t about to let those two five year olds kiss, thus forever depriving each of the chance to save that first kiss for the altar.

In the conservative Christian homeschooling community in which I grew up, a person’s first kiss was incredibly important. Even today, the products of this culture debate this question with great energy, arguing about whether forbidding the first kiss until the altar is a form of legalism or the preservation of a precious gift.

Now, I was taught that part of the reason that the first kiss should be saved for the alter was that it was a gateway into other things. First comes kissing, and then, who knows? Making out, humping, sex—once you open the door, it’s hard to close it. It would seem, then, that five year olds kissing at a play wedding wouldn’t fit this category, given that we’re not talking about a kiss that comes as a result of sexual tension and mutual attraction.

And yet.

The literature I read didn’t make a distinction between preschoolers kissing and teens kissing. Instead, it simply talked about the importance of saving “your first kiss” for your wedding day. And of course, we were regaled with stories of virtuous couples who had done just that—didn’t we want to be like them? And then there is The Princess and the Kiss, a book marketed to children as young as four.

The book is about a king and queen who help their daughter save her most precious gift, her first kiss, for the prince she will marry. The princess’s first kiss lives in a glass orb, something like the rose in the Disney version of Beauty and the Beast (you can see it on the cover). This book has become very popular in Christian homeschooling circles and beyond, and there are hundreds of thousands in print. This is the sort of thing I was raised on (though this particular book wasn’t around when I was little, lots of kids are growing up on it now).

All of this came rushing back to mind recently when Sally kissed a little boy at her preschool—or, as I would have seen it in the past, when Sally “gave away her first kiss.” We had gotten together with the family for a play date, and Sally and her little friend did the whole pretend wedding ceremony thing that little kids spontaneously do (I presided over a few in my day myself). At the end Sally grabbed the little boy and planted a kiss on his face. Surprised and bemused, I couldn’t help but recall my reaction to the pretend wedding staged by the five year olds I was babysitting so many years ago. This time, of course, my perception and reaction was different.

Sally didn’t lose anything when she kissed her little friend. Instead, she simply gained a common life experience—something she will look back at and laugh about when she’s grown. It’s the people who impute a cute childish action with so much meaning who are creating the problem, not my preschooler.

If We Can’t Come to Grips with the Past, How Are We to Grapple with the Present?
Evangelical Christianity’s Patriarchal Alternative to Fifty Shades of Grey
Men Rape and Women Seduce: John Piper’s Deleted Tweet
HSLDA on those “Radically Atheistic” Public Schools
About Libby Anne

Libby Anne grew up in a large evangelical homeschool family highly involved in the Christian Right. College turned her world upside down, and she is today an atheist, a feminist, and a progressive. She blogs about leaving religion, her experience with the Christian Patriarchy and Quiverfull movements, the detrimental effects of the "purity culture," the contradictions of conservative politics, and the importance of feminism.

  • Jonny Scaramanga

    This is so important. When I was 13, a girl kissed me out of the blue, and I remember going home and trying to throw up. Then I wrote a diary entry considering whether I should marry her because of this, and if it had ruined my chances of happiness.

    • jhlee

      I… would find this hilarious if it weren’t so tragic. As you can
      imagine, I have a very strange look on my face right now.

    • Sheldon

      Wow, just wow.

      I spent my teen years on the Southern Baptist denomination, they weren’t into the whole “courtship” mentality, but they always drilled into teens that if something, even rather mild would “tempt you”, in their minds lead you down the road towards sex, then don’t it.

      My first kiss was with a girlfriend when I was 17.

      • Aimee Ruth Blue

        well my first kiss wasn’t until I was 20, and I married him (20 years ago).
        and this same book was given to my daughter by my sister, and I never gave it to her. I hid it. I think I might have donated it by now. I don’t want her thinking like this. I actually think it is ridiculous now.

      • Monika Jankun-Kelly

        My first kiss was in college, and I am happily married to that man now. Doesn’t mean there’s no other good way to live and have relationships. I was raised secular, am a secular humanist, and think I’m quite sex-positive. I wasn’t interested in high school dating, but not out of any fear nor religion based reasons. I have nothing against those who date, kiss, or do anything else age appropriate, so long as no one is harmed. I just don’t happen to want for myself some of the harmless and fun things that I have no problem with other consenting adults doing. It really amuses and puzzles me how the Christian far-right thinks that without religious fear, shaming, and misogyny, secular people will all be lust-crazed all the time.

      • Nate Frein

        It frustrates me to no end when sex-positivity is conflated with advocating that everyone needs to be sexually active. I see it more often from the detractors, but it’s just as bad when it comes from someone telling my asexual friend that she’s “really just a lesbian” or similar nonsense.

      • smrnda

        I’m actually an asexual lesbian, the two aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive as orientation involves more than just sexual desire, and relationships involve a lot more than just sex.

      • Nate Frein

        I understand. That’s not how it was intended when told to my friend, however.

      • smrnda

        No, I was up-voting you!!!! As an asexual I’m often told that I ‘can’t be a lesbian’ and I really just have a roommate…

      • Nate Frein

        Hee, sorry, i wasn’t taking offense, simply clarifying my post.

      • Kat

        What an odd thing to say. I mean, I’ve had a couple of great roommates over the years, but I have a hunch that whatever sort of relationship you and your partner have is one that I would have been deeply uncomfortable having with any of the women I lived with. I wonder if any of the people who tell you that ever thought of it from that perspective. I’m guessing not.

      • alwr

        Then this blog must bug you sometimes???

      • Nate Frein

        This blog? No. Granted, I’ve only been reading Love, Joy, Feminism for the last couple months or so but I haven’t noticed anything from Libby Anne or her regular contributors that they personally feel that way.

        This blog has actually been a really cool resource for me in understanding what was going on behind the scenes in a number of incidents in my life growing up in the military and spending a year in a charter school. While I was raised liberally and Catholic, I knew many children, and even befriended some (like the girl I mention elsewhere in these comments), who were raised in similar fundamentalist environments.

  • Deird

    It’s interesting that your family didn’t distinguish between childhood kisses and adult kisses. My first kiss was at 25 – unless you count the fact that I used to play “kiss-chasey” in primary school, in which case it would have been at about 4.

    • Sally

      Funny, my first kiss was at age 20 unless you count the “kiss-Keith G” game my friend Amy and I used to play in elementary school!
      So teen girls are asexual in that their supposed to give the heart they might give away to a teen boy instead to their daddy, but preschoolers are giving away something sexual if they plant one on another preschooler? Soooo complicated!

      • Liz

        It’s pretty awesome to hear others who had their first kiss in their 20s too.. between purity culture, being a late bloomer, and having social anxiety (and thus being terrified of people), I haven’t really had a whole lot of experience with other people and have really only dated two guys. I usually avoid mentioning that to people because I’m afraid people will think I’m weird. My first kiss was when I was 18 or 19 and was really a bad experience, mostly because I had no idea what I was doing and really didn’t want to kiss that guy but I was overwhelmed and had no concept that I could say no. The next guy was when I was 22 and was the first person I had sex with. One of the reasons I identify as being sex-positive is that I want *all* kinds of experiences to be affirmed, and not feel weird about discussing my own experiences.

      • Leigha7

        My first kiss was at 18 (or 1, if you count little kid kisses–it’s in my baby book, “first kiss from a boy”), and I remember being (and still kind of am) bothered by all those books and TV shows where girls bemoan that they’re 14 or 16 and haven’t had their first kiss yet and goodness, they must be a freak!

        Because if not having your first kiss by 14 makes you a freak, what does not having it until 18 make you? And I didn’t kiss anyone because there wasn’t anyone who showed any interest in kissing me. What was I supposed to do about that? (My self-esteem was way too low to ask guys out, so I was stuck waiting for a guy to express in an interest in me first.)

        I agree with you. It kind of sucks that the options seem to be either wait until you’re married or get all the firsts out of the way in high school (nevermind that this may not be possible or desirable). There’s no room for anything in between in much of our society. That’s a problem.

    • Mogg

      We played kiss chasey in early primary schol, but strangely enough we never got around to the kissing bit. Not for any reasons of purity – it was a public school, and I think I was the only kid from a regularly church-going family – but I think we were all a bit scared!

    • Monimonika

      I also did something similar to “kiss-chasey” (had to look this up in Urban Dictionary!) in kindergarten. Except in my case there was only me and one boy. The boy was a constant bully to me, but I found out that loudly yelling “I love you, George! Kiss me!” *puckered lips* as I barreled towards him quickly had him avoiding me like the plague.
      Oh, and if I had been able to corner him (he was a fast runner) I would’ve had no problem with kissing him, even on the lips. I did not differentiate between lips-to-cheek and lips-to-lips kisses. I still have never open-mouth kissed anyone in my life, though.

  • psykins

    Strangely I never did the wedding thing. I don’t think I played with many boys, so if I ever got “married” it would have been to a stuffed animal, or one of my female cousins. My first kiss actually was with my husband…but we certainly did NOT wait for our wedding! It wasn’t until I was 18, and not having a boyfriend/kissing anyone until then caused me to place a LOT of importance on that first kiss.

    I like occasionally to refer to myself as my husband’s fourth wife, tho – apparently his older sister was quite the matchmaker ;)

  • Marian

    Lol, we’re working with my 2 year old on not kissing people who don’t want to be kissed (respecting boundaries, you know). She has a tendency to just plant one on her little friends whether they want one or not. I’ve seen her push her little cousin who’s the same age as her against the wall in order to kiss her. Also, her older cousin, who is six, and a boy, and going through a stage where kisses are icky, got the surprise of his life when she wanted to give him a hug goodbye and then kissed him right on his lips. The look on his face was priceless!

    I care so much more about teaching my child to respect other people’s boundaries and making sure she knows people have to respect her boundaries than about making sure she saves her first kiss for the altar.

    • jhlee

      That’s the same kind of thing I did when I was 7 or 8, lol. I wish I’d been given a talk about boundaries and respect rather than being shamed out of my behavior. I was told it was strange, abnormal, people were going to think something was wrong with me, etc. I can still feel, over 25 years later, the intense shame at that talk, which might have something to do with the fact that I grew desperately self-conscious about intimacy and never kissed anyone until I was 29. It’s hard to say it was that one incident, though, since (as you can probably tell) my family and community were not what I would call sex-positive.

      • Nate Frein

        Yeah, the immediate result might be the same, but the response that “You need to respect the other person” just doesn’t have the same insidious effect of “that’s not normal”.

    • Jayn

      My niece did that for a while–not quite THAT aggressive, but she’s been taught to always give a hug and kiss goodbye, and she used to try and turn my head to kiss me on the lips. (Which is a bit of a 0.0 for me, since my parents stopped me when I tried that on them) It always bugged me, since for me kissing on the lips has never been anything you would do outside of a romantic relationship, and I still find it a bit weird that her mother let her do that at all.

      • Nate Frein

        One thing that Libby Ann has brought up, that I had never thought about, but as soon as she mentioned it, I agreed with it, was teaching her daughter the right to refuse to kiss.

        I think that teaching that your body is yours, and no one has the right to make you kiss them would make for an excellent springboard further on to point out that the child (or adult) you just kissed has that same right.

      • Liz

        Figuring out that I had the right to decide what I did and did not want to do with another person, and that I had the right to both negotiate that with my partner and change my mind about it just blew my mind. It was just an incredible thing when that clicked in my head, and I felt such a sense of ownership of my body which made me far less anxious about the prospect of physical intimacy with someone. And the thing that taught me about consent and boundaries? BDSM blogs.

      • Nate Frein

        My time in the BDSM community was almost entirely positive (my current lack of participation has more to do with lack of funds and unrelated health issues than a desire to give it up). The only traumatic experience was from a man who wasn’t actually in the community, who listened to some of the fantasies I’d told him about but conveniently didn’t hear the parts about consent.

        There was a time in my life where I could have easily become an angry, cynical Nice Guy, and I largely credit the experienced woman, and the men and women after, who introduced me to BDSM as getting me away from that.

      • Liz

        For me it’s now just figuring out if I have the fantasies that I do because *I* want/like them, or if they’re a product of the purity culture I was exposed to–or if that’s even a meaningful distinction. And I got a fairly mild version of purity culture too, but it definitely affected me. The lessons of consent and negotiation and even knowing that not everyone likes the same things and that’s totally OK that came from BDSM are all things I’m incredibly grateful to have.

      • AlisonCummins

        You can tell her that some people like to be kissed on the lips but that you like to be kissed on the cheek. Learning that different people are different is good!

      • Jayn

        I know they’ve been working with her on that, at least wrt my other SIL’s partner. It’s been a while since she’s tried it on me, though, so I think she’s got it at least partly worked out. (I never got into a full-on conversation with her about it, since that’s not something that’s on my mind while saying goodbyes, but I always redirected her). Now I just need to teach her not to hold the door open…

      • Rosa

        Toddlers often give DISGUSTING kisses, open mouth on the lips (and being toddlers, sometimes with their mouths full.) It’s possible to not like that without it being sexual at all.

        But it’s nearly universal and not sexual at all.

      • Christine

        Don’t forget the drool all over their chins.

      • The_L1985

        Maybe it’s the Old World influence, but to me, the only kind of kissing that is “reserved for romance” is the open-mouthed variety.

        A peck on both cheeks is something I’d do WAY more often if it weren’t considered weird and unwanted. I like kissing people, and from my perspective American culture manages to get it wrong BOTH ways: don’t kiss people you don’t really, really love; and don’t refuse a kiss from someone who wants to give you one.

    • Christine

      I have been trying to tell my 18-month-old that hugs should only happen if both people want it to. (I’m combining her not harassing people with good teaching about consent.) I’m really really hoping that it will sink in eventually.

  • Composer 99

    How, exactly, do people in this subculture handle social kissing among adults? It’s a common enough greeting behaviour, especially in cultures based around the Mediterranean.

    (Also, spelling nitpick: ‘alter’ comes up once or twice when I assume the intended word was ‘altar’.)

    • phantomreader42

      I suspect people in this subculture don’t recognize anything outside of Real America™ as a legitimate culture. It goes with their pretending 99.99999999% of the planet doesn’t exist when they find it convenient to do so.

      • smrnda

        It’s amazing how many assumptions of conservative Christianity make the implicit assumption that cultures outside of the US don’t exist. Even their ideas about gender are incredibly US-centric.

      • Alice

        This. Also, I could be wrong, but don’t most cultures who practice social kissing kiss on one or both cheeks instead of the lips? I don’t think most people in the Christian subculture would have a problem with that. But if so, it would be sad to grow up with no kissing allowed except between spouses. I loved giving and receiving kisses on the cheek when I was growing up.

      • AlisonCummins

        There are cultures where men kiss one another smack on the mouth. My (very straight) husband is from Holland and kisses particularly close men friends on the mouth, but I mostly associate it with eastern-ish Europe-ish. See also:

    • Sally

      Oh, and there’s the “Greet each other with a holy kiss” is the Bible. I have been told that the Amish follow this instruction by doing so on the lips- men to men and women to women (so I guess that invalidates my point).
      My ultra-conservative relatives said that alone would keep them from joining the Amish.

    • Saraquill

      I was wondering something like that myself, as my very first kiss was probably between me and a family member.

    • The_L1985

      I’m half-Italian, so it still feels deeply weird to me that half of my extended family greets with a kiss and the other half doesn’t.

  • Nate Frein

    As a child, I never understood the “girls are icky” that boys were supposed to have. I never had a problem playing with girls. My best friend in first grade was a girl. Apparently, one day (I honestly have never remembered this happening, even the very day I got home and the whole neighborhood was abuzz with it — I kid you not) I held hands with her on the bus ride home. This was enough to make her mother pull her out of public school and home-school her next year.

    I kind of wish that hadn’t happened…she was a really cool person. We were both military brats and that alone would have made it hard enough to keep in touch as we both moved on to new deployments (but then, both our parents were in intelligence, meaning that the pool of available deployments was comparatively small, so maybe not so hard). Now and then I make some half-hearted attempts to see if I can find her, but I’m afraid that, even if she remembers me, she’s been brainwashed by her parents.

    • onamission5

      That is so sad. I am sorry you lost your friend, and equally sorry that she was raised by people who freaked the hell out at her holding hands with her friend.

      • Nate Frein

        It’s honestly thanks to blogs like this that I’ve really come to understand what was going on (a lot of it was honestly way over my head at that age).

        What’s funny about the whole thing is that literally everyone took it more seriously than we (the girl and I) did. I literally cannot recall the memory. I can manufacture an image of me holding her hand in the bus, but I know (and have always known) that I simply do not have that memory. The whole experience was simply surreal, and was surreal as a six year old.

        I was funny growing up. I have never categorically said one gender was “icky”. I have always liked individual girls, first as friends, then as I got older, I found that I liked some as lovers. The same happened with boys once I was able to get past ingrained catholic fears.

    • The_L1985

      Throughout my school years, I felt more comfortable talking to and playing with boys than with other girls.

  • perfectnumber628

    Sooo… I’ve ditched purity culture and all that, but I still have never kissed my boyfriend because I’m so scared. Because purity culture says it’s such a big deal and horrible things will happen- and I’ve believed that for so long that I’m still so scared.

    Like what am I even afraid of? What’s going to happen? I don’t know but what if it’s bad?!

    So…. yeah. And actually, my first kiss was a long time ago, and it’s not like I wake up every day regretting that- like purity culture warned. So what am I even afraid of?

    • dj_pomegranate

      It can take a long time to work through these things! Thought and behavior patterns, particularly if they are fear-based, often don’t make a lot of logical sense: just because you *know* you shouldn’t be scared doesn’t mean you aren’t scared! Purity culture capitalizes on our fear of the unknown: just because you don’t see immediate death and destruction doesn’t mean it’s not lurking down the road…better not do anything risky! I don’t think it’s unusual to have remnants of that culture’s mindset still hanging around. Roots of fear can go deep.

      With faith and with sex, I find that I need to have buffer time to get used to new ideas. I can’t just learn something new and be like “Yup, makes sense, let’s go!” I need time to mull it over and work it out internally before I can act on it or make outward changes. And then after acting on my new ideas, I have to take time to mull it over some more! Like, ok, I finally did that thing I was scared of. How do I feel about it now? Has anything changed? Am I still scared? If so, what am I scared of? What am I comfortable doing now? Did I like that? Did I hate it? It’s a continual process, and you can take it as slow as you want!

      • persephone

        I don’t want to freak anyone out who’s getting out of this culture, but I’ve been disfellowshipped by the JWs for over thirty years and, while the specific teachings about Armageddon and their version of Christianity are things I’ve moved past, there are a lot of behaviors that I still find myself surprised to engage in. Didn’t the founder of the Jesuits say that if you gave him a boy to teach young enough that the child would never turn away?

        So, yes, you can change, but a lot of it is recognizing the behaviors then devising ways to break the ingrained thought processes. Everything you learn causes neural pathways to develop. You need to redirect them.

        Has anyone hear tried the therapy that involves eye blinks and visual response? Sorry, it’s early for me.

      • AlisonCummins


      • perfectnumber628

        Yes- definitely. It can take time, and I shouldn’t try to push myself into it too fast. (Isn’t that one of the biggest things feminism says about consent- if I feel uncomfortable with something, then I don’t have to do it, regardless of whether I have a “good reason” I can justify to other people.) But, you know, I want to kiss my boyfriend, so I expect it will happen someday- though we are in a long-distance relationship so no opportunity for that at the moment…

        And what you said about “Purity culture capitalizes on our fear of the unknown: just because you don’t see immediate death and destruction doesn’t mean it’s not lurking down the road…better not do anything risky!”- YES! That’s actually how I ditched purity culture- I realized it was entirely based in fear, and nope, nobody should live like that.

    • RowanVT

      Try desensitizing yourself, maybe? You don’t have to just kiss on the mouth. If I walk past my boyfriend while he’s sitting down, I often kiss the back of his head. There’s absolutely nothing remotely sexual about the location or timing. It’s a way of saying “I love you, by the way.” So maybe try something similar that doesn’t have all the sexual connotations? Bemuse him by kissing his hand, or the back of his head, or a shoulder.

      • wmdkitty

        head-kisses are awesome.

    • Sally

      I mentioned above that my first kiss was when I was 20. After that guy there was a huge gap, and I actually lost my kissing confidence before kissing the next guy (several years later). I got into a thing in my head where I was freaked out about kissing him and it was starting to make me miserable. The thing is, I was absolutely not just not kissing him, I was avoiding those moments where he could initiate the kiss. You know, avoiding lingering in the car at when saying good bye. So at some point I didn’t kiss him, I just stopped avoiding the whole thing. I let myself linger. And it just happened. He wasn’t hung up about it; he just needed me to give him a chance. Whew, it was a relief, lots of fun, and I never looked back.

    • Kat

      I like RowanVT’s idea, if you’re up for it. That gives you a chance to kind of start small and build up.

      Alternatively, if the two of you have a very trusting and
      respectful relationship where you feel safe with him, you could just ask him to initiate it. Discussing it beforehand and
      asking him to do something specifically may make it less scary, and put less burden on you. You could even try combining the two ideas (ask him to first kiss your hand, then when you’re more comfortable, move on to your cheek, or something like that).

      Admittedly, this is something I have not personally dealt with, so that was all just a stab in the dark. Just trying to throw out suggestions and see if something useful comes up.

    • AlisonCummins

      Do you *want* to kiss your boyfriend? Do you even know whether you want to? Are you afraid you won’t like it? Are you afraid you’ll like it too much?
      Part of it might just be owning what you want. Lots of people feel guilty about wanting things they think they aren’t supposed to want. One nice thing about little kids is that they are really clear about what they want. They want yummy food. They want to play. They want to be safe. They don’t want to be hurt. They are very vocal about these things. Somehow as adults we learn not to be. Some measure of self-management is good but we often go too far. One of the blessings of middle age is finally getting ourselves to a place where we feel safe and allow ourselves to move back towards that kid-space where we want what we want and reject what we don’t want, all without guilt. If you can figure out how to cast off some of those shackles earlier, so much the better.
      If you want to kiss your boyfriend, you can tell him that. See what happens.

  • Niemand

    It’s weird how the book makes the “first kiss” seem like something external to the princess. The description in the link even says that her parents give it to her. What a strange way to think of your sexuality, even if it’s just a kiss: a separate thing in a glass orb, not a part of you, not something you do, but something you have.

    • stacey

      Exactly! Totally weird and unhealthy.

      Their forced birth rhetoric makes so much more sense in this context.

    • forgedimagination

      It makes perfect sense, in one way— almost everything in “purity culture” rhetoric is about divorcing your sexuality from any sense of self. This is why virginity is paramount: because your virginity represents your sexuality, and it’s something you “give away.” Not something that’s integrally a part of you and can never be removed.

      Also leads to confusion about things like gender identity and sexual orientation, not that I think about it…

      • jemand2

        not to mention similar confusion with respect to non-consensual experiences.

      • Liz

        Yep. It took a long while for me to be able to see myself as a sexual person, and to even figure out what I like and what I want. Thankfully the first person I had sex with was someone I was completely comfortable with and I was able to have fun exploring new things instead of feeling the horrible shame and guilt I felt when I started masturbating as a teen.

  • Ibis3

    I usually pass it by without comment, but you’ve used the word so many times in the first few paragraphs, I feel I can’t keep silent any longer & I hope you don’t think me rude.

    The thing on which sacrifices are made, the place at the front of the church is an altar.

    Okay, now back to the post.

  • Stev84
    • Kat

      Also why you should not have your first kiss ON REALITY TV! OMG I cannot even imagine. I remember having my face eaten a couple of times in high school (this happens, when people are still figuring these things out). I may have told my best friend at the time, but no one else needed to know. The poor guys (and, for that matter, me — I was probably not great either, in retrospect), certainly did not need millions of people to actually witness that massive level of awkward in action. That’s just not right.

    • Aimee Ruth Blue

      that is so gross.

    • Beutelratti

      So … why are dinners being rehearsed, but kisses not? I do wonder…

      • Nancy Shrew

        I think this is dinner.

    • oywiththepoodles

      Ah yes, that magical moment when newly-wedded man and wife chew each other’s faces in front of their dearest family and friends.

    • TLC

      AAAACK!!! AAACK!!! So gross!

      I have never figured out how this is supposed to work. You spend your whole life growing up shutting down and suppressing anything that remotely resembles a sexual thought or attraction. But then, on your wedding day, you magically flip on a switch and become a sexual being? And if you get divorced or are widowed, you suddenly flip off the switch and keep it off until the next night?

    • j.lup

      That was deeply unsettling. It was like watching pubescent teens aggressively kissing. I think it’s deeply unwise to marry someone whom you haven’t established sexual compatibility with, but if the Purity Brigade is going to insist on this nonsense, the least they can do is tell couples that the wedding kiss should be quick and gentle and the awkward figuring out of what to do with their mouths should be done in private. (Or maybe the couple could practice on the backs of their own hands to show the other what exactly they’re going to be in for so they can get a sense of each other’s style and expectations.)

    • The_L1985

      …that is the messiest, grossest kiss I’ve ever seen. And I love a good snog.

  • Christine

    So what’s a kiss? Once we get to a teaching that results in you being worried that 5-year-olds are going to ruin their lives, I’m amazed that you didn’t have kids refusing goodnight kisses from their parents, because they’re supposed to have their first kiss at their wedding. (Although I’m sure the really holy ones waited until afterwards, because if they’re willing to kiss at the wedding I’m sure it’s a sign that they must have been entertaining impure thoughts.)

    • Libby Anne

      Well, in my family, we never thought twice of kisses on the cheeks. But mouth kisses? Heck no! At some point I found out that some parents kiss their little kids on their mouths (maybe I saw this happen at the library or grocery store?) and that freaked me out, because I definitely saw it as being first kiss type kissing. The problem was, the first kiss was made such a huge deal, save it for the altar kind of big deal, but at its core that was simply mouth touching mouth. So mouth touching mouth kissing was to be avoided like the plague, because how could the kiss at the altar be the first kiss if you had done the whole mouth to mouth thing before?

      As for your parenthetical, it depends. Many couples make such a HUGE STINKIN’ DEAL out of the first kiss that they do it at the altar so everyone can see and be wowed that, ZOMG, that’s their *first kiss*! There are others, though, that merely hug at the altar, showing off their first hug (yes I do mean first hug) rather than first kiss (we’re talking these are the ones who don’t even touch while dating).

      • Christine

        I’m glad to hear that I seem to have mostly managed to keep my sarcasm worse than reality. I guess it would require a more realistic view of human sexuality than the purity culture allows for that sort of thing to spread.

      • John Kruger

        I hope special exceptions were made for CPR! I would think that any situation that required a life saving procedure would easily rule out any sexual implications, but after hearing about someone worry when two 5 year-olds were in “danger” of kissing I am not so sure.

      • Libby Anne

        I’m sure there technically are special exceptions, but I had a CPR class when I was a teenager and the entire concept freaked me out for just that reason!

      • Stev84

        We practiced on some puppet thingy. No problem there.

      • gimpi1

        That’s so freakin sad. To worry about the process of saving someone’s life over the nonsense of “damaging your purity.”

      • Saraquill

        A first hug? Oh dear heaven.

      • Feminerd

        My husband and I lived together before we got married, but the kiss at the altar was still special because it was our first kiss as a married couple! I guess I still don’t understand why first time to do something EVAR is such a big deal, but that’s probably because I was spared pretty much all of purity culture.

        My very first kiss on the mouth? Probably a relative, some of them do mouth to mouth pecks instead of just cheek kisses.

      • wmdkitty

        Oh, crap — what about CPR? Like, what if someone had to give you mouth-to-mouth? Would that count as “giving away” your first kiss?

      • Kate Monster

        Obviously, you would just have to marry that person. If they survived.

      • Leigha7

        But…but what if they’re already married?

        I guess we’ll have to add a new step to the beginning of CPR: 1. Check for responsiveness. 2. Call 911. 3. Check to see if they’re wearing a wedding ring. If they are, find their spouse and make them do the saving, so no one is dishonoring them by placing their lips on those of someone else’s spouse. If there is no ring, proceed, and be prepared to marry this person if they survive. 4 (if no ring). Open the airway.

      • The_L1985

        Wow. My dad and I did nose-kisses and butterfly kisses all the time, along with pecks on the lips. I never, ever attributed any of that to anything sexual at all. I just considered them different ways of showing each other that we cared about each other.

        …Wait, first hug? But….how can you go without hugging people? Touch is a very deep-rooted human need, for a lot of non-sexual reasons, and this makes it sound like they weren’t even hugged by family or friends. :( I can only imagine how messed up their minds are if that’s the case.

      • Kat

        Ok, I realize this is a thoroughly bizarre and random thought, but when you used the phrase “mouth to mouth,” I couldn’t help but think it.

        What happens if someone needs CPR? I mean, yeah, I realize it’s not kissing (and if you kiss like you’re giving CPR, you should probably work on that), but it’s still contact between people’s mouths. Is it all right to save someone’s life under those circumstances? Did anyone ever think to address this contingency?

        I know it sounds like a weird thing to be concerned about, but considering some of the other things people have decided to freak out over, I figured I’d ask. I’m actually insanely curious at this point.

  • persephone

    An earlier version of Sleeping Beauty has her awakening when the prince rapes her. Another has her not awaken until she delivers the rape baby. Kisses are way down on that list.

    • wmdkitty

      Yeah, it got Disneyfied, big time. A lot of the fairy tales that we now think of as innocent children’s stories were originally a lot darker and more, erm, adult.

      • The_L1985

        Indeed. Sam the Sham’s “Hey There Little Red Riding Hood” is a lot closer to early versions of the story than a lot of parents would be comfortable with.

        Creep moment: My dad used to sing that song to me when I was a little girl. I’m not sure if he fully grasps the implications of singing a rapey song like that to his own daughter.

    • Conuly

      Huh, the version I like best has her not wake until the twins start trying to suckle, at which point the prince comes back and we segue into The Mother-in-Law, which is all about how the prince’s mom is an ogress who eats children and the prince is gone all the time, leaving child eater mom with his wife.

      • John Kruger

        I think there is even a version where the “prince” (nobleman actually) was already married, and in a rage the spurned wife tried to kill and feed the illegitimate children to him, but the cook didn’t have the heart for it and used goat for the meat and spared the children. THEN the nobleman went off with sleeping beauty to live happily ever after with his rape victim.

        The originals of a lot of fairy tales are really twisted.

      • Conuly

        Ah, well, in the Ogress version it is the Ogress who tries to eat the kids, one at a time, but is fobbed off with deer or goat meat. After the disappearance of the second she decides to have the princess executed for the murder of her kids by being pushed into a vat of snakes and scorpions. The kindly cook hiding the kids comes out at that moment, the prince returns, sees the whole tableu, asks his mom what the hell is going on and, finding herself at a loss for words, she jumps in. Happily ever after time?

      • persephone

        I do remember the ogre MIL now. My grandmother had a set of fairy tale books with older German versions. They cut the rape, but the child eating was in there.

        The books also had the.Aschenputtel version, which has dead moms manifested sting gowns, birds pecking out eyeballs, toes and heels been cut off and bleeding through shoes.

        And I think it had the Snow White (different name I can’t remember) version where the evil queen was forced to dance at the wedding in red hot iron shoes.

        Good times.

  • Hat Stealer

    I wonder how these people would feel in certain Latin American countries, where full blown kisses on the mouth are just how people greet each other.

  • Monala

    Wow, I’m so glad that the princess story my daughter and I read instead was, The King’s Equal. It tells the story of a selfish, arrogant prince who isn’t yet allowed to ascend to his throne as king because he’s not yet married. However, he refuses to marry a woman who is not his equal in beauty, intelligence and wealth, and of course, as arrogant as he is, no woman fits the bill.

    Until a beautiful young peasant girl named Rosamund comes before him. He can clearly see she is his match in beauty, but the rest of the qualities? But Rosamund tells him she is richer than he is, for there are many things he still wants, and there is nothing she does not have that she wants. She tells him she is more intelligent than he is, because she knows something about him no one else does: that he is lonely (she deduces from his behavior that he has no true friends). Yet he knows nothing about her.

    He announces that he has at last found his equal and his bride! Not so fast, Rosamund responds; if she is richer and smarter than the prince, then it is clear that she is his superior. So she will instead ascend to the throne as regent, while he must spend a year out in the world learning to become her equal. Rosamund spends that year as a wise and benevolent ruler of the land.

    So the young prince spends a year away from the palace, where he learns about hard work, service to others, and how to be a friend. He returns to the palace a much more humble man, and tells Rosamund that he knows now for certain that he is not her equal and never will be. Seeing his humility, she knows that the opposite is true – they now truly are equals. They marry, and rule together wisely and justly, bringing much peace and prosperity to their land.

    • Saraquill

      Sweet story.

    • The_L1985

      I like this for so many reasons. What a wonderful story with such a great moral–definitely a good antidote to the subtly “off” messages in other fairy tales.

      The Paper Bag Princess is also a good one, but for different reasons.

  • Mira

    I hated all the hype about “first kiss”…it put so much pressure on that first damn physical thing that it had no way of not being a complete let down.
    Which mine was.
    It also completely screwed up my thinking about sex, sexuality, and how things “ought to be.” They make it sound like sex, within the confines of marriage, is wonderful, amazing, “movie sex” where they orgasm at the same time, and so on.
    I’ve asked my religious friends, and they’ve admitted that waiting until marriage didn’t make the sex better. In contrast, a lot of people have serious issues following marriage with sex because they’re so restricted in their thinking that they’re literally SCARED of sex.
    I still deal with my indoctrination, even though I’m now a liberal atheist. It’s a terrible poison to dose out to children, teens, and adults. Everyone really.

    • smrnda

      I recall a few religious people I knew who mentioned the same thing – that they got married, and it was a long time before sex was any fun. At the same time, they had such a strong feeling that it would be super-icky to have sex with a non-virgin that they didn’t think it could have been any other way. All said, wasn’t encouraging.

    • Christine

      The idea of a “first kiss” really seems so messed up to me. My husband and I once tried to figure out what we counted as our “first kiss”, and even then, with that distinction added, we weren’t quite sure what counted.

  • Saraquill

    In high school and college, when asked by friends about when my first kiss was, the answer was always “We were four. Our moms made us.” This wasn’t because we were engaged to each other. I think it had to do with us cementing our friendship, but mostly I believed they thought it was cute.

    As a pre-schooler, kissing was a mark of familiarity, not romance. Kissing him was just fine when it was under our own initiative, but forced was not fun.

    More than once, I was told “That doesn’t count!” due to our ages.

  • wmdkitty

    That’s… a little disturbing.

    I don’t see why we can’t teach kids about consent and boundaries from Day One. It’s not about “giving away” anything, but about respecting yourself and respecting others.

    I don’t run into this issue with my nieces, they’re pretty good about boundaries and stuff, and I’m one of those “hug anything that moves” types. I’ve had the occasional problem with J Random Sproglet deciding to “play” with my wheelchair controls, and I’m pretty on-top of it with the “No, that is not a toy,” but I wish parents would step up a bit more and teach their kids to not randomly grab at/play with mobility aids. It’s just like randomly grabbing someone’s legs, which I’ve also witnessed. (Kids are weird.)

    • Sophie

      I’ve only had problems with adults grabbing my wheelchair and “helping” me! I’ve found that kids are usually interested in my wheelchair but also wary of it.

      • gimpi1

        My mother used to have trouble with kids grabbing at the breaks of her (old, manual) wheelchair. I agree, wmdkitty, some kids are weird.

      • Sophie

        I use a manual, but I’ve only ever experienced children asking me questions. I have stickers on my wheelchair and I decorate the wheels usually with things on the spokes, and those tend to catch the eye of kids.

        I wasn’t trying to suggest that wmdkitty hadn’t had negative experiences. I was expressing surprise because all my bad experiences have been with adults who usually get very indignant when I refuse their “help”. I can see that an electric wheelchair would be fascinating to children, I was just surprised they would touch it.

      • gimpi1

        I didn’t think you were expressing doubt about wmdkitty’s experiences, Sophie. I was just adding a personal experience to the conversation. Kids, like adults, respond differently to situations. My mom had her share of “helpers” that got under her skin as well.

    • Christine

      Eh, I’ve had a lot of people who give me the “oh, that’s ok” when I try to tell my little one that walkers aren’t toys. So a lot of parents may have decided that it’s not important.

      • wmdkitty

        I just think it’s rude (and potentially dangerous) to mess with someone’s mobility aid(s).

      • Christine

        Well that was my theory, hence me trying to stop her ni the first place.

  • Nicola

    OK, this probably sounds like a weird question, but what about kissing amongst (opposite-sex) family members? When I was a kid I kissed pretty much all my relatives on the mouth: parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins. I don’t actually know if that’s commonplace in the US in the first place, but if it is, do fundies do that? Or is even a father-daughter kiss considered violating purity?

  • Conuly

    I’m trying to stop just correcting spelling, but you make this error frequently and it starts to grate. To alter is to change. The place where Christians get married is the altar, with an ar at the end.

    • The_L1985

      Indeed. You alter altar cloths, but you don’t alter the altar. (Or am I making the issue worse?)

  • Lara

    Just two weeks ago my friends and I were debating when a first kiss counts as a first kiss. All of us kissed our kindergarten crushes. That seems to be a rather universal experience. But then my sister and I didn’t kiss anyone else until we were 15. So we count that kiss at age 15 as our “first kiss”. That’s the story we tell and the boy we talk about when first kiss stories come up. But my brother says his first kiss was at age 9. There was disagreement among us about whether that was too young to count as a first kiss or not. Is the line when you’ve passed puberty or when you have some sort of sexual desire? For us it was a fun and interesting discussion, because we didn’t have any morality attached to any of it. We decided that 9 was old enough to count as a first kiss in this case. =)

  • Josh

    Best little kid first kiss ever:

  • Val

    My first kiss was at the altar. It was a great experience, but when I think of all the time we spent NOT KISSING when we could’ve – and when I realize that we still would have been virgins on our wedding day even if we *had* kissed before our wedding day – part of me regrets it. It doesn’t make anyone more virtuous, and had I kissed him as his “not wife” it isn’t like I would have been giving anything away. It isn’t like I have a limited supply of kisses, and it isn’t like a kiss makes you defiled in some way.