A 50th Anniversary Lecture - The Kinsey Institute
by Leonore Tiefer, October 24, 1998
(in conjunction with The Kiss Exhibit, School of Fine Arts Gallery)
Copyright © 1998 Leonore Tiefer. All rights
(Edited and adapted for the Web. Reproduced with consent of the author.)
This Web document does not include the slides that were
part of the original lecture. Some versions of images referred to in the
slides are available via other educational and commercial Web sites, and
these external links have been included.
- I. Introduction
- II. The Psychobiosocial Approach
- III. The Kiss as Symbol
- IV. The Kiss as Product
- V. The Kiss Online
- VI. Conclusion
- VII. Some References and Resources
I want to thank the Friends of The
Kinsey Institute for this opportunity to address you on a subject
of pressing global importance - the kiss. I'm serious! After all, we have
arrived at a point in history where a knowledge of oral sex is an important
requirement if you want to follow the news and participate in the politics
of the day; so we deal here today with an unexpectedly topical subject.
I want to thank Sandy Ham, Kinsey Institute administrator, for sending
me a copy of the exhibit catalog
in advance, and also thank the fabulous librarians of the fabulous Kinsey
library for helping me in my online search. I especially want to congratulate
the curators of Kiss Exhibit, the School of
Fine Arts (Indiana University), and Dr. Bancroft, director of The Kinsey
Institute, for putting together such an excellent and diverse show.
We are celebrating today a great anniversary in the long and colorful
history of sexuality, and the equally long history of scholarship about
sexuality, and I want to pay my own tribute to the spirit of Alfred Kinsey.
[Slide 1, Alfred C. Kinsey] Following the
highest academic traditions, Dr. Kinsey showed enormous courage and integrity
as we have heard earlier today. Without his example, sex research and
people's actual sexual lives would be immeasurably poorer. My major professor,
Frank Beach, was a great fan and friend of Dr. Kinsey, and I celebrate
their memories today.
Every talk must begin with a few disclaimers, so here are mine.
Personal Kissing Experience at Age 5
[Slide 2, speaker at age 5, 1949, kissing Roger
As you can see from this archival footage of me at the age of 5 with
my friend Roger Nortman - and you will be happy to hear that this is the
only kissing photo of myself I will force upon you today - I like kisses.
I have always liked kisses!
I need to say that because I am going to take you to some unexpected
destinations in our kissing travels today, and you might begin to suspect
that I am not at heart an appreciative participant! Put that thought to
rest! The odd thing about being a sexologist, I have learned, is that
you can be detached, analytical, and immensely complex in your thinking
about the subject of sexuality, but when the lights are low and the books
are put away, you are, after all, just another appreciative participant.
So, let us begin our discussion.
[Slide 3, The Psychobiosocial Kiss]Those
of us who study sexuality, and Dr. Kinsey was no exception to this, typically
find ourselves using what we call the psychobiosocial approach to our
This allows us to think of any sexual activity, such as erotic kissing,
as a tapestry made of strands of three different kinds of yarn. There
are psychological factors such as memories and hopes and fears; there
are biological factors such as hormones and genetic influences; and there
are social factors such as religious values and the opinion of your neighbors
and the messages you get from the movies.
[Slide 4, Psychobiosocial Model of Sexuality]
Sex researchers who use the psychobiosocial model to examine kissing are
usually trying to answer some deep questions such as:
What is the origin of kissing?
How does kissing differ around the world?
How do events of childhood affect adult kissing?
Do animals kiss?
Let me begin by providing the psychobiosocial theory of kissing. What
links the deliciousness of erotic kissing and the social importance of
kisses of greeting, farewell and congratulation? Why do so many ceremonies
involve kissing objects of reverence such as the Pope's ring or the King's
Here is the basic theory, and it seems to combine elements of evolution,
psychoanalysis, and the growth of social customs.
Kissing means attachment and feels good, and can be elaborated
into social situations far removed from its origins. Our experience
of security and sensuality begins in infancy as we are held while we nurse.
The sucking experience, the use of tongue and lips, the aroma of body
and skin, the touch on the face - the theory suggest that every kiss from
infancy on reverberates with deeply felt echoes of attachment, pleasure,
feeling good, and gives kissing its emotional power. The lips and tongue
have large representation in the brain - every infant must suckle to survive.
As we suckle, we feel, and we don't forget.
Human's vertical posture and the emotional power of eye contact for all
primates brings other elements into the kiss. Even in cultures where mouth-to-mouth
tongue kissing is disapproved of, reverberations of attachment and security
produce the eros of cheeks rubbing together, or the power of inhaling
the aroma of a beloved's face. There may be biting, nibbling, nipping
or blowing on the lips and face as part of the sexual script of lovers.
What Margaret Mead called the "oceanic kiss" involves the lips only as
a minor feature, but if we want to generalize the attachment and pleasure
theory, the kissing reverberates even when it's only one mouth doing the
work. After all, in infancy, it's only one mouth.
Because kissing can arouse powerful regressive longings for intimacy,
the power of kissing can be dangerous, which becomes an important theme
in Western legend and literature. Where people cannot choose their own
mates, or where the free expression of sexuality is considered a religious
sin, kisses come to symbolize social chaos. Thus, in Western lore and
Hollywood movies, we have endless stories of dangerous love kisses - the
ones that mortally bond the wrong pair (Romeo and Juliet, Tristan
But there are also dangerous kisses of betrayal - where kissing is the
ultimate symbol of violating trust and intimacy (Judas' kiss of betrayal,
the kiss of the vampire); dangerous kisses which transgress social boundaries;
kisses which we might also argue are sublimated erotic kisses (witches
kissing the devil to signal allegiance, Christian martyrs kissing lepers).
Let's emphasize the component of attachment. Kisses bond, perhaps as
they recruit infant feelings of being soothed and comforted. It's the
safety component of kissing, how kissing can reduce tension, which is
expressed in the reverent self-abasing kisses meant to soothe or appease
those with power (kissing of the Bible, the Torah, the
dice for luck, etc.).
Research with bonobos, a member of the chimpanzee family, shows most
clearly the constant use of kisses to reduce tension, to reassure in any
situation of fear or competition. Every bonobo, female, male, infant,
high or low status, seeks and responds to kisses. Likewise, kisses are
ever present in social situations where people must check each other out:
Friend? Superior? Equal? Trustworthy? We touch lips or cheeks to signify
"I'm safe to you, you're safe to me," to reduce social tension. Much social
and ceremonial kissing, of course, has become completely ritualized, and
the emotional component is only a very dim reverberation.
So, the bottom line is the power of attachment, the basic pleasure of
touch and satisfaction, compounded by lots of individual conditioning
through practice and fantasy and lots of social value, and used in many
Now, I feel I've done my duty with this general overview of the theory
of kissing, and I can get into some specific stories.
Psychobiosocial Model at Work
Let's stay with the psychobiological approach for a moment and let's
take a clinical example to illustrate the psychobiosocial model at work.
It is a clinical example from my own practice of sex therapy.
A couple of years ago, a married couple came to see me with a common
complaint: premature ejaculation. But, more significantly, their sexual
life was very unsatisfying and although they had been married for four
years, they were having sex very infrequ ently. Sex felt very uncomfortable
and they couldn't get turned on together and conduct a sexual encounter
without tears and frustration. But, they had no idea why. They were in
their middle 30's, lower middle-class, both healthy and employed, he was
Italian-American and she was Burmese-American. (1)
They had become attracted to each other and decided to marry and had assumed
sex would just happen "naturally."
After several therapy appointments and lots of discussion about the specifics
of their sex life, the premature ejaculation was attributed to infrequent
sex, and the couple's discomfort and difficulty in getting turned on together
took center place. He accused her of not loving him because of her lack
of ardor during foreplay, though she insisted she loved him very much.
The therapist proposed, to their surprise, that the heart of the problem
was cultural discrepancies in kissing. Social, psychological and physical
arousal factors were all interacting.
The wife, being Asian, shared her region's aversion to mouth-to-mouth
kissing. A surprising number of Asian (and African and South American)
groups have learned to view mouth-to-mouth kissing as dirty, dangerous,
and disgusting, something akin to stick ing one's tongue in another's
nose and wiggling it around. It turned her off to imagine, anticipate
or experience it, and she felt confused and unhappy when she saw how much
her husband enjoyed it. Though she deeply loved her husband, ardor during
foreplay was impossible for her under the circumstances. The husband,
by comparison, had learned and practiced and fantasized within European
social rules where deep kissing is highly intimate and erotic. He wanted
to kiss, he needed to kiss, and he felt rejected and discouraged by his
wife's consistent negative reactions.
Their gender socialization compounded the difficulty. The couple had
both learned that men are supposed to take the lead in sex and that women
are supposed to be modest and fairly unassertive. Asian women are especially
unlikely to express their physic al likes and dislikes about sex. Neither
member of the couple realized how much physical arousal and mutual satisfaction
were the result of psychological processes, learning and expectancy and
fantasy, all influenced by social customs.
Moreover, even after we all "realized" what the difficulty was, it took
them a long time to overcome deeply ingrained beliefs and habits and create
a mutually agreeable sexual life together. Those of you who have lived
in a culture very different from the one you grew up in will know what
I mean. He couldn't suddenly stop wanting to kiss any more easily than
she could suddenly start wanting to. Although they wanted to be close,
their sexual scripts were intimately connected to feelings of comfort
and familiarity. It took a lot of motivation and practicing over many
months for them to create a new psycho-bio-social script and feel spontaneous
in its enactment.
This case illustrates how difficult it is to separate the strands of
the psychobiosocial tapestry and examine them separately. As you enjoy
the drawing and photographs in the [Kinsey Institute] exhibit, ask yourself
- How is the kiss I am looking at the result of a confluence of psychological,
biological and social factors?
Let's press on to another way of looking at the kiss - the kiss as symbol.
[Slide 5, The Kiss as Symbol]
The kiss has leant itself to generous symbolic use as we already discussed.
There are many nonsexual uses of kissing such as social greeting and farewell,
kisses of peace authorized by the New Testament, kisses of respect
for the Torah as it's carried into a synagogue, kissing the
statue or icon of a religious or secular leader to show loyalty, kissing
dice for luck in a casino, kisses that symbolize sexual awakening as in
fairy tales like Sleeping Beauty or kisses that symbolize protection,
as in legends like The Ring of the Nibelung. There is the Sammy
Sosa kiss. And then there are the scary kisses of power: the Judas kiss
of betrayal, the Mafia kiss that means death, the devil's kiss that signifies
eternal damnation. From loyalty and luck to disloyalty and damnation.
This kiss is powerful medicine - oh, yes, don't forget the symbolism of
kissing the hurt away as powerful medicine - the kiss as alternative health
Let me tell a story of the kiss as symbol, and try to place it in the
context of our present sexual politics. And I don't mean the President
and impeachment and those sexual politics, but in the larger context of
sexual politics - what has come to be called "The Sex Wars."
As you all know, as those at The Kinsey Institute know better than most,
the United States has been throughout much of its history a war zone over
sexuality. For the past thirty-odd years, battles have been fought on
a variety of political fronts and on a variety of subjects: abortion laws,
abortion funding, public sex education, public funding of art, funding
of sex research, conferences on sexuality at public universities, zoning
of erotic bookstores and places of entertainment, limitation of sexually
explicit materials on newsstands and bookstores, restriction of sex on
the Internet, limiting sexually explicit rock lyrics, etc.
Auguste Rodin's The Kiss
[Slide 6, The
Kiss, by Auguste Rodin.]
Rodin's famous 1889 sculpture, The Kiss, is no stranger to censorship.
Although many have regarded it as the kiss of kisses, a masterpiece, a
sculpture in the finest classical tradition, others have seen its voluptuousness,
its frank eroticism, and its depiction of transgressive sexual activity
as another example of how immoral artists rationalized their images of
nudity and lust with classical stories. It's been banned; it's been covered
with cloth. It's a powerful symbolic kiss.
Rodin's sculpture immortalizes an erotic moment from Dante's Divine
Comedy: The Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise, completed in 1321. As
Dante travels through the Inferno, the realms of the dead, in search of
his spiritual inspiration, Beatrice, he encounters Paolo and Francesca
entertwined in an embrace.
Francesca, the 11th or 12th century daughter of the ruler of Ravenna,
had been married off to a political ally of her father's, but fell in
love with her husband's brother, Paolo, who also was married. In some
versions of the story (2), Francesca's intended was
lame and deformed, and she was tricked into the engagement by first meeting
the handsome brother Paolo under false pretenses. In The Divine Comedy,
Dante learns that Paolo and Francesca, though passionately attracted,
had resisted their desires until one day, reading about the forbidden
adulterous love of Lord Lancelot and Queen Guinevere, they restrained
themselves no longer. One kiss, and as the Westerns say, they were goners.
For transgressing the bonds of marriage, they were murdered by Francesca's
outraged husband and damned to eternity, doomed to continually try to
repeat the adulterous kiss which was their downfall. In Rodin's sculpture,
you can see a book, presumably the story of Lancelot and Guinevere, clutched
in Paolo's left hand. So, Rodin's sculpture is a work of art depicting
a transgressive kiss, a kiss which itself was inspired by yet another
work of art depicting other transgressive kisses. The Divine Comedy
explictly blames Francesca's corruption on her erotic reading matter.
Erotic art and erotic literature - passion and transgression.
Just to show that this isn't ancient history, I should tell you that
I made this Rodin slide from the Winter 1997 newsletter of the National
Coalition Against Censorship (www.ncac.org), which featured a story about
how Rodin's sculpture was being barred by Brigham Young University from
a traveling exhibit of Rodin's work because it was regarded as "offensive
to community morals and religious views" - that's 1997 - 99 years after
the sculpture was completed. The nudity was the specific focus of the
offense - presumably in 1997, they would not dared to have specifically
picked on the subject of kissing.
Now, obviously, this discussion of Rodin's The Kiss brings us
to our Kinsey Institute exhibit on the kiss, bravely opening in the current
climate of the sex wars. Here's another kiss to help us with that connection.
Achille Devéria's The Harem
[Slide 7, The Harem, by Achille Devéria,
This mid-19th century painting is triply transgressive in light of the
current sex wars. The kissers are both of the same sex, the kiss is applied
to the lower lips, not the upper ones, and a watcher is taking pleasure,
not just the participants. In fact, in The Kinsey Institute exhibit, there
is another painting by the same French artist, Achille Devéria, also
depicting two nude women in a harem kissing and caressing, although in
this painting, the kiss is being placed on the upper lips.
The Kinsey Institute exhibit is particularly brave in showing genital
kissing, and not just mouth-to-mouth kissing, because such sexual art
is seen as transgressive. Let me quote to you from a recent article by
Congressman Henry Hyde about sexual art. Oh yes, Henry Hyde, Representative
from Illinois, who is being so lionized as such a fair-minded paragon
in the current impeachment sex wars - yet is actually well known to some
of us as a major player in the larger cultural sex wars. He wrote in 1990:
By "culture war" I mean the struggle between those who believe
that the norms of "bourgeois morality". . . should form the ethical basis
of our common life, and those who are determined that those norms will
be replaced with a radical and thoroughgoing relativism . . . . Public
funds, in a democracy, are to be spent for public purposes, not for the
satisfaction of individuals' aesthetic impulses. And if the impulse in
question produces a work which is palpably offensive to the sensibilities
of a significant proportion of the public, then that work ought not to
be supported by public funds .... [This is not] censorship. (3)
New Yorker Cover
[Slide 8, kiss on New Yorker cover (June
17, 1996), by Art Spiegelman]
Here is another transgressive kiss. They don't have to be nude! This
is an imitation of the famous WWII victory kiss photo, but it forces us
to suddenly realize that the original photo was heterosexual. We don't
think about heterosexuality until we think about homosexuality. That's
what the power of naturalization is all about - but that's another lecture.
This New Yorker cover, celebrating Gay Pride Sunday, makes us
think about how many sailors are gay. It makes us think about how few
gay kisses are celebrated. This drawing made lots of people angry. It
was like a flag burning - a transgression of an important symbol.
But let me offer another interpretation of the symbolic politics of kissing
- the depiction of animals and children kissing. I did research in several
greeting card stores for this lecture to see how kisses were depicted.
Children and Animals
[Slide 9, greeting card with children kissing.]
There are lots of children, and lots of animals. Now, what does this signify.
What are they doing? What does it mean? Some would say "innocence," engaging
in an activity for the sheer pleasure of affection, with no awareness
of transgression or symbolism or future heartbreak or loss.
[Slide 10, notecard entitled Arc (1990),
by William Wegman (www.wegmanworld.com) with two
dogs "kissing".] Now, what does this signify? What are they
doing? What does it mean? Animals sniff and lick to reduce tension, as
we have seen in the bonobo chimpanzees. But this is not a realistic picture
of animals sniffing and licking. It's an anthropomorphized picture - all
these dogs need are shirts and shoes to make the connection explicit.
Oh, yes, and there are lots of angels in greeting cards.
[Slide 11, The First Kiss, greeting card
with angels kissing.] Again, pictures of sweetness, of harmlessness.
These cherubs are not reducing tension, powerfully attracted, or in any
danger from their kiss, and neither are we. It's just, well, warm and
fuzzy. Again, innocence - kissing without sexual power.
[Slide 12, Plighted Love, a period photo
on a greeting card of couple kissing in ca. 1890 clothes]
I would like to suggest that these nostaligia kisses trivialize the power
of kissing. If kisses that give offense, like Rodin's, lead to censorship,
then commerce will avoid offense by taming the kiss and any depiction
of sex in public. As we become more comfortable with airbrushed and whitewashed
images, we pave the way for more censorship. There will be fewer and fewer
opportunities for art exhibits such as The Kinsey Institute exhibit, The
Kiss, we will soon see.
Contrast what you see on greeting cards with what you see on art postcards:
[Slides 13, 14, and 15:
- postcard from ad for Smith's Bile Beans, 1890s, with three photos:
a little boy kissing the cheek of a little girl at age 7, a teenage
boy kissing a teenage girl at age 17, then two elderly faces cuddling
at age 70. Printed label is, "At seven! a sly kiss is so sweet, to steal
one now and then's a treat"; "At seventeen they're nicer still, and
there's a way when there's a will"; "At seventy! It's just the same,
they still keep up the old, old game."
- art postcard of Birthday
(1923) by Marc Chagall, Museum of Modern Art, NYC
- 2nd Story Kiss, a greeting card photo of a man climbing up
a ladder holding flowers and kissing a woman sticking her head out of
In the world of greeting cards, you get the feeling that the kiss is
a product - which brings me to
IV. The Kiss as Product
[Slide 16, The Kiss as Product]
[Speaker places Hershey chocolate candy kisses on
Who owns the kiss? Well, the Hershey Foods Corporation owns part of the
kiss, although I am not sure they have a trademark on the word "kisses."
I called, but is seems the legal department only replies by mail, and
the letter had not yet reached me this week. Hershey's Web site (hersheys.com)
informed me that they do have a trademark on the plume extending out of
the wrapper, and on the configuration with the familiar foil wrap.
Hershey's kisses is a triumph of packaging. The product was introduced
in 1907 and the little squirts of chocolate were hand wrapped until 1921
when automated wrapping machines entered the picture. By the way, the
Hershey's Web site reports they don't know how the product got the name
"kisses" but they think that "the candy was named for the sound or motion
of the chocolate being deposited during the manufacturing process." I
find that charming - the kiss as squirt. That's graphic! Now they are
mass-produced at a rate of 33 million per day, and the idea of wrapping
them in colors to match the seasons is the big development - seasonally
Robert Doisneau's The Kiss at City Hall
[Slide 17, The Kiss at City Hall, a photograph
by Robert Doisneau.]
I want to tell a story about the kiss as product. It concerns one of
the most famous kiss photographs, The Kiss at City Hall. I am
indebted to a recent British book by Adrienne Blue called On Kissing:
From the Metaphysical to the Erotic (London: Victor Gollancz, 1996),
for the details of this story.
Life Magazine photographer Doisneau took this photo in Paris
on April Fool's Day in 1950 and called it Le Baiser a L'Hôtel
de Ville (The Kiss at the Hotel de Ville). Seemingly oblivious to
the bustle of Paris, to onlookers, to whatever else is going on, the lovers
sense only each other. A thick scarf loosely caresses his neck, which
is taut with intensity as he leans down to her upturned face. Every muscle
of her body seems to strain towards him.
Few know this picture by name, but millions have seen a reproduction
of it somewhere. In the photo lab where I had this slide made, the young
woman behind the counter said, "Oh, I love this picture. It's one of my
In 1988, Jean-Louis and Denise Lavergne saw this photo, and thought they
recognized themselves. They had been in that very street on that very
day and had a diary to prove it. Madame Lavergne still had the skirt and
jacket she wore that day and Monsieur Lavergne recognized the blue scarf
his sister had given him for Christmas. They contacted Doisneau and he,
they said, was charming to them, and said, "You are now in my family."
They were delighted to be part of the history of romance. Paris, youth,
freedom, passion. The symbol: the kiss. They were filmed for a television
documentary about Doisneau, but when footage of them wound up on the cutting-room
floor, they were, they said, appalled that they would not get to celebrate
their romance with the public. So - and don't say American is the only
land of litigation - they went to court to prove that they were the legendary
couple. Under a 1985 French privacy law, they claimed their image had
been stolen from them by the photographer, and they demanded financial
Whereupon, an actress named Francoise Bornet stepped forward to say that
she and her boyfriend were the couple in the photo, and that, moreover,
although she had been paid a small sum to pose for the picture, she now
wanted more, plus a percentage of f uture proceeds. The agency that handled
Doisneau's photos produced what they said were the contact sheets of the
original shoot, which showed that a few versions of the photo had been
taken - in a cafÈ, on the street. Like the famous American WWII photo
of the raising of the flag on Iwo Jima, this document of love had been
It was the judgment of the court of Paris that the Lavergnes were not
the couple in the photograph. The kiss had not been stolen from them.
It had been bought from the paid models.
The kiss is such a popular metaphor for love and so easy to exploit.
[Slide 18, The Kiss Online]Finally, what
can we learn from the "kiss" online?
If you put in this Web address (kissing.com), you get an advertisement
for a lecture on "the art of kissing" by a professor who has written a
book about all the different kinds of kissing: the "lip-o-suction" kiss,
the rock kiss, the Trobriand kiss. William Cane (pen name of Michael Christian),
professor of English at Boston College, claims that kissing is especially
important in the age of AIDS. He's written The Art of Kissing
(St. Martin's Press, 1991; rev. and updated ed. 1995), and then not surprisingly,
The Art of Hugging (St. Martin's Press, 1996). Even Hershey went
from kisses to hugs as a growth opportunity.
You can find artistic images of kissing all over the World Wide Web.
Gustav Klimt's The Kiss
[Slide 19, The
Kiss, by Gustav Klimt.]
There's the WebMuseum, Paris (sunsite.unc.edu/wm), a one-person unfunded
effort by a Parisian computer consultant named Nicolas Pioch, who started
in 1994 to put his favorite paintings on his Web site. Now there are discussions
of painters and schools of art, etc. Klimt, Pioch tells me, lived from
1862 to 1918, and painted his The Kiss in 1907. He "embodies
the high-keyed erotic, psychological and aesthetic preoccupations of turn-of-the
century Vienna's dazzling intellectual world."
Having visited Verona this summer, I looked for information about a picture
you see everywhere.
Francesco Hayez's Il Bacio
[Slide 20, Il
Bacio, by Francesco Hayez.]
Unfortunately, everything I found was [written] in Italian. I think Hayez
painted this in 1821. (He was born in Venice in 1791)...
The Web is a jumble, as you know, full of commercial opportunities, e.g.,
I found a Web site where you can order an Il Bacio tattoo that
you can press and apply perhaps to your beloved. Perhaps this is how it
[Slide 21, Kiss My Behind, a photo of
a man's face kissing a woman's buttock, his hand around her thigh, from
a sex magazine] This allows me to show one picture I wanted to
- in the "kiss my behind" frame of reference - again, a violation of the
sacred, designed to shock. In fact, when you kissed the devil to make
a pact with him, the books say, it was his behind you had to kiss. Of
course, the erotic potential of the transgressive kiss is available.
Well, but back to the Web. It's full of things to buy, but also of personal
statements, and valuable information, if you only can find it.
I found one Web site by Eric Riback, who describes himself as a former
progressive rock disc jockey, who made a
list of songs with the word "kiss"in them (N=38), and starts the page
by saying, "In response to all the concern over pornography, poor taste
and loss of innocence on the web, we are pleased to present a resource
for those true romantics among us."
The wedding kiss is an interesting symbolic use of kissing. It seems
to have been part of pagan rites and signified that legal bonds were being
assumed. In the New Testament letters to the Romans and the Corinthians,
Saint Paul instructed th e new Christians to "salute each other with a
holy kiss." Over the centuries, this holy kiss was interpreted and reinterpreted
- in baptism, marriage, confession and ordination. Is it God's kiss of
life or Christ's kiss of eternal blessing? I always thought that the wedding
kiss, as in "I now pronounce you husband and wife, you may kiss the bride,"
represented the clergyman's quasi-parental permission to the couple to
Well, if you call up this Web address (weddingkiss.com), what do you
get? An opportunity to purchase a refrigerator magnet with a picture of
Charles and Diana on the balcony at Buckingham Palace. Well, that certainly
combines romance and betrayal, commerce and symbolism all together, for
But, a real wedding kiss is a fitting conclusion to this talk. It's both
clean and dirty, both forward looking and backward looking, both universal
and particular. I offer a real one for your delectation:
[Slide 22, photo of John Bancroft, M.D., director
of The Kinsey Institute, and his wife, Cindy Graham, kissing at their
Just as I began this talk with a kiss from my life, I end it with a kiss
from the life of [the director of] The Kinsey Institute. Our lives are
bracketed by kisses, whose meaning and power transcend our ability to
explain them. I love theory, but the real kisses are the best.
Copyright © 1998 Leonore Tiefer.
All rights reserved.
- Burma is now known as Myanmar. It is a large Southeast Asian country
located between India and China.
- Francesca da Rimini," 1914 opera by Riccardo Zandonai,
Libretto by Tito Ricordi.
- Henry Hyde, "The culture war," National Review,
April 30, 1990.
SOME REFERENCES AND RESOURCES
Blue, Adrianne. (1996). On Kissing: From the Metaphysical to the Erotic.
London: Victor Gollancz.
Bolton, Richard. (Ed.). (1992). Culture Wars: Documents from the Recent
Controversies in the Arts. New York: New Press.
[Includes reprint of Henry Hyde's "The culture war."]
Demac, Donna A. (1990). Liberty Denies: The Current Rise of Censorship in
America. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press.
Nyrop, Christopher. (1901). The Kiss and Its History. London: Sands and Co.
Tiefer, Leonore. (1995). Sex Is Not a Natural Act and Other Essays. Boulder,
CO: Westview. [Includes essay "The Kiss."]
National Coalition Against Censorship
The WebMuseum (www.sunsite.unc.edu/wm/).
[ Kinsey 50th Anniversaries ]