Shitstorm ahoy! A leading British Sex Educator suggested that kids shouldn't be forced to kiss adult relatives, and that maybe a high five, or a firm handshake would suffice instead. Great Britain's Great Aunts are fucking livid.
According to the Telegraph, Sex Education Forum coordinator Lucy Emmerson's remarks against enforced grandma face-kissing were intended to promote the idea that parents should let their children have complete control over their bodies "from age zero." According to Emmerson, teaching children that they must follow adults' orders to show affection to adults could set them up to be victimized later in life.
For some reason, Emmerson's assertion that "If we can't manage to create a culture of consent for everyday physical contact, it will be surely be a tall order for sexual situations" caused an outbreak of apoplexy among family groups, who were quick to point out that there's a pretty large difference between "Give Grandma a kiss!" and more sinister, predatory requests from adults.
I doubt anyone is getting scarred for life because they had to hug their grandma's cousin at a family reunion that one time and she smelled like old lady deodorant, but on one hand, Emmerson's assertion sort of makes sense, at least from the perspective of a child. I remember being cajoled into kissing my great grandma's whiskered face when I was small, even though I knew even as a toddler that she was a mean person who made my grandma sad and who stabbed nurses in the hands with forks because she didn't like her Jello that day. I didn't like her. I didn't want to put my face near her face. I would have loved the option of a firm handshake and a proper business goodbye, although I would have expected a reduction in birthday card bill size. Worth it.
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