Tuesday, May 20, 2008

French-style kissing not for the Irish!

Women learn lots from kissing

This is the text of my That's Men column in The Irish Times on Tuesday 13th May, 2008. "That's Men - The best of the 'That's Men' column from The IrishTimes" is published by Veritas.

A year ago this month, president Ahmadinejad of Iran was accused of indecency for kissing a woman in public.

The woman was a retired schoolteacher and he kissed her hand at a ceremony and she was wearing gloves at the time but still.....

As the newspaper Hezbollah poined out, you never know what this sort of thing can lead to.

How, I wonder, would Hezbollah feel about Madonna's latest kissing escapade? Madge got loads of publicity five years ago for kissing Britney Spears in what the Daily Mail called a "steamy stunt" during the MTV awards.

Last week she grabbed a backing singer during a show in Paris and planted a kiss on her but a jaded world failed to pay much attention. That the recipient of Madonna's attentions looked like someone struggling in the grip of a grizzly bear did not help.

Since French women kiss each other - on the cheek - all the time and do it much more elegantly than dear old Madge, she may just have picked the wrong city for her display.

I might add that when you watch a bunch of French people kissing you have to wonder if a simple "Howya" Irish-style wouldn't make life a lot easier. Here in Ireland we're not much good at the kiss on the cheek thing, though. Attempts are more likely to end up as bone-crunching crashes than as exercises in European flair.

Romantic kissing between men and women is usually a more complicated affair.

Researchers on kissing - oh, yes, there are such people - suggest that when a man and woman are engaged in a deep kiss there's a lot more going on than a conjunction of lips and tongues.

Women, they suggest, are noting the taste and smell of the man as part of their assessment of his suitability as a mate. Our brains devote a disproportionately high amount of processing power to what's going on with our mouths and tongues so perhaps the suggestion makes sense.

And if a woman judges you to be a "bad kisser" she is far more likely to refuse to have sex with you.

Research conducted among 1,041 students at the University of Albany - and that's a lot of kissing - found that with men it's all more simple. We're mainly focussed on the chances of getting the female into bed. Most males in the research would be happy to skip the kissing preliminary altogether but most females insist on it.

Which adds credence to the view that with women there is some sort of assessment procedure going on that even they themselves are not consciously aware of.

This in turn suggests that women who refuse to kiss on a first date are depriving themselves of valuable information and should rethink their position.

Men are fonder than women of big, wet kisses. Susan Hughes, the psychologist who led the study, suggests that because our sense of taste and smell is less sharp than that of women, we use the saliva to help us make our assessments. Well, yuk!

And since women's breath changes during their menstrual cycle this may be mother nature's way of telling the male brain that the woman is fertile and to go for it. Not that mother nature would tell the guy upfront - it's all unconscious, otherwise it wouldn't work.

You know what? Hezbollah is right - you never know where this sort of thing leads to. Do yourself a favour and keep yer gob shut.

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