The Culture of PDA in Countries Around the World

PDA culture

By Sarah Zinn

The novice couple in junior high is often seen making out against lockers with great fervor and slobbery passion, knowing that their undying love of two weeks is worth the danger of getting caught in the others’ braces. It’s a communally awkward experience for the owners of lockers, not to mention the on-looking rejected admirer. However gross they may sometimes be, taking part in sometimes-crass public displays of affection is almost a right of passage in Western society. And although growing older harbors a sense of embarrassment and decency, PDA is prevalent among adults and preteens alike.

However, the begrudging acceptance of PDA as “whimsical urges of couples in love” is not something every country agrees on.

Although historically romantic cities like Vienna, Austria almost lend itself to impulsive kisses of passion with the intriguing local shop owner, the country has recently implemented a fine for PDA on public transit. Offenders will be fined 50 euros for intense make-out rendezvouses, though small kisses will be overlooked.

Be that as it may, Western countries aren’t exactly known for their strict rules on PDA. In 2003, the UK went through a “dogging craze”, which was a fetish for having sex in public places while others watched. This mania prompted several pieces of legislation outlawing public indecency.

In India, where it is customary for a wife to walk behind her husband, kissing is something reserved for when the curtains are drawn. Hollywood actor Richard Gere learned this a few years ago, when he was issued a warrant of arrest for smooching his Bollywood sweetheart. This gesture was considered obscene and received so much public backlash that effigies of the “Pretty Woman” actor were burned. However, the land of the Kama Sutra has loosened up some as of late. They have made public kissing legal, and even movie posters are approaching sultry, with actors’ lips so temptingly close to touching. According to the New York Times, PDA among Indian youth has increased over the years.

In Chinese and Japanese cultures, the restraint from any type of PDA is a way of life for older generations of couples. According to environmental psychologist Sherilyn Sily, many children in these cultures have scarcely heard their parents kiss or say I love you in private, forget about in public.  Stemming from a cultural belief that one represents their family, PDA is taken very seriously. However, that is not to say that there isn’t a rebellious counter culture that gropes as they please.

Overall, in the moment, there are two universal mindsets about PDA: Those whose reaction is to shamefully pull away from their partner’s attempt to hold their hand, and those who say “screw it”, and smooch without abandon.

About the Writer

sarah zinn 150x150 ABOUTSarah Zinn is currently a student at Indiana University studying Journalism. She’s a creative, passionate writer with a compulsion for wit. In her free time, she enjoys venturing outdoors, eating ethnic food, painting and on the rare occasion, sleeping. She is very interested in civil rights, the environment, public policy, and the arts. She has a curiosity for most things, excluding only finite math and stressfully dramatic shows such as CSI and 90210. She is a diehard fan of Seinfeld and most girl bands of the indie rock persuasion. The daughter of an expat, Sarah has called the state of Indiana, Athens GR, and London England home within the 19 years of her life. Sarah writes for her university’s newspaper the Indiana Daily Student, and has been published in Indianapolis Monthly Magazine. Follow her on Twitter @sarah_zinn.

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