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Before You Lean In For Another Kiss, Read This.

Wellness

Kissing is interesting. When it's a good kiss, there aren't too many other things that tops it. When it (pardon the pun) sucks, there aren't too many things that you hate more. Even as I'm running through the mental rolodex of all of the kisses I've had in my life, I'm willing to bet my next freelance check that, just like I am able to, you can immediately recall the best and worst kiss that you've ever had.


My best kisser is someone I never had sex with. Well, that's not entirely true. One time some oral went down with me being on the receiving end (was that TMI? If so, my bad). Even though his kisses up top and down below (cue in Kelly Rowland and SWV) were clearly memorable, I just wasn't into him enough to go (totally) all the way. As far as the worst kisser goes, long story short, there's a relationship I was in that, while the sex was good, the kissing was HOR-RI-BLE (is that weird?). It eventually got so intolerable that the wackness of it all ultimately became one of the deal breakers for me.

Yeah, kissing is a pretty big deal. It feels good. It's both romantic and erotic. It definitely connects you to another person in a way that no other act can. But there's more to kissing than that. As you're about to see in just a sec, every time you pucker up and get your smooch on, there is so much more going on behind the scenes than you could ever imagine!

The Origin of Kissing Is Kinda Sweet. And Pretty Gross.

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Although I'm not sure how true this is, there are several theories floating around that kissing is tied to how birds feed their babies. You know, that they chew up the food and share it directly from their own mouth to the little birdies. Once upon a time, that's how a lot of mothers fed their babies and so the theory is 1) kissing mimics that and 2) whenever our partner kisses us, it taps into the warmth and security we felt when we were young.

Actually, there might be some truth to that since a lot of men who were breastfed grow up to be "breast men" (also due to the warmth and security thing) and guys who want to be literally breastfed as adults is a fetish that is quietly pretty popular.

Kissing Bonds You to Your Partner

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Personally, I've never kissed someone who I didn't have some sort of emotional connection with. But even if you have, whether you realize it or not, you are bonding with that individual. That's because kissing triggers the "love hormone" known as oxytocin in your body (and your partner's). It's the hormone that automatically makes you feel closer to someone. That's why some people can experience a great kiss and suddenly think the person they got it from is "the one", even if they just met them.

Kissing Can Totally Alter Your Microbiome

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A while back, I wrote an article on here about why I think the term "casual sex" is the ultimate oxymoron. Well, apparently so is casual kissing. I say that because, according to some scientific research, kissing has the ability to alter your microbiome. What's that? In a nutshell, it's your collective genetic material.

Whoa. Definitely something worth pondering before kissing someone you just met or brushing off a kiss you exchanged with some random dude while you were tipsy at a party somewhere (hey, it happens).

Kissing Relieves Menstrual Cramps and Headaches

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Is there anything worse than menstrual cramps and headaches? Not much. If you're someone who experiences a lot of either one, kissing more often may be the remedy that you're looking for. Whenever you kiss someone, your body gets a surge of the feel-good hormones oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin throughout its system; that can lead to dilated blood vessels and increased blood flow which can make the pain and pressure of cramps much less. As far as headaches go, because the same feel-good hormones are able to lower stress and your blood pressure, that's why kissing can get rid of the incessant booming in your head as well.

Kissing Reduces Allergy Symptoms

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Do you struggle with allergies? Guess what—kissing is a wonderful remedy for that too. No joke. Scientific research also reveals that when you kiss an individual, it is able to reduce allergy-related symptoms that are associated with pollen and dust mites. Also, since allergic reactions are worse when stress levels are high and kissing reduces stress, that's just one more reason why kissing is oh so good for you.

Men Kiss to Arouse Women. Women Kiss to Choose a Partner.

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I once read an article entitled "A Man's Kiss Tells You Everything". For the most part, I'd agree with that. But no matter how good a man's kiss may be, I wonder if they know what their subconscious motive is. From what I've read, it's to get a certain amount of sex hormones and proteins into our system so that we'll be more willing to have sex with them.

As for what we hope kissing will accomplish, take a moment to think about this. Suppose you meet a guy who checks off all of your boxes. In fact, the only thing that you can even remotely say is "wrong" with him is that his kisses don't move you. Is that enough to call it quits? (Hey, you already know my vote!) Apparently, for many women, it is because, along with a man's personality and character, his kisses help to determine if he's truly suitable or not.

As for a guy who wants to get some who can't kiss? He can pretty much forget about it. A bad kisser is a total turn-off in every way.

Kissing Can Give You an STD

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Not to be a downer or anything, but there is another side to kissing that shouldn't be ignored. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), a whopping two-thirds of people have herpes (whether they realize it or not) and a lot of it isn't being contracted by sexual activity; nope, it's due to kissing. Both herpes simplex virus (HSV) and cytomegalovirus (CMV) are easily spread via swapping spit.

For the record, if your partner has syphilis or HSV-2 and you have some sort of cut or sore in your mouth while you're kissing them, you can get that from them as well. Be careful out there.

Kissing Is Good for Your Self-Esteem

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On the surface, it probably makes sense that kissing is a self-esteem booster because if you're kissing someone, it makes you feel desirable. But there's another reason why kissing makes us feel good about ourselves. Research reveals that people with low self-esteem tend to have higher amounts of the stress hormone cortisol in their body. What kissing does is lower cortisol; that, as a direct result, makes you feel better about yourself.

PDA Is More About Ego than Affection

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Some people love public displays of affection while others can't stand it. It doesn't really matter, though, because one study says that PDA isn't about love or being obnoxious. Kissing in public is actually more about feeding one's ego; it's about showing other people that you've got a good thing.

To get more specific, men do it to show off while women do it in order to make an ex jealous. Hmph.

The More You Kiss, the Better the Relationship

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We've already explored some of the things that oxytocin does. Well, if you want to increase the chances of your man staying faithful, kiss him as often as you possibly can. What's the connection? Something else that research reveals is when a man kisses a woman that he cares about, his oxytocin levels go up, it enhances the brain reward system in his head and makes him want to stay with his partner. How sweet is that?

Kissing Is an Anti-Aging Activity

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We all know that Black don't crack. But if you want to be a little more proactive in slowing down the aging process, this is another way that kissing can help you out. Since the act results in us using anywhere between 2-34 facial muscles, kissing is literally like an aerobics exercise for your face (and neck). Also, since exercise is what naturally produces collagen in our bodies and collagen is what keeps our faces looking full and youthful, you can see why kissing is one of the best kept beauty secrets.

Kissing Has TONS of Bacteria in It

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If you're a self-professed germaphobe, you're definitely not gonna want to hear this. If you kiss someone (on the mouth and even more if it's in the mouth) for 10 seconds, you'll already be getting 80 billion bacteria from them. Not that all bacteria is bad (I'll break that down in a minute) and, I've kissed my fair share and I'm still alive, so that doesn't mean that kissing is the death of you. But still, billions and billions of bacteria coming into your system gives you one more reason to be careful about who you let kiss you.

Kissing Is Good for Your Teeth

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One of the ways that having someone else's bacteria (and spit) in your mouth is a good thing is it could prevent you from getting cavities. The logic is the combo of the two helps to wash away the decay-causing germs and bacteria that's probably already chillin' in on your teeth and gums.

Kissing Is Tied to Men’s Longevity

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Women typically live longer than men do. That's no shocker. However, what just may surprise you is one study revealed that when husbands kiss their wives every morning, they end up living five years longer than the ones who don't; especially if it's a long and passionate French kiss.

Kissing Is a Bit of a Contract

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One more. Have you ever wondered why couples kiss at the end of their wedding ceremony? While on the surface, it might simply seem like a sweet and romantic thing to do, it actually dates back to an ancient Roman tradition that signified the signing of a contract.

So, there's a business side to kissing, huh? Wow. Who knew?

Featured image by Getty Images

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ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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