Please keep your hands to yourself

Naomi Hancock, Opinion Editor

I would like it to be known to the couples of the world that we do not need proof of your feelings. Trust me when I say that your word is good enough. 

Before I start, please know that I have nothing against relationships. My dislike for public displays of affection has absolutely nothing to do with jealousy. It comes from a place of genuine discomfort.

But, to be honest, how can I not be uncomfortable? 

Just the other day, I was forced to witness an absolutely horrible sight: a man’s hands in his partner’s back pockets. Masks off, tongues glued together, and there was nothing I could do with my eyes since we were in a fairly small room that they were smack in the middle of. 

Public displays of affection (PDA) make me uncomfortable for various reasons. Most have to do with the fact that I am stuck in a place with nowhere to go, and there is a couple showing the world with very public evidence that they are, in fact, into each other. 

I am of the opinion that subjugating people to the sight of you aggressively making out is a literal act of violence. There is a limit to PDA. You can hold hands and hug and give your partner a quick kiss goodbye, but anything beyond it is vile. 

It’s inconsiderate and obnoxious to force people in inappropriate places to watch you grope your partner in the middle of the Liberty Commons. There is no alternative thing to do with your eyes when you (and your hands) are everywhere. 

Of course, everybody has the right to individual choice and there are some things—like who you love—that nobody should be able to control. However, PDA is a matter of etiquette and respect for the people around you. 

You don’t need to show me that you love your partner and that your relationship is going so well, or that you aren’t afraid of intimacy, but most people would agree that your sex life is private, and any sort of display that leans towards the suggestive should not become a public affair to those around you (aka, the 250 other people in the cafeteria waiting for the bell to ring). Your disregard for those around you makes people uncomfortable and, honestly, a bit embarrassed that you’re witnessing something that the majority of the world still views as taboo. 

Personally, I think LGBTQ+ couples are a bit different. While it might not be their intent, their displays of affection can have a political connotation. I think it’s incredible that society has progressed to the point where a queer couple feels comfortable and safe to show the world that they love each other. 

This doesn’t mean they are exempt from the discomfort. 

Now, of course, in the time of Covid-19, PDA can have a bit of a different impact. Obviously, if you’re kissing, you’ve already thrown out any regards for contracting the virus out the window. It doesn’t have as much to do with you and your partner as it does to your lack of a mask when there is a new variant running rampant. 

If the increase in cases continues, Washington State will face a new large wave of Covid-19 cases. And though little is known about Omicron at this point in time, we know that it’s highly transmissible––even more than the Delta variant. 

For the unvaccinated, it means that it’s more important than ever that they wear their masks. This applies to the vaccinated, too. South African researchers (where the variant was first identified) found that the new variant is much more resistant to the vaccine, dropping from the 80% efficacy rate prior to Omicron to 30%

So, please, keep your mask on and your hands to yourself––or at least wash them.