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A public display of affection (sometimes abbreviated PDA) is physically demonstrating affection for another person while in the view of others, for example, holding hands or kissing in public (for more far-reaching forms, see indecent exposure). While PDA is a USA specific term, every culture has written and unwritten rules for showing affection in public.
This behavior is sometimes considered in bad taste, and in some jurisdictions it may even be criminal.
If the partners enjoy being seen, it may be considered a mild form of exhibitionism. Alternatively, the partners may be indifferent to what others can see, and therefore not inhibited by it. Finally, the partners may prefer more privacy, but put up with being seen because they have no better place, or do not want to bother to go there, or to wait until they are there.
The same amount of intimacy is a lesser form of PDA if it is in a secluded place with few people around, in a dark place such as a movie theater, in a car, etc.
Some people disapprove of or are disgusted by it, but some find it pleasant to view, in a mild form of voyeurism.
In some societies, certain couples need to be quite careful about public displays of affection. For example, homosexual couples would be at risk of encountering aggression from homophobic onlookers. As a result of this, many gay rights activists have used public displays of affection as a means of defiance, treating them as political acts. For example, at McGill University, the Queer McGill organization stages "kiss-ins" in which homosexual couples get together on the steps of the Arts building and kiss. In many places around the world, couples of differing race, religion or tribe may be subject to similar problems.
Sometimes partners differ regarding how they like or dislike giving or receiving public displays of affection. Ones who don't do anything in public are considered prude.
Public displays of affection around the world
In India, the Supreme Court of India - the seat of the higest authority of the law of the land, has described "PDA" to be in bad taste and an unacceptable act, which may be considered an act of public nuisance, and sometimes leading to conviction and/or fine from the involved parties. Despite it, the Indian film industries, Bollywood and South Indian Movie Industry, use PDAs as a sure shot means of promoting the films amidst the masses.
It is banned in many high schools and middle schools in USA in order to teach social standards that the school's administration finds acceptable. This rule may also serve to protect the school from being implicated in sexual harassment lawsuits among students.
There is a proposed law in Indonesia outlawing kissing in public places.
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