PUBLIC OPINION > Hugging Is Definitely Not 'Gateway Sexual Activity'

News 2012/05/02 16:00:00
Tennessee passed a unique and controvesial law recently that makes it possible for parents to take legal action against teachers who condone "gateway sexual activity." The problem is, no one is quite sure what "gateway sexual activity" is. That's how it's worded in the law, which means it's open to interpretation. Do they mean hugging? Holding hands? Kissing? Groping? What are we talking about, here? We took it to the obvious extreme and asked the public if hugging, cuddling, and holding hands -- the most basic forms of romantic physical contact -- could be considered "gateway sexual activity."

For the sake of laid back teachers, let's hope Tennessee courts agree with the public. Only one in four thinks hugging, holding hands, and cuddling could be considered gateways to sexual activity, whatever that means. Even some of those responses were sarcastic. The Top Opinion wrote, "Yes! Add to that walking, talking, touching, seeing, breathing, and being human. I believe they are all gateways to sexual activity." So what could be considered "gateway sex"? Some said kissing, others said naked wrestling. A couple people said marijuana. (They were a little confused.) Just not hugging, for crying out loud!

Men Think Hugs Mean More

All of the demographics were pretty much in agreement that hugging and cuddling is a safe distance from sex, but there were a few interesting differences. For instance, men were nearly twice as likely to say that kind of activity was a gateway to sex. That could offer some insight into the minds of men, or it could just represent the protective father demographic.

Teens Think It's Silly

The strongest correlation was, not surprisingly, age, and there was a sharp change of heart at about age 25. On average, voters 25 and up were 3.5 times as likely to think of hugging and cuddling as gateways to sex. That's even more than the difference between parents and non-parents, married and single, liberal and conservative, and atheist and Christian.

Conservatives More Than Christians

In the comments, a lot of opponents treated this like a religious issue. However, based on the demographics it was more political than religious. Conservative voters were 7% more likely than Christians to think of hugging as a gateway sexual activity, and liberals were 4% less likely than atheists. Though religion and politics do often go hand-in-hand, there's clearly more to it.

If you'd like to vote on this question, dig deeper into the demographics, or engage in existing discussion about the topic, visit our poll about Tennessee's new law. We'd love to hear from you!
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Top Opinion

  • Beanybudd 2012/05/02 17:32:05
    Outlawing affection... something humanity needs to show more of getting disallowed. Can someone please slap the old men making these rules. YOUR GRAND DAUGHTERS ARE NOT GOING TO GET PREGNANT FROM HUGGING! Who ever makes these dumbs things should go to a health class and get a good learning about sex education. It's there for a reason and it appear sthey need that education more than teens with this bullscheisse.

    the amount of stupidity is too damn high

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  • Curmudgeon 2012/05/05 03:04:20
    I think the better question is believing in an organized religion and entering high office a gateway activity to passing overly heavy handed and moronic laws that reflect your beliefs instead of reality?
  • Grammar... Curmudgeon 2012/05/06 12:41:03
    Grammar Freak
  • Butterfly Curmudgeon 2012/05/07 04:09:57
    They are trying to get the kids in school, some as young as nine years of age, to STOP FROM having sex in class. I can tell you, each and every man that started to hug me, wanted to have sex with me! Even pulling 'it' out at the door, as I was trying to get him out the door. Yes, touching, hugging, leads to sex.
  • Roberto 2012/05/05 01:46:15
    ¿Are we forgetting that we aren't living in the Middle Age?. I can't believe it, there's no words to express the amount of stupidity.
    If I get a girlfriend, I'll make sure to never take her to Tennessee.
  • Butterfly Roberto 2012/05/07 04:02:55
    Only a problem if you are an ELEMENTARY school child! Still reading. Am I the only one that can read?
  • Colby 2012/05/04 23:27:43 (edited)
    I don't think this should be possible. So anything from hugging to a light kiss on the forehead is regarded as "gateway sexual activity" and has to be outlawed? I can understand if its between a student and teacher, or with a couple where one person is age 16, but the other is 35. They do not specifically outline what this law entails, so say young couples in like their 20's are not allowed to do such things? If they actually explain who this law is directed towards, it may be helpful, but as it stands, it's quite preposterous to say the least.
  • Butterfly Colby 2012/05/07 04:06:55
    Getting closer. THIS IS ONLY FOR UNDER AGE YOUNG SCHOOL CHILDREN. For kids in school, see? Kids in this day and age are having sex in school during class! Oral sex.
    Yes, it says, this is for SCHOOL TEACHERS who allow this in their class.
    "Tennessee passed a unique and controvesial law recently that makes it possible for parents to take legal action against teachers who condone "gateway sexual activity."
  • loupgarous 2012/05/04 18:38:45
    I'm not sure that as someone who's done statistical programming for a living, I think much of statements such as "Conservatives (think of hugging as 'gateway sexual activity) more than Christians." The cohort known as "Conservatives" is on a different axis entirely from the cohort known as "Christians," so the comparison doesn't tell you much. Many Christians also identify as conservatives, after all. Personally, as a Christian who is conservative on many issues, I don't think hugging is necessarily a gateway sexual activity - but a whole lot depends on the people involved. It's not an appropriate school-time activity, given the occasional teacher who can't control her or his sexual urges around students.
  • Butterfly loupgarous 2012/05/07 04:11:41
    Even closer, this is not about teachers having sex with the kids, it is the kids in SCHOOL having sex in class, mostly oral sex.
  • Adam 2012/05/04 16:38:14
    Teachers hugging students is not okay
  • Wilde~M... Adam 2012/05/05 04:38:35
    Wilde~MoonChild ™
    Its not talking about teachers hugging students..
  • Adam Wilde~M... 2012/05/08 22:50:52 (edited)
    Yeah I know. Just wanted to mention that. The comment above me was
  • Wilde~M... Adam 2012/05/09 01:47:24
    Wilde~MoonChild ™
    oh okay... I was worried!
  • TKramar 2012/05/04 10:55:03
    Schools have always frowned on PDA. Always. Whether it's "gateway" or not.

    Seriously, if you have to touch someone, get a damn room.
  • loupgarous TKramar 2012/05/04 18:31:17
    So when politicians do their baby-kissing and handshaking on the campaign trail, we're going to make them work behind a curtain? I'm not sure that's comforting. If John Edwards were going to touch anyone, I'd want it to be out where people could see.
  • TKramar loupgarous 2012/05/04 21:06:25
    They shouldn't be doing that in the first place.
  • Muriel TKramar 2012/05/05 21:12:53
    Your response isn't very logical. A touch to say, hi a touch that says I'm proud of you, sure doesn't require a room in my way of thinking.
  • TKramar Muriel 2012/05/05 22:36:21
    There's no need to touch others. People that touch me, get hit.
  • Muriel TKramar 2012/05/06 14:16:06
    Sounds like a personal problem to me.
  • TKramar Muriel 2012/05/06 21:16:02
    It's not a problem--because people don't generally try to touch me. And those that do, get hit. Problem solved.
  • Beanybudd TKramar 2012/05/08 01:59:04
  • cancled 2012/05/04 03:45:18
    Yupp, especially if it's from your mom or sister, lol!!!!
  • Wonder Woman 2012/05/04 03:32:08
  • The dead and the silent 2012/05/04 02:59:56
    The dead and the silent
    More like a gateway to JUSTICE
  • becca m 2012/05/04 02:52:07
    becca m
    I think it's a catch-22. If there is no sexual attraction,then a hug is fine, but in this day an age people act on a lot of emotions to where the possibility is there.
  • Larissa Haig 2012/05/04 02:51:11
    Larissa Haig
    that is stupid whoever said hugging is a gateway sexual activity is dump i hug my family and extended family all the time
  • Bear 2012/05/04 02:39:34
    I hope not; I used to hug my grandmothers.
  • Wilde~M... Bear 2012/05/05 04:40:50
    Wilde~MoonChild ™
    Totally what I was thinking...
  • Adam 2012/05/03 23:50:55
    Well...sex usually doesn't happen by going from eye contact to putting it in, so technically yeah. Its about as much a gateway activity as drinking milk is to useing heroin. Most heroin users have drank milk, you know...
  • Grammar... Adam 2012/05/06 12:45:41
    Grammar Freak
    Heroine users do, in fact, have a tendency to like milk a lot.
    ...maybe that's why they end up about the same color.
  • baii 2012/05/03 23:48:30
    No its not, maybe kissing but come on!
  • Deactivated 2012/05/03 23:28:22
    Lol...trust me... It does
  • PUNISHER 2012/05/03 22:47:36
  • ruthannhausman 2012/05/03 22:33:23
    There's hugging and then there's groping and petting. Regardless of subject matter, however, when one is talking about passing a law, I would want total specificity and clarity, period Because you know what happens without it, right? Yep, 999 couples "hug" with total acceptance and no prosecution and then one couple -- political enemy, perhaps? -- gets prosecuted to the full extent.

    So I'm sorry, if it's not crystal clear what is meant, then I'd say throw the whole thing out and start over.
  • Muriel ruthann... 2012/05/05 21:17:33
    I agree 100percent. Why a stupid law like this in the first place. Just more interference in our daily lives.
  • BRIDGET 2012/05/03 21:52:12
  • Muriel BRIDGET 2012/05/05 21:18:29
    Everybody needs hugs. I agree. They are good for the soul.
  • Bothergirl 2012/05/03 20:12:19
    It has nothing to do with the hugging it has to do with the hormones and self esteem.
  • Muriel Bothergirl 2012/05/05 21:21:33
    Hormones and self esteem? Why do we need a law for that? Frankly I believe the greatest self esteem builder of all is accomplishing something(big or small) and feel
    Ing good about it.
  • YourKnifeMyBackMyGunYourHead 2012/05/03 19:57:47
    Oh Yeah... cause when i hug some one i get horny... come on people get real. How come hugging is such a problem now, they should have banded it a long time ago if its really that much of an issue.

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