Whiny Feminists Attack Iconic WWII Photo

by Cassy Fiano on October 9, 2012

This photo, of a sailor kissing a nurse in Times Square on VJ Day, 1945, is one of the most iconic pictures from WWII:

Now, 60+ years later, a feminist has come along to say — surprise!! — that everything you feel when you look at that photo is wrong, wrong, wrong, and you’re feeding into our society’s patriarchal rape culture. Yup. That’s right. This photo of a sailor kissing a nurse = sexual assault and rape culture.

A few facts have come to light. Far from being a kiss between a loving couple, we learn that George and Greta were perfect strangers. We learn that George was drunk, and that Greta had no idea of his presence, until she was in his arms, with his lips on hers.

The articles even give us Greta’s own words:

“It wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed!”

“I did not see him approaching, and before I knew it, I was in this vice grip. [sic]“

“You don’t forget this guy grabbing you.”

“That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me.”

It seems pretty clear, then, that what George had committed would be considered sexual assault by modern standards. Yet, in an amazing feat of willful blindness, none of the articles comment on this, even as they reproduce Greta’s words for us. Without a single acknowledgement of the problematic nature of the photo that her comments reveal, they continue to talk about the picture in a whimsical, reverent manner, “still mesmerized by his timeless kiss.” George’s actions are romanticized and glorified; it is almost as if Greta had never spoken.

In a way, I understand this. The end of war is a big deal, and the euphoria felt throughout the nation on that day is an important part of American history. For so long, this photograph has come to represent that unbridled elation, capturing the hearts of war veterans and their families alike. The fact that this much-loved photo is a depiction of sexual assault, rather than passion, is an uncomfortable truth, and to call it out as such might make one seem to be a priggish wet blanket. After all, this sailor has risked his life for his country. Surely his relief and excitement at the end of the war is justified? Surely these are unique circumstances? The answer to the first question is yes. He is perfectly entitled to be ecstatic. He is perfectly entitled to celebrate. However, this entitlement does not extend to his impinging on someone else’s bodily autonomy.

The unwillingness to recognize a problem here is not surprising, considering the rape culture in which we live. It is not easy to assert that a woman’s body is always her own, not to be used at the whim of any man without her consent. It is far easier to turn a blind eye to the feelings of women, to claim that they should empathise with the man, that they should be good sports and just go along with it. And the stronger the power structures behind the man, the more difficult it becomes to act otherwise. But if we are serious about bringing down rape culture and reducing the widespread violence against women, then we need to make it clear that engaging with someone sexually without consent is not ok, even when it is an uncomfortable position to take. Especially when it is an uncomfortable position to take.

I read all of this and thought, for crying out loud. And even that treasure trove of screeching hysteria, Feministing, is jumping in to agree.

A closer look at the image in question shows corroborating details that become stomach-turning when properly viewed: the smirks on the faces of the sailors in the background; the firm grasp around the physically smaller woman in his arms such that she could not escape if she tried; the woman’s clenched fist and limp body.

If there is a better symbol for how messed up our ideas about sex and romance are, I can’t think of one.

So, to recap: millions of people around the world — men, women, and children — had been killed in a massive war, hundreds of millions more were injured, and what feminists are whining about is… a kiss. Right.

But was it actually sexual assault?

Well, considering the women in the photo herself doesn’t describe it as such, you’d think it would be an easy call to make. But these are feminists we’re dealing with here. Women don’t get to make up their own minds about stuff, and they especially don’t get to feel differently than feminists do. That’s even more applicable when it comes to the EVIL!! patriarchy.

How horrific was the assault on Greta Friedman? Well, afterwards, she went back into her office… and never even mentioned the kiss. That’s right: it made that big of an impact on her. And what has she done in the decades since the terrible, awful, earth-shattering assault? Reunited with him several times. She even reenacted the kiss in 1980, and speaks of it in overwhelmingly positive terms.

Well, I think he was the one who made me famous, because he took the action. I was just the bystander. So, I think he deserves a lot of credit. Actually, by the photographer creating something that was very symbolic at the end of a bad period…it was a wonderful coincidence a man in a sailor’s uniform and a woman in a white dress… and a great photographer at the right time.

So nowhere does Friedman actually call it assault. After the fact, she went back to work proclaiming that the war was over. And in the decades after that iconic moment, she repeatedly took the time to meet up with the sailor in the photograph.

But the woman “assaulted” doesn’t get to say whether or not she was assaulted, right? That’s up for the feminazis to decide, because clearly, women are too dumb to make those kinds of judgements for themselves.

This photo wasn’t an example of sexual assault. It was an example of the exuberance of a nation exhausted by war, having millions of the best and brightest among them either be killed or injured. The photo captures that moment, the emotions behind it and the excitement, relief, and enthusiasm of the day, perfectly.

Feminists deriding this picture are, as usual, bitter harpies making a mountain out of a molehill, missing the picture and finding another reason to be angry over nothing.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Morgan K Freeberg October 9, 2012 at 4:54 pm

Interesting stuff.

Hey here’s a crazy way to recap the whole thing: YES it would be “sexual assault” nowadays, it obviously wasn’t back then, we are wrong now and we weren’t back then.

Note that this does not in any way trivialize the nature of a real sex assault crime. That’s really one of the defining differences between the right and the left nowadays: We understand the concept of abundance. Just like with college graduates and green energy, the modern left seems to be caught in this viewpoint that if you make something much more plentiful (or broaden its definition to include more stuff at the periphery), you make it a force to be reckoned with. Economics 101 says the precise opposite is true.

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Laurie Davis October 10, 2012 at 9:09 am

The questioned I ask myself a great deal is are we better off today with these extremist feminists views? Is the relationship between sexes better? Are women happier now? I think the answer is simply no.

The feminists I admire are those like Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony who fought for suffrage and womens’ right to own property. They never would have encouraged such nonsense and believed in family life as the center of our culture. They did NOT support abortion and would wonder in amazement at the stand these extremists take on that and other issues.

Men are not our enemies, they are our friends, our husbands, and the Father of our children. It is that relationship that makes the world go around.

These women have made a mockery of that and a living off the victimization of all females. I was part of the ‘women’s movement’ in the 70′s…until I realized what was going on and when they spoke hatefully of men, they were also talking about my husband and my son.

This photo was inspirational in 1945 and symbolic of the return of these brave men to their famlies and loved ones. The fact that this woman doesn’t understand that actually speaks volumes about her.

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Jessika August 13, 2013 at 6:00 am

100% agree
Spot on!

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theduchessofkitty October 9, 2012 at 7:02 pm

Not surprising for me, as I attended and graduated from a women’s college in the Northeast. Oh yes, they will even say that if you even touch them, it’s “rape.”

Then they wonder why no man would ever want to be with them. “Where have all the cowboys gone?” becomes a whisper they don’t dare to let anyone hear. But we know it’s there.

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Milhouse October 10, 2012 at 2:14 am

Sorry, you’re wrong on this one. How was that *not* a sexual assault? It’s not that she gave the fellow no verbal assent to kiss her; it’s that she gave him *no indication at all* that a kiss would be welcome. He had no permission of any kind, explicit or implicit, to kiss her, so what exactly was he doing if not assaulting her? Can there be any question that today he’d be arrested and convicted?

And the fact that the woman never reported it, and didn’t make a big deal of it, is powerful proof that it was indeed a “rape culture”. It was a time when women simply had to put up with men assaulting them, when no woman could walk in the street safe from being molested by some stranger, and the men knew that they were taking no risk while the women knew that they could do nothing, so they had no choice but to try to ignore it.

Not everything in the past needs to be defended. And even a screeching feminist is right twice a decade.

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Mina October 10, 2012 at 5:29 am

Also in those days women were not supposed to take any sexual intiative. All they could do was to try and look attractive and hope that a man would make a pass. This culture of double standards would explain why Greta emphazised her passivity in the act. Even if she very much enjoyed the kiss, she could not say it publicly. I resent the idea that all contact without prior consent is rape or sexual assault. For most people common sense is enough.

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Millstreet October 10, 2012 at 7:42 pm

Near the end of the movie Groundhog day, there’s a scene where Bill Murray gives some newlyweds tickets to wrestlemania. The woman (unasked) kisses Bill Murray, the man going for equality, kisses Andie MacDowell. Did Hollywood just film two sexual assaults?

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Kevin M October 10, 2012 at 3:25 am

The ultimate in provincialism: assuming that one’s attitudes should be taken as morality everywhere AND everywhen.

In ancient Greece, men had sex with other men and boys. What point in time and space should we choose to judge them? You cannot just choose yourself as the moral fulcrum and expect anyone to pay attention to you.

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Roxeanne de Luca October 10, 2012 at 10:51 am

Yet these same women think that marriage is an oppressive, patriarchal institution, so they probably wouldn’t have wanted Greta to be the sailor’s wife, either.

Seriously, is there NOTHING else to complain about, like, oh, something that’s happened in the twenty-first century? (We’re already an eighth of the way through it.)

As a final thought: if Greta didn’t enjoy the kiss, she could have slapped him – an entirely appropriate response in that era. She didn’t. She might not have enjoyed it, but it’s a freakin KISS – it’s not like the guy grabbed her breasts or her legs.

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Geoffrey Britain October 10, 2012 at 4:19 pm

Where were the feminists when the actor Adrian Brody kissed Halle Berry in exactly the same manner at the 2002 Academy Awards? He was acting out of exuberance in winning the best actor oscar and he gave Berry no time to extend permission.

I guess its not ‘sexual assault’ when a liberal actor engages in the same behavior…

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Bob Danyls October 10, 2012 at 4:43 pm

While you do have a point, I don’t think the article was deriding the photo… it wasn’t even condemning it. It was just saying that if that happened NOW, we might react differently. And its true. You can’t just run up to a lady and kiss her these days. That’s a low level sexual assault, for which you won’t be prosecuted, but which we generally disapprove of with good reason. Also, the fact that she never talked about it doesn’t back up Waugh you’re saying at all… the vast majority of victims of sexual assault and rape suffer in silence…

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mot57 October 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm

My mother, who attended a VJ day celebation, would laugh in your face.

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Reaganite Republican October 15, 2012 at 3:03 am

She WAS dressed provocatively lol

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GaryFuckingJohnson2012 October 28, 2012 at 6:36 pm

I think it is dangerous to dillute the meaning of the word “rape” to the point where an it covers an unsolicited kiss.

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leslie January 31, 2013 at 8:24 pm

People are hung up on sex.

I think the picture is romantic and a time lost.

My husband and I do this every night. He dresses like a sailor and I dress like a nurse and role play this scene. Jk

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eagle February 27, 2013 at 12:15 pm

Well, what’s messed up about this picture is not what transpired between those two people. I mean, if somebody kisses you against your will, yes, it is annoying and invading, as the nurse herself said but it’s probably not a traumatizing event and thankfully, nowadays you’d have the option of kicking him in the balls afterwards. That’s not the point though. The point is that we’ve taken this picture to symbolize a majestic, romantic kiss, even though, if we stare the picture for 30 seconds, we can see that the woman is *resisting* or *being limp*, depending on which shot you look at. That’s consistent with other stuff, like, how in movies actors grab a reluctant actress and force her into a kiss which she always enjoys afterwards. All these things are rape culture, reinforcing that even if a woman says no, or looks like she’s saying no, she doesn’t really mean it and should just go along with whatever the dude wants. I can understand the nurse not minding that she was kissed in the midst of festivities, but when this picture is revealed to be the result of an unpleasant advance on a woman and people are being ‘jeez, lighten up’ instead of being ‘well, I was not aware of the situation behind that kiss. It doesn’t look romantic now’, then, something is wrong with the world and the extreme feminists are right about drawing attention to it.

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Proud Feminist March 8, 2013 at 3:43 pm

How very lucky you all are to have so many women fighting for your rights. Without the brave women of history who fought to have women recognized as people, rather than objects and property, you would not be in a position to write this blog.

Please educate yourself.

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Jessika August 13, 2013 at 6:12 am

I 100% respect and am grateful towards the women in the early to mid 20th century who worked hard and suffered much for my rights.
However you do not fight for my rights. You are not Susan B Anthony. You and all of your fellow feminazis are self-righteous to the point of absurdity. You are not even close to being in the same league as the women who gave us more rights. To even suggest such a thing is disrespectful and entirely laughable. All you modern feminists do is sit all day and bitch, nitpick, and bitch some more.
You “feminists” are a disgrace to the real feminists of the 20th century. They wanted EQUALITY, not superiority.

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