I never know this iconic image was sexual assault.

The Kissing Sailor, or “The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture”

... historians have finally confirmed that the woman is Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental nurse at the time, and George Mendonsa, a sailor.

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.

It's depressing to continually discover new ways in which reality-as-socially-constructed was always twisted and dark. Sometimes my head spins from the dislocation, like a gear catching on a sprocket wheel. Every time I think I've figured out this mysogenistic culture, there's another bubble to burst that used to be lovely and joyful.

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Replies to This Discussion

and all this time I thought they were a couple ...sad

It's depressing to discover over and over again that men can be so brainlessly selfcentered: see --> want ---> take. But why do I discover this over and over again? Do I ignore their behaviour because I want to get on with my life? Or because they can be pleasant company? Or is there just something wrong with my brain?

I remember the time when I was about 45 and became too old and ugly to be of interest to men in the street: only did I realize how heavy the pressure had always been. The freedom to live unnoticed was wonderful, and I still enjoy it.   


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