Feminist blogger calls iconic Second World War kissing photo ‘sexual assault’

Do you see a kiss, or sexual assault?

A feminist blogger is taking serious heat for suggesting that Alfred Eisenstaedt’s famed photograph V-J Day in Times Square depicts anything but a jubilant embrace.

Last week, the London-based blogger known only as “Leopard” wrote the post “The Kissing Sailor, or ‘The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture.’”

In it, Leopard expresses dismays that several mediaoutlets failed to acknowledge what the woman – finally identified this year – said about that fateful day.

A refresher: The image shows a sailor grasping and kissing a nurse as they celebrate America’s victory in New York City at the end of World War II.

The pair’s identity was not clear until historians positively confirmed it earlier this year: The woman is dental nurse Greta Zimmer Friedman and the man is a sailor returning from the Pacific named George Mendonsa. After decades of speculation, it turned out the two were not a couple, and that the sailor was drunk. Both are still alive, and 89 years old.

“It wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed!” the pieces quoted Greta saying during interviews conducted with the Library of Congress.

“I did not see him approaching, and before I knew it, I was in this vice grip,” she told CBS, also noting George’s strength.

Last week, the blogger Leopard chastised these media outlets for a “romanticized and glorified” take on the story, despite Greta’s words.

“It seems pretty clear, then, that what George had committed was sexual assault,” Leopard wrote. “The fact that this much-loved photo is a depiction of sexual assault, rather than passion, is an uncomfortable truth…”

Read the whole story in The Globe and Mail.

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