The Kissing Sailor
This blogger discusses about how the media have reported some recent news from a couple of months ago about the famous “Kissing sailor” picture taken in Times Square on V-J Day, 1945. All the articles linked cite the words pronounced by Greta, the nurse in the picture, about the kiss. She said:
“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 clear that what happens in the picture is sexual assault, but none of the articles says it outright, but they actually focus on the fact that the identities of the sailor and the nurse have been finally found out. The CBS News article still refers to the kiss as “a moment filled with such spontaneous euphoria it seemed to last forever,” and talks about “a nation still mesmerized by the timeless kiss.”
Is this unwillingness to recognize the fact that the kiss was sexual assault an example of rape culture? I think that quoting the Greta’s words and then not really comment on them and not address the fact that, because of the story behind it, the kiss should not be considered as romantic and “mesmerizing,” is really problematic.

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2 Responses to The Kissing Sailor

  1. irism999 says:

    Wow! Thank you so much for informing me on the actual story behind the “Kissing Sailor” photograph. I feel that it is so easy for people to automatically assume that a kiss between a man and a woman is something appreciated and even a something representational of a victory or iconic moment. I was totally unaware that the kiss photographed had been an instance of sexual assault! I am somewhat embarrassed by the fact that I assumed that this picture was a demonstration of love and affection. However, what bothers me more is the realization of how influential society has been on cultivating/shaping my view in regards to what a demonstration of love or romance should look like. I will definitely try to be more critical of what I see, and I shall attempt to challenge what I have been taught to consider normal by my personal experiences with American culture: Hollywood depictions of love in this case.

  2. domcp says:

    I find the topic of the referenced article to be both alarming and eye-opening. At a wide-scale view, it reminds me to keep a critical view of what our media and society deem as iconic images of America. It is also ironic that such an “iconic” images has such a backstory, since there is some truth in the fact that the sexual assault and exhibition of rape culture shown in the photograph is a major (yet infrequently acknowledged) aspect of American culture. Furthermore, this image reminds me of a point the Jean Kilbourne made in in “Killing Us Softly 4,” in which she asserted that in many images of male-female interaction it is hard to determine if it depicts a display of affection of a display of domination on the part of the male. This point truly stuck with me throughout the semester. The danger in not acknowledging the difference between love and harm is that harm is normalized (as defines rape culture) and harm can be mistaken for love.

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