I read an article today titled ‘The Kissing Sailor, or “The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture“‘ and I am satisfied that the truth is coming to light. The voice of Greta is getting heard.
Let’s analyze the image discussed:
Look for a few signs that she does not want to be kissed:
- Her chin position shows that her mouth is being forced open
- Her body is stiff and awkward, rather than relaxed
- Her fist is clenched
- His left arm is braced around her head, as if to block her from pulling away. How many couples do you know who kiss like that?
A few things to think about if you were to see this scene, even on a crowded street… attend to your first instinct- does this look a little off to you? To me, it always has, especially BEFORE anyone explained or captioned that this was when World War Two was officially over in Japan. To me, it never looked quite right.
The evidence is in the words of Greta, captioned within the article at the above link, that it was not her choice to be kissed, he surprised her and grabbed her in a vise grip (which is certainly what it looks like), and that she was not kissing him- he was kissing her.
What strikes me even more is that the article by cbs news states that the man claiming to be the sailor is trying to prove it’s him in the photo. He seems particularly proud of it. Personally, I’d be quite embarrassed that I’d grabbed a strange woman without her consent. Then again, Greta has attempted to prove that it’s her in the photo, as well. Does that make it ok for a man to force himself on a woman? Not at all, and I’d take the clenched fist in the photo as a warning. Because nothing resulted from this particular grab (other than fame and generally good wishes surrounding this photo) the two don’t seem to mind being recognized for it. This is a rare and strange case, unlike most sexual assault which often harbors consequences of trauma and more.
If you see a couple like this, and something does not look right to you, interrupt and ask for directions. Seriously. You might end up saving someone’s life just by figuring out what is going on.
I’m feeling good about reality rather than romanticizing.