Everyone knows this image. It's famous! It has a story behind it! This sailor was so very glad to be home from the war, back on his home soil, that he grabbed a nurse and kissed her! How romantic!
Most young girls love this image, and I was no exception for a very long time. I think I even had a poster of it in my room when I was in high school.
But, the older I get and the more news stories I hear and read about the treatment of women in our society (please check your gag reflex and then go read the news about CNN's reaction to the verdict in the Steubenville rape trial) and what seems to be a MIND BOGGLING trend of pointing a finger at rape VICTIMS rather than RAPISTS THEMSELVES...the more this picture makes me uncomfortable.
Did this nurse ask to be kissed by a stranger? Granted, from the photo, she doesn't seem to be fighting back or anything (and so goes the usual defense of misogynistic acts -- "but she didn't fight back!" or "her body sure seemed to respond to it!")...but the idea of it just turns my stomach.
I imagine she was walking through Times Square, possibly on her way to or from work, and maybe even offering a small smile at the celebrating sailors around her and a prayer of thanks that the war was over, finally. Then, one of the celebrating sailors grabs her and kisses her before she knows what is happening! People laugh and clap and cheer, a photographer happens to be in the right place at the right time, and history is made!
Maybe he hugs her afterward and she smiles shyly back at him before they both go back on their merry way...or maybe he just runs back to his friends and leaves her standing there, straightening her hat and feeling a bit embarrassed.
If there's more about this story that you know and I don't, besides the recent articles that the members of the photo have allegedly been identified after all these years, please let me know! But even with the truth, the fact that this was not pre-established couple with a relationship does not seem to have been disproven over the years.
There was a Super Bowl commercial this year that Audi made, showing a very similar situation. A young, dateless man goes to prom in his dad's fancy Audi, walks in, basically accosts the Prom Queen by grabbing and kissing her without her consent, and then getting punched out by the Prom King. But the kid has accomplished his goal! He drives home with a black eye and a smile, and a primal howl that he did something he has probably always wanted to do!
It just...it doesn't sit well with me. The Prom King is made to look like a douchey meathead who doesn't deserve the girl, but you know what? I'm more likely to side with him for punching out the guy who grabbed his date and kissed her without the girl's permission.
Back to the CNN reactions to the Steubenville rape case verdict for one second...
Can you believe that it was two FEMALE news reporters who couldn't focus on anything other than how these young men's lives were "ruined" because of the verdict?! Yes, it's really sad that two very young men who made very, very bad choices will now be marked as sex offenders for stupid decisions they made at such young ages. But they made a choice, and we cannot -- WE CANNOT -- have a society that doesn't give out consequences for breaking the law.
Their crying on the video in the link at the top of this blog didn't affect me at all. What did the first guy apologize for? Sending out the pictures and videos they took. Not for taking advantage of a 16-year-old girl and physically and sexually assaulting her.
Maybe they are sorry. They very well might be. But that's just too bad. They broke the law in a disgusting and horrifying way and now they have to pay for it.
There are so many cases similar to this that have not resulted in the right verdict, and this is a step in the right direction towards making ANYONE -- regardless of how important they are to a mother-effing football team -- pay the consequences for rape. And shame shame SHAME on Poppy Harlow, Candy Crowley and CNN for making this news story all about the poor rapists rather than the 16-year-old girl whose life has also been irrevocably affected by these events and this trial.
If I have a daughter, I hope we raise her in a way that teaches her that it is never okay to be grabbed, touched, etc. by someone else -- male or female -- without her consent. If I have a son, I hope we raise him to respect all people and to never touch or grab another person without their consent.
No matter the sex/gender of my offspring, I also want them to know that they can stand up for situations like these when they see it happening. How many people stand around and watch this sort of thing happen all the time and do nothing about it?
So, no...the "Kissing the War Goodbye" poster and its backstory is no longer quite so romantic to me. My husband kind of gave me a "here she goes again" smile when I started in on this subject when we saw a print of the image in a local sandwich shop last week, but as I prepare for the birth of a child into a world where women (and sometimes men; I don't want to leave out the instances in which men are also raped and assaulted) are treated like objects and expected to take on the responsibility alone for their own safety and protection, these things hit me much more deeply and emotionally.