Politics & Policy

Feminists: Remove WWII Sailor Statue Because It’s ‘Sexual Assault’

Statue in Normandy depicts famous photograph from New York's V-J Day.

Feminists are demanding that a statue based on a famous end–of–World War II photo of a sailor kissing a woman be removed from Normandy — because it’s actually a sexual-assault statue.

The statue, placed near Pegasus Bridge in Northern France to mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day, depicts a sailor kissing a woman to celebrate V-J Day in New York City on August 14, 1945.

But the French feminist group Osez Le Féminisme has claimed that what the statue actually portrays is the sexual assault of a woman who did not give verbal consent before being kissed, and the group is petitioning to have it removed immediately.

Alfred Eisenstaedt, who took the original photograph, has said that George Mendonsa, the sailor depicted in the image, had been haphazardly kissing any woman who came close to him, without taking the time to explicitly ask for verbal consent.

Osez Le Féminisme maintains that the statue is clearly nothing more than the disgusting depiction of a sexual assault in progress.

“The sailor could have laughed with these women, hugged them, asked them if he could kiss them with joy,” the group told The Times of London.

“No, he chose to grab them with a firm hand to kiss them,” they continued. “It was an assault.”

The identity of the woman in the photograph has been disputed.

According to museum director Stéphane Grimaldi, the woman is a nurse named Edith Shain, who stated she had not been assaulted in any way.

The feminist group, however, said that the woman is actually an Austrian named Greta Zimmer Friedman.

Friedman has been quoted as saying: “I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me.” But she sharply rejected the assault claim after a 2012 blog post picked up on that quote to say the photo was an example of “The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture.”

“I can’t think of anybody who considered that as an assault,” Friedman told Navy Times, adding that she and Mendonsa — who were strangers at the time — stayed in touch over the years. “It was a happy event.”

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter at National Review Online.

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