I bet you didn’t realize that this photograph depicts a horrible act of assault. Or does it?

All these years, you looked at it as an iconic symbol of the end of World War II. You might have assumed it showed jubilation, happiness, and a bit of lighthearted and n0-offense-ma’am fun. Little did you realize that it really stands for something else, maybe.

As the folks at CAAFlog show, today’s military sexual assault laws leave the door open to prosecution.

If this kiss happened today it would be chargeable as a rape under Article 120, UCMJ (10 U.S.C. § 920):

(a) Rape. Any person subject to this chapter who commits a sexual act upon another person by—

(1) using unlawful force against that other person;
. . .
is guilty of rape and shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.

(g) Definitions. In this section:

(1) Sexual act. The term ‘sexual act’ means—
. . .
(B) the penetration, however slight, of the . . . mouth of another by any part of the body or by any object, with an intent to abuse, humiliate, harass, or degrade any person or to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any person.

Lack of consent is not an element, intoxication is not a defense, and the maximum authorized punishment for such a rape is imprisonment for life without the possibility of parole.

UPDATE: I almost forgot. Conviction of this particular crime also results in mandatory offender registration in every state. That’s a feature.

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4 thoughts on “An Iconic Photo…….of Sexual Assault?

    1. “The term “force” means action to compel submission of another or prevent another’s resistance by…physical violence, strength, power, or restraint applied to another person, sufficient that the other person could not avoid or escape the sexual conduct.”

      It is a very low standard.

      1. Ah, just as it is here. Anyway, the article says that these two are okay with what happened and she doesn’t feel like it was forced. Didn’t realize there was a controversy until I read this post and then realized there isn’t.

      2. A blogger in the UK (who is cited by the Navy Times article) seems to believe that Friedman’s (the woman in the picture) later statements about how what happened was OK actually are an indication that the act was a crime.

        In her blog, Leopard cites a 2005 interview with Friedman conducted by the Veteran’s History Project of the Library of Congress about the kiss between strangers. In the interview, Friedman says she was “grabbed by a sailor” and that she “felt that he was very strong. He was just holding me tight.”

        “It seems pretty clear, then, that what George had committed would be considered sexual assault by modern standards. Yet, in an amazing feat of willful blindness, none of the articles comment on this,” Leopard wrote in the blog post. “Without a single acknowledgement of the problematic nature of the photo that her comments reveal, they continue to talk about the picture in a whimsical, reverent manner.”

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