Look at his hands, look at her balance. She’s not daintily placing her foot in the air, she is off-kilter. The placement of his legs and the force he is exerting on her is pulling her off of her feet. Look at his hand on her waist. He’s forcing her hips into that position. Look at her head in the crook of his elbow, he has entire control over the position of her head. Look at the way they kiss, look at his closed fist. This wasn’t a gentle advance with an opportunity for dissent (or consent), this was a woman ripped off of her feet and molested. This is rape culture.
Man, shut the fuck up.
No, this is the pure ecstatic joy of victory in Japan. They weren’t a couple. They were strangers. Yes, it was a surprise. But it was done out of joy and not for anger or power or control. The sailor was kissing any and all females on the street. It just so happens that this was the picture that Eisenstaedt thought was best.
Nobody’s saying he thought “I’m going to go assert me some power.”
But think about it. When you get really happy, do you ever punch the air in excitement? You do, right? Or something similar.
Do you ever go down the street and punch people in the face? Because you’re so happy?
No, you don’t. It would be the same kind of exuberant gesture, but your mind recognizes that… other people have feelings and rights, and when you exercise physical exuberance on them like that, it’s called “violence” and it is a bad thing.
For his joy and elation to be channeled in this way, “kissing any and all ‘females*’ on the street”, that says something about the way that women are constructed in his head, about what boundaries he does and doesn’t observe and how strong they are.
Without more data it would be impossible to say exactly what it says about those things, but we know that he sees women as being 1) interchangeable to a sufficient degree and 2) publicly accessible to a sufficient degree for this to register as an acceptable course of action.
No, he’s not stopping and doing some complex calculation on that score. That’s the point. This is how he acts when he doesn’t think, when he’s uninhibited.
That’s rape culture at work. That’s a rape culture mindset.
Here, since people are ignoring the links being posted in other comments, I’m going to excerpt from the article:
the kiss did kind of bother someone else, though: the woman in the nurse’s uniform, Greta Zimmer, who wasn’t even a nurse. She was a 21-year-old dental assistant from Queens, who, having heard rumors about the end of the war, walked over to Times Square from her office on Lexington Avenue. George says he was so drunk, he doesn’t even remember the kiss. Greta says she’ll never forget it.
Greta Zimmer was born and raised in Austria, and in 1939, after much debate, her parents insisted that Greta and her two sisters flee to America. They were among the last refugees to make it out, and even on the afternoon of Aug. 14, as Greta read the illuminated news crawl declaring the end of the war, she had no idea where her parents were, or if they were even alive.
She isn’t sure how long she was standing there; maybe minutes. “And then I was grabbed,” she says. “That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me.”
Just as suddenly, he let her go. George stumbled off towards the subway, Rita trailing behind, and Greta walked back to her office. George and Rita never discussed the kiss, nor did Greta tell anyone what had happened to her.
Oh, he’s just so happy! Oh, he’s just so elated! Oh, he’s just so relieved! But what about her? And he did it to “every ‘female’” he saw? Okay. So we know at least one of them didn’t like it. Why would we imagine she’s the exception? He’s drunk, he’s strong, he’s a stranger, he’s made the decision (because he has such joy in his heart!) and they have no say in it… none of them know if it’s just going to be a kiss, if their own boyfriend/husband/lover might see it and what they might think, what consequences they might suffer (this is the 1940s!) if someone thinks they are “loose” or “fast”…
Why are we assuming they’re happy? Because we know he is? That’s a very dangerous line of thought when we’re talking about whether or not something is rape culture. “Well, he was enjoying himself… maybe she was, too?”
*Protip: “females” are how we refer to biological specimens. That is a human in the picture, and while she is female (adjective), she is a woman (noun). The tendency to talk about women like one is a Star Trek alien or we are heads of breeding cattle is all part and parcel of this.