When LIFE invited them to Times Square in 1980, Greta refused to reproduce the pose
1980 LIFE reunion in Times Square - While George was proud enough of this moment to sign the photo, Greta was reluctant to reproduce the experience, and REFUSED to re-enact the forced submission pose. Here, George buzzed her on the cheek rather than forcing 1945's breath-taking (literally) French kiss.

reunited & it feels so...odd

A kiss based on one person’s joy and another person’s non-consenting shock isn’t really a perfect kiss. And actually, it never was.

Non-consensual acts of Intimacy no longer in Vogue

Today, this iconic photo might be considered an assault. It doesn’t mean Mendonsa was a monster. It doesn’t mean humans were bad in 1945. It just means that stories don’t always behave as we’d like. Our fantasies can be punctured by the reality of other people’s feelings.

THE POSE Greta REFUSED to repeat

When Greta Met George - Times Square · 1980

Excerpts from 2005 Veteran's History Project interview:

Greta Zimmer Friedman: "I didn't want to reenact the kiss.. It wasn't -- it wasn't my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and kissed or grabbed."

Patricia Redmond: "Okay. So now we're in 1980, and we do a reenactment of the kiss."

Greta Zimmer Friedman: "Yes. I told him I didn't want to redo that pose."

Patricia Redmond: "And you and George are in touch still?"

Greta Zimmer Friedman: "Once in a while. Well, we send each other Christmas cards. And he has a very lovely wife, and I've talked to her. But we're not friends...but through this happening, we have something in common."


ON VJ DAY - A NATION "CUT LOOSE" - and it wasn't pretty

With millions dead, and 4 years of deprivation at home, the nearing end of the war prompted a military-encouraged trend toward the “Hollywood Kiss” – a ritualistic exaggerated welcoming home of the conquering heroes.

The interior spread from LIFE - featuring both consensual and non-consensual kissing from coast-to-coast

Caption from the Eisenstaedt Photo:

In the middle of New York's Times Square a white-clad girl clutches her purse and skirt as an uninhibited sailor plants his lips squarely on hers.

According to Boston University historian Brooke Blower In stateside military hubs, there were kissing ambushes, and accounts surfaced of women trying to dodge these traps, usually unsuccessfully, and ‘admiring’ crowds, like the one in Eisenstaedt’s photograph, gathering and applauding nosily in charivari fashion when they were caught.

Reporters quickly normalized these incidents weaving details of assaults in which the rest of their coverage of the merriment, making no effort to distinguish between voluntary kissers expressing their own joy and appreciation and others who had been caught against their will.

In the giddy, chaotic first few hours after the announcement, people naturally took to the streets of cities and towns all over the country. In other words: the nation let loose. That sort of revelry is not always pretty. Sometimes it can be downright ugly. But to pretend it doesn’t happen (especially when a record of it exists right before one’s eyes) does a disservice to history; to the memories of the men and the women killed and wounded in the war and of those who lived to mark its long-hoped-for end.

This spirited display of public kissing Life described in the text accompanying its photo spread ran the gamut from mob-assault…to indiscriminate chain-kissing. In New York alone, the revelry led to looting, vandalism, over 200 fires, six deaths, and over 900 hospital trips.

Nothing, however, rivaled the orgy in San Francisco…where thousands of rampaging sailors overturned cable cars, and stripped girls of clothing…during three days of so-called ‘peace riots’, which caused thirteen deaths and more than a thousand injuries. Unsuspecting women were molested, and their escorts were beaten. Published reports made a meticulous account of broken liquor store windows, but offered only oblique references to the feminine assault that furnished a major method by which sailors and marines ‘let off steam’ as the Life caption reporting the attacks put it.

Guys were kissing, and practically raping, everybody on Market Street, remembered on hotel hostess: They were pulling girls’ pants off and sailing them down the street. Many allegations of sexual assault, including gang rapes described by witnesses, came to light in subsequent weeks, and officials confirmed that that at least 6 rapes took place.

On VJ-Day, the elated servicemen brought the mix of sex and violence that characterizes the fast life of war home. Indeed, in WW-II as in all subsequent wars, there was a notable upswing in the number of sexual assaults reported near military bases, and over 13,000 women were reportedly raped by U.S. GI’s in France during the war…one of the unpleasant truths disclosed in the accompanying sign when Unconditional Surrender was displayed at Normandy.

Despite this HISTORY...

Sarasota routinely dupes loving couples into re-enacting the forced domination pose Greta refused to re-create

Couple unknowningly re-creates the domination pose