The MeToo Movement is a strong, empowering fight. But was it justified to vandalize a historic statue to advocate it?
The #MeToo movement has grown into be one of the most debated and progressive steps that women have taken to fight against assault and sexual harassment. While this movement is still on the rise, though not at the fore as it was when it began, one particular event has brought it right back into the spotlight. Vandals chose to spray paint the phrase #MeToo on a famous statue in Florida as reported by the CNN.
The statue, called Unconditional Surrender, is the model of the iconic Times Square kiss that happened between a sailor and nurse after the end of the World War II. Spray-painted in red, the phrase took up the entire length of the nurse's leg.
The photo was taken in Times Square on August 14th, 1945 which showed a woman dressed in a white nurse's uniform being held and kissed by a sailor to celebrate the end of the war. The woman in the picture was identified as Greta Zimmer Friedman, who was a dental assistant at the time while the sailor was a man named George Mendonsa. Both of them were strangers at the time.
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Coincidentally, the vandalism is said to have occurred just a day after 95-year-old veteran, Mendonsa passed away on Sunday, February 17, 2019. The police say that it could have been done any time on Monday afternoon or evening.
However, as famous (or infamous) as this moment is, in today's world, no one would be okay with the idea of being kissed by a stranger without their consent. But in an interview with the Veteran's History Project, Friedman spoke up about the kiss that was not consensual.
She said, "And so suddenly I was grabbed by a sailor, and it wasn't that much of a kiss, it was more of a jubilant act that he didn't have to go back, I found out later, he was so happy that he did not have to go back to the Pacific where they already had been through the war. And the reason he grabbed someone dressed like a nurse was that he just felt very grateful to nurses who took care of the wounded."
Mendonsa had something similar to say about it when he spoke to CNN in 2015. He said, "So we get into Times Square and the war ends and I see the nurse. I had a few drinks, and it was just plain instinct, I guess. I just grabbed her."
Officers on the scene were unable to find any evidence or surveillance video which could have pointed them to the person who did that. They say that "The approximate damage is estimated to be more than $1,000 due to the large area that the graffiti covers, and the resources needed to repair it." Cleaners from the Gorilla Kleen worked to remove the graffiti from the statue.
Those on social media who saw the news had varying views on this event.
Some users were appalled at the way people had misconstrued the kiss.
One user commented, "Too far....a different situation time and place when the original photo was taken. An interview done some time ago was with the woman in the original picture and her take on it was that everyone was kissing everyone because the war was over."
There were quite a few who were of the opinion that the vandals had taken the #MeToo movement too far. Another user added, "Taking it too far! People we so relieved and happy when the WWII was over. This was one moment shared by a kiss between strangers that didn’t go any further. He did not take advantage of her."
However, some users felt uncomfortable with the idea of a non-consensual kiss.
This is a statue of a sexual assault titled unconditional surrender. Tear that shit down already. https://t.co/Eywaa2NCV9— Rochelle D. (@rochellehd) February 19, 2019
One user said, "I've always been uncomfortable with the picture and any of the representations. It has never looked like something consensual to me. Later it came out that the woman who was kissed was just grabbed and kissed - that's just never ok."
At the same time, there were other users who commented that the entire idea of vandalism was not okay.
A Facebook user posted, "Vandalism is wrong, context matters and respect should be an expectation not an exception."
Another comment read, "Vandalism is NOT an answer for anything it's only breaking the law. Educate yourself. VOICE your opinion by stating facts. History is just that...history. Can't be rewritten or changed."
So do you think the person was right to spray-paint the phrase #MeToo on this historic statue?
Here's what one woman says in this video: