white china pitchers, behind an iconic photo, when lucy wright took over the shakersh

white china pitchers

white china pitchers

A lot of white in a photo does not do well on the internet, so I played around with the tonal contrasts.

If you’re not familiar with the famous pictures of the sailor grabbing a young woman and kissing her on news of V-J Day, 1945, there is one at the link. The Kissing Sailor, or “The Selective Blindness of Rape Culture”

Most of us are familiar with this picture. Captured in Times Square on V-J Day, 1945, it has become one of the most iconic photographs of American history, symbolizing the jubilation and exuberance felt throughout the country at the end of World War II.

For a long time, the identity of the pair remained a mystery. It certainly looks passionate and romantic enough, with many speculating that they were a couple – a sailor and a nurse, celebrating and sharing their joy. This year, however, historians have finally confirmed that the woman is Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental nurse at the time, and George Mendonsa, a sailor.

Have a look at some articles about it. Do you get the feeling that something is not quite right?

Huffington Post

Daily Mail

CBS News

A few facts have come to light. Far from being a kiss between a loving couple, we learn that George and Greta were perfect strangers. We learn that George was drunk, and that Greta had no idea of his presence, until she was in his arms, with his lips on hers.

The articles even give us Greta’s own words:

“It wasn’t my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed!”

I did not see him approaching, and before I knew it, I was in this vice grip. [sic]“

“You don’t forget this guy grabbing you.”

That man was very strong. I wasn’t kissing him. He was kissing me.”

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, even as they reproduce Greta’s words for us. 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, “still mesmerized by his timeless kiss.” George’s actions are romanticized and glorified; it is almost as if Greta had never spoken.

I first saw that picture in a retrospective book of pictures from Life magazine. I thought they were boyfriend and girlfriend. With that impression in mind I thought it was a great photograph. Learning that there was coercion involved takes the fun out of it, regardless of what the admittedly drunk sailor, thought were good intentions. If you have some thoughts to add, they’re up to over 600 comments at the link.

spring radishes

spring radishes

Shakers or The United Society of Believers in Christ’s Second Appearing, a few smaller, though similar religious sects were an important religious movement during the 18th-19th century. Why aren’t there a lot of Shakers around today if they were so important. Two reasons, that are part of one reason. They believed in living without sex and procreation. That meant they faced an uphill battle recruiting members and those they did have did not leave any child adherents. Oh, and they made great furniture. For some people the name Shaker rings a bell because  Shaker style tables and chairs still popular,  American Shakers Religious Sect under Lucy Wright 1760-1821

When Meacham died in 1796, Lucy became the sole leader of the Shakers. This infuriated several male Shaker brethren. Refusing to be any part of this “petticoat government,” these disaffected men left the Shaker community. Even though equality was a basic tenet of Shakerism which believed in a  dual Godhead (a God with both male & female counterparts), Shakers were not unaffected by contemporary beliefs about gender roles, since members had been raised in “the world.” But Lucy & the Shakers forged ahead. Mother Lucy assumed the leadership of the central ministry assisted by one or two “elder brothers.”  A set of Millennial Laws was drafted in 1821, that guided communities in all aspects of life from orderly worship practices & regulated dance to uniform architectural design. The Shakers relinquished the right to hold personal property of any kind, to marry, or to bear children. Men & women lived together as brothers & sisters, committed to a life of celibacy, & held all material possessions in common.

Lucy worked diligently to energize the westward expansion of Shakerism.  Under her administration the decision was made, in 1804, to send out the mission which eventually led to the establishment of 7 Shaker societies in Kentucky, Ohio, & Indiana.  By 1840, an estimated 5,000 or more Shakers lived in 19 principal communities in New England, New York, Ohio, & Kentucky. Brothers and sisters lived in dormitory accommodations in dwelling houses separated by sex.

When I read about Shakers in college I admired them up to a point. If as Christianity teaches, sex is a mortal sin, than it makes sense in terms of moral principles to stop having it. The Shakers were also amazingly hard workers. Chairs were traditionally hung on walls and only taken down for meals and other occasions once the work day was over. No sitting around ‘chewing the fat’ or gossiping.