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    The "#MeToo" slogan is shown spray-painted by unknown vandals on the Unconditional Surrender statue, in Sarasota, Florida, U.S., Feb. 19, 2019. | Photo: Reuters

Published 20 February 2019
Opinion

"The statue and her body as used as a metaphor for winning the war over Germany In summary: it’s gross," Game Designer Jennifer Scheurle tweeted.

One day after the death of the United States sailor who was famously photographed kissing a stranger at the end of World War Two, a statue of the moment in Sarasota, Florida, has been vandalized with "#MeToo" in red spray paint Monday, local police said.

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Police estimate the cost of the damage to the statue, titled "Unconditional Surrender" to be around US$1,000 "due to the large area that the graffiti covers,” BBC reported.

The representation of veteran soldier George Mendonsa, who died at 95 years old earlier this week, kissing veteran nurse Greta Zimmer Friedman embodied the euphoria and joy felt across the country the day Japan surrendered, marking the end of World War Two.

However, in recent years a counter-narrative has surfaced claiming the image is of an act of sexual assault, as Mendonsa did not, in fact, have Friedman's consent to kiss her. Since October of 2017, the #MeToo movement has exposed historic claims of sexual assault and opened up a mainstream debate over consent, sexual violence, and assault.

In an interview for the Library of Congress, Friedman said “It wasn't my choice to be kissed. The guy just came over and grabbed!”

The police department shared the photos of the graffitied statue on their Facebook page, prompting social media users to comment.

“This is iconic and is an amazing time in history when war came to an end,” one person wrote. “Sadly the sailor passed away yesterday and it only goes to show some people have no respect for the true meaning of what life, love, history and the sacrifices our men and women have done for our country.”

Others were not as forgiving. Another social media user commented, "[I'm] not saying this woman feels like a victim, but technically it was an unwanted, unsolicited sexual act. Plain and simple. The MeToo movement is also meant to educate and understand that women cannot continue to be seen as sex objects that men can just take when they want!"

The graffiti was removed Tuesday morning according to the City of Sarasota.

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