The XX Factor

JFK Photo Questionable Yet Illuminating

The skeptic in me wants to roll my eyes at this revelation that a picture was released showing JFK on a boat full of naked women . And not because a gossip website released it—gossip magazines and websites, if studied scientifically, probably have the same accuracy rate as serious news organizations.  It’s because the story sends up all the red flags for B.S.  The photo was taken at a distance, it’s crinkled, and it’s impossible to tell whether the man in the picture is JFK or someone who just has similar bone structure.  The story of how this came to be also lacks details that could create a chain of evidence.  TMZ doesn’t say who took it, nor do they name the guy who ended up with it, or explain how he got a hold of it.  Anyone in their right mind should be scoffing.

All that said, should better evidence to demonstrate that this is JFK in the picture surface, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised.  Whether it’s real or not, the picture creates the opportunity to remember what a huge cad JFK was, and also how much being a huge cad was normalized in the anti-feminist backlash period of the 50s and early 60s.  The story of the cruise that JFK definitely was on when this picture was supposedly taken is traumatic just to read:

The trio reportedly entertained a number of women on the yacht. Jackie Kennedy was pregnant at the time and was rushed to the hospital while JFK was on the boat. Doctors performed an emergency C-section, but the infant was stillborn.

Makes Don Draper look like an upstanding guy, because at least he bothered to show up when his wife delivered children he had a hand in creating.

The whole thing puts into question whether or not this photo really would have been the end of JFK’s presidential hopes.  If so, it’s because of the sex, because obviously the voters were willing to look the other way when it came to the outrageous neglect of basic husbandly duties.  Nowadays, a politician can only get away with that sort of thing if he’s a Republican.

Photograph by National Archives/Getty Images.