Women need men Monroe

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I n one of the most famous photos of the 20th century, Marilyn Monroe stands on a subway grate, trying to hold her skirt down as a gust of wind blows it up, exposing her underpants. Marilyn is a vision in white, suggesting innocence and purity. Yet she exudes sexuality and transcends it; poses for the male gaze and confronts it. The photoshoot was a publicity stunt, one of the greatest in the history of film. Its time and location were published in New York newspapers; it attracted a crowd of male photographers and 1, male spectators, even though it was held in the middle of the night to avoid daytime crowds.

Sam Shaw, the stills photographer for the m ovie, took the famous photo, but the other photographers there shot hundreds of variations. Billy Wilder, the film's director, did 14 takes — pausing between them to let the photographers shoot. Every time Marilyn's skirt blew up, the crowd roared, especially those up front, who could see a dark blotch of pubic hair through her underpants, even though she had put on two pairs to conceal it. The draconian Motion Picture Production Code forbade such a display. Any of pubic hair in photos had to be airbrushed out.

The scene in the shoot is naughty, with the phallic subway train, its blast of air, and Marilyn's erotic stance. Yet she is in control. She is the "woman on top," drawing from the metaphor for women's power that runs through Euro-American history. She poses for the male gaze, but she is an unruly woman — the white witch with supernatural powers; the burlesque star in "an upside-down world of enormous, powerful women and powerless, victimised men".

In the photo Marilyn is so gorgeous, so glamorous, so incandescent — as her third husband, the writer Arthur Millerdescribed her — that she seems every inch a star, glorying in her success. She can now defy the people who had mistreated her: her father and mother, who abandoned her; foster parents who abused her; Hollywood patriarchs who regarded her as their toy; even Joe DiMaggio, then her husband, who physically abused her. Present at the shoot, he stalked off in a fury when her skirt billowed up and revealed her underwear.

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In her only discussion of the shoot — a interview — she stated that she wasn't thinking about sex when she posed, only about having a good time. We are not accustomed to seeing Marilyn Monroe as being on top in any but the most superficial way. We view her as irreparably damaged, too victimised to have played much of a role either in launching her career or reinventing herself on the silver screen. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Marilyn is a woman who made herself into a star, conquering numerous disabilities in the process, creating a life more dramatic than any role she played in films. Her disadvantages were many. She suffered from dyslexia and from a stutter more severe than anyone has realised. She was plagued throughout her life by horrible dreams that contributed to her constant insomnia. She was bipolar and often disassociated from reality. She endured terrible pain during menstruation because she had endometriosis. She broke out in rashes and hives and eventually came down with chronic colitis, enduring abdominal pain and nausea.

She surmounted all this, in addition to the well-known problems of her childhood —a mother in a mental institution, a father she never knew, and moving between foster homes and an orphanage. Then there were the drugs she took to cope, once she entered Hollywood and had to endure its pressures: she especially took barbiturates Women need men Monroe calm her down; amphetamines to give her energy. Yet she desired women, had affairs with them, and worried that she might be lesbian by nature. How could she be the world's heterosexual sex goddess and desire women? How could she have the world's most perfect body on the outside and have such internal imperfections?

Why was she unable to bear ? The adult Marilyn was haunted by these questions. Yet in her career she exhibited a rare genius.

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Publicists marvelled at her ability to generate publicity; makeup artists saluted her skill at their craft; photographers rated her one of the greatest models of their age. She studied with top acting, singing and movement teachers to create her era's greatest dumb-blonde clown. Voluptuous and soft-voiced, the Marilyn we know exemplified s femininity. Yet she mocked it with her wiggling walk, jiggling breasts, and puckered mouth. She could tone her blonde bombshell image down, project sadness in her eyes, and, like all great clowns, play her figure on the edge between comedy and tragedy.

There were many Marilyns. As a pin-up model early in her career she posed for her era's most famous pin-up photo — a nude that became the centrefold for the first issue of Playboy in December By mid-career she created a new glamour look that combined the allure of the pinup with the aloof, mature sensuality of a glamour star of the s like Greta Garbo. Another Marilyn had a talent for drama, evident in films like Clash by Night and Bus Stop and in her poses for photographers like Milton Greene and Eve Arnold.

Marilyn Women need men Monroe nothing if not complicated and in ways that have never been revealed. She was shy and insecure, lacking self-confidence. But she was tough and determined. She had an ironic and sometimes ribald wit, engaging in puns and wordplay. She could swear like a trooper. She loved to play practical jokes. She sometimes was a party girl who did "crazy, naughty, sexy things", including engaging in promiscuous sex, displaying what we now call "sex addiction".

In another guise she was a trickster who assumed aliases, wore disguises, and lived her life as though it was a spy story, with secret friends and a secret apartment in New York. Unlike other Marilyn biographers, except Gloria Steinem, I argue that the sexual abuse she endured as was formative in moulding her adult character. We now know that such abuse can produce sex addiction, exhibitionism, and an angry, frightened adult. It can fragment a personality.

However dominant, "Marilyn Monroe" was only one persona among many that emerged from and were created by the original Norma Jeane Baker. That happened when Norma Jeane ed a contract with 20th Century Fox in August and began her ascent to stardom.

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The s were a paradoxical era. Americans were exuberant over victory in World War Two and the booming consumer economy, while they were frightened by the Cold War with the Soviet Union and the threat of nuclear destruction, and paranoid about homosexuality and internal communism in the United States. Marilyn's comic style soothed the nation's fears, while reflecting the s "populuxe" style in de, which spoofed consumption and laughed at fears through a populist version of luxury. When she put on her Betty Boop character she was populuxe to the hilt.

Her innocent eroticism and joy made her the ultimate playmate for men in a postwar age worried about male feminisation, as warriors became husbands with the end of the war. Beyond feminisation lay homosexuality, demonised in the s as a perversion that threatened everyone. In her films Marilyn often plays against an impotent man whom she restores to potency by praising his gentleness as necessary to true masculinity, as she does for Tom Ewell in The Seven Year Itch. In real life she often chose powerful older men as partners, overlooking their domineering ways in her quest for a father.

As an exemplar of her age, she relates to s rock'n'roll musicians and beat poets that were forerunners to s rebels, as did actors like Montgomery Clift and Marlon Brandowho were both identified with new, rebellious acting styles. From that perspective, ed with her support for sexual freedom, she was a rebel pointing to the radicalism and sexual rebellion of the s.

I was drawn to writing about Marilyn because no one like me —an academic, a feminist biographer, and a historian of gender —had studied her. As a founder of "second-wave feminism" and the new women's history, I had dismissed Marilyn for many years as a sex object for men. By the s, however, a generation of "third-wave feminists" contended that sexualising women was liberating, not demeaning, for it gave them self-knowledge and power. The students I taught were swayed by this. Had I dismissed Marilyn too easily? Was she a precursor of s feminism? Was Marilyn in actual fact a feminist?

Is she one of the women who changed the world's attitude toward women? She certainly took actions that could be called feminist. Her entire life was a process of self-formation. She was a genius at self-creation and made herself into an actress and a star.

She formed her own production company, she fought the moguls to a standstill, and she publicly named the sexual abuse visited on her as : a major — and unacknowledged — feminist act. She refused to keep quiet in an age that believed such abuse rarely happened and when it did, the victimised girl was responsible. Such self-disclosure would become important to the feminist movement in the s. She never called herself a feminist but the term wasn't yet in widespread use during her life, and the movement wouldn't appear until a of years after her death.

Hedda Rosten, her secretary and close friend, identified her as "the quintessential victim of the male". Norman Rosten, Hedda's husband, who was equally close to Marilyn, saw her relationship to feminism differently. He contended that Marilyn would have quarrelled with her "sisters" on the issue of sexual liberation. She had achieved the financial and legal gains they sought.

And she enjoyed her femininity, recognising its power over men. Marilyn's stance in his eyes sounds like a post- feminist position, which privileges power over oppression and emphasises the power women possess through their femininity and sexuality. On the other hand, one could argue that it was her fixation with her femininity — and her attitude towards it, sometimes regal and sometimes tormented — that caused her victimisation in the end. No matter how hard she tried, Hollywood and its men refused to consider her as anything more than a party girl and in the end they treated her like a slut they could use with impunity.

She commented that "black men don't like to be called 'boys,' but women accept being called 'girls,' " as though she were offended by the latter term. And she didn't like male violence. Weatherby liked Hemingway for his understanding of human nature. Marilyn didn't like his masculine heroes. They aren't even all that tough!

They're afraid of kindness and gentleness and beauty. They always want to kill something to prove themselves! In her best moments, she saw herself as part of that movement.

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Yet Marilyn had no gender framework to support her stance, no way of conceptualising her situation beyond her individual self, to encompass all women, whose rights were limited in the s. Had she lived a few years longer, into the mids, the feminist movement could have offered the concept of sexism as a way to understand her oppression and the idea of sisterhood as a support.

For Marilyn, always worried about going insane like her mother, Freud's ideas offered a way to achieve a balanced mind that might keep her from the incarcerations and electric shock treatments her mother had endured. Although she continued to explore mystical alternatives and converted to Arthur Miller's Judaism, she called Freudianism her "religion". Psychoanalysis became a way of life for her. In New York and after she returned to Hollywood in she entered into a voyage of discovery, exploring childhood memories, trying to figure out who she was.

As was her way, she went to the top of the Freudian networks, choosing therapists who were close to Sigmund Freud's daughter, Anna, whom Freud had analysed himself.

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She saw Anna for daily sessions over the course of a week. Greenson had a practice in Beverly Hills with many star patients. He had 15 sessions with Marilyn in February and March. He was appalled by the drugs she was taking, and tried to get her off them. During their sessions, Marilyn poured out her resentments against Arthur Miller.

Greenson concluded that she had turned Arthur into a foster parent whom she then rejected. He called her paranoid, but not schizophrenic. Greenson pulled Marilyn together. And some months later, after she suffered a nervous breakdown on the set of The Misfits and her marriage to Miller ended, she decided to move to Los Angeles to undergo regular therapy with him.

She began seeing him as often as five times a week. He thought she was improving, since she seemed more positive in her outlook and told him she was taking almost no prescription drugs. On 1 June, her birthday, she sent Greenson a telegram: "In this world of people I'm glad there's you.

As she had with Arthur Miller and Lee Strasberg [founder of the Actor's Studio in New York, where Marilyn trained] she was developing a father-saviour complex with him. Their relationship would become a focal point in her life. Ralph Greenson was considered daring to take on Marilyn. Many psychiatrists wouldn't have treated her because of her suicide attempts.

The suicide of a patient — particularly of so famous a patient — could destroy a psychiatrist's career. Greenson liked treating celebrities, and treated many famous performers, including Frank Sinatra and Vivien Leigh. He was well known for his theories about the relationship between therapist and patient, which he published in articles in academic journals and in his book Explorations in Psychoanalysisfor a time considered the definitive work on the subject.

Women need men Monroe

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