When we discuss the iconic figure Marilyn Monroe, we typically love to gossip about the rumors and scandals that always seemed to follow her. From the claimed affairs she was taking part in and her risqué photographs, she was often degraded and belittled by the media. Tall, blonde, and beautiful, Marilyn Monroe was the epitome of beauty standards during the “golden age” of Hollywood. Every woman wanted to be her, and every man wanted to be with her. During her life, she became one of Hollywood’s most popular sex symbols, but Monroe was so much more than the bombshell beauty.
Monroe was an activist and a proud supporter of the civil rights movement. She showcased her support by participating in rallies that protested the violation of civil liberties. In 1960, she was even elected as an alternate delegate to Connecticut’s state Democratic convention. When artist Ella Fitzgerald was banned from clubs due to racial segregation, Monroe used her status to boost her career. She promised to be front row at Fitzgerald’s show if the clubs would agree to book her. It was an absolute success for Fitzgerald’s career. Marilyn Monroe was also an advocate for equal pay. When she learned that her male co-star made more than double what she made, she decided to walk off-set. She refused to take on the role until her demands for equal pay and treatment were met.
It is also known that Hollywood has had a fair share of sexual harassment cases where women often felt silenced from their experiences. Marilyn Monroe was vocal about this abuse and used her platform to warn upcoming actresses. She described the men in this industry as the wolves of Hollywood that had the power to ruin your career if they didn’t receive what they asked for. It’s a shame how this pattern continued even after her death.
There have been multiple attempts to portray the life of Monroe in film, including the most recent piece on Netflix, Blonde, directed by Andrew Dominik. Fictionalized or not, this film was made to appeal to the male audience with almost three hours’ worth of sexualization and exploitation of Marilyn Monroe. Yet what do you really expect when you let a man direct a woman’s story, right?
Marilyn Monroe is more than the fetishization and exploitation she continuously faces. Even after death, she is never left to rest in peace. She continues to be portrayed in the media as a piece of meat, but aside from being an incredible actress and model, Monroe was an activist and powerful woman that used her platform for good. She made her presence known in every room she stepped into; for that, she’ll live on as one of the biggest female icons.