Candle in the Wind

From Carolyn Gage  at Trivia:

Much of what the media portrays as women’s sexuality looks suspiciously like dissociative identity disorder. Marilyn Monroe’s behaviors, for example, bear more resemblance to those of a molested child trying to appease a male authority figure than an adult woman engaging in an empowering and mutually satisfying sexual interaction. And, indeed, why wouldn’t they? Our pop cultural icon for female sexuality spent a fatherless childhood of sexual abuse and poverty in a string of orphanages and foster homes after her mother, who suffered mental illness, was institutionalised. By her own account, she was a survivor of multiple episodes of child sexual abuse. Shortly after her fifteenth birthday, her legal guardian brokered a so-called marriage for her. In other words, Marilyn Monroe was legally prostituted as a teenager. She made three attempts at suicide before she was twenty-five, and several more throughout the rest of her life. Marilyn called her first husband “Daddy,” she called second husband Joe Dimaggio “Pa,” and she called third husband Arthur Miller “Pops.” Apparently it wasn’t just her heart that belonged to daddy.

But this profoundly traumatized woman who died such a tragic, early death has become, not a symbol for a movement against child sexual abuse, but an icon of female sexuality. What does it say about male dominant culture that its sex goddess was a desperately unhappy, suicidal incest survivor who had dissociative identity disorders and who eventually killed herself? Can anyone really believe that Marilyn Monroe’s sexuality was a transcendent phenomenon, somehow existing apart from her history of trauma, developed in a cultural vacuum? It was not. Her sexuality was no different from that of millions of survivors of child sexual abuse all over the world. At a recent auction of her personal affects, a pair of Marilyn’s stiletto-heel pumps was sold for $48,000. A high price to pay for shoes, but the price is much higher for the woman who attempts to walk in them. And maybe that’s the point.

Read the whole thing here

UPDATE:  Antonia Zerbesias wrote about Marilyn Monroe and this article by Carolyn Gage at Broadsides.

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