Celebrities, Pop Culture, Women of Influence, Feminism, Diversity, Inclusion

Eras of Her: The Glory Days of Monroe

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Norma Jeane Mortenson, Mona Monroe, and Marilyn Monroe. All one person who had a huge impact on women and society as a whole. Who was she and what did she do to change entertainment and social practices? In an industry dominated by men, Marilyn Monroe defied certain rules and expectations and made the world her own. Read along to uncover how Marilyn changed our societal norms for the better.

Instead of giving in to the gender roles of the 1950s by becoming a housewife, Marilyn Monroe insisted and proved to everyone that she was more than just a beautiful, ditsy blonde woman. Upon entering the entertainment industry, working for only men, she was limited to roles that depicted her as the stereotypical ditsy female figure. To help her situation, she demanded a dressing room for herself, but of course, it got denied, as well as equal pay, as one of her co-workers, Jane Russell, made more than her in one of their movies together. Tired of this female stereotype, she refused to act in both The Girl In Pink Tights and How To Be Very, Very Popular, causing much frustration for the producers and directors of Twentieth Century Fox. After realizing they had made a major mistake by letting her go, they offered her a new role in There’s No Business Like Show Business, which she initially refused, but later accepted upon being offered a higher salary.

As Michelle Morgan states in her book, The Girl: Marilyn Monroe, The Seven Year Itch and The Birth of An Unlikely Feminist, Marilyn had “won an important battle, not only for herself, but for other actresses coming up behind her. Refusing a role she was contracted to play was an astonishingly brave position for an actress of the studio era to take.” Monroe eventually went on to create her own production company, with the help of her manager Milton Greene, but it was still her own business nonetheless, especially as she was, as the article, The Sydney Morning Herald, states, “the mastermind and business brain behind it” (Camera 2018). No woman had ever done such a thing yet in her time, so this was truly something impressive. 

Photo courtesy of Picryl

Also impressive was that Marilyn Monroe was not afraid to stand up and fight for justice. Upon hearing that Ella Fitzgerald was forbidden from performing at an all-white club, Monroe immediately called up the club’s owner and promised to attend every night in a front-row seat if Ella could play. Once the deal was made, Fitzgerald felt that she was forever indebted to Monroe. As Fitzgerald once said, “I owe Marilyn Monroe a real debt…she personally called the owner of the Mocambo, and told him she wanted me booked immediately, and if he would do it, she would take a front table every night. She told him—and it was true, due to Marilyn’s superstar status—that the press would go wild. The owner said yes, and Marilyn was there, front table, every night. The press went overboard. After that, I never had to play a small jazz club again. She was an unusual woman—a little ahead of her times. And she didn’t know it.”

Marilyn Monroe rose up as a legend all on her own in an industry full of power and sex-hungry men, all while changing society, so that women and people of all color today could feel they have a place in this world. 

“My popularity seems almost entirely a masculine phenomenon.” -Marilyn Monroe

Photo courtesy of Picryl

Credits:

https://medium.com/lessons-from-history/marilyn-monroe-is-a-feminist-icon-fc88148ff330

https://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/movies/marilyn-monroe-the-unlikely-feminist-20180628-p4zo89.html

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