Feminist activists have launched a campaign to prevent the return to the streets of Palm Springs of a statue of Marilyn Monroe that recreates her famous scene from The Seven Year Itch.
The Marilyn Monroe statue is nearly 8 meters tall and is called Forever Marilyn. The sculpture shows the actress in her iconic pose with her skirt lifted by the air coming out of the vents of the New York subway, belonging to the film The Seven Year Itch, directed by Billy Wilder in 1955.
This film consecrated Marilyn Monroe as a movie star, receiving positive reviews for her performance and for the first time nominated for a BAFTA award for best actress. The box-office success led the studio to improve the actress’s contract, who would receive a percentage of the proceeds and could make one independent production a year.
Her professional achievements were tarnished by the fact that the filming of this scene in New York was one of the main causes of her divorce from Joe DiMaggio, who could not stand the jealousy he felt at the sight of Marilyn enjoying the compliments of the large audience that gathered during the filming.
In an ironic twist of fate, almost 70 years later, it is now feminists who want to hide Marilyn from the public eye, and prevent her achievements as one of the most important and well-known actresses of all time from being celebrated.
According to Elizabeth Armstrong, former director of the Palm Springs Art Museum and spokesperson for the change.org petition “Stop the misogynist #MeTooMarilyn statue in Palm Springs,” the Marilyn Monroe statue is “blatantly sexist” and, according to her, “almost forces people to upskirt,” she said in remarks to NPR.
“Upskirt” in feminist slang means “taking pictures of a woman’s underwear from under her skirt, without her consent.”
She also stated that “she’s literally going to be bald-facedly busting the museum’s chops.” This technicality employed by Armstrong refers to “showing one’s butt.”
This initiative opposes the permanent installation of the statue in Palm Springs, announced by the city’s mayor in September 2019. The statue has been a traveling work in recent years, and was already on the streets of Palm Springs between 2012 and 2014, becoming a major tourist attraction for the city.
Previously, it had been in Stamford, Connecticut, where it also raised controversy, this time from the Congregational Church. The Puritans used the same argument as the feminists, accusing the statue of being pointing its backside toward the church.
The uncertainty about its location will remain until the final resolution of the complaint filed by the Committee to Relocate Marilyn, who, in order to prevent its installation, declare to adhere “to the code of streets and highways and the ways in which Palm Springs did not follow its own rules in the process of closing this street”.
The Marilyn Monroe statue and its importance to Palm Springs tourism
The statue has been acquired for $1,000,000 by Aftab Dada, leader of PS Resorts, who are in charge of Palm Springs tourism promotion. According to Dada, “the statue makes most people happy” and that “the photos that are taken and shared around the world do nothing but benefit the city of Palm Springs.”
Aftab Dada purchased the Marilyn Monroe statue with the intention of helping the town’s tourism recovery after a difficult year due to the pandemic, but now has to deal with complaints from those who want to cancel the Marilyn Monroe statue as inappropriate or un-feminist.