Women’s March Foundation chapters and allied groups helped organize a demonstration against a 26-foot-tall statue of Marilyn Monroe that was formally installed in downtown Palm Springs, California, on Sunday, calling the tribute to the Hollywood icon a “misogynistic eyesore.”
“The statue is designed to look at her crotch and look at her buttocks and take photos. And that is no longer acceptable,” said Emiliana Guereca, executive director of the Women’s March Foundation. “It may have been acceptable in the 1950s, but we are in 2021 fighting the same thing and women are saying enough is enough.”
“There’s also a Me Too culture going on,” she added. “We are demanding respect for women and public spaces.”
The 34,000-pound sculpture, known as “Forever Marilyn,” is set to remain in its current location on city-owned land for three years. It was purchased for $1 million by PS Resorts, a city tourism organization funded partly by transient occupancy taxes. But, according to the Palm Springs Desert Sun, the agreement “includes an option for the city to terminate it early if issues arise.”
A new 26-foot MARILYN MONROE statue was unveiled in Palm Springs. It was met with criticism because visitors can look up her dress to see her underwear. Protesters call it a, quote, “misogynistic eyesore.” pic.twitter.com/LA4qKniOjJ
— Dave Ryan (@daveryankdwb) June 22, 2021
The Desert Sun reported, “Protest chants of ‘Hey hey! Ho-ho! Misogyny has got to go!’ rang out ahead of the ceremony.” Still, the outlet noted that supporters “appeared to outnumber detractors.”
Feminist groups merged with other local organizations with different agendas to speak out against the installation, including the Committee to Relocate Marilyn, which has filed a lawsuit opposing the statue’s placement. They say it blocks the view of an art museum, impedes traffic flow, and should be moved to a park nearby.
The long-awaited #ForeverMarilyn statue unveiling in #PalmSprings is just minutes away. Supporters and protesters are out in full force, including @womensmarch and #MeToo pic.twitter.com/XgG0Xb17ij
— Shelby Nelson (@KESQShelby) June 21, 2021
“We would never celebrate a powerful man [with a] 26-foot tall sculpture with his pants pulled down,” Elizabeth Armstrong, former director of the Palm Springs Art Museum, told KESQ News.
Christopher Knight, an art critic with the Los Angeles Times, described the statue as “casual misogyny” and condemned media outlets that he says have not presented the controversy in proper context.
— Christopher Knight (@KnightLAT) June 24, 2021
“Misogyny’s contempt for women is the root of homophobia and transphobia,” Knight wrote in a recent commentary.
“Forever Marilyn” supporters say they hope the installation will draw tourism to the desert resort town even in the off-season when temperatures can eclipse 120 degrees. The giant sculpture was previously installed at another location in Palm Springs from 2012 through 2014 and was credited for generating publicity for the city and boosting revenue for small businesses.
“This is a great free attraction, and I think it will be great for our businesses, and it’s great to have free attractions for our residents,” said Councilman Geoff Kors, who is also a legislative strategist for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, in an interview with KESQ. “She’s been a great free attraction before, and she will be again.”
— Ema Sasic (@ema_sasic) June 21, 2021
The Desert Sun provides more details from Sunday’s installation ceremony:
“Forever Marilyn” portrays the iconic Hollywood star as her dress is blown up by air from a subway grate, inspired by a scene from her 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch.” The statue was created by sculptor John Seward Johnson II.
Joshua John Miller, the grandson of the pinup photographer Bruno Bernard, who captured the image that inspired the statue, addressed the crowd. The photo, he said, cemented “her not only as a star but as a legend.”
Miller recounted how Bernard introduced Monroe to the head of the William Morris Agency at the Palm Springs Racquet Club, a key turning point in her career, saying it was “fitting” that she was returning to the city.
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