Backlash against giant Marilyn Monroe statue for ‘forcing upskirting’

·2-min read
<p>Women pose for a photo beneath the 'Forever Marilyn' statue of actress Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs, California, on August 4, 2012</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

Women pose for a photo beneath the 'Forever Marilyn' statue of actress Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs, California, on August 4, 2012

(AFP via Getty Images)

The return of a giant Marilyn Monroe sculpture has caused a backlash in Palm Springs, California, with advocates saying that the feature promotes misogyny and upskirting.

The 26-foot-tall, stainless steel and aluminum statue portray the movie star in her famous scene from The Seven Year Itch, wearing a white dress while standing over a subway grate.

NPR reported that while the sculpture, named "Forever Marilyn" was previously installed in the city from 2012 to 2014 and now will be fitted permanently at Coachella Valley.

While hospitality leaders say that the attraction will benefit the city and bring in tourists, others have said the new placement of the piece is problematic.

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The Marilyn sculpture is set to be displayed at the entrance to the Palm Springs Art Museum, with the back of the icon and her underskirt facing visitors who leave the building.

Louis Grachos, the director of the Palm Springs Art Museum told the radio station the placement will be highly “offensive” for young people confronted with the sight.

"The thought of those kids leaving our museum and having the first thing they see is the undergarments and underwear of this enormous Marilyn sculpture would be highly offensive," he said.

A Change.org petition set up in protest of the statue also argues that it is “misogynist” and “hyper-sexualized”. The petition has received over 40,000 signatures of its 50,000 target.

"She’s literally going to be mooning the museum," Elizabeth Armstrong, a spokesperson for the petition effort, told NPR. "It’s blatantly sexist. It forces people almost to upskirt."

“We challenge Palm Springs to find more appropriate ways to honor her memory and the true legacy of Marilyn Monroe,” the petition says.

People visit and photograph the ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue of actress Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs, California, on 4 August 2012AFP via Getty Images
People visit and photograph the ‘Forever Marilyn’ statue of actress Marilyn Monroe in Palm Springs, California, on 4 August 2012AFP via Getty Images

Fashion designer Trina Turk, who is leading another effort titled the Committee to Relocate Marilyn, says “there’s no data” to prove that the installment will increase footfall for businesses.

"Social media impressions don’t really pay the bills for someone who has a shop or a restaurant on Palm Canyon Drive," she told the radio station.

Managing director at the Palm Springs Hilton and the head of PS Resorts, Aftab Dada, has insited that the likeness makes the “majority” of people very happy and that the installation will “do nothing but benefit the city of Palm Springs.”

Mr Dada maintains that the city will “conduct [an] independent research study and notify the city what the economic impact and benefit she has been.”

He said he was surprised by the pushback on the statue, saying: "she’s an attraction, in our opinion. She’s not an art."

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