My Week With Marilyn: The Myth of the Irresistible Woman and the Destruction of the Belief in Men’s Innocence. (Part 5)
Then our two heroes go skinny-dipping in a river on Marilyn’s initiative. Colin opposes it “we do not have swimsuits” until Marilyn simply undresses entirely. Colin clearly isn’t in the position of a lover here, he doesn’t feel legitimate and he does not intend to have sex with Marilyn Monroe.
He is only improvising, trying not to vex her, mainly in order to do his job properly and here in hope she uses her power to help him get his job back. Of course, that doesn’t mean that he isn’t very happy to see her naked and to go swimming with her. But, on a more important level, what it means is that when she does the “I’ve got something in my eye” trick and kisses him on the mouth, it’s absolutely inappropriate. He did not expect it, he did not want it and he remains paralysed, in shock.
Marilyn carries on talking, pretending not to see. Colin stays in the water, staring at the woman, close to horrified. Clearly, it’s not elation that he is experiencing. He suddenly becomes very prudish and Marilyn mocks him, again ignoring the fact that she’s done something totally inappropriate and that her victim is in shock.
There’s something strange going on with Marilyn’s behind. When she’s dressed, it look three sizes larger.
Marilyn carries on pretending that what’s happening is beautiful. She talks about a « perfect date » and how she hasn’t had one since she was 13.
Roger interrupts them and Marilyn clearly looks pissed off.
- Be careful not to get in too deep, son.
But it’s too late. Colin has eventually taken the bait. Not a hundred percent, but by that moment he is starting to get in too deep emotionally. He tries to warm Marilyn up by rubbing her arms.
Here, I need to point at the fact that there always is truth in the best lies. If you want to pretend that you’re crying because someone hurt your feelings, it’s easier to have a real different reason to cry than to try to do so for no reason. Colin believes that Marilyn is honestly messed up and lost and he is right, that’s one of the reasons why he falls into the trap. The lie lies in the fact that her problems have absolutely nothing to do with the shooting of the movie.
h. Marilyn ‘s room and bed.
Their final encounter in her room is Marilyn’s final attempt at proving that she is irresistible. She wants Colin to attempt at having sex with her. The door is locked, she’s supposed to have taken a lot of sleeping pills and she has him climb up a ladder to enter through the window.
Of course, Colin couldn’t rape her even if he wanted to, but Marilyn only wants to break him, to have him finally try something without having been invited to do so. But he wakes her up and she compares the situation to Romeo and Juliette. These constant allusions to romance aren’t innocent, they’re the classier version to constant allusions to sex.
They have a chat and during this conversation, Marilyn might even say things that are true, or expose real feelings, however, overall, she is still manipulating Colin. Their conversation is a dual in which she tries to have him admit that he loves her, only to then humiliate him in return.
Colin resists all he can not to have to say it:
M— Do you love me, Colin?
C— You're like some Greek goddess to me. <= He escapes by nuancing his answer.
M— I'm not a goddess. <= She rejects his love.
M— I just wanna be loved like a regular girl.
C— Mr. Miller loves you. <= He tries to escape the role of lover.
M— No, I found his notebook. <=She rejects his argument.
But she eventually manages to trap him into saying it.
M— […] You should date that wardrobe girl. She's so pretty.
C— I don't want to.
C— I love you.
After this, does she answer “I love you too Colin” ? Nope. She voraciously devours the superbly tasty heart and then lies in her bed, commenting “this is nice” and then she talks about a former lover/victim, John Hyde, who used to spoon with her in bed just like she and Colin are doing at that specific moment. Translation: “See Colin, you thought you were the first one !?! You thought you were unique or special ? No. Goodnight. Thanks for telling me you love me, it was nice and it’s not as if it cost you anything.”
In order to protect himself, again, Colin asks her to act properly on the set on the next day as a service to him that which she does. He’s trying to convince himself that his love declaration was just fake, a means to bring her to do her job.
But in the evening, hostilities are back on track. Marilyn is in a very concerning state. She looks drugged and drunk and asks Colin to sleep with her again. In the middle of the night she wakes up shouting “It’s the baby. It’s the baby. I can’t lose the baby. Colin. ”
She’s going to use this fake miscarriage to give Colin the final blow and the crew of the movie a wonderful concluding excuse for her unacceptable behaviour “I’ve been ill.”
Fake because there isn’t a clue that she’s pregnant at any time in the movie. Arthur Miller leaves to the USA without any word of it to anybody. Marilyn spends her time taking drugs and drinking alcohol. Not eating or being sick. Colin sees her naked quite a few times and doesn’t notice anything peculiar with her silhouette. She runs and jumps everywhere. She shoots a movie, something that which seems to be anxiety inducing to her. She goes skinny-dipping naked and I know that it’s actually not necessarily dangerous for the foetus still, she wouldn’t have done something like that if she had been pregnant. She simply isn’t a pregnant woman and even less a pregnant woman who’d scream “I can’t lose the baby” in the middle of the night.
And so she wins the fight. Colin believes her and is eventually swallowed. She was a victim all along and their love is impossible. She makes him believe that he is partially responsible for the loss of her child. Isn’t that quite messed up ?
Of course, faking a miscarriage isn’t exactly something you can do without taking some precautions, like informing the people who would know that you’re pregnant. Yet, Marilyn’s miscarriage is actually summed up to practically nothing on screen. She is the one to bring up the matter “I can’t lose the baby” and the doctor confirms it by saying “I gave Mrs Miller an injection and the bleeding stopped. But she needs to stay in bed tomorrow and after that she’ll be fine.”
If she is bleeding, there’s something wrong. Unless she could be bleeding for a reason different from having lost her baby… like having her periods. Marilyn is only having her periods. I suppose that if she had lost her child she would have needed more that an injection and a day of rest.
j. Strange conclusion.
In the projection room, Colin has a very strange final conversation with Laurence Olivier who pretends to find Marilyn marvellous. He states “I tried to change her, but she remains brilliant despite me” on the screen, Marilyn is pouring Champaign in the most vulgar way possible, shouting in a high pitched voice and laughing like an idiot.
I do not think that the real Laurence Olivier had an inch of respect left for Marilyn Monroe after the shooting of this movie. But if we only look at the element of the movie and take his words seriously, this monologue means that nobody realised that Marilyn could have done her job properly from that start. When Olivier states: “Do you know, I think directing a movie has to be just about the best job ever invented. But Marilyn's cured me of ever wanting to do it again.”
Because Colin protected Marilyn, nobody has realised that she is a fraud. They just believe that she needed company, they do not realise that she’s manipulated them all from the very beginning and hurt them all deeply. Olivier is going to stop making movies because he now thinks Marilyn is a real actress and she was right to expect him to cope with her whims. If Marilyn is adequate, then he isn’t. Sybil makes a stupid comment about the sweet despair of first love, ages away from considering the fact that the young man was manipulated and abused and that his despair really isn’t that sweet. Lucy goes as far as telling him that he deserved what happened to him. Olivier suggests that Colin shouldn’t try to find work in the movie business again (“Glad you ran away to the circus ?” suggests that it’s now time to go home).
Colin’s concluding voice over is dim:
Here's what I remember most:
Her embrace. Does she embrace him ? In the car ? The moment she ruins his life ?
Her belief in me. When nobody around trusts him, she tricks him by pretending to need him and to believe in him.
And the joy she gave. She spreads sadness and despair.
That was her gift. She doesn’t give, only takes.
When I think of her now, I think of that time when a dream came true. He had never dreamt of anything that happened with her before it happened.
And my only talent he was a very resourceful and talented young man but thanks to Marilyn Monroe, nobody realised it.
was not to close my eyes. Was to close his eyes not to see her real motivations.
8—The Myth of the Irresistible Woman and the Destruction of the Belief in Men’s Innocence.
Because of her morbid personality, Marilyn Monroe’s impact on the world (as a star) is to prove that there is such a thing as an irresistible woman.
The movie starts on the showgirl singing (on a cinema screen) about the wave of sexual desire she triggers wherever she goes and ends on the black magic of the love she can inspire. She’s reached her symbolic goal, through the seduction of Laurence Olivier, Colin Clark and of the common man she’s proved that she’s mastered both ends of the spectrum: she can conquer any man, either by inspiring him sexual arousal or romantic feelings. She is universally irresistible.
This belief is very detrimental to men and can only spread in a culture in which they are already held in poor esteem.
Being irresistible doesn’t mean that Marilyn Monroe can potentially inspire attraction or love in every man, it means that she can pick any man randomly and if she wants him either to make love to her or to fall in love with her, she can bring him to do so. Men’s will is negligible in this conception.
It’s (obviously) a false belief, however ideas do not need to be right to have power, influence people or shape minds, they just need to be convincingly sold and believed in. Marilyn Monroe made the idea of irresistibility in women a lot more believable than it was before.
Let’s say Marilyn Monroe goes to a man and ask him whether he wants to have sex with her tonight. He says yes, they go to a hotel. This is not really important or problematic. Problems start when her supposed irresistibility makes men do negative things, harmful things, to them or others.
Let’s say she flirts with a man and he forgets to fetch his kid at school. She flirts with a man, and he shows himself entirely ready to cheat on his wife in less than five seconds. She flirts with a renown filmmaker who married a great actress and he suddenly gives the lead role of his next movie, adapted from a play he performed with his wife, to Marilyn Monroe who’s not exactly known for her talent. (I’m talking about Laurence Olivier here in case that’s not obvious)
By playing, flirty, sexy and not very bright, Marilyn conveys the message that everything that she obtains is obtained because men are weak, driven by their penises beyond anything when truly she uses way more manipulative tricks than her simple sex-appeal. She lies, she shames, she pressures, she brings other people into the equations, she looks for flaws and weaknesses in the psyche of her victims, she pretends to be powerless, or to be humble and wilful, she pretends to be mindless and genuine, innocent, harmless... anything really, she uses every single manipulative tool at her disposal (which is why I called her a psychopath) but make things look like that it's only her ex-appeal that is at work.
If a guy forgets to fetch his kid at school because of her, suddenly men are proved to be poor parents because of their libido. Nobody will imagine that she actually tried a lot of different lies in order to find what could make the guy forget about his obligations.
If a guy shows himself shamelessly ready to have sex with Marilyn Monroe even though he is married, then men are clearly untrustworthy partners and lovers because of their primitive libido. Nobody will imagine that she specifically choose a man whom she knew was going through a crisis and was in a position of fragility.
If Laurence Olivier ditches Vivien Leigh to replace her with Marilyn Monroe, then clearly, talent means nothing to men. Nobody will realize that the man is lost and worried about growing old and meeting his "inadequacy" and that Marilyn tapped into his fear in order to submit him.
If people cannot realize that Colin Clark is entirely devoted to his desire to work in cinema, and is not the kind of kid who betrays his girlfriend or lies to her, then no young man can pretend to have a passion, a desire to produce something good, and to be worthy of women’s trust. Nobody realizes that the poor kid eventually turns toward Marilyn Monroe because she's the sole person who pretends to see any worth in him specifically because she made sure that everybody was going to reject him.
In the movie, it’s about Marilyn Monroe, but the perception that she creates/upholds is nearly universal in our occidental cultures today. More than ever men are depicted as pigs and aggressors, worthless and untrustworthy. Men’s libido is not perceived as beautiful or innocent. It’s not something desirable, it’s not something that brings happiness. It’s evil, noxious, it hurts and destroys. And more than anything women are its victims. What a joke.
This perception wasn’t created by the idea of irresistible women, it’s a consequence of a general negative perception of sexuality and of having forced men to take full responsibility for the sex act for centuries. The role that the concept plays in all this is to assert that men are incapable or resisting something that is despicable, degrading and noxious.
Of course, women have been perceived as more autonomous sexually for a few decades than they used to be. But the depiction of their sexual life is one of inconsequential fun. While men are addicted, irresponsible and harmful, women are totally in control, innocent and playful. A woman flashes her body to a young man without a sense of shame, he’s lucky and it’s funny. A man flashes his body to a young woman without a sense of shame, he’s a disgusting pig, probably a rapist, who should go to jail and the young woman must find a new pair of eyes and feel traumatized.
The belief in irresistible women is only the icing of the cake, the last monstrous creation of a culture that already thinks men animalistic, mindless.
Along with the idea that men are sex obsessed, men have been extremely violently bullied into “being men.” If men are said to be sex obsessed and you want to be considered a man for your own safety and in order to build a self-esteem, that doesn’t leave much of a choice when you’re confronted to a situation in which you have an opportunity with a woman. You’ve be dressed to say “yes.” Feminists complain than women’s “no” is often ignored, Men’s “no” is not conceivable (as long as the woman is physically attractive). Colin finds himself in a situation in which saying no to Marilyn Monroe means he's not a man, even though everybody will blame him for it, he'll be punished if he doesn't comply to her desires.
And so, the very prejudiced, the criminally prejudiced opinion that people (men and women alike) have of men completely fails to approach the truth of what’s going on.