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Norma Jeane Mortenson aka Marilyn Monroe was the sexual icon of her time, and ours. Marilyn Monroe has been known as the sexiest woman ever to live and even described as “true beauty”.  As the story of her discovery goes, she was spotted by a photographer while working in a factory during WWII and soon became a high ranked model and actress. From her humble beginnings as a brunette to her award-winning movies as a blonde bombshell, she became one of the biggest popular culture icons of all time.  Her influences, so big, have had an effect on many more pop culture icons like Andy Warhol, Madonna, Lindsey Lohan, Lady Gaga and countless others.

Not only has Marilyn Monroe influenced people, she has also created trends through discourse.  From her famous Chanel No. 5 line, “What do I wear to bed? Well, Chanel No. 5, of course”, to her flowing white halter dress over a subway grate, her influences can be seen nearly everywhere today. The mass circulation of her styles, quotes and attitude creates an entire trend of Marilyn Monroe. People everywhere wear similar styles and even dress up as Marilyn for not only photo shoots and movies, like Lindsey Lohan, Scarlet Johansson, and Michelle Williams, but people try to embody the trend that is Marilyn Monroe with simple things like a hair cut, dye and style.  The platinum curls and bright red lipstick is a Monroe trademark and will not soon be forgotten.

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Marilyn is the ultimate woman in our society and that has not changed in the last 60 years.  She’s curvy, beautiful, and bubbly.  Everything a woman should be in America.   Scarlet Johansson compares herself to Marilyn in Elle magazine when she says,”I’m kind of a signature blond, I’m curvy, I’ve embraced my femininity and my sexuality.” She also had her own successful career in which she often chose over relationships, a strong, individualistic characteristic valued by American society.   However, she was often mischievous.  Often using sexual innuendos which, along with her looks, helped her climb to the iconic level she still holds. For example:

“It’s not true that I had nothing on. I had the radio on”

 “Sex nature and I believe going along with nature.”

                                                                                                 -Marilyn Monroe

There is no doubt that Marilyn Monroe has an influence on gender in women in a similar way that Barbie has an influence on gender in young girls.  In fact, Barbie and Marilyn have many things in common.  For example, after her discovery, her modeling career took off only after her hair was colored blonde, of course.  She also was rarely caught without high heels, much like Barbie.

“I don’t know who invented high heels, but all women owe him a lot.”

                                                                                                  -Marilyn Monroe

We see how culture has reflected its ideals and values through Barbie as well as Marilyn Monroe.  Barbie and Marilyn were both created through discourse to represent the values and ideals of beauty in American through the blonde hair, make-up and attire.

After an all too short life-time, Marilyn Monroe tragically died in 1962.  Although Monroe is no longer physically with us today, her handprints in pop culture and on the sidewalk in Hollywood will forever remain.

 

-Brittany Polacek

I have always been a huge fan of the television show, That 70’s Show.  It’s incredibly funny, the actors are great and it gives a look into a small Wisconsin town in the 1970’s, what’s not to love? There are several episodes throughout the eight seasons dealing with gender roles and expectations, gender stereotyping and second wave feminism. 

For example, Donna’s mom, Midege joins a feminist group called, “Feminist Warriors” and also takes a few women’s study classes. As we know, during the 1970’s second wave feminism was in full swing and allowed women like Midge to take classes, join feminist groups and teach their daughters, like Donna, the fundamentals of feminism.  

There are also a couple of episodes I find very interesting as far as gender roles, expectations and stereotyping are concerned.

The first one is episode four from season one.  The episode is titled, “The Battle of the Sexists”.  Throughout the episode we see many accounts of gender roles and stereotypes.  For example, at the beginning of the episode, Hyde, Eric and Kelso are sitting in the basement discussing and comparing the size of a few girls’ breasts.  This is pretty stereotypical for a highschool boy or a group of guys to be talking about. Also, in the episode, Red, Eric’s dad is out of a job and has been attempting to fix various things around the house despite the fact they are not in need of fixing.  This, also can be seen as stereotypical for a man to want to work and without a job, a man goes crazy and has to be doing or fixing something.  Along that same note, since Red has been trying to fix things that aren’t broken, Kitty, Eric’s mom is upset about Red trying to fix things because he ends up making them worse.  In the episode Kitty refers to the things Red is “fixing” like the dryer, as things she needs, uses and loves.  This also struck me as extremely stereotypical.  Because Kitty is a mother and wife in the 1970’s she must love her appliances that she uses to do daily chores?

Go to 5:17-6:08

Go to 7:49-9:33

Another episode that is very amusing and relevent to our class is titled “Baby Fever”.  In this episode, Eric is impressed at Donna’s motherly skills and they each imagine their future together with children.  First Eric imagines Donna at home with two babies and he comes home from work. Then Donna imagines Eric at home with the babies while she comes home from work (wearing professional clothing).  This is so interesting because of the stereotypes in both scenarios. Eric just assumes Donna would be staying at home with their children and Donna assumes opposite. Watch the clips and see what you think.

BABY FEVER

Go to 1:35-2:35

 

By: Brittany Polacek 11/7/11

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I really believe that sexism and gender influences are all over in our day-to-day lives.  It’s impossible to escape and sometimes it sheds a negative light on one gender or another. And sometimes certain things are just over analyzed and turned into a bad thing.

 I chose a blog posting by Katie E from thefbomb.org. The Fbomb has blogs pertaining to women in areas like politics, news and feminism.  The blog I chose was a brief analysis of the song, “Extraterrestrial” by Katie Perry featuring Kanye West.  This song is essentially about a love affair so great that it can only be explained by the supernatural and portrays the male lover as an extraterrestrial or alien. However, some see the lyrics to be offensive and make light of the term “victim”. Katie E says that the lyrics convey that the woman character in the song wants to be a victim to a so-called “rape fantasy”. She says the lyrics to that song as well as “S&M” by Riannah promotes violence towards women and the image that women are nothing more but for the sexual pleasure of men.

http://thefbomb.org/2011/05/wanna-be-a-victim-no-thanks/

Katie E of The Fbomb also adds that women like Katy Perry and Riannah are role models to young girls and  should think about what kind of music they’re putting out there.  Although Katy Perry has said she has no intention of being a role model, she most certainly is by default.  Once you go into the public eye, some people are going to look up to you, especially young girls.  Is this the image of women we want our young girls to see? Although we may tell our children, especially young girls about what we think is right and wrong, media and pop-culture like this song may be giving a message contrary ours. In addition, the author of this post points out the irony of Riannah’s song “S&M” due to the somewhat recent beating she took from ex-boyfriend Chris Brown.  You would think she of all-stars who are role models would be an advocate against violence. 

On the other hand, this article could be taking the lyrics of this catchy pop song and analyzing them too much. it may also be possible that the author of this article is pointing the finger at the wrong people. What about the people who wrote this song? How much blame can we put on them? In any case, the lyrics are out there for people’s interpretation, guidance or just to sing along to while driving home from work.

-Brittany Polacek