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The Feminist Mm

July 20, 1986|Donna Rosenthal

What has Gloria Steinem learned while researching "Marilyn," due out in November from Henry Holt & Co.?

The Ms. editor thinks Monroe would have supported the women's movement if she had lived long enough to witness it. Added Steinem: "Marilyn would have been 60 this year. If the feminist movement had existed, it might have saved her life."

The actress studied art and literature at UCLA, trying to improve herself. "But," Steinem told us, "most of her biographers have belittled or ridiculed her efforts at self-education." All but two of those 40 biographers were men.

Steinem claims Norman Mailer's book on Monroe is about his "sexual fantasies of her, not about her. He refers to Marilyn as a castrator and makes fun of her for wanting to be educated."

"For some men, (Marilyn) represented a fantasy of a woman who offered sexuality with no cost--she was a child woman. For pre-feminist women, Marilyn was a fearful fantasy of what might happen to us." But in today's post-feminist world, Monroe is a "rescue fantasy"--men wonder if they might have saved Monroe by loving her, women wonder if they might have saved her by supporting her, according to Steinem.

Holt said it will include never-before-published photos of Monroe taken only days before her death. Profits will go to Steinem's nonprofit Ms. Foundation, which benefits children who have been sexually assaulted--"just like Marilyn was."

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