Women writers were often overlooked throughout history. When we all were introduced to “good” literature it was usually a white male writer that was mentioned. Women writers started to change that narrative and now women are a part of the “good” literature group. Feminist writing was a big help to changing that and writers like Judy Grahn, Audre Lorde, Adrienne Rich, and Louise Glück were a part of that change. Feminist writers weren’t afraid to speak up and express how they felt about the problems women face in society One of those problems was the representation of women and how women were perceived. I mainly would like to focus on Judy Grahn’s “I Have Come to Claim Marilyn Monroe’s Body” and how she points how women were being perceived.
Marilyn Monroe was a very popular figure and a lot of the time she was heavily sexualized. Besides her over-sexualization some viewed her a strong sign of femininity and yet her representation on the big screen gave femininity a bad look. Velleda C. Ceccoli PH. D wrote a great blog about Marilyn Monroe being a universal symbol of femininity, but throughout Monroe's career I felt like she was often portrayed as a seductress with no substance. What does that say about the idea of femininity in society? Throughout the poem Judy Grahn repeats “be serious” or “get serious”, what does Monroe have to get serious about? I believe Grahn wants Marilyn Monroe to understand that her sexual objectification is overshadowing her work. Is she only talking directly to Marilyn? I felt like Marilyn Monroe is uses as a symbol of all women. I felt like there was an underlying theme of just standing up for all women not just one or simply the feeling of“enough is enough”.
In her poem a reporter asks, “what right does she have to [her] body?” and I read it as if a man were asking a woman that. It made me feel like she generalized the idea of men or society only caring about a woman’s body. Does that mean femininity is only defined by a woman’s looks? No, but women were never represented with substance on the big screen and I think Grahn is attacking the lack of positive representation for women throughout this entire poem. Grahn then writes “[men] want to pose me...nude” which to me, again is stressing the objectification of women. Then Grahn goes on to say “when one of the reporters [gets] too close I beat him” which makes me feel like she’s finally letting out that frustration that women have had built up. When I inserted general language like “men” and “women” throughout this poem it read differently to me, which leads me to believe that Judy Grahn used the heavily popularized idea of sexuality (Marilyn Monroe) to attack how women were represented. Marilyn Monroe may have been a symbol of femininity but her constant objectification and sexualization could have been a reason society normalized it, which lead to the perception of women as only looks and nothing else. What do you think?