The return of a giant Marilyn Monroe sculpture in Palm Springs, California, has caused a backlash with advocates who say that the sculpture promotes misogyny and upskirting, the Independent reports.
The 26-foot-tall, stainless steel and aluminum statue named “Forever Marilyn” depicts Monroe’s famous scene from the 1955 movie The Seven Year Itch, where she holds down a white dress while standing over a breezy subway grate.
The sculpture was previously installed in Palm Springs from 2012 to 2014 and will be fitted permanently after being moved around from her stay in Chicago, Illinois, then Hamilton, New Jersey.
Aftab Dada, managing director at the Palm Springs Hilton and the head of PS Resorts, has spent years working to return the statue to the Coachella Valley. “She makes [the] majority of the people very happy. The photos taken, and being transmitted all over the world, will do nothing but benefit the city of Palm Springs,” Dada said.
The Marilyn sculpture is set to be displayed at the Palm Springs Art Museum entrance, with the back of the blonde bombshell and her underskirt facing visitors who leave the building.
The underskirt view displeases people like Louis Grachos, the director of the Palm Springs Art Museum, who said that the placement would 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 was set up in protest of the statue, arguing that it is “misogynist” and “hyper-sexualized.” The petition has received over 40,000 signatures of its 50,000 target.
The petition reads: “Placing a hyper-sexualized, misogynist statue of Marilyn at the entrance to the elegant Palm Springs Art Museum sends a message to the community, its visitors (especially young, innocent children), and tourists that this somehow represents ‘the real Marilyn,’ a Marilyn she would have been proud to see celebrated. Well, it’s not. In fact, it’s the opposite. She wanted to be taken seriously as an artist and not just a sexual icon. We join others in asking the City of Palm Springs to venerate—not defile—her memory. We challenge Palm Springs to find more appropriate ways to honor her memory and the true legacy of Marilyn Monroe.”
Elizabeth Armstrong, a spokesperson for the petition objecting to Marilyn’s objectification said “She’s literally going to be mooning the museum. It’s blatantly sexist. It forces people almost to upskirt.”
“Upskirting” is a term used to describe the act of taking a sexually intrusive photograph up someone’s skirt without their permission, usually taking place in public where the offender can find easier cover within a crowd. Upskirting is a criminal offense punishable by up to two years in prison.
Dada said that “we are going to conduct [an] independent research study and notify the city what the economic impact and benefit she has been.” Surprised by the backlash, he added, “she’s an attraction, in our opinion. She’s not an art.”