Marilyn Monroe: the blonde bombshell and sex symbol of 1950s America, whose iconic photoshoots and movies left a long-lasting legacy even to this day. With the movie Blonde being released in September 2022, it’s no wonder why her name is making headlines once again. The movie, starring Cuban beauty Ana De Armas, has been one of the most anticipated films in the last few years – but it seems it has fallen short. According to viewers and Monroe fans, Blonde was nothing more than an inaccurate, oversexualized, trauma-ridden Hollywood remake. No surprise there, since the movie is based on Joyce Carol Oates’ fictionalized account of Marilyn Monroe's life. Nevertheless, the film did touch on some stories that Marilyn did really go through, and it even included a very controversial scene that left some viewers upset.
The Abortion Scene in Blonde
In Blonde, Marilyn Monroe (born Norma Jeane Mortenson) lived a life without a father. Her mother, Gladys Baker, was institutionalized for having paranoid schizophrenia, and their relationship was incredibly unstable.
Later on in the movie, Marilyn leaves the hospital in high spirits after finding out she is pregnant for the first time ever, and she is really looking forward to having a baby; understandably so, considering her adolescent years were void of love and affection. But her dreams of being a mother were soon crumpled when she decided to abort the baby for a role in the film Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
After she makes her decision, a worried and hesitant Marilyn is shown sitting in the back of a vehicle that's on its way to the clinic. Marilyn asks the driver to turn around. "Please, I want to go back," she pleads, "I've changed my mind!" But her cries were met with rejection. In the next scene, Marilyn lies fearfully on a bed with medical professionals surrounding her as she begs them to stop. “Please don’t,” she cries, “Won’t you listen?” When the doctor is about to inject her with a large needle, she screams, falls off the bed, and runs in an attempt to escape the hospital.
The movie cuts to a scene at a theater where Marilyn has just finished watching herself star in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. She sits, teary-eyed, disappointed that she sacrificed a baby to watch someone she didn’t even know – herself.
The Scenes of Regret
Years later, Marilyn marries American playwright Arthur Miller and gets pregnant. She's shown in a pretty blue dress in her garden, and she places her hands on her abdomen. In her mind, the unborn baby inside her begins to speak to her. "You won't hurt me this time, will you?" he asks her. "Not do what you did the last time [referring to her last abortion]?" Marilyn's face is full of regret and denial. "I didn't mean to," she says. "Yes, you meant to. It was your decision," the unborn baby responds.
It's safe to say that this scene, in particular, showed Marilyn's remorse over terminating her previous pregnancy, a display of emotions that Hollywood hardly ever shows when it comes to abortion. In this day and age, even the mainstream media doesn't like to touch on the topic of abortion regret, which certainly does happen. Still, the question is, how does this film compare to Marilyn's experiences in real life?
Did Marilyn Really Want Kids? And Was She Forced to Have Abortions?
Yes, she did want kids. As for forced abortions? It's a maybe. The forced abortion scene in Blonde isn’t currently documented, but it’s not really a secret that Hollywood directors in the past have forced young starlets to prevent and terminate pregnancies – so it's very well possible that she was forced. And the movie may not be too far off in depicting Marilyn’s desire to have kids, as some people might believe, because she really did want to be a mother. “Someday, I want to have children and give them all the love I never had,” she is quoted to have said. “The thing I want more than anything else? I want to have children. I used to feel for every child I had, I would adopt another.”
I want to have children and give them all the love I never had.
In 1952, Marilyn Monroe had an infected appendix, and its removal required a cut in her lower abdomen, where her reproductive organs are situated. But because Marilyn “hoped to have children,” she taped a note to her abdomen for her doctor to read before her operation. It said:
Dr. Rabwin – most important to Read Before operation. Cut as little as possible. I know it seems vain but that doesn't really enter into it. The fact that I'm a woman is important and means much to me. Save please (I can't ask enough) what you can – I'm in your hands. You have children and must know what it means – please Dr. Rabwin – I know somehow you will! Thank you – thank you – thank you. For God's sake, Dear Doctor, No ovaries removed – please again do whatever you can to prevent large scars. Thank you with all my heart. -Marilyn Monroe
Marilyn Monroe Allegedly Had 12 Abortions – and It Caused Serious Damage
Marilyn's wish to have kids of her own was never granted. Jeffrey Meyers, a friend of Arthur Miller, wrote a biography on Marilyn and Miller titled The Genius and the Goddess: Arthur Miller & Marilyn Monroe. The author wrote that Marilyn had confessed to having a shocking total of 12 abortions, but it's not stated whether or not they were her choice. Marilyn would often sleep around with men back in the day, and abortion in the 1950s was utilized as "birth control." “When selling herself, or with romantic liaisons and long-time lovers, Marilyn, always eager to please, meekly agreed to men’s demands to have sex without contraceptives and got pregnant again and again," he writes.
According to Meyers, in less than 20 years, Marilyn also endured two miscarriages, one ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg is outside of the womb), other fertility issues, seven suicide attempts, and regular visits to the hospital. "Marilyn’s most persistent medical problems were gynecological, most probably the result of her dozen illegal abortions," Meyers added. "These back-alley procedures may have caused infections and adhesions that either prevented pregnancy or led to miscarriages." If it is true that Marilyn wanted nothing more than to be a mother, then we can see why the abortions and her issues with infertility may have had an impact on her mental health.
Contraceptives and fertility awareness weren’t really a thing back in the '50s, and, well, the men that Marilyn was sleeping around with obviously didn’t care about her. So even though she was known as the global sex icon who seemed confident and vivacious, the promiscuity, drugs, and her Hollywood lifestyle were nowhere near empowering. It's also likely a lot of the men she was involved with abused her and took advantage of her. With that being said, Marilyn greatly struggled with her mental health. Meyers described her uncleanliness from her depression in his book and writes, "But dirtiness, especially in a woman who spends most of the day beautifying herself, was a sure sign of mental illness. When depressed she even went out in public with menstrual stains on the back of her dress.”
Mainstream Media Describes Blonde as “Anti-Abortion”
Several articles have come out describing the movie as “anti-abortion” for its portrayal of Marilyn’s unwanted termination of her pregnancy. Glamour even says that Marilyn decided to undergo the abortion after being gaslit by a fetus, or a “clump of cells," as they've described it. Andrew Dominik, the man behind Marilyn’s depiction in Blonde, defended his choice to add the abortion scene in his movie: “I think sort of this desire to look at ‘Blonde’ through this Roe v. Wade lens is everybody else doing the same thing. They’ve got a certain agenda where they feel like the freedoms of women are being compromised, and they look at ‘Blonde’ and they see a demon, but it’s not really about that. I think it’s very difficult for people to step outside of the stories they carry inside themselves and see things of their own volition. And I think that’s really what the movie is about: the dangers of that.”
I definitely think Blonde failed Marilyn Monroe in so many aspects. Blonde's entertainment value was in its beautifully shot scenes, makeup, wardrobe, and Armas' brilliant acting, and not the depressing (nudity-filled) script the plot is mostly made up of. With that being said, we won't be recommending the movie to anyone.
Help make Evie even better! Take the official Evie reader survey.