On September 28th 2022, Netflix, along with Plan B Entertainment, released a movie based on Blonde: A Novel by Joyce Carol Oates. This novel and its film adaptation are an interpretation of the tragic and violent life of Marilyn Monroe. In Blonde: The Movie, Monroe is shown to have a traumatic childhood, as she is abandoned by her father and is both physically and verbally abused by her mother. Monroe’s childhood subsequently affects her whole adult life, as she searches for the love that she was never given as she grew up. As portrayed in the film, Monroe is sexually exploited multiple times as she works to be accepted into roles that would further her acting career. This film depicts her forceful drugging and coercion into having sexual relations with men who did not have her consent.
Monroe is also shown to have multiple consensual relationships with different men. During her relationship with her first boyfriend, Monroe becomes pregnant. Although initially joyful and excited, she begins to picture herself becoming a mother, and, influenced by her traumatic experiences of her own mother, she decides to arrange an abortion. After changing her mind and regretting that decision, Monroe is forced to have an abortion by the people in the Hollywood industry. Later in her life on the screen, she finds out she is pregnant again by a different man — this time her husband. Monroe, unfortunately, suffers a miscarriage. Later in Blonde: The Movie, Monroe is drugged and then forced to have another abortion against her will after becoming pregnant by a third man, who did not care to have the baby. In this film, Monroe experiences horrific violence and trauma from being sexually manipulated, drugged against her will, and forced to murder her own babies.
While the original novelist, Joyce Carol Oates, wrote this story mostly based upon fiction and alleged rumors of Monroe’s life, this account is not far from the truth for women who have been victims of such violent and horrific acts. Women in the entertainment industry often feel forced to accept sexual advances in professional environments in order to further their careers. Women are frequently coerced or forced to kill their unborn children in the name of convenience and image. In the film, Monroe is shown having a poor and unstable childhood with no support or stable love; this causes a toxic foundation for relationships throughout her life. Monroe, often against her own will, remains stuck in a cycle of abuse.
In the film, Monroe appears to have had two abortions in total, both against her own will. Monroe did not have a say in those violent acts against her body. Abortion is often painted as empowering, but such a perspective ignores the horrific realities of the abortion industry. Coerced abortion is a real phenomenon, and it is the complete opposite of empowerment. Women in these situations are left isolated, depressed, and scarred from the traumas that surround having an abortion. But the women who experience coerced abortions after sexual exploitation are not alone. They are not unloved or unworthy because of what has happened to them. These vulnerable women are intrinsically valuable and worthy. Their babies are not forgotten and were not an inconvenience for existing. The worth of these babies is not lessened by the violence that is forced upon them.
Whether all these events happened in Marilyn Monroe’s real life or not, Blonde: The Movie sheds light on the violence committed against women and their bodies and against their unborn babies and their bodies. May we support women and be advocates for their empowerment, and may we defend all human life. May we stand for the human rights of the most vulnerable and abused. And any time we encounter a woman or baby who has unfortunately experienced these horrific acts, may we show them authentic love and support.