"Don't you know that a man being rich is like a girl being pretty? You wouldn't marry a girl just because she's pretty, but my goodness, doesn't it help?"
- Lorelai Lee, Gentleman Prefer Blondes
Marilyn Monroe's diegesis -- both on and off screen -- pivots on her instrumentalizing her erotic power to gain access to financial capital, accrued via a male response that instrumentalizes financial capital to gain access to her erotic power. Lorelai Lee's quote theorized: money is erotic capital made liquid.
Monroe mastered the art of exuding a sexual "naturalness," one that not only "guaranteed the truth of her sexuality...it was also to define and justify that sexuality exactly in line with the Playboy discourse" (Dyer 30). Monroe rerouted the supposed biological, fleshy foundation of sexuality into the mechanics of supply and demand. It is this very contradiction, this gap between the genuine and the constructed, that Monroe exploits in her duality of sexual innocence and her sexual impact.
The arithmetic logic of "pretty = money" has been extrapolated and critiqued across feminist scholarship. "Why should women be beautiful when they can have money?" was supplanted by "women can possess BOTH money and beauty," but the dialectics of cultural criticism have allowed for a new arrangement between embodied femininity and capital: the #GiveYourMoneyToWomen movement.
#GiveYourMoneyToWomen is a theory and framework from gender justice.
"Late last month, #GiveYourMoneyToWomen trended on Twitter, the brainchild of analyst and dominatrix Bardot Smith; private consultant and dominatrix Yeoshin Lourdes; and domestic violence educator and prison abolitionist Lauren Chief Elk-Young Bear."This piece explains the guiding understandings of sexuality that have framed this movement: the erotic "power" of women contains within it demands for emotional labor that have us orienting ourselves around the desires and egos of men. The most suitable reward for this kind of psychic expense should not existing within ("he will love you back!") our without the couple ("all the single ladies!" -- it should be money. Monroe's character in Gentleman Prefer Blondes seems to be a precursor to this movement: she refers to her fiance as "daddy," dances around men's hotspots to get them to give her more, and maintains no pretensions about any of these manipulations. While Jane Russell's can easily be read as the "more feminist" (is feminism quantifiable?) of the two, Monroe betrays a savvy that can most easily be read as superficial, but to me, sets the precedent for a vernacular we see on social media today. Powerful men, from Bernie Sanders to Zayn Malik, are referred to as "daddy" -- a nomenclature that doesn't try to obfuscate or rhetorize it's way out of gendered power dynamics; it is women selling sexism back to you for a higher price.