My Weekend with Marilyn

It happened.  Finally.  I had gotten through the winter with no cold, no flu, just sparkling health.  Then, what was it?  Too much skinny-dipping in Miami by the light of the Super Moon??  I’ll never know.  But I came home with a huge honkin’ cold.  Which allowed me to do something I never ever do.  Lie down flat on my couch for two days, watching movies.  Which led to something I have resisted for even longer than I resisted this cold, but decided, finally, to surrender to…my weekend with Marilyn.

After Oprah’s Lifeclass and a Tom Cruise movie, it was time for My Week with Marilyn.  I thought Michelle Williams did a great job with a really difficult role.  How is a 21st-century actress ever going to be able to fill the shoes of an icon?  And Marilyn is not just any icon.  She is, right now, on the cover—the cover, people—of this month’s Vanity Fair.  Not to mention in the pages of this month’s Bazaar, the subject of a costume and photo exhibit at the Getty Museum in London, and a soon-to-open retrospective at the Hollywood Museum.

I usually dismiss Marilyn Monroe.  I grow impatient with our culture’s morbid fascination with Elvis, the Kennedys and Marilyn.  I am a here-and-now kind of girl.  But I decided to move past my resistance, and really study the subject.
So, I watched Some Like it Hot, followed by Let’s Make Love.
And I caught on.
What I saw was an embodiment of an element of woman which I had never ever seen portrayed so precisely before.  And I wanted to share it with you, because this element is something that lives inside me, lives inside you, lives inside every single woman, but gets very little play in the 21st century.
It is something I call “appetite.”
We all know what appetite is.
But can you actually see it?
I mean, when you are hungry, do you radiate or telegraph that to the world?
Can someone tell?
Is it visible?
Yes.  Not visible like a billboard, but visceral—like a psychic telegraph.
You look, and you just know.
Not only do you know, but something inside you wants to serve the appetite.
It is not only visible, but it can beautiful, compelling, and, yes, eternal.
Appetite communicates nonverbally.
The latin root? ad ‘to’ + petere ‘seek’.
It sends a hormonal hook out into the world, attracting a response.
A baby is a bundle of appetite.  And we are all hormonally hooked on figuring out exactly what a baby desires.  Why?  Because it feels so good to make the little bundle smile.
And right now, we live in a world that trains women to ignore their appetite, and concentrate, instead on their production.  We learn to get jobs, support ourselves, work for a living, take care of things, multi-task.
But who teaches us to dwell, dawdle, and wander around the house of appetite?  Do we get any encouragement to savor our longings?  To lean into our yearning?  To just enjoy experiencing our desires?  Not really.  Not at all.
We have been taught that our value as women is our ability to produce.
Not long.
We have been taught to work when we are at work, and then work some more.
And actually?
You, me, all women, were not constructed to be workhorses.
We were built to desire.
In fact, the world requires it.
And actually?
Appetite is even way more important than production.
Without appetite, there is nothing to produce for.
Just like without hunger, there is no real need to eat.

Women do not come close to fulfilling the privilege of being a woman when we cast ourselves, exclusively, in the role of producer, or workhorse.  We are missing a necessary and vitally important part of the experience of who and what we are, when we ignore and dismiss our longings.

And what Marilyn does better than anyone I have ever seen on film (besides radiate sensuality) is live, breathe and demonstrate appetite.
You can feel her longing.
Feel her desire.
Feel the irresistible force of her gorgeous ravishing and yes, eternal, hunger.
She is wonderfully shameless, charmingly without guile, and as ingenuous as a child, as she slinks, dances, sings, flirts and intoxicates through her abject enjoyment of her irresistibly delicious desire.
And now can you see how powerful a woman’s appetite is?  It can even live on, long after we die.

So, today, in honor of Marilyn, in honor of the desires that you were born with, in honor of the woman you are destined to become, live inside your longing.

Enjoy the desires you possess.  Enjoy thinking about them, feeling them, experiencing them.  Enjoy your appetite with full-on delight and pleasure, as if the simple act of desiring something was that powerful.  Because, actually, my darlings…it is.

In the comments below, post your own tips about how you celebrate and honor your own appetite, your own desire.  And if you’re feeling inspired, tell me which part of this blog post resonated with you the most, and pass it along to your girlfriends!

With so much love and pleasure,
Mama Gena

P.S. Save the date!! The world’s grandest celebration of female appetite, a.k.a. the graduation ceremony for the School of Womanly Arts Mastery Program, is June 24th, LIVE in NYC. This event is open to ALL women, age 18+. Price of admission: a willingness savor the gift of being a woman—outrageously. Details to follow in the coming weeks…

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