Hugh Hefner has immortalised himself as a disgusting creep by getting buried next to Marilyn Monroe

To allow Hugh Hefner the right to cosy up to the woman he took advantage of is not only an insult to her memory, but it sends a troubling message to women everywhere: society will not respect your desire to be separate from the men who have wronged you

Biba Kang
Friday 29 September 2017 17:56
Celebrities pay tribute to Playboy's Hugh Hefner

Hugh Hefner’s death is proving as controversial as his life. While many have paid tributes to the late Playboy founder, others have been keen to highlight how much women and feminism have suffered as a result of his life and career.

Now the controversy has been reignited after the revelation that, back in 1992, he paid $75,000 (£56,000) dollars to be buried in the crypt next to Marilyn Monroe.

Those who defend Hefner against accusations that he was little more than an overpaid sleazebag view this as yet another example of his unimpeachable status as a “total legend”, or see it as a sweet, even romantic gesture. Others interpret it differently. I fall solidly into the “differently” category.

Let me start by stating the obvious: I know that Marilyn Monroe is dead. I don’t believe that her spirit is going to come down and shout: “Why on earth have you allowed this depraved, exploitative pervert to slither into my hitherto-undisturbed deathbed, just because he had the money and the means to make it happen?!”

I don’t believe her soul will be offended and come back to haunt us all, regardless of how gratifying it would be. But that doesn’t mean I don’t see Hefner’s arrangement as deeply disrespectful.

Fans at Playboy Mansion mourn Hugh Hefner

It’s not just those who believe in an afterlife who choose to respect the wishes of the dead. “It’s what they would have wanted” is the most common motive behind a choice of burial, a song at a funeral, or a bunch of someone’s favourite flowers on their tombstone. Without believing that the spirit of Marilyn Monroe will be disturbed by Hefner’s intrusive presence, you can still argue that her legacy has been insulted; her personal narrative has been usurped. This is a slap in the face to women everywhere, who, it seems, can’t even be guaranteed a sleaze-free existence after passing away if they’re unlucky enough to be singled out by a millionaire as “the ultimate blonde”.

To allow the ultimate misogynist in effect to shack up with a woman under the soil, without her having consented in life, feels inappropriate at the best of times. But, on top of this, Marilyn Monroe had personal reasons to dislike the mogul, as, like so many other women, she fell foul to his exploitative nature.

It’s true that Monroe was featured as Playboy’s first cover girl, a move that helped launch the franchise, but she was later vocal about feeling uncomfortable about the images. Desperate for money at the time, she had been drastically underpaid for posing nude, and while the magazine that she appeared in sold 50,000 copies, Monroe walked away with just $50. As she wrote in her memoir: “I never even received a thank-you from all those who made millions off a nude Marilyn photograph. I even had to buy a copy of the magazine to see myself in it.”

To allow Hugh Hefner the right to cosy up to the woman he took advantage of in that way is not only an insult to her memory, but it sends a troubling message to women everywhere: society will not respect your desire to be separate from the men who have wronged you. To every girl who’s had to share a corridor with the boy who groped her in fresher’s week, to every woman forced to rent from a landlord who keeps upping the cost, to any person stuck working for a boss who says things like, “Sweetheart – could you get us some coffees?”, this is a blow. This is a colossal, symbolic blow.

And while I don’t believe Norma Jean will literally be turning in her grave, it’s sickening to think that her last chapter can be co-opted by a man who disrespected her, and so many women like her, for his own salacious satisfaction and financial gain.

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