Was Marilyn Monroe asexual?

Could one of the world's most famous sex icons have been asexual but with no knowledge of the term?

A vintage photo of a starlet climbing out of a car

Marilyn Monroe is known for being a sex icon, but was she actually asexual? Excerpts from her unfinished autobiography My Life, collated by Ben Hecht, made the rounds on social media and led many to asking that very question.

Asexuality signifies those who experience little or no sexual attraction. Unlike celibacy, asexuality is not a choice, and some asexual people do have sex. Much like other orientations, asexuality exists on a spectrum and is not about behaviour but about how you feel. 

How does this relate to Marilyn Monroe? In a viral Tweet by user Sarah McGonagall from last year, she shared screenshots from the autobiography and speculated that Monroe may have been a lesbian. Other Twitter users then began to speculate that she was perhaps asexual. This topic has also been discussed in depth on Tumblr.

While these are only speculations, and we can never truly know, there is a lot of evidence and quotes from the diaries of Marilyn Monroe suggesting traits that asexual people identify with. The screenshots detail Marilyn’s feelings towards sex, or rather lack of feelings towards sex. 

“I was completely faithful to my overseas husband, but that wasn’t because I loved him or even because I had moral ideas. My fidelity was due to my lack of interest in sex.” 

The post detailed, not only Marilyn’s lack of interest in sex, but also her romantic attraction to other women. In the Twitter thread, it is mentioned that “letters from Marilyn’s acting coach, Natasha Lytess, were discovered which detailed the seven years where she and Marilyn lived as ‘husband and wife’ – yes, including sexually. They were so close that Marilyn would hold her hand while shooting close-ups!” 

Lytess spoke of Marilyn’s façade as an overly sexualised starlet; “She was afraid of giving up all that had made her as Marilyn the sexiest girl: dresses, makeup, moves. Because she thought she had nothing to give except sex appeal. In fact it’s interesting because she really hated sex! Yes Marilyn. She hates sex.”

Although Marilyn had sex with both men and women throughout her lifetime, she always had a rather complicated relationship with sex. The feeling of sexual inadequacy was something she brought up with her therapist on multiple occasions. 

In her notes she wrote; “Sex is a baffling thing when it doesn’t happen. I used to wake up in the morning when I was married, and wonder if the whole world was crazy, whooping about sex all the time… Then it dawned on me that people – other women – were different than me.

“They could feel things I couldn’t. And when I started reading books I ran into the words ‘frigid,’ ‘rejected,’ and ‘lesbian.’ I wondered if I was all three of those things.” 

We will never know for sure whether Marilyn Monroe was asexual or not, or how she would have identified herself if she had access to the labels we have today but she definitely left clues behind. 

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