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The Madonna/whore, Marilyn/Jackie O dilemma

“Are you a Marilyn or a Jackie O?” Sara asked me, dipping her pinkie into the guac and licking it off. We were snuggled on my couch for a gal’s night in.

“Is this like asking me if I’m a good witch or a bad witch? Last time I looked, I was still plain ol’ Kat.”

“Well, I was reading a blog about how you’re either a woman who exudes sex and drama, like Marilyn Monroe, or you’re the one guys want to mother their kids, the ones who have dinner ready, weekly missionary sex and manage everything so that he can succeed.
Like Jackie O. Those are your choices, Marilyn or Jackie. So,
who are you?”  marilyn

I hate those questions. They’re like the ones you get at a job interview — are you a better this or a better that? You just know there’s a catch. I want to be good at both — hell, I actually believe I am good at both! — so I fudge my answer and often end up messing up. There’s a trick to this game, and I still haven’t figured it out.

Still, I thought I pretty much had the sexpot-mother thing down. I never viewed it as a Marilyn-Jackie O. thing, though; it was always the Madonna-whore thing for me. You know — you’re a wild,
sexy party girl until you become a mom and then suddenly your hubby can only see you as a mom (and for a lot of women that’s all they identify with, too) and then he wants the whore back.
Cue the affair.

Fine, but just look at all the Louboutin-strutting “whores” who are also “Madonnas” nowadays — starting with Madonna herself, then Angelina, Kate, Gwen, Gwyneth. Need I go on? These are women who are hot, hot, hot — and also happen to be moms. If Megan
Fox gets knocked up and becomes a mama, is any man in his right mind going to put her in the unfuckable category?

But, here’s the big but — that’s how we see them, given the whole celeb mommy porn thing. Their hubbies may feel differently because who’s to say what it’s like when you have a hottie at home — in her sweats, without her makeup, PMSing, breastfeeding the baby and thinking that adopting another tot might be a good career move?

Forget about Madonna/whore, Marilyn/Jackie O. — I think it comes down to women who like sex and women who don’t. That’s it. If a woman views herself as a sexual being, no matter if she’s single, married, a mother or whatever, she’s going to reek of sex.

Maybe it has less to do with how men view women, but more how women view themselves and their sexuality. Or maybe it has everything to do with our genes.

The Marilyn is all about, well, Marilyn. She fucks, and she knows she’s good at it so don’t try to make her do anything else but fuck. Marry that and, well, good luck.

Jackie O. is willing to give away so much of herself that she doesn’t even feel; she’s just bound by duty. Marry that and, well, good luck.

And any woman who becomes a mom and becomes so wrapped up in mommyhood that she forgets her sexual side and her role in keeping a marriage sexually alive (and packs on the pounds, and thinks granny panties and stretch waistband polyester pants are the next best thing to Oprah) is doomed to be a Madonna — and, most likely, a divorcee.

We don’t have to box ourselves in to being one of the above. We can be sexual Marilyns, Madonnas, whores and Jackie Os as long as we truly feel and act sexual because we like it and want it.

Or … am I just fudging and messing up again?

Bring on the comments

  1. T
    Twitter: tsquest

    Like it. Agreed.

    It definitely requires balance though, right? And depends on the ages/requirements of your children.

    Been there, done that.

  2. Steve says:

    Last year a friend invited me over to a computer room in the bottom of her friends condo complex to teach her how to blog.

    Afterward she asked me what I “thought of her friend”. I didn’t even realize at first that she meant “as a potential date”.

    I told her that I didn’t see her friend in that way. She didn’t understand why. She persisted, so I tried to be diplomatic and told her that I saw her friend as “matronly”.

    Short “man cut”, rotund figure, stretchy “mom pants”, etc.

  3. Wombat
    Twitter: kissnblog

    No visible messing up that I see, Kat. Bravo, in fact. Clarity is so rare thesedays.

  4. Mike says:

    I agree. It all depends on how you see sex. There is time for everything is it’s important to you that you do it.

  5. The Observer says:

    Yes, I definitively respond to your new site and unbridled style, Kat! Yeah 2010.

    Me thinks the woman who sees herself as sexy is seen as sexy by men (and women). Sexy radiates. I’m not talking about women who don’t feel sexy and try to look sexy.

    I met a woman at a coffee shop who was going through a divorce and seemed sexy but kept asking me if I was “safe”. I, in my chivalrous tendency affirmed I was. And only realized later that she wanted me to be “not safe”. Dangerous. She never called. Vulnerable and Sexy–are the two unrelated?

  6. Mark says:

    Excellent response to a no win question. You are correct women are as sexy as they think they are and I love when they think they are as long as it is not arrogance that seeps through.

  7. I think we women are definitely a combo, however the biggest BUT is how our partners see us. My husband doesn’t think I’m fat because, well, he’s not from Marin and rather likes a healthy ghetto bootie. To the unenlightened male eye, the second their women look an additional 5000 feet further from the Angelina Jolie ideal, they are “frumpy” and “maternal,.” Women are made to feel that way from every GQ’d eye that says, “Where’s the cute little case of bulimia, already?” The key is in the choosing. Glad I didn’t marry the one that thought I was chubby 20 POUNDS AGO. Yikes!

  8. Lance says:

    I love moms who love to f*ck! Seriously, though, you’ve hit the nail on the head. You can certainly have both. And let’s not forget, the dudes have to be the dad and the “daddy” at the same time.

  9. Steve says:


    I’m not a chubby chaser and sometimes I feel that I am too picky in regards to female appearances.

    I know a few women in California who are *stunning* and who have said similar things as you have about men in Marin.

    When these women have shown me their “fat” pictures I had to tell them that if they had any excess weight it must have been in a plastic bag in their bathtub because I couldn’t see any imperfections in their figures. In fact they looked a bit skinny.

    I think men in that part of California must have their heads up their asses. The women too, for putting up with them.

  10. Kat Wilder says:

    New blog posting, The Madonna/whore, Marilyn/Jackie O dilemma –

  11. dadshouse
    Twitter: dadshouseblog

    I totally agree – any woman who gets so wrapped up in being a mom that sex becomes a thing of the past can expect her man will feel neglected, and he might just look elsewhere for tail (meaning, have an affair, want a divorce, whatever it takes to have sex again)

  12. VJ says:

    Profoundly silly on too many levels to count. The Madonna/Whore complex? Documented to some degree. The ‘Marilyn/Jackie O Dilemma’? What’s that? I’ve read the interesting and fairly amusing inclusions too. Here’s what I come away with.

    1.) You’ve got to be someone of a certain age to play this game, right? And of course no one really recalls history very well.

    2.) Does anyone recall the real ‘actors’ here? Both women were obviously ‘sexual beings’. Both were married several times to very famous men. Both were famously ‘style’ icons too. Both women worked yes very hard to accomplish what they did in the time they were in the public spotlight. Both were smarter than commonly given credit for too. Both never really left that ‘public spotlight’, even after death for various well known reasons.

    Marilyn? The real Marilyn? Did not just ‘f*ck’. She worked hard at her craft, and was a eventually a multi-talented star. (And how many actresses/actors can even attempt to sing today?).

    Jackie O? Was not just about ‘duty’, but was bred for a certain life of high society, and certainly accomplished & achieved that for yes decades. Whip smart and lithely stylish in an age coming out of the Eisenhower ‘doldrums’, (quick what did Mamie E. look like or wear?), she spoke several languages fluently and was an early ‘gal reporter’ before they even had such a beat in most papers. Later, after much tragedy had befallen her & her family, she was literally the foundation of her clan as the ‘reliable working spouse’ (in one fashion or another) for decades. That portion of the family might have been bankrupted without her. Now that might be many things to many people, but simply ‘dutiful & sexless’ just does not cover it. Sorry. We’ve got no real way of knowing, really.

    3.) Sexual performance? Is again many things. It’s an art, a wonder & certainly a learned skill. So perhaps it’s not an either/or thing here, right? It might be a Both And. Or even an Neither… But!

    4.) Playing along here, If somehow you’ve got ‘The Marilyn’ on your hands and she does absolutely nothing well, but screw? Well she’s probably a pretty damn self limited kid there, OK? And she certainly needs to and should develop her natural talents & skills in other areas. That’s a fairly natural expectation from anyone. Be it their husband, lover, friends, or family. You could look fantastic and be really, really good at it. Even if she’s looking like Scarlett Johansson, OK? Almost anyone would tire of her after awhile, if that’s All (or even most) of what she’s good at. It’s just not enough. It’s in the end pretty stupid to rely upon just that skill set. Sorry. Even the greatest known courtesans of historical note were well known for doing more & better. Their poetry, patronage of the arts, or even their successful political or business acumen.

    5.) So it’s largely a silly false choice. For more reasons we care to imagine too. And worse? Jackie O would seemingly always win out in the end! Everyone wants smarts & sex! It’s an unbeatable combo. The real Marilyn had that too. The ‘fake’ Marilyn’s we imagine or construct for ourselves here? Evidently don’t somehow.

    6.) So at best? It’s an argument that pits youth & enthusiasm against age & experience or wisdom. Which again is a false dichotomy. Some women are sexy & active well into later life (like their 40’s & 50’s & beyond we hear!). If you’ve got kids under tow? It’s more difficult getting it all in & ‘covered’ (or uncovered as it were). It changes with age. Sex does. What we want in a partner does. But in the end Jerry hall said it best: “The men seem to want a lady in the dining room, a cook in the kitchen & a whore in the bed”. Here’s where we can agree: If at all possible many women would prefer that they hire out for many of these ‘lesser functions’. But that too may be showing an age bias here.

    Cheers & Good Luck, ‘VJ’

  13. Steve says:

    I think it is very easy for middle aged people of either sex to become asexual, unattractive and boring without necessarily having issues.

    High responsibilty, high stress jobs. Taking care of kids. Taking care of a home. The long term effects of lousy dietary choices. Cholesterol impedes blood flow not just in the heart, but “down south” as well.

    Time is short. People don’t have it to dress well or to engage in things to keep them mentally interesting.

    There is also an inertia that age to begin getting set in your ways, cynical and think you know it all.

    All of these things are not inevitable but very hard to fight. Those that do tend to be very sexy. Maybe because they are exceptional people to begin with aside from having avoided the spoils of the age they are at.

  14. Steve says:

    There is time for everything if it’s important to you

    One of the biggest fictions of our age. One of the fictions that causes the maximum amount of misery too.

    You can’t have everything. Everything costs time. There are only so many hours in a day and human beings have only so much energy as well as “prime time”.

    The best anyone can do is to set priorities on their time and energy. Sometimes that means cutting things out that are also important, but lower priority.

  15. Kat Wilder says:

    T — Yes, balance, and yes, it is hard to act like a dominatrix with a 6-month-old in the house. But I do believe underneath it all, a woman has to have a healthy appreciation of her sexuality.

    Steve — I hope your friend took her friend shopping for new clothes and a ‘do!

    Wombat — thank you, although don’t give me too much credit. I am often unclear and fudgy …

    Mike — Agreed; there is a time for sex. Like, almost always!

    Observer — thanks! Yeah, looking sexy but not feeling it is unauthentic. Never going to work. As for vulnerability and sexiness, hmmm. Some vulnerability is important and definitely sexy.

    Mark — Arrogance is so not sexy. I think it’s easy to see whose sexiness is grounded in confidence and whose is grounded in arrogance. Or, am I wrong?

    Greta — I’m not so sure most men want their woman to look like Angelina and her ilk. OK, well, let me rephrase that — maybe they do, but most intelligent men look at a woman in the big picture, and end up with one who fits most of what they’re looking for (as we women do). But, they’re still going to jack off to the Angelinas and Megans of the world. Just because they can!

    Dads — and isn’t it funny that when men are really into their kids, we women melt with lust!

    Lance — see above. Men who are daddies are sexy!

  16. Travis
    Twitter: CulminatingLife

    This is a argument about balance.

    @Steve – I’m calling bull on it being fiction.

    There is time for everything if it’s important to you

    This isn’t saying that you have to do everything all at once, but over the stretch of our lives, we need to continually balance those things that are important. If you adjust your time to do a little of everything that is important, then it will not be fiction. And everything that is important, will get the desired attention it deserves.

    Of course keywords are “if it’s important” and there is things that we find important that really aren’t. So life is also learning and reminding ourselves of the truly important things.

    It is interesting that you said “of our age” as if it was true within one age, but is no longer the case. There will always be things that remain true. And figuring out how to balance love, life, family and relationships will be.

    @Kat – If being “just a really good dad” is a turn-on for women, then it is obvious that the definitions of lust and love encompass many different attributes.

  17. Kat Wilder says:

    VJ — I absolutely love your brief answers … OK, I do love your answers, brief or not. I narrowed the “Marilyn vs. Jackie” down quite a bit, but what it really comes down to is drama vs. no drama.

    Women who are prized for their beauty and sexiness are often “high-maintenance,” regardless of their smarts and other talents. They act entitled, make demands and get what they want because they’re so beautiful and sexy that (many) men want to experience them. In lust and desire, they often marry them, only to realize that there are, uh, complications.

    I agree with Ms. Hall, that most men might prefer “a lady in the dining room, a cook in the kitchen & a whore in the bed.” And I believe, despite all the “this or that” presented women, we can be all that. If that’s what we choose.

  18. I think the prudish female ideal is outdated. That was for a time when men were supposed to have mistresses and women were supposed to be uneducated and POWERLESS at home. Unless you’re really uptight or have decided to be victimized by your motherhood status, I think all things are attainable for all women. Within reason. Regarding the Angelina situation…I think that for most men with signs of a soul, the subjectivity of love and bonding throws her hotness out the window.
    .-= Greta Koenigin´s last blog ..Facebook Popularity =-.

  19. Steve says:

    I’ve been reading a book “Self Made Man” by Norah Vincent. It is about her year and a half living (and passing) as a man. Her chapter about her experiences dating women was fascinating.

    She brought up the “Madonna/Whore” complex writing that the women she dated also made similar contradictory demands of men with what she calls the “warrior/minstrel” complex.

    On the one hand they want a stoic, take charge, lead the way Marlboro man. They also want the same men to be “sensitive new age men” who will proactively read them emotionally and always be eager to lend an ear for them to validate their emotions.

  20. Jenni says:

    Awesome post! I agree, there needs to a balance between being who you are, and a bit of a sexpot.

    BUT there is the rare case of the man being sexually ‘neglected’ because he is emotionally neglecting his SO. Which was the case with my ex-husband. It was one of the many issues that ended our marriage.
    .-= Jenni ´s last blog ..Incredible. =-.

  21. Kat Wilder says:

    Greta — Many women still fall into the powerless thing, and many men (and women) still have action on the side. Ultimately, it’s how you feel about yourself — and how you chose to live your life.

    Steve — yeah, well, no one said we women know what we want in a man, either. The Marlboro guy wasn’t it, but neither was Alan Alda. Nor the metrosexuals. That’s why maybe we gals should have many men, each one providing a different, uh, service. What a concept!

    Jenni — No one can “neglect” us for long unless we allow him/her to. So, we have to take responsibility for our part, too. True?

  22. VJ says:

    Thanks K, I’ll keep it a bit shorter here. I think the low spectrum on ‘drama’ is deeply desired by many (perhaps even most?) men. Sometimes that comes (we can imagine rarely) with ‘high maintenance’, but mostly not. It’s a complex of traits that when added to a well developed sense of entitlement is not all that attractive on or for anyone. But sometimes it’s tolerated for decent enough reasons,(Tradition, stability, sex, money).

    Neither Marilyn or Jackie O would have been accurately described by anyone who knew them as ‘low drama’ however. Jackie was just fortunate in being able to live longer, perhaps untroubled as Marilyn was by persistent severe depression & such, but goodness knows she knew & experienced enough tragedy in her life. But she saw to it that her privacy was more fiercely guarded, and paid handsomely to see that done also. Both were certainly complicated ladies, and clearly ‘high maintenance’ in the classical sense. Both were also still ‘working gals’ for much of their lives too. So I really see them as more alike on many things than not.

    On the next question of Norah Vincent’s say, The Marlboro vs Alan Alda? I think that might be a bit more decisive. The ‘real’ actor behind the ‘Marlboro Man’ image/TV ad campaign? Was gay male model who died years ago, naturally enough of lung cancer from yes, smoking all those ‘cancer sticks’. Alan Alda, is still a tall, smart, good looking older working actor who remains married to his first wife after 50+ years. He may be many things to many people, but the way to bet was & is with Al from Leonia. He is a leading man & a sensitive family man too. wiki/Alan_Alda

    Cheers & Good Luck! ‘VJ’