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Can Modern Female Icons Be Smart and Sexy?

Can Modern Female Icons Be Smart and Sexy?

We consider the 1950s a time when women had less options. But in today's New York Times, Maureen Dowd says that women had more freedom to be both smart and sexy. Marilyn Monroe, whose unseen diaries and poems have just been released, offers evidence that it was chic to amass a library of classic works, pursue poetry, and pall around with intellectuals. Dowd compares that reality to today:

At least, unlike Paris Hilton and her ilk, the Dumb Blonde of '50s cinema had a firm grasp on one thing: It was cool to be smart. She aspired to read good books and be friends with intellectuals, even going so far as to marry one. But now another famous beauty with glowing skin and a powerful current, Sarah Palin, has made ignorance fashionable.

Today, Dowd laments, not even our national leaders aim to appear intellectual. Sarah Palin makes up new words on Twitter, and starlets don't hang out with playwrights. Trying to think of female icons who incorporate intellectual elements into their public personas, I come up with Tina Fey, the "thinking man's sex symbol." When I think of celebrities who make shopping or partying look cool, a lot more examples come to mind. Do you have hope that intellectuals will become glamorous again?

Image Source: Getty
MissSushi MissSushi 6 years
I thought of Natalie Portman as well.. but she was really the only one. 99.9% of reality tv drives me absolutely insane with how idiotic people are, i hate that those people become popular.
janneth janneth 7 years
My problem with Monroe is that she talked like a baby. I hate that.
rashaw07 rashaw07 7 years
I agree with you le romantique...When I read this article I immediately thought of Natalie Portman. She is both sexy and smart.
postmodernsleaze postmodernsleaze 7 years
This kind of reminds me of a quote from the Fitzgerald story Bernice Bobs Her Hair-- "...a girl has to be dainty in person. If she looks like a million dollars she can talk about Russia, ping-pong, or the League of Nations and get away with it." I am not saying that being smart isn't sexy, but I think that the general American consensus is that smart isn't sexy. I think this may be part of the reason that girls' grades start dropping dramatically in middle school.
Janine22 Janine22 7 years
It is interesting to me that Marilyn Monroe was obviously sensitive and intelligent but played the dumb blonde because she knew that men liked it (and society). I assume it is the same thing today, many of the women in Hollywood dumb themselves down in order to gain success and be popular.
le-romantique le-romantique 7 years
Natalie Portman. . .?? Although when we talk about celebrities, we think of the fame wh*res with little-to-no education, except in fashion and clubbing 101.
genesisrocks genesisrocks 7 years
Personally I think smart is sexy Whether the masses agree or not is a whole other thing
GTCB GTCB 7 years
Paris Hilton was never relevant, nor will she be. Someone as rock-bottom dumb as her is meaningless in the grand scheme of things.
stephley stephley 7 years
I was thinking about that Dex - Dowd didn't do herself any favors by using her as an example.
dexaholic dexaholic 7 years
Is Paris Hilton still relevant?
Pistil Pistil 7 years
I watched a clip of the 50's game show "What's My Line?". The panel and host were all so incredibly articulate and well spoken (and funny!). Nothing like TV today. Smart and classy aren't as entertaining as rich, dumb, and attractive.
stephley stephley 7 years
Nah, I don't think intellectuals will be 'glamorous' any time soon. Women have the freedom to be smart and sexy now, they just aren't exercising it - why think when you can be a reality show cast member and get a multi-book deal?
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