Anna Freud and Marilyn Monroe do not appear to have much in common. As historical beings, as images and as impressions evoked for us by what has been written about them and also what they wrote, or said, themselves, they appear to be very different. Yet in life they were connected through psychoanalysis and, as this chapter argues and demonstrates, through written interpretations that conceived of them both in relation to conceptions of femininity and female sexuality. These conceptions are cultural; in the lifetimes of these two women and in contemporaneous and subsequent representations of them, these were and have been inflected (even determined) by psychoanalytic perceptions, derived from or considered in relation to the pronouncements of Anna Freud’s father Sigmund. The father’s pronouncements on femininity and female sexuality were themselves dependent on his analysis of Anna Freud; his followers’ analyses of Monroe followed these precepts and assumptions.

Significant for the argument presented here is that a number of recent feminist re-examinations, of Anna Freud and of Marilyn Monroe, largely treated separately, have taken place within a broadly psychoanalytic and feminist framework. The chapter contends that, in these feminist works, as in Sigmund Freud’s writing about femininity and about his daughter, there is a spectral presence of female homosexual desire – lesbianism – that is disawoved, denied or inadequately examined. The chapter concludes that female-to-female desire and consideration of it is central to psychoanalytic and popular conceptions of femininity, and moreover to female sexuality itself, however much this is overwritten or written out of accounts.