When you think of a goddess, Aphrodite, Ancient Greece’s deity of love and beauty, may come to mind. Or you’ll likely think of Old Rome’s counterpart – Venus – the icon of fertility and desire.

Star Wars of a second kind

But ACMI, Australia’s national museum of screen culture, has put a modern spin on these deities in the exhibit “Goddess: Power, Glamor, Rebellion” – actresses who fought against narrow gender roles.

Female movie stars who bucked Hollywood’s bombshell or starlet roles include the tuxedo-garbed Marlene Dietrich in the 1930 film “Morocco,” and Tilda Swinton playing an androgynous male in the 1992 film “Orlando.”

As reported by Variety, these latter-day goddesses “fought an inherently biased system for control and creative freedom both on and off the screen.” Great, right?

So, what’s Marilyn Monroe doing in this show?

Far from being a trailblazer, Monroe didn’t have control over the pink dress featured in this exhibit. She wore it the 1953 film “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” as she warbled “Diamonds are a Girl’s Best Friend.”

The Guardian reported that it was the film producer, Sol C. Siegel, who picked the dress. Clearly oblivious to this factoid, exhibit curator Bethan Johnson told the Guardian that she wanted the show to “celebrate artists who have done so much to help challenge ideas about women’s fragility.”

Instead of a reputation for challenging such ideas, Monroe is famed for trying to keep her upswept skirt from exposing her underwear in the 1955 film “The Seven Year Itch.”

Andy Warhol’s portrait of Monroe, taken from a publicity still, captures her as a bottle blonde with pouty bright red lips and heavy blue eye shadow..

It’s hard to reconcile the hot pink dress with other exhibit examples such as the combat outfits that Michelle Yeoh wore in the 2000 movie “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” or the wardrobe of Thelma and Louise on their fateful road trip.

Challenging female fragility

Geena Davis, who played Thelma, partnered with ACMI Museum to put on the exhibit, spoke of a key decision that she and Susan Sarandon as Louise made at the end of their 1991 movie.

As she told Parade magazine, the movie director Ridley Scott wanted Thelma to shove Thelma out of their car ahead of driving off a Grand Canyon cliff.

Defying Scott’s idea, David said, “I think the ending is exactly how it should be because we get away. We retain control of our lives to the bitter end, and once we’ve tasted being in control of our lives, we never go back.”

“Goddess: Power, Glamor, Rebellion” is expected to travel the world.

Hopefully, someone along the way will see an unintended connection between the Australian exhibit and Sandro Botticelli’s 1485 painting “The Birth of Venus.”

As the Roman goddess is sent to Earth on a breeze, her face shows a wistfulness. As if to suggest a sad awareness that her coming to Earth is an impossible dream.