Hefner’s natural enemy

A bit more on Hefner, by Liz Posner at AlterNet:

Hefner claimed to have been a leader in the sexual revolution, liberating Americans from their puritanical views of sex. At least, that was his moral justification for objectifying women, as he told Vanity Fair:

A new documentary entitled Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel makes a persuasive case for Hefner the liberal who not only agitated for sexual tolerance but, among many good, brave causes, also was an early protagonist for racial equality and gay rights. “But feminists still oppose you for treating women as objects,” I reminded him.

“They are objects!” he insisted. “Playboy fought for what became women’s issues, including birth control. We were the amicus curiae, friend of the court, in Roe v. Wade, which gave women the right to choose. But the notion that women would not embrace their own sexuality is insane.”

And “their own sexuality”=being objects?

But what did Playboy ever do to encourage female sexuality? How does a magazine published explicitly for the male gaze offer sexual liberation?

Defenders of Hefner and his Playboy lifestyle will say that the Playboy bunnies freely chose their destinies, were treated well and that Hefner provided Playboy’s Playmates with career-boosting exposure. But not all the models who appeared in Playboy went on to fame and fortune. A disproportionate number of Playmates have died young from drug overdose, suicide, homicide, or some other unnatural cause. When Gloria Steinem went undercover as a Playboy bunny in 1963, she found the models were forced into painful, body-contorting costumes, poorly compensated and generally treated as though they were disposable. Maybe the bunny costumes are a little looser in the 21st century, but they still promote a retrograde notion that women’s bodies look better when they’re forced into corsets.

Hefner, who is praised for promoting racial equality, hated feminists and pushed a heteronormative, 1950s view of gender division. In an internal memo in 1970, he wrote, “These chicks are our natural enemy. What I want is a devastating piece that takes the militant feminists apart. They are unalterably opposed to the romantic boy-girl society that Playboy promotes.”

Ahhh there it is.

What he means by “romantic boy-girl society” of course is the one in which boy is dominant and girl is subordinate, in which boy pokes and girl is poked, in which boy is any age from 12 to dead while girl is age 3 to 19, in which boy is an actual human being with an inner life while girl is a dolly with no brain. Yeah we are opposed to that understanding of women and men and how they can interact.

Comments are closed.