Hefner’s enduring legacy

Gail Dines in Ms on Hugh Hefner and Playboy:

I am a feminist,” boasted Hugh Hefner, the iconic founder of Playboy.  But the first two episodes of a new the documentary series that premiered January 24 on A&E, Secrets of Playboy, showed what feminists always knew: Hefner was a vile misogynist. 

A feminist misogynist.

Feminism was never about presenting women as sex objects or, as Hefner and his magazine called them, “Playmates.” Nor would feminism ask “Bunnies,” dressed in hypersexualized costumes, to serve drinks to men in Playboy Clubs. And now, as many saw the other night on television, we have irrefutable proof that Hefner’s empire was built on the horrific abuse of women. 

Playmates, forsooth. Imagine women referring to men as “playmates.” What does that imply about women? Apart from the fuckability? That women are an afterthought, an accessory, a toy – a child, a bit of fluff, an outsider, an irrelevance to the important business of life. They’re vital, because fucking, but they’re still empty and trivial and inferior.

“These chicks are our natural enemy,” Hefner once wrote about feminists in an internal memo. “We must destroy them before they destroy the Playboy way of life.”  He was right. And feminism must do exactly that—destroy the misogyny that Hefner lived. Behind the carefully polished veneer of Playboy, life for the women under Hefner’s rule looked like a typical scene on Pornhub: sexual slavery. This is his enduring legacy.

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