I haven’t sat and written a proper chatty, opinion piece for ages, and before blogging become the ridiculous, high-quality editorial thing it is now, this is what I came into blogging to do; to write and debate, and provide my opinion on current topics and issues. Although what I am about to present will possibly outrage some people, that’s okay because a debate is good.
I have written so much on my feminist views, and how I view modern feminism (it’s even got its own category accessible from this blog’s navigation menu underneath ‘Girl Talk’ FYI) –
…to list just three.
If you follow me on any of my social channels such as my Twitter or Instagram, you will likely be aware that on Thursday I was pretty devastated about the passing of Hugh Hefner. But wait, Claire, aren’t you a feminist? Yes, I am.
“My father lived an exceptional and impactful life as a media and cultural pioneer and a leading voice behind some of the most significant social and cultural movements of our time in advocating free speech, civil rights and sexual freedom. He defined a lifestyle and ethos that lie at the heart of the Playboy brand, one of the most recognisable and enduring in history. He will be greatly missed by many, including his wife Crystal, my sister Christie and my brothers David and Marston and all of us at Playboy Enterprises.” –Cooper Hefner, Chief Creative Officer of Playboy Enterprises.
So, back to my earlier question – “How can you be a feminist and love Playboy and be sad about the passing of Hugh Hefner, that dirty old man that lived in silk pyjamas in a mansion surrounded by women young enough to be his daughters?”
Because I am. My interest in Playboy began in my late teenage years, when I started to explore the brand through its more commercial side (cushions, jewellery, clothing…), before I discovered (and became obsessed by) Girls of the Playboy Mansion on E! (YouTube it!) and that changed my world as I knew it to be honest. I wrote about its influence (more specifically, Kendra Wilkinson’s) in this post here.
Tackling Playboy’s Perception
This fascination for Hugh Hefner and Playboy went to the next level when I was able to actually dive in properly academically and conduct my third-year dissertation around the magazine (to the ‘delight’ of my extremely feminist tutor), my mission to tackle its perception. This suitably brings me to my point about haters of Playboy whereby I ask if the critics have actually ever read one of the magazines? Most people call Playboy magazine, porn, and think its content is mostly naked women. My content analysis identified that imagery of fully nude women made up a very small percentage of each magazine; in fact across a 10-year sample examining 4,000 pages, full nude women made up less than 20%. A majority of the magazine is advertising, articles about male lifestyle, and products; very similar to any woman’s magazine today (just without the nude imagery). But, I think the dislike about Playboy is about Hefner, as opposed to the magazine. Am I right?
Playboy magazine’s featured nudity is tasteful titillation, not porn; the naked body is not porn. Porn is actually far, far worse and in my view, demeaning to both the men and women that take part in producing content for others enjoyment (but that’s just my opinion). If the likes of Hugh Hefner didn’t contribute to society’s changing attitude to sex, Western society wouldn’t be what it is today; Playboy was the product of a changing society at the time.
I totally get the argument about how Playboy and similar content can be deemed demeaning to women, and I’ve addressed this before. However, may I draw your attention to Instagram, and all the young women, (and I hate to say it, some bloggers) who are posting themselves in revealing outfits and underwear; sometimes it is a brand collaboration, sometimes not… so is that scenario worse than the Playboy centrefolds (vagina’s asides)? Honestly?
Hugh Hefner – Dirty old man or leader of the sexual revolution?
Addressing more directly the issues around Hugh Hefner, because there is no doubt that as a cultural figure (he was, whatever you think) he divided people. I never met the man personally, and sure, there are things that went on behind the walls of the mansion that is best we do not ask about. His lifestyle to many was also extremely problematic, while others (yes, men) declared him a hero. His need to surround himself with women young enough to be his daughters and never just commit to one, sure, also problematic… but he’s not the only man to do this. There are men (in America and in other cultures), that have multiple wives, the difference is that they do it not quite as publicly, but it happens, it exists.
One of the things about Hefner that over the last couple of days that has been of particular outrage on Twitter etc. has been the knowledge that he will be buried next to Marilyn Monroe. He purchased the plot in the early 90’s and yes, there are some issues here. If you don’t know the history or the connection with Marilyn Monroe and Playboy, I would suggest you do your own research because I am not going to outline it here, but the key thing is that she appeared in the very first edition of the magazine in 1953… without her permission. This I do not agree with, but all I can say was that it was different times but that of course, is not an excuse.
How Can you be a Feminist and love Playboy?
A large contributing factor to why I can be feminist and like Hugh Hefner and Playboy is because it rests a lot on women’s choice. Women had the choice to feature in the magazine, in the same way they had the choice to associate themselves with Hugh Hefner himself by visiting the mansion for parties, become live-in girlfriends and what not. My personal view is that I don’t see a difference between Playmates and some of the women that feature in reality shows. The likes of The Only Way is Essex; Love Island; Big Brother etc. has bred a particular kind of people that sell themselves to silly conversation, scenarios and later advertising when their fame reaches a certain point. Personally, nothing and nobody I admire. But, there was a stat years ago that revealed more young girls saw a career in glamour modelling than in something, dare I say, more respectable. Some of us were outraged, others while still outraged, actually asked if these young women saw an opportunity to make a lot of money and get ahead quicker than going down the normal career route. There’s a valid argument on both sides of that.
Remember guys, this piece is an opinion, my opinion. Like anything, always do your research so you know that your opinion on someone or something is yours and not just something you have adopted by following the crowd. Hugh Hefner and Playboy have many people that have formed an opinion about them without actually investigating it for themselves, and I have no doubt that some of you will read this and call me deluded. At the end of the day, regardless what Hugh Hefner has and has not done, and what Playboy does, and does not do, it still fascinates me enough to want to invest time, and indeed money, into pursuing this intrigue I have. I will always remain fascinated, I will also read more into it and given the chance, I would still pursue my intrigue further academically.
Want more? American Playboy on Amazon Prime is well worth a watch if you want to discover more about Hugh Hefner and Playboy’s history.
Until next time xFollow