Playboy Changed the World for the Worse

Hugh Hefner holding the first issue of Playboy, December 1953

A new NBC show touches an open wound in American history.

Perhaps the most important moment in gender politics in America occurred at a kitchen table in Chicago late in 1953. A young man named Hugh Hefner borrowed a thousand dollars from his mom to publish a magazine that was originally going to be called Stag Party. But apparently there was already a Stag magazine about horses. At that kitchen table, Hefner put together the first issue of his new magazine and decided to name it Playboy after a automobile company that his mom had once worked at. He featured Marilyn Monroe on the cover, who had just landed her first leading role in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and was yet to reach icon status.

Fifty-eight years later, Hugh Hefner, now 84, gave up dating two twins simultaneously to marry 24-year-old Crystal Harris. In the years since launching his magazine, Hefner has sparked a profound change in American culture that continues to frame the way we look at sex and gender. The first magazine to show naked women, Playboy gave birth to pornography as we have come to know it—a business that has blossomed into arguably the biggest single media industry in our country.

No other man has had as profound an impact on both the conscious and sub-conscious way men look and think about women and their bodies. From Madison Avenue to Hollywood the way women are portrayed is either a direct result, or a direct rebellion against, the boulder that Hefner started rolling down that hill 50 years ago.

NBC built its upcoming fall schedule around a new period drama glamorizing Hugh Hefner and his bunnies called The Playboy Club. The show, starting in September on Monday nights, is already being heavily promoted as their next big winner. Apparently NBC decided to piggy-back on the success of Mad Men and push the envelope one step further. According to the sneak peaks, the show “captures a time and place that challenged the social mores, where a visionary created an empire, and an icon changed American culture.”

Matt Weiner, creator of Mad Men (and a classmate of mine from Wesleyan), is adamant that his show is feminist in its orientation. It shows secretaries being sexually harassed specifically because that is what really happened. If we’re paying attention, those scenes are not supposed to be funny—but profoundly uncomfortable to watch. He once told me that those women, the ones who were mistreated in offices across the country during the 1960s, have tracked him down to let him know that they appreciate the accuracy of his depiction even if a good segment of the audience misunderstand the point. “It really happened that way,” they say.

Based on the promotion of The Playboy Club, there doesn’t appear to be an effort to show the tipping point when the sex trade was brought into the mainstream and how that revolutionized our culture. I actually didn’t know anything about the show until a relative—a woman the same age as the ones approaching Weiner to thank him—called my wife to let her how profoundly saddened she was after watching the trailer for the NBC show.

The relative explained to my wife that when Playboy was created she was a mother and housewife doing the very best she could to live up the societal expectations of that time. The show glorifies exactly what, at the time, seemed an unfair and sickening change where she tried to keep herself in good shape and remain attractive for her husband, but couldn’t compete with these naked bunnies. It was a profoundly painful memory and she couldn’t believe NBC would glamorize something that was so obviously sexist.

This particular relative is very traditional, hardly a bra-burning feminist, but she got me thinking. Certainly there’s plenty on network television these days that lacks any pretense of information or even art. But as I watched the clips and read more about the upcoming show it seemed to me a canonization of Hugh Hefner himself, the world he created, and the ways in which he has infiltrated everything in modern media down to how sites drive page views (such as this recent semi-NSFW gallery in COED Magazine).

I find it sad and irresponsible that NBC would devote the time and money to a high-production-value series that attempts to glamorize a guy who has done more to give men a bad name than anyone I can think of. He’s also done more damage to the status of American women, both in and out of the sex trade, than perhaps any man in history.

"The Playboy Club"

Follow Tom Matlack

Become a fan of GMP

—Photos: Smithsonian Photography Initiative, Courtesy of NBC

About Tom Matlack

Thomas Matlack is a venture capitalist.


  1. Anonymous Male #2 says:

    You certainly seem to know an awful lot about people that you don’t even know. Maybe this is the reason men might find you a very uninviting partner.
    Please note !!! I referenced my porn find, dating back to the late 1960’s…NO INTERNET !!!!!!!
    The pictures were black & white, and of pretty poor quality…BUT, they were explicit enough to drive any imagination, male or female.
    My ex-wife and I did not NOT watch porn together !!!!!!!!.. It is simply , that in our intimate relationship, we both tried those sexual acts that seemed so lurid at first. But with gentle words and ever growing
    intimacy, we BOTH expressed our delight and satisfaction with a myriad of sexual gymnastics.
    How would you consider a guy like myself….I bought her lingerie that only naughty girls in the magazines might wear..Eventually, she learned to love this stuff as much as I did.
    As she progressed in her sexual maturity, she grew bold enough to ask for many parts of her body to be aroused… GET THAT ?????? she asked !!!!!!!
    Massage became a very deep part of our loving….warm, scented oil rubbed on her feet, baths where I
    washed and massaged her hair, washed her back and other parts of her anatomy with a pure silk scarf, and then made her favorite breakfast in the morning…..GIRL ????? Does this sound like pornography ???????
    I am hobbled now by Diabetes ll…It takes a lot of work-up and a little blue pill to help me along.
    My current partner partner (mid fifties and hope that she never reads this) can perform with me or in ways of solo action that would make any man scream for joy.
    SO TELL ME ?? What do you do for your male intimate partners besides deride and condemn us for
    being men….GOOD MEN !!!!

  2. Anonynous Male # 2 says:

    Glad I caught today’s posts. Anonymous Male made some very valid points, but I do not think his ideas came to a more logical conclusion. i.e., there is , “ahem” a certain learning curve that men and women could really use, often portrayed in pornographic video and mags.
    First, we have to admit that there are a lot of sexual “positions or actions” that do arouse our sexuality.
    So, I think the first part of the relationship is to be educated and aware that there is so much more pleasure than the plain old missionary position. You want “pornographic’?..Try that one and only position for a lifetime.
    With some education in sexual technical (learned from porn) the chance for a MOST intimate connection between partners might begin to happen. The entire body is one wildly erogenous zone and is just waiting to be explored. AND !!!! this does not mean that every woman must look like a model
    in a porn film.
    My ex-wife (sorry to say) lived in your typical white-protestant small town, was (7) years older than myself and was a size twelve (12) when I married her . To say the least, her experience was dull and without much ado. I, on the other hand, had a least a reference point because of some “porno” magazines I found in the late 60’s.
    Whispered conversation at night , led to startled looks and some fear of what we “both” agreed to in sexual exploration. This later led to to wonderful shared baths, massage and bolder talk.
    Suffice it to say, that a mutual agreement of trust and boundaries led to some really wild and crazy nights and days in the sack. Each progressive step was planned out like a porn movie and left us breathless and exhausted.
    It is a matter of perception. About once a week I might peek into some pornsites….OLDER women only!
    At my age I can’t even imagine myself in a sexual tryst with anybody but a well cared for lady in her late forties to early fifties. These ladies have been around and really love a warm-oil foot massage prior to some really tasty sex
    (name with-held to protect certain parties)

    • Anonymous Male #2, I think it’s that learning curve that is causing alot of women distress today. They are with men that got their learning curve from men watching porn and they are unhappy. I’ve been with guys that clearly were getting their sexual tricks from porn and it was obvious, boring and depressing for me. And I know other women feel the same.

      If someone is looking to spice things up or look for new ways to connect with their partner, the internet CAN be used to look for ways to do that. But it doesn’t have to be done through porn. The internet is a great resource for just that kind of stuff. And it can be shown in a much more positive light.

      I think when men want to watch porn with their partner, it’s more about the man. How he can both watch other women having sex and his excitment over that and have sex with the real woman beside him. Very little of it is about actually looking for a way to communicate his love purely for the woman by his side. I dislike it when people try to make porn sound like this benevolent media that just wants to teach people to make love for the betterment of their relationships.

      If men want to learn to be more exciting lovers, they shouldn’t do it from porn.

  3. S.Gallo says:

    Call me “Santo.” I think we’re holding apples and oranges in our respective baskets. I simply think men are the likely progenitors of the idea that virtuous women have sex for reasons other than the sheer fun of it. Women have certainly done their part to keep that particular ball rolling.

  4. Anonymous Male says:

    This may sound piggish and heretical, but I’m not so sure that unrealistic portrayals of women in popular culture are inherently bad for society. I get it that watching porn can shape a man’s subconscious mind, but most men who watch porn know that it’s an escape from reality. That’s what makes it a fantasy. It’s make-believe. If a man wants all the women in his life to look and behave like porn actresses, then he is an idiot. If he demands that his girlfriend look like a Playboy centerfold, then he’s doomed himself to a life of frustration, and if she is not an idiot she’ll be out the door. The porn industry has not tainted his expectations of women; his fundamental idiocy comes from within.

    Along the same lines, I don’t think porn is inherently degrading. If a female character on screen wants something, requests it, gets it, and enjoys it, is that a moment of degradation?

    • S.Gallo says:

      It’s worth telling and repeating to women that most of us men know most of the time that most of what we see in porn is not what happens in real life.

    • Anonymous Male (#1) if unrealistic portrayals of women in popular culture aren’t inherently bad, then why do we have so many women that feel bad about their bodies as they are and striving to get surgery or do all matter of painful things to their bodies just to meet the standard their boyfriends and husbands are oggling through male media?

      Look, I do not think any adult here doesn’t know that porn isn’t infact “fantasy”. Porn IS fantasy. PORN is fantasy. Porn is FANTASY. We all fundementally understand that. However. That does not stop men from asking their real life partners to do something, try something, dress up like something they saw in porn. So you can say that porn is fantasy, in as many different ways as you like. But it doesn’t stop real life men from asking real life women to do the things they see in porn. So when does porn stop being *just* fantasy? Is it when we only watch something and only wish for it to be real. Is it when we watch something and enjoy it but don’t want it to be real. Or is it when we watch something and wish it to be real and then do what we an to bring it into our own bedroom. Because I have to tell you. There hasn’t been one man that I have been in a relationship with that didn’t at one point ask me to fullfill one of his fantasies in bed. I am not saying that’s a bad thing. What I am saying is that while we all understand that porn is fantasy. It doesn’t stop people from wanting to act out those fantasies and it doesn’t even make people any less attracted to that fantasy knowing it’s not real.

      Do I think all men expect to have a Playboy centerfold? No. But then why do men have to spend so much time oggling the centerfold when the real woman they have is good enough?

      All you have to do is look at our culture to see how porn as gotten into it. 9 year old kids know what pornstars are. We don’t live in a culture anymore where it was a Playboy a month. Men are spending more time with porn then ever before. And if you ever talked to any younger kids, boys and girls, it’s amazing how adult the things they say about sex comes out but out emotionally childish they clearly still are because they are kids. You got boys with an outlet to porn that is sending big messages about expectations of women and their bodies and their actions. Maybe we should make instructional videos for young girls. And in these videos we show them how they can use men for money. And then lets turn araound and make claims that these videos won’t affect their perceptions of men.

      Lastly, its ironic how your perception of porn is that the female character on screen is the one calling the shots by saying what they want. You are kidding right? If you believe the female actress in the movie is the one in charge, then you are buying int0 the FANTASY you claim you can tell the distinction between. I do not believe ANY man here is too dumb to see the degradation and humilation of women in modern porn. I do not believe YOU are dumb at all Anonymous male and I am sure you see countless foarms of women being treated like second class citizens compared to men in porn. And if you really think all the women in porn are just having a grand old time and they are just living there hearts content, then you clearly buy the fantasy the industry is selling you.

    • “Along the same lines, I don’t think porn is inherently degrading. If a female character on screen wants something, requests it, gets it, and enjoys it, is that a moment of degradation?

      It is clear that you are delusional and obviously effected by porn in a negative way. Porn is made by men for men. What you see on screen is not what that woman wants. What you see is a script made by a man in which the women are acting… and most of the time the women are coerced or forced into performing those acts.

  5. Countless women launched, relaunched or propelled their careers *using* Playboy and were paid handsomely for it. No coercion or force involved. Sorry, giving women the *choice* to work and use their natural gifts is a good thing.

  6. As long as we’re beating this magazine horse, I want to draw people’s attention to the articles in Penthouse and Hustler in the last thirty years or so. These, unlike PB, often featured conspiracy theory articles about how big government was gonna getcha, and so forth.

    If you’re looking for one of the roots of the Teaparty, look no further than these two magazines. The articles were actually proto-fas*cist, based on the idea that the independent little man could become strong if he knew more about the vast conspiracies arrayed against him.

    They appealed to more working class men. Flynt was a strong misogynist, with a woman being fed into a meat grinder in one illustration. He also had quite a number of “poop” cartoons. So I’m not impressed with his attempt to be scholarly with his new book on the sex lives of presidents. Guccione favored women arrayed with scarves and giant racks.

    • S. Gallo says:

      These “vast conspiracies” you allude to were often tonic in their anti-corporate posture, especially in Penthouse. I first learned about the Taft-Hartley Act in Penthouse. And in a milieu in which you could go to jail for smoking weed or possessing photos to jerk off to, as well as folks with the temerity to say laws against these things were a good thing—-well, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that many folks would conclude that maybe big government had turned into too-big-government.

  7. SnakeEyez says:

    “I find it sad and irresponsible that NBC would devote the time and money to a high-production-value series that attempts to glamorize a guy who has done more to give men a bad name than anyone I can think of. He’s also done more damage to the status of American women, both in and out of the sex trade, than perhaps any man in history.”

    Done more to give men a bad name than anyone I can think of. What foundless babble! He’s also done more damage to the status of American women? Are you aware that status of women is actually higher in countries in which pornography is legal than countries in which pornography is illegal?

    Hugh Hefner should have had a tv show about him a long time ago! Creating a men’s magazine that focused on men’s sexual fantasies and what men wanted was revolutionary. Hefner filled a deep sexual void in the American psyche (no pun intended). Furthermore Hefner was a sexual revolutionary for creating such a magazine. Saying that the sexual revolution was only about “freeing women” is like saying the American Civil War was only about “states rights.” A lot of people were breaking free from social norms include heterosexual men. Finally I really wonder how far women who publish material that relates to women’s sexual fantasies and sexuality would have gotten if it weren’t for evil pornographers like Hefner. Actually I don’t… I could just look at how women are coping in countries where porn is illegal!

    • Sorry, I don’t see anything ‘revolutionary’ about that. Men’s priorities, men’s fantasies, men’s everything has always been paramount. If men didn’t like the rules about propriety and modesty… well… it’s the rules they created.

      The sexual revolution didn’t free women in the slightest. Not a one. It deepened the Madonna/whore dichotomy to such a gaping chasm that literally everywhere you go you can see this trope played out. If you go on the street right now… ask 10 guys if they would like to have 50 sexual partners… then ask them if they would have a relationship with a woman who had 50 or more sexual partners. Tell me how ‘liberated’ their mentality is…

      Sexual revolution = sexual double standards. At least prior to the sexual revolution everyone was on level moral playing field. Promiscuity, adultery, etc. were discouraged for both sexes. Now it’s just men that have been ‘liberated’ but women are still chained to this Madonna/whore dichotomy.

      • S. Gallo says:

        I realize I’m not every man, but I’d be suprised if any of the women I’ve dated had fewer partners than I did. I don’t think adversely about that. It’d be child’s play to find men who do. So what? The supposed sexual revolution wasn’t adhered to by most people, men or women, even in its putative hey-day. The ’60s weren’t as ’60s as the media told people they were.

      • I agree Sara. There is nothing “sexually revolutionary” about it. Or about Hugh Hefner. Why would men need another man to sell them ideas about “fantasy” anyway? Wouldn’t we all be better off if our fantasies came from within *us*. I sometimes wonder how much sexual content that is out there is because of what would have been our “true” fantasies. Or because someone that wanted to push the envelop more then it had been pushed created this “fantasy”, and other people latched onto it because of simply being exposed to it in a media intelligent world.

      • Playboy may be revolutionary is that it did, for the first time in the modern era, emphasize men’s essential general biological approach to women, as discomforting as that may have been for women. The modern vision of marriage, relationships, and so on, by contrast, basically follows what’s called the female reproductive strategy in evolutionary psychology. So I think Sara’s wrong. Women DO control the world of relationships. They’re the ones with the actual power there. Men breach the female vision when they play or cheat, but women often do too, secretly, often mating with a sexier man, while relying on an affluent “Hef” (but one who’s faithful, or mostly so) for support.

        • BTW, both my wife and I have had well over 50 partners. We were hippies.

        • Well if we are going to put this In terms of pure evolutionary psychology, if we followed the ideal male approach, we’d have chaos. We wouldn’t have a civilization. At the very least we’d have fatherless societies where men mostly associate among themselves in their own groups, impregnate multiple females, but do not participate in child rearing. (some inner city communities have aspects of that model and I’m sure we’d all agree, it’s a problem) Or at worst, we’d have what happens in every society, in every time, whenever the social contract is broken: lots and lots of rapes (think Bosnia), lots of death and destruction, and ultimately, a lot of misery for everyone.

          So, I dunno, I think the female approach is pretty good.

          • Henry Vandenburgh says:

            I agree with this pretty much, but I wanted to refute the idea that it’s all men’s plan. Not hardly. Actually the behavior of very rich (eg. Hef) and very poor (e.g. inner city) men proves that ev psych is likely true. In these circumstances, the men cannot be controlled by women, and they act in ways ev psych would predict. Both of these levels are low sex ratio (too few men) as well, also making “bad” behavior more likely.

            • So it sounds like we would agree that women controlling men is overall, good for the species?

              Chaos is only good for a few men (warlords, Hef) and pretty bad for everyone else, including other men. One could argue that female control evolved because it is adaptive for men as well as women. Men are more likely to have offspring that survive in a stable community. If the women they are impregnate are being wantonly abused, starved or killed, not many children will survive. Also, if warlords are accumulating vast harems, most men are going without women at all and have no children. And survival of children is what it’s all about.

            • Also there are actually 3 male reproductive strategies seen in nature. Often these strategies exist among different males in the same species.

              — the alpha male strategy: be the biggest, strongest male and accumulate a large harem.
              — the good guy strategy: get one female and guard her ceaselessly.
              — the sneaker strategy: impregnate females belonging to other males

              In deer and elk populations, for example, while the alpha male is fighting with another would-be alpha, another male may sneak in and mate with the females in the harem. Interestingly, the females mate willingly with the sneaker, proving that being a sneaker male can be a valid and successful strategy.

              In some species of fish, all 3 kinds of males exist in a balance. In some species the different males even look different. If the population becomes dominated by alphas, for example, they are so busy fighting each other than good guys and sneakers have more success, so the proportion of good guys and sneakers goes up in the next generation. When there are too many good guys or sneakers, alphas have the advantage, etc.

              This is why popular discussions of ev-psych often overlook the complexity of what occurs in nature. Females don’t just favor alpha males, they favor males with a good chance of reproductive success and being an alpha male is just one successful strategy. Human beings, for the most part, do not have societies based on the alpha male/harem model or the sneaker model, although there are always males who follow those strategies. Most human societies have more of a good guy/sharing model that ensures maximum social stability and reproductive success for all.

        • Henry said: “Playboy may be revolutionary is that it did, for the first time in the modern era, emphasize men’s essential general biological approach to women, as discomforting as that may have been for women”

          So men didn’t already know why they liked women until Hef told them??

          I like how you downplay it all by just calling it “discomforting”. It’s not a matter of “discomforting”. Men don’t want to be used for their money, even if they sometimes are. Women don’t want to be used for their bodies, even if they sometimes are. All of us should strive not to use the other gender to make ourselves feel better.

          Men didn’t need Hef to tell them the kind of women they liked. The world managed to populate itself very nicely before Hef came along.

  8. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Hey, why does Cory get a pink box-comment, and the rest of us get white or grey?

  9. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    A woman friend lately suggested I pick up a Maxim. Actually, I found it much more insinuating and nasty than my memories of Playboy. Very little intellectual content, and much more of a conniving “play-ah” ethic (even though the Maxim didn’t seem to have any nude bodies in it.) No fiction (as a fiction writer occasionally, I wanted to see if it was a potential market.) The problem with it (as compared to PB) is that it just reeks of pick-up-artist stuff. I’ve always been fairly independent in my personhood, and also don’t like the emphasis on team sports: I’m much more interested in martial arts or track. So I often got the image of snarky male bonding while reading. I like other smart men, but won’t bond over sports, or grilling, or cliche stuff. I also didn’t care for their article on the military, since most of their readers will never serve, and I did.

    PB seemed to favor the individual man, not the “can’t give up my college buddies” snarky guy.

    • Henry Vandenburgh says:

      This may point to a key problem. The real problem may be men in groups. Since I have mainly female friends, I haven’t had to deal with this much.

  10. What happens to Playboy models after their time?

    Apparently they die old and alone with no one to check on their mummified bodies for over a year.

    Reality is, Hef and company don’t give a shit about the vast majority of the women who go through their company.

    • Or they get deported…

      Again, does Hef give a shit? No. Smarmy Tucker Carlson makes a mockery of her.

      • SnakeEyez says:

        Because Playboy should actually spend money the extradition of an independent contractor that has completed a job. Tell me what other companies have ever intervened when a former contractor has gotten been deported due to visa problems? I am sure you will find some but it won’t be a lot compared to the ones that just let them get deported!

    • SnakeEyez says:

      I agree with you. It’s Hef fault that the 82 year old women lived alone and died by herself. Hef and Playboy should have kept tabs on her the 50 or 60 odd years after she did the shoot.

      • It would not be a big thing but Playboy makes this huge scene saying how they are such a ‘family’ and ‘once a playmate… always a playmate.’ He has made it seem like he gives a shit when in fact he doesn’t. He is a user, like any other pornographer and should own up to that fact instead of trying to put forth a ‘wholesome’ or ‘caring’ image.

        Also, they made this gloating tribute of a documentary about Hef where they make him seem like the second coming of Jesus. They go on and on and on about how awesome he is to everyone and for everyone…. Civil rights, he gets credit. Women’s rights.. he gets credit. Vietnam ending… he gets credit.

  11. Henry Vandenburgh says:

    Well, I do remember the Madeline Murray OHare interview, so that’s one. I know that there’ve been others. I don’t think I’ve looked at PB much since the 70s.

    • Henry, I wasn’t tryign to claim that there were no interviews with women. What I did say, and found ironic, is that *most* of the interviews were centered around men while all the pages of Playboy were centered around female looks. So it wasn’t even like they were making a magazine geared to a man’s interest in a woman’s body AND mind. Wouldn’t it have made more sense to interview more women as well as showcase their bodies if the magazine was really about female freedom? The occasional article interview with a woman is a far cry from female liberalism. I doubt the male readership of men, even the ones that enjoyed the articles so much, would have been as interested in the articles as much if the articles were mostely about talkigng to women as equals. Of course, I don’t know that for sure but that’s my guess based on how the magazine was run.

      But I would be interested in reading the article of Madeline Murry Ohare or o ther women who were interviewed for Playboy and see how it compares to the interviews done with male figures. What questions they asked the women vs what they asked male interviews.

      I bet most men don’t look at Playboy as much. Infact, I bet plenty of men can’t even get turned on just by looking at a still life image of a woman’s breasts alone even if they find them attractive. Which is why Playboy’s stock has gone down in recent years. There is just too much over exposure to more live action stuff.

      • Actually PB did interview the women they took pictures of. The interviews were pretty infantile, however, and had the feeling of being concocted. Sexual preferences. Goals. Etc. None of the women said they were looking forward to a permanent relationship. All made them seem sexually available, and without a relationship.

        • While you’re making my point for me, the portion of the articles i was refering to is the famous “interview” page. The one you orginally addressed in your comment about Madeline Murray OHare being interviewed. The one where alot of men say they read Playboy for exactly these well written articles yet these articles focus mainly on male accomplishment and success in a positive way while reducing women to the token t&a. I have no doubt that there were numerous fluff written about the girls in the magazine about how much they loved teddy bears and blow jobs. However this is not the type of interview or articles i was refering to in my own comments.

          • Henry Vandenburgh says:

            Yeh, I like to be fair. I’m not always opposed to you. I’m not sure the interviews (the serious ones) were always useless. They interviewed the horrible George Lincoln Rockwell once (American NAZI Party.)

            • Henry, where did I say the interviews where useless? I think you are missing the point in what I am saying.

              • Henry Vandenburgh says:

                Give it a rest, Erin.

                • Childish and rude response Henry. You’ve always had the ability to “give it a rest” by simply ceasing to respond to any part of the conversation you were tired of talking about. I personally thought we were mearly having a discussion.

                  • Well I thought you were taking a parental tone. The truth is, I tend to reply in generalities. I don’t always choose to follow a direct line of argument. I’ll probably always be this way. 🙂

      • S. Gallo says:

        Since you were looking so assiduosly, you might have noticed Playboy’s slogan: “Entertainment for Men.”

        • Absolutely! By why does “entertainment for men” have to be only about women’s bodies? If men find value in women beyond their bodies,why wouldn’t they *want* articles about women’s minds too to go along with those bodies? Entertaiment for men doesn’t have to be about reducing women to the sum of their body parts does it?

  12. I am always annoyed when people act like porn was a liberation for female expression. When porn was really another form of bondage for women. Because porn never was about celebrating women’s sexuality as it is in it’s natural form, as it is in the things that women specifically like. If porn was really about women as human beings with needs and desire of their own, then we wouldn’t have the type of porn we have today and we wouldn’t have had Hugh’s version of sexuality sold to us. Porn was always about what men wanted and their fantasies. Porn enabled women to express the sexuality men wanted them to have and how men wanted women to look. Not the sexuality that women really had/have. And today, women are still fighting that battle. Harder then ever.

    Further, it’s interesting to me that a magazine that was dominated by images of women on every page but the actual articles, where it quickly turned to mostly male celebrity interviews and a celebration of male interests, couldn’t manage to focus the articles about the positives and successes of women or interview mostly women in the same respectful way the magazine was clearly more interested in interviewing male celebrities. My guess is that the audience didn’t want to see insightful articles that talked to women as equals for their accomplishments. So no matter how great the articles where, my guess is that most of the articles where about male accomplishments smoothered inbetween the pages of 20 year old breasts.

    Lastly, I will leave with this. I could care less what a network wants to do to sell a show or advertising. What I care about is all the regular guys with good women at home that feed that network. That watch the shows. That buy the porn. I am just so tired of porn. And I just feel like men are so zombiefied by it today. And it’s really disheartening for me personally. It leaves me feeling bitter toward men when I don’t want to feel that way.

    • SnakeEyez says:

      “I am always annoyed when people act like porn was a liberation for female expression. When porn was really another form of bondage for women. Because porn never was about celebrating women’s sexuality as it is in it’s natural form, as it is in the things that women specifically like. If porn was really about women as human beings with needs and desire of their own, then we wouldn’t have the type of porn we have today and we wouldn’t have had Hugh’s version of sexuality sold to us. Porn was always about what men wanted and their fantasies. Porn enabled women to express the sexuality men wanted them to have and how men wanted women to look. Not the sexuality that women really had/have. And today, women are still fighting that battle. Harder then ever. ”

      So porn the majority of heterosexual porn produced is about what men want and our fantasies? So what? Most of romance novels and literotica is about what women want and their fantasies! Is that such a big deal if we all acknowledge that they are fantasies and not reality.

      As far as “women are still fighting the battle” I am kind of curious to what women are these? You see I have taken many sex ed courses from the sex positive community (primarily at a woman owned toy store in NYC), the bdsm community, the tantric community and the polyamorous community. Of the sex positive educators at least two have directed porn movies (Tristan Taormino and Jayme Waxman). Of the educators I have met in the in the bdsm community there have been quite a few that have worked in some capacity producing some form of pornography or another (sorry I’m not going to mention any here). Furthermore even in the trantric community you have sex educators like Annie Sprinkle who was a former porn star. So who exactly are these so called women that are “still fighting” that you speak of? I only ask because I have met a lot of sex authors and a whole lot of them like some form of porn or erotica…

      • wellokaythen says:

        “So porn the majority of heterosexual porn produced is about what men want and our fantasies? So what? Most of romance novels and literotica is about what women want and their fantasies! Is that such a big deal if we all acknowledge that they are fantasies and not reality.”

        In fact, if you enjoy the letters pages of Playboy, Penthouse, etc., I would recommend you check out just about anything from the “erotic fiction” section of your local public library, at least the libraries in your average metropolitan library district. 99% of the books are written by women or under a female pseudonym. Where is the outrage?

        • Those aren’t comparable. The image of men in novels is hardly ‘degrading’ as say…. ‘barely legal’ genre of porn.

          Also, the fan base for romance novels is much, much, much smaller than porn. While almost all men watch porn I’d say most women haven’t even read a romance novel. I know I have never. Most of my friends have never. It’s a small niche. If I am going to read… it will be something substantial. If I want to masturbate or have sex, I go do that.

          I also don’t think many women use novels as masturbatory tools. Kinda hard to turn the page and diddle yourself at the same time. Amiright, ladies?

          Romance novels account for about 13% of books sold… porn…. 2/3s of the whole INTERNET… Porn is by far a much larger industry.

          • Um, I’ve got to disagree with you on that, having discovered during my teens years that it is quite easy to hold a paperback romance in my left hand, leaving my right hand free for, well, other activities. However that was between the age of 15 and 18. I haven’t read a romance novel in 20 years. Once I began having real relationships, I have no need to read silly books about sexy sea captains ravishing shipwrecked princesses, or whatever.

            Other than that I agree with your comments on mainstream porn. I have no problem with porn per se but the degrading nature of most porn is disturbing to me. I also wonder what it does to men to watch thousands of hours of porn and how, with all that porn in their minds, they can possibility connect mentally,physically and emotionally with a real woman in a real sexual situation. Steamy romance novels leave a lot to the reader’s own imagination, while the explicit visual nature of porn substitutes for one’s own thoughts and fantasies. I think it also creates grossly unrealistic ideas about women and sex. I suppose you could make the same complaint about romance novels — I’ve never felt a guy’s erection against my leg and thought “oh how I long to feel his throbbing manhood thrusting inside me!” — but reading something that is described largely in goofy euphemisms, in a few pages total of a 200 page book, has far less impact, I think, than watching it take place in full color on a screen for 90 minutes solid.

            Also you are absolutely correct that erotic romance novels are a relatively small market and even the women who read such novels do not read them regularly or in great quantities, whereas porn is a massive industry that is consumed in vast quantities by the majority of men.

            • S. Gallo says:

              The demand by all too many women, that the men in their lives always find what they say and do to be endlessly interesting, does more to inhibit connection than porn ever could. I can’t pretend to know anything about romance novels—-would “Rebecca” be considered one?—but if there are heroines in this genre that can take the candor I’ve outlined beforehand and learn from it, I’d say that ‘s a character that many real women ought to take cues from.

              • The typical “boddice ripper” romance novel is quite interesting from a sociological perspective. I’m not talking about the tame Harlequin style novels where sex scenes are very tame or only mildly suggested. I’m talking about the really explicit, juicy ones. The sex in those novels is quite raw and often has nothing to do with a relationship initially. Usually the female character is an innocent young woman put in some horrible situation (shipwrecked, kidnapped, lost on a safari — yes I remember one involving a safari!) where she is rescued, sort of, by a very manly man. She’s totally in lust with the guy, they have some hot hot sex within the first few pages, but she’s totally conflicted about it for the next 150 pages. Yet she is tormented by her lust and loves the sex! A lot of stuff then happens in the plot, mysteries of various sorts are revealed, and at the end of the book the woman and the man realize they are hopelessly in love and get married.

                I think you can look at a typical steamy romance novel as really embodying all of the conflicts many women in our culture have about being sexual. Women desperately want to enjoy sex for the sake of sex, but have so much guilt around it and fear of being “slutty” that a whole host of ridiculous plot devices are required to make it seem okay.

                • S. Gallo says:

                  And men have done the lion’s share of inducing the guilt so many women feel on the subject of sex as its own justification. I simply feel pornography is a poor place to start and continue a conversation on why women are constrained about enjoying themselves.

                  • What the hell are you talking about? Porn is hugely driving the sex = shame for women train.

                    Look at some titles:

                    College Sluts Get Used- not say… College Ladies Making Love
                    Busty Slut Get *ucked
                    Latina Getting Rammed by her ‘Papi’ – Nice touch of racism in there too… add that with the ‘urge for ‘ BBCs.

                    Need I go on?

    • S. Gallo says:

      “[Porn] leaves me feeling bitter toward men when I don’t want to feel that way.”
      Don’t make me laugh!! You derive the plupart of your self-validation from this embitterment. It’s classic Nietzschean ressentiment.

      • SnakeEyes, I’ve never considered romance novels even in the same ball park as pornography. However, I could see comparing romance novels to video games. Romance novels are a typically female enjoyed activity. Video games are a typically male enjoyed activity. Both can contain varying degrees of sexual themes. Both feed into something intrinsic inside men and women. For women, it’s clearly the story of a happy-ever-after relationships accomplishment and adventure story. For men, it’s clearly the story of adventure and physical accomplishment. While both romance novels and video games can be quite descriptive of it’s characters, people usually don’t masturbate to these mediums and in most cases (with exception to Grand Theft Auto), neither medium calls either gender the level of name calling and misogny found in porn. When have you ever seen the title of a romance novel that said “Asshole Cowboy Gets Taken For All He is Worth”? Never you say? How many porn titles have you seen like this one, “Cheerleading Sluts Get Used”..and variations of such titles. Porn is a medium on it’s own. Women have nothing comparable to it. And if we did, then you would be seeing a medium where women masturbated to men being used and throw away once they were used up, you would see women masturbating to men being called names, you would see women masturbating to the abuse of men and you would see happy smiling eager-to-please happy-to-do-it men that just LOVED wallowing around in their own self abuse.

        What you seem to miss is that male hetero sexual fantasties can be totally positive things! But not when it’s shrouded in calling women name and setting women up for impossible physical acts and physical looks expectations. Porn doesn’t feed on positiveness. It feeds on negatives. That’s what keeps people turning back to it. To many men are fine with enjoying this content as long as they keep it seperate enough from their real lives so they can feel comfortable still turning to that woman that shares his bed at the end of the day. *His* women isn’t a slut..but THOSE women are and HE should be allowed to use, project, aid in the treatement of women that best fullfills his *desires*. The sad thing is that male sexual hetero fantasies can be positive things. But porn doesn’t allow for that to happen.

        Further, I never claimed that there weren’t women that were into porn. You clearly are within a culture of women that are. However, I know many regular women that fight this battle al the time.

        • A lot of men are fundamentally very angry at women. You could psychoanalyze it Freudian terms, you could look at it as a social or cultural issue, you could try to put an evo-psych spin on it, but the truth is that seeing women being degraded in porn allows men to experience how they would really like to treat women but don’t dare in their real lives. Even “good men” have those urges. It’s part of the human heart of darkness. We all have sadistic and cruel urges, along with our nice qualities. At the core, we are chimps and porn speaks to the chimp side. Personally I think we should strive to be better than chimps, and not wallow in our dark side, but movies that are uplifting to the human spirit don’t seem to make as much money.

          • Henry Vandenburgh says:

            Yes, it’s Freud’s thanatos. I like women, but one reason men (as in degrading porn) may be angry at them is the damnable frustration around sex, and the way that women make men manuver in order to get it. I buy ev psych, and think that men have a much more simple and direct approach. Women don’t. Their hormones and brains are not programed the same way. But much of the lack of good faith and honesty about sex can be laid at the door of women.

            • Really? If it is all evo psych, why blame anyone? It’s just how we are made, right?

            • Also, I disagree that “lack of good faith and honesty about sex” can be blamed on women. I think men are often very dishonest and act in very bad faith around sex.

            • S. Gallo says:

              I don’t buy EP Henry. One doesn’t need to. Women are socialized to disparage the idea of sex for its own sake. Men are responsible for that trope in socialization.

              • Henry Vandenburgh says:

                No, actually men are not. My guess is that most of the “slut” talk (or at least the attitude) is more current in female groups. Sure, the elevated ones don’t directly use the term “slut,” but women fear women’s attitudes much more than they fear men’s, I think. I’ve had the excperience of doing lightly teasing talk (not sexual) with a woman on line and then her stopping once another woman gives a negative opinion. This kind of control may also be subtle. I do think, S (what’s your name, anyway?) that young male groups, where the men are afraid of women, do this kind of talking too, but men are likely to move away from it as they appreciate women’s sexuality more fully.

                EP is likely true because the sexual revolution was followed by “bad consciousness” and repression about sex (as we often see here by feminists(!))
                Were it not true, we should have seen a tendency toward greater sexual freedom.

                The real irony is that “patriarchy” is the female reproductive strategy given flesh.

                • Women fear negative opinions of other women, that’s true. But we also fear how men will view us if we are too “easy.” unfortunately there still are a lot of men who think if a woman has had too many sexual partners, she’s a whore. I admit I’ve made guys wait for sex even though I was really lusting after them and fantasized about inviting them up to the bedroom, because I was hoping the relationship might go somewhere and I didn’t want them to lose respect for me. If I was 100% sure that a man wouldn’t view me negatively for having sex with him too soon, it would be a completely different story. I’d probably have sex a lot more quickly. My personal rule (back when I was single) was no sex until after the 3rd date, which seems reasonable to me. It also weeds out the guys who are just looking for a one night stand.

                  • Jill, I agree with plenty of what you are saying. And I do agree that men seem to be fundamentally angry at women. If we were to go by porn, I would even say men hate women. I also agree that porn allows men to experience how they would really like to treat women. And that’s what I think makes so many women so sad. Porn reveals how men want to treat and see women. And there are not enough men in the world looking within themselves to ask themselves why. But I do not think it’s part of “human” darkness. I do not think we, even men, have a sadistic and cruel desire to hurt other people. I do think we have a culture that breeds that mentality and I think too many men are not being strong enough to not absorb that. But I do not think cruelty is fundemental to a man or woman’s heart. There is something dark going on. But it has nothing to do with what is natural.

                    So guys, next time you pop on the computer and go searching for videos, instead of just looking for material to masturbate to, really pay attention to how the women are being treated, really pay attention to to the role the man is playing. Is he playing the wonderful and fun lover? Is the couple *really* having a good time. Or is he playing the sadistic ass-hat who apparently doesn’t even care about how his partner feels. And do *you* as a man get excited seeing women abused in the manner that most porn abuses them? Ask yourself why *you* get off to women being treated in a way no man would ever want to be treated like. Really look at porn, not from a perspective of sexual excitment, but on a completely different level and put yourself in the role of the woman in the video and ask yourself if you’d be happy to see so many women get off to your utter humilation and debasement. MEN ARE NOT BY NATURE ABUSIVE AND MEAN. But porn certainly tells us they are. Why do you guys even stand for that?

                    • Hi Erin, like you, I am disturbed by porn. But I think it is important to understand that human beings DO have hearts of darkness and men DO enjoy seeing women degraded in porn. That’s why degrading porn sells so wel! I think men SHOULD ask themselves why they enjoy seeing women degraded and they SHOULD own up to the fact that they have these violent impulses toward women. And they should ask themselves if that’s really who they want to be. Because most guys watching porn are not abusive or bad people in real life. Their desire to be abusive towards women in fantasy fills some kind of deep psychological need. it’s sad and unfortunate, but it is what it is. My personal feeling, from studying Buddhism, is that it is important to strive to transcend our “monkey minds” and not feed our darker impulses. Part of that means acknowledging those impulses, realizing they exist, and learning to detach from them.

                      When women try to shame men out of their impulses to watch porn, it won’t work because deep psychological needs aren’t rationale. Also, very few men ever consider why they like the images in porn; it just gets them off. So it is tough to convince anyome they shouldn’t watch it.

                      P.s. Just to be clear, we are talking about why men might like degrading porn, but I think women and men both have a dark side; I don’t mean to imply women are better than men. They aren’t. Women are as a rule, just as blind to their own impulses. Also, some women like porn, even degrading porn, for their own psychological reasons. Also, not all porn is degrading or inherently bad.

  13. Bunny Veteran says:

    The atmosphere in the Playboy Clubs was very sophisticated and elegant with great food and drinks served by beautiful women. The Bunny costumes were less revealing than a one-biece bathing suit. The entertainment consisted of popular singers (such as The Isley Brothers) and comedians (like one would see on the Johnny Carson Show). The Showroom was like a dinner theater, and many of the clients were couples—sometimes even celebrating their anniversaries. Charming people—not perverts! If the sex-with-a-dog thing really did happen (and I think it is only gossip) that would have been in Hef’s private home (the LA mansion, not the Playboy Club). Unfortunately many people choose to think the worst!

    • Anyone interested can read Gloria Steinem’s expose on what went down at the Playboy Club.

      • S. Gallo says:

        Ah yes, Gloria Steinem. The same woman who, decades later, bought wholly into the charges of satanic ritual abuse at day-care centers, the length and breadth of this fabled land. Charges—or should I say fantasies induced by quacks and feminist social workers—that included anthropagy and aliens landing in spacecraft. Steinem and Ms. Magazine ate this nonsense up with a spoon. Which might have made for a few amusing moments, were it not for the innocent people who did hard time as sex offenders because of such baseless charges. But, as you say, she wrote an expose of what went down at the Playboy Club.

  14. Bunny Veteran says:

    I was a Playboy Bunny for 10 years and worked in 4 different clubs. I have met Hef and visited both the Chicago mansion and the one in LA. I know what went on at the clubs and in the magazine…and behind the scenes. The trailer looks very accurate (except the Bunny killing a man and the man kissing the Bunny while she was working). There was NO NUDITY at the Playboy Clubs. There was no pornography or prostitution. In fact, some of the best people I’ve ever known in my life worked at the clubs. It was a great experience for me and I made very good money. The customers were not allowed to touch the Bunnies, and we were not allowed to date the customers. By far, the majority of the Bunnies did not have silicone breasts—90% were real. Breast implants are a relatively recent trend, and most of the clubs were closed by the time they became so “popular.” I don’t understand the woman who was “profoundly saddened.” There were and always have been more serious world issues to be profoundly saddened by (such as war, starvation, torture, poverty). And, like I said, we were not involved in pornography or prostitution. Hef did not invent or cause pornography. It’s been around since before Mount Vesuvius erupted and covered Pompeii in volcanic ash in 79AD. I am looking forward to seeing the television series.

    • Henry Vandenburgh says:

      When I worked in mental health, I worked side by side with a nurse whose husband was a beer salesman. (I mainly agree witth the pro-magazine posts above, BTW, and have nothing against the clubs. I was invited to a club in about 1967, but I was getting a sergeant’s pay in the Army at the time, and knew I couldn’t afford it [about $230 a month.])

      At any rate, my nurse friend said that she and her husband had been to the LA mansion (about 1986), and that there was one night a week that you definitely did not want to go. That was sex night. She said it was pretty extreme. Linda Lovelace (in Ordeal-about 1981) writes that Hef had had a woman have intercourse with a dog on one such night, and wanted her (Linda) to do the same. Linda knew a trick to stop it from happening, but she had a controlling boyfriend, so she had to seem like she desired it.

    • Bunny Vetetran – I’m a pretty multidimensional girl and I can be “profoundly” saddened by any number or issues at one time. War, starvation, torture, poverty, recycling (you should just SEE me on the beach when I see people litter and track them down to kindly hand back their garbage) child pornography (which ironically grew right along with regular pornography) and good old regular porn that seems to have reached an epidemic proportion of female degradement.

      Tom’s recant of the relative that was “profoundly saddened” touched me personally. She wasn’t out trying to elicit attention from other men. She was a mother and housewife and doing her best to be the woman she needed to be in a world that isn’t always that kind to women. She wasn’t asking for the entire world to lust after her. My guess is she just wanted the man she married to remain true to her in heart, mind, body and soul. How easy do you think it was in that time for women to be upheld to an image created by Playboy? An image that other women’s husbands were turning to to live out a fantasy they clearly didn’t think their own wives lived up to? We aren’t talking about a label where only single men belonged, or a label that was exactly known for it’s diversity in women. So that’s great that you made a lot of money while you were there, and there wasn’t nudity, and that you didn’t have breasts implants; but that doesn’t take away from all the women that made their husband’s dinners, did their husband’s laundry, had their husband’s children, only to see admiration and lust for other girls between the ages of 18-25 in the pages of Playboy.

      • S. Gallo says:

        It’s facile, though certainly convenient for feminists, to assume admiration and lust for one’s spouse and a young woman pictured in Playboy, are somehow mutually exclusive. If this is the standard of monogamy that men—-and women, for that matter—-have been expected to live up to, “true…in heart, mind, body and soul,” with nary a twinge of attraction to anyone else, perhaps actual adultery is more salubrious than even Larry Flynt supposes.

        • As a feminist, I have no problem with porn… that has some basis in reality.. amateur in particular. It showcases real people having real sex. When porn became such a commodified thing that twisted what sex is and should be… that is where it falls off the rails.

          Too many young men get their sex education from mainstream gonzo porn on free ‘tube’ sites which gives startling false ideas about women’s bodies, sexual positions (ones that look good on a camera vs. ones practical in real life), and women’s sexual agency or availability.

          The women who are patently against all forms of porn and think that ‘it leads men astray’ are not feminists. More likely they are the religious conservatives and ‘church ladies.’ So please do some critical thinking before you lump all porn critics together under the feminist umbrella and attribute false beliefs.

          • S. Gallo says:

            You’re welcome to sue Pamela Paul for trademark infringement over what’s a real feminist. You did, however, a handy job of **not** answering my point.

    • Bunny, go to right now. See what they have up. Truckloads of makeup, teased hair, and not a single natural breast to be seen.

      This is their legacy. It’s just porn. Plain’ and simple. And very ‘mainstream’ photoshopped and whitewashed porn.

      • wellokaythen says:

        This is in response to Sara’s as well as Cory Huff’s earlier post:

        I know this is going to sound troll-ish, but I don’t mean it to be. I’m just trying to see where the boundaries are:

        Could you give your working definition of “porn”? Is there any kind of sexually explicit or nude images that would not be considered porn?

        Maybe it’s a function of how explicit media images have become or how big the adult movie industry has become, but I tend to think of Playboy as hardly in the porn category at all. If Playboy is just pain morally wrong, is it the nudity or the explicit references to sex or the situations described or the objectification, or….? Someone else mentioned Maxim. I don’t know if anyone would put Maxim in the porn category, but I see little difference between it and Playboy except for the difference between wearing a bikini and wearing nothing.

        • The envelope keeps getting pushed to the point that obscenity really doesn’t mean a lot anymore. There is really no line anymore. What is porn to one person is harmless to another. This is just the way it is.

          The problems I have with Playboy (I cannot speak for the other commenter) is that Playboy is relentlessly trying to put forth this fake image of photoshopped Barbiezons that in no way resemble even the models that the picture takes before being sent to the editing department.
          And that standard of airbrushed, soft glow monstrosity has seeped deeply into mainstream media… that we can thank the ubiquitousness of Hef’s empire for. Also what is disturbing is I see KIDS… KIDS.. wearing playboy franchise gear. There has to be a line drawn.

          If porn treated women with some dignity… like adult women… I’d have nothing against it.

          • S. Gallo says:

            We’ve always known the photos are touched up, Sara. Back when Antonio Vargas drew the centerfolds, our predecessors knew women did not, by and large, really look that way, just as we knew and still know that they usually don’t effect those poses any more than they read the books they claim to in the bios. If you still want to be offended by porn (in contrast to your earlier averment that as a feminist, you have no problem with it), you’re welcome to do that. But we know it’s fake, you know we know that and you should retire that moldy riposte. Just as you should tell parents they shouldn’t buy kids Playboy gear.

            • Seeing an article or two about how photoshopping exists does not undue the literal brainwashing of seeing commercial images 24/7, about 3,000- 4,000 per day. We live in an advertising world that first commandment is that sex sells… and not ‘regular sex’ with ‘regular people’… GOSH, how boring, real people? It has been shown to affect the way people perceive attractiveness in themselves and in others in a myraid of ways.

              If what you say is true… that everyone knows this stuff is fake… why did the Unilever Dove commercial about it make such waves. The commercial went viral and was sent all over the place illustrating the vast difference between ‘before’ and after. If everyone knew it was fake, there would be no impetus for the video to have gone viral.

  15. I may sound like a Puritan here, but I can’t discuss the intellectual validity of Hugh Hefener as a moving force in the feminist movement.

    This, to me, is a dizzying new low. Dress up Playboy with intellectual articles all you want, it’s still pornography, and pornography is wrong. It’s wrong for teaching young boys incorrect ideas of sex and wrong for enticing men to pull away from their wives.

    • S. Gallo says:

      Men who would pull away from their wives need little enticement. They would have done so without Hefner, of that there is no doubt. Especially if other men are upbraiding them with the idea that playing once in awhile is not something grown men do. It’s bad enough that they hear that from their wives.

      For all that, I agree that the idea of Hugh Hefner having something to offer feminism is risible.

    • wellokaythen says:

      “It’s wrong for teaching young boys incorrect ideas of sex and wrong for enticing men to pull away from their wives.”

      Okay, I’ll bite, because I’m really fascinated by the whole concept – if Playboy provides “incorrect” ideas of sex for boys, what are the “correct” ideas of sex that men and boys are supposed to have?

      A related question, optional of course: If I have an incorrect view of sex, what should society do with me or to me?

      The men-pulling-away-from-their-wives part also has me wondering. Presumably this refers to married men and not all men, of course. I take it Playboy is acceptable for grown men who are not married, but it’s bad for boys and married men?

  16. wellokaythen says:

    I’m not really comfortable portraying Hefner as some kind of sexual revolution pioneer, but I would point out that his creation of Playboy was a kind of rebellion against many of the expectations of men in the 1950’s. Granted, not exactly a gender revolution, but Hefner in his way was and is rebelling against the straightjacket definition of masculinity of the baby boom era. The average age of first marriage for men in 1953 was around 21. In 1953, if you were an unmarried man at 30, many people assumed you must be gay, or must be something deeply wrong with you, perhaps a closet communist or liberal Democrat or some other boogeyman of the 50’s.

    Let’s not forget that “confirmed bachelor” was often a synonym for “gay man” in Hefner’s day. It was an era where a man who did not have a wife and children faced much more discrimination than he does today. Calling “Hef” a brave pioneer is overstating it, but he was not a good old poster boy for the 1950’s. To say in 1953 that marriage is not for you and you’d rather have a swinging single lifestyle was an incredibly unpopular thing for a man to say, equivalent to calling yourself a pervert in that day and age.

    It’s a mark of Playboy’s influence that so many people today think of it as some kind of conservative force, as if it shows the way men have always been. I’m a little surprised on a site all about the fluid, contested nature of masculinity that the article and comments are all about how women are portrayed, when there is lot that one could say about how Hefner in the 50’s was reacting to masculinity and trying to redefine it in his own way. Same with Mad Men, which is not only about misogyny but also about the stress of corporate men trying to keep up ridiculously unrealistic images of the perfect home, marriage, parenthood, and job. Playboy was rejecting a lot of what Mad Men portrayed – Hef’s relationship with January Jones would have been much, much different than Don Draper’s….

    • Kind of ironic that men had to create a whole industry based on “ridiculously unrealistic images” of women in order to escape “ridiculously unrealistic images” of masculinity.

      • S. Gallo says:

        It is, but this industry is no more nefarious than, say couples counseling, an industry based largely on the idea that men are either little boys to be lifted up through discipline or jellies to be molded, like Bertie Wooster, in order to be worthy of the feckless debutante he’s been browbeaten into pledging his life to.

  17. What a foolish article. Too bad you disd not take the time to study the times. Playboy opened a lot of doors for women in their Chicago office. And for many minority artists,comedians,writers. They were the ones who refused the cheap your not good enough ads that were common place in men’s magazines.
    Feminist/ I am male, so all the anti male out there and a supposed men’s forum is nothing but a surrender to the feminist POV and nothing for the male. You might as well say you are lookist because beauty is to be disregarded and male interests are the work of the devil and we are supposed to worshiped women. Not!
    I am unsympathetic to women saying they can’t compete because no one is asking them to. It is the women themselves that are the cause of this discontent. Women blame men for their won gender grown problems like the “I gotta have a Relationship” . Why am i now the breadwinner. He is a loser and other inconsistencies it the so called feminist rant.
    Yes I like women with a lean body. I have respect for good mind good body, but not two hippos on a whale!
    Playboy made the world much better. Want to know about Arnold read his interview in Playboy.
    Want to understand the world that was read Playboy.
    Bashing male interests in the name of equality is the same are ethnic cleansing. Equality can never be achieved when people feel they must empower one group over another.

  18. Hefner’s ‘contributions’ are way overstated. The first Black Playmate occurred AFTER the civil rights act. So. No real movement there. Nothing ‘breaking the rules’ or ‘bucking norms.’

    Also, he did not free ‘women’ to be sexually liberated. He has done nothing for ‘women’ as a category but harm. The only people who think this… think that ‘woman’ means 18-25 year old, blonde, silicone breasted, slender, white young women. Not ‘women’ but an archetype. So, wrong on the women’s lib count too.

    • Sara you are wrong! I was there. The Buzz that a black woman was a playmate was big at the time and a very great risk. Look at all the women’s magazines the rarely have anyone non white on the cover, because they lose newsstand sales that is why.
      Black power is / was racist. It was a political attack of the fair skinned. You see at that time before computers many minorities disappeared into the White world not only ordinary people but actors too.
      Somehow they wanted a better life.
      One of the problem of not understanding what the nation was like then. Much of the shameful sides has been covered up. The “archetype” you so disdainfully describe is nothing more than what women could be had the majority has unadulterated food to eat (no hormones etc) and the cost of fresh produce fell so it to could be afforded. Playboy did not do that greed did. We know the high fat diet is killing us but the sources of that are powerful corporations. Much easier to point a finger at a magazine that at the providers of our food supply. Health statistics show the growth of obesity in every country that the fast food industry is in. So while you blame the wrong “guy”. You see I live in the now but I lived in the then too. When the women were have the struggle to get promoted. When young men were drafted. When minority males could not get hired,but the women could. But what future where males are censored. Interest is sex is discouraged.. Are they to be slaves is that what you want?
      Where physical beauty is disparaged. Soon we will have the technical capacity to produce “designer” children then what? Force everyone to take hobson’s choice whether the child is to be healthy? or the fear the only male children would be born? Or only “white” or do you want some agency telling us what we can or cannot have? Your hidden rant comes down to one thing how much effort are you going to put into your dreams! There is no free lunch there is always a down side. Choose!

  19. OMG, will we STOP… STOP with the ‘bra-burning’ feminist meme. THAT NEVER HAPPENED. It has been debunked so many times it’s not even funny.

    Draft cards were burned at the same time as 2nd wave feminism… someone thought it was funny to attribute the same ‘burning’ concept to something associated with women, ie. bras.

    • A feminist group protesting the Miss USA pageant had planned to burn bras in a steel trash can, but couldn’t do it because they didn’t have a fire permit.

    • S. Gallo says:

      So was it a moment of jocularity that brought forth the equally spurious notion that there were such things as ‘snuff films’? Because I remember feminists swearing to the veracity of that chestnut with the same fervor that some of my friends once testified to the legitimacy of Stalin’s show trials.

  20. David Wise says:

    Hef is mild in comparison with the stuff out there now. I like the old geezer myself.

  21. Clark Kent says:

    I don’t see how anyone, based on the trailer, can come to the conclusion that this show’s intent is specifically to glorify Playboy and Hugh Hefner. Also, there is a clearly a scene that specifically references sexual harassment/assault as well as the racial dynamic at the time. Let’s just let the show air and develop before we try to make it the scapegoat for what’s wrong with gender issues in America. Of course the trailer will have sexual overtones because that’s what sells in America.

    Again, let’s just let the show develop before begin campaigning for its cancellation.

    • I just have to say, I find these two adjacent sentences kind of funny:
      “Let’s just let the show air and develop before we try to make it the scapegoat for what’s wrong with gender issues in America. Of course the trailer will have sexual overtones because that’s what sells in America.”

  22. The show does sound stupid and (taken by itself) IS an example of backlash. Hefner’s behavior in the last few years has been pathetic, and clearly owes more to pornography than to sexual freedom ideals.. In fact, his personal behavior has usually seemed fairly grotesque.

    But I think it’s going too far to recast Playboy as pronography using “revisionist history.” The magazine was exciting, literated, and a welcome antidote to the wave of-reVictorianization we were enduring in the 50s. I quickly lost interest in the photographs, and began paying a lot of attention to the often-excellent articles and interviews. I think Hefner’s Playboy Philosophy still sort of works.

    I agree that PB unfortunately paired women’s bodies with cars and stereos– it was way too materialistic. It also had such psychoananlytical problems as implying that boob size is directly related to the amount of turn on in men.

    But what a breath of fresh air, nonetheless!

  23. Kristen C. says:

    Although I agree with Tom here on Hefner, especially how strongly the media views women through the eyes of a man due to Hefner’s influence, I think that there are two sides to the coin, as usual. Hefner’s contribution to free speech and women’s sexual rights should not be downplayed when reviewing his impact on American society (which is, honestly, still evolving itself).

    However, with regard to this new television series, I am with Tom. What would the world be like without the hyper-pornographic packaging of women? And to that matter, the packaging of women alone, as object images to be bought and sold?

    How many people watch “Mad Men” and thoughtfully reflect upon what the show is expressing about the roles of men and women – how they were, how they changed, how they are today, how they could be?

    • I think that a lot the main fans of Mad Men actually *do* get that the show is not espousing workplace harassment but it is rather depicting the reality of the times.

      Mad Men is one of the few shows, or maybe only show, on tv which has an exclusively female writing staff.

      The nuance in which they deal with gender issues is subtle and amazingly intricate.

      If you follow the show you can see that Peggy Olson is Don Draper’s figurative mirror image. Their relationship is very complex and though they are not often seen together alone on camera, when they do the silence is deafening. I remember several scenes where one ‘covers’ for the other in various ways because they realize how similar they are.

      Peggy hides things like her working class background, her out of wedlock pregnancy, and stealthily climbs up the corporate ladder. She is intelligent and cunning but has to play the game in a workplace so overflowing with misogyny.

      Her character’s plight is similar to DD’s because his secretive former life also spun around issue of out of wedlock birth (his birth mother was a prostitute- sorry for spoiler.) He also had a rural working class background, and he hid those aspects of himself after the war to recreate himself to climb the success ladder.

      They are also the two most creative and talented people at the company hands down.

    • Hefner didn’t do a damn thing for women’s sexual rights. He highjacked the sexual revolution and made it all about commodifying women’s bodies.

    • S. Gallo says:

      Without some sort of porn, it’s likely that the idea of sex as its own justification would be the exclusive province of bohemians and rebels, faux and sincere. That would suit a lot of religious puritans and, sadly, more than a few feminists. Not that this means anyone should thank Hugh Hefner.

  24. The best way to understand NBC’s decision to me? Look at their ratings. They are playing to the lowest common denominator, trying to push the envelope and using the greatest sales support there is: SEX. Could the show be any good? Who knows. It could if it actually explores the nuances and the varying contexts in which women find themselves as a result of Playboy – there have been pros and cons, to be sure. Until our society really begins to address the incredibly schizophrenic way we approach sex these shows will not have a dramatic effect either way. The sign on my old professor’s door said it all: Sex is a very dirty thing you should only do it with someone you love.

    As for HH, he may be getting the young women – but do you think he has ever experienced genuine love and intimacy? Few and fleeting were probably the times. Maybe not. But I know the emptiness of the Trophy girls when there is no real connection or genuine attraction.

  25. I dunno. I used to get Playboy and found myself reading the articles after a few issues. Good writing.

  26. ngz3120 says:

    Women winning the right to sexually exhibit themselves was a good thing for women. Most of them do it or have do it because most of them like doing it.

    The alternative is hijab.

    • The problem is is you don’t really see men doing it. You don’t see men’s body as glamorized as women’s bodies. This is either a bad or a good thing based on personal interpretation.

      • No you don’t see men doing it as much or in the same way, men will display status, that’s because but men and women are different and have different biological drives.

        And in all species, there are different ways of displaying for the sexes.

      • tom matlack says:

        I will say that the NKOTB concert I went to was pretty much a stadium full of screaming women engaging in objectification of the male body. Scared the shit out of me to be honest….

        • ngz3120 says:

          My cousin was a Chippendale and he had flesh torn off him by screaming women.

          Muscle, fame, wealth… they are signs of status. Women wouldnt feel the attraction for NKOTB were they collecting the trash.

      • Playgirl?


  1. […] Playboy Changed the World for the Worse ← “Celebrity Apprentice” Castmates Gary Busey and Lil Jon to Reunite July 2 Summer Craft Cocktail Guide → […]

  2. […] How Playboy Changed the World (Good Men Project) […]

  3. […] Read the full article here: […]

Speak Your Mind