The Playboy Factor
by James M. Kushiner
(Or how America Got Porn Again). The New Republic posts a positive review (The Bunny Revolution) of playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America by Elizabeth Fraterrigo (Oxford University Press). I am supposed to applaud this magazine for being "at the forefront of many of this nation’s most important social upheavals and reconfigurations." The List:
The collapse of the U.S. Postal System’s de facto censorship apparatus? playboy had a hand in that. Changing attitudes about sex outside of marriage? playboy was part of this, too. The specious notion that a high-earning, free-spending bachelor is some kind of epicurean rebel? playboy yet again. The feminist movement? playboy “was partly responsible” for it, as Gloria Steinem once admitted. The now common glossy-magazine practice of advertising luxuries that readers cannot possibly afford? Thank you, Playboy. The idea that a man could have fine clothes, a sweet smell, an uncorked Bordeaux, and remain masculine? Yes, believe it or not, playboy paved the way for metrosexuality, too.
If I think, rather shallowly it seems, that playboy helped push women as sex objects, I am instructed:
It was Hefner’s great insight that girly pictures divorced from any kind of human individuality could not be anything except dirty. And so his Playmates had names, jobs, personalities, and fact sheets, however illusory these often were. In some crucial way, then, playboy gave what was previously considered pornography a kind of dignity. It was a deeply limiting, dingbat dignity, to be sure, but to allow the mid-century American woman any identity beyond that of mother, virgin, or whore increased her available social options by 25 percent. Women would naturally revolt against this, and no one could blame them, but the fact remains that playboy helped liberate female sexuality from a Bastille of iniquitous morality, in the long run surely doing more to help women than harm them.
I find this insulting to the women I know and love who were alive in the iniquitous mid-century.
Hefner described himself at the beginning of playboy as Al Kinsey's "pamphleteer." He bunnied up Kinsey's hallucination of a free-sex world that would sever sexual restraints and eliminate deviance by redefintion. Yes, Hefner was indeed Kinsey's pamphleteer. Give him that–he wants it, he owns it. And Kinsey? A first-class, world-class pseudo-scientist pervert, child-abuser, who helped pave the way for the acceptance of pedophilia. Dressed up in a bunny suit.
Originally posted at Mere Comments.