History of Playboy Magazine Part 4

About the history of Playboy magazine, examples of content, size, strengths and weaknesses.

PROBING THE PERIODICALS

PLAYBOY

That sexism exists within the Playboy empire is undeniable. A Playboy club bunny manual contains this exhortation: "Your proudest possession is your bunny tail. You must make sure it is always white and fluffy." In Playboy, women are treated as proverbial sex objects. This concept is fostered by the photographs of young women frozen into stilted poses. Their every blemish has been remove, and their breasts are sometimes enlarged by the Playboy technician's airbrush.

Starting in earnest in the late 1960s, feminists launched their attack on Playboy. Germaine Greer remarked that Playboy was giving "the illusion that 50-year-old men are entitled to fuck 15-year-old girls. . . (and) displays their girls as if they were a commodity." More recently, when Playboy did its photo essay on the "Girls of the Ivy League," the Harvard Crimson editorialized that Playboy "has played a major role in America's degradation of women."

Faced with the onslaught of the feminists, Hefner reacted strongly and in 1970, in a memo, told his editors, "What I'm interested in is the highly irrational, emotional, kookie trend that feminism has taken. . . These chicks are our natural enemy. . . . It is time to do battle with them and I think we can do it in a devastating way. "Twice Hefner personally confronted feminists on the Dick Cavett Show in the early 1970s. However, he was verbally mauled by his antagonists. On one show, Cavett asked feminist author Susan Brownmiller what sexual equality was. She replied, "When Hugh Hefner comes out here with a cottontail attached to his rear end, then we'll have equality."

To counter the wrath of the feminists, Playboy Enterprises has attempted conciliation during recent years by donating funds to associations supporting the Equal Rights Amendment, abortion, and rape counseling and aid. This seems to have blunted some of the attacks, but Susan Brownmiller referred to the donations as "hush money." Evidence that Playboy magazine's "T and A" attitude toward women may be changing comes from Christie Hefner, who, after graduating summa cum laude from Brandeis University, became a Playboy vice-president and the designated successor to her father, Hugh. Ms. Hefner recently noted, "The magazine is changing. It has to deal with more ways of intercourse between the sexes than sexual."

Yet the old colors still fly at Playboy, as is evidenced by a recent cartoon showing two little girls talking to each other. The caption: "I'm gonna be a Playboy Bunny when I grow up and out."

Unusual Facts: The international editions of Playboy require special editing for certain countries because of local censorship standards. In Japan no public hair can be shown, while in Mexico only one bare breast is allowed per page.

In the 1960s Hefner successfully upped subscriptions to the clergy by offering them a special 25% discount. After receiving numerous complaints from seminarians, he extended the offer to them as well.

In 1953 Hefner had decided to call his new magazine Stag Party, but his friend Eldon Sellers talked him into calling it Playboy.

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