Reading all the sparkling tributes to Hugh Hefner, I ponder whether some type of collective amnesia has struck. It is a tragic factor when any lifestyles involves an finish, in particular for grieving friends and family. And but such a lot of celebrations of the Playboy founder’s paintings gloss over the sexism that used to be the basis of Hefner’s corporate. Hugh Hefner profited from misogyny – he built an empire on it. At the time of his demise, Hefner’s internet value used to be estimated to be £37 million – cash that used to be made during the commodification of ladies’s our bodies, thru presenting ladies’s our bodies as sexual gadgets that existed for males’s intake.
Hefner used to be no longer, as some declare, a pioneer of the sexual revolution. There is not anything innovative about males exploiting ladies for their very own sexual gratification or monetary achieve – it’s been taking place for centuries, and is known as patriarchy. Hefner has even been embraced as an LGBT best friend for that includes a transgender type in Playboy again in 1991. If Hefner used to be an best friend, the phrase is meaningless. Objectifying a transwoman does no longer pave the street to equality for any person.
When I used to be 13 years outdated, simply beginning to be informed in regards to the variations between how women and men are valued in society, The Girls of the Playboy Mansion started to air on TV. At first, the display looked like usual American tv: the hijinks of 3 younger ladies of their twenties residing in combination. It by no means dawned on me to query the truth that Holly, Kendra, and Bridget wanted housemates however lived in a big mansion. They did a wide variety of items, from buying groceries to skiing. In one episode, their puppy canines had a tiny wedding ceremony rite – adorable however, looking back, very extraordinary.
I did not perceive the function of Hugh Hefner within the display. What did an aged guy need to do with any of it? And why, when Hef made an look, used to be the straightforward dynamic between those younger ladies changed through an terrible pressure? There used to be one thing horrible about looking at them compete for the eye of a person sufficiently old to be their grandfather. Hefner used to be exerting his energy over them, an influence I used to be too younger to totally seize. He cycled between his so-called girlfriends and treating them like equipment, no longer other people.
Holly Madison, a former resident of Playboy Mansion, has since spoken out towards Hefner’s exploitation of his girlfriends and claimed that he performed them off towards one every other. She wasn’t the primary lady to have noticed within the Playboy Empire and condemn its sexism. During the 1960s, Gloria Steinem went undercover as a Playboy Bunny to research the organisation. In her exposé, she wrote of her fellow Bunnies experiencing undesirable sexual touch from the boys who got here to the membership. They have been underpaid and overworked, compelled to have invasive scientific trying out as ‘usual process’ prior to being allowed touch with ‘visitors.’ For a minimum of 30 years after her exposé used to be revealed, Steinem endured to obtain letters and speak to calls from former Bunnies in regards to the deficient operating stipulations and the “sexual demands” positioned upon them. One lady used to be threatened ‘with acid thrown in my face’ when she challenged ‘the sexual use of the Bunnies.’
Hugh Hefner is now being celebrated as a ‘cultural icon who helped alternate the arena’ – and he did alternate the arena, however no longer for the simpler. Hefner normalised the sexual objectification of ladies and prepared the ground to porn tradition. Hefner’s legacy is promoting male fantasies of ladies’s our bodies and girls’s sexuality as ‘freedom’. But truly, it is simply extra of the similar outdated misogyny.
Claire Heuchan blogs at Sister Outrider.