Thoughts On the Passing of Hugh Hefner

Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner passed away yesterday. He was 91.

I have to admit that I have mixed feelings about the man.

There is no doubt that he is one of the reasons that we are no longer living within the same social and moral constrictions that existed in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He was a progressive who believed in free speech and civil rights. Depending one’s position, one could also argue that Mr. Hefner helped to empower women to move beyond the traditional confines of marriage and children. His organization employed many women, including his own daughter, who ran Playboy for a number of years.

But….he also published a magazine that was known for pinups of nude or nearly nude women. He dated multiple women at the same time, some of whom were young enough to be his daughters or granddaughters. I’ve heard that the magazine also features articles by some of the best writers, but honestly, when we think of Playboy, most people conjure up the image of women being photographed in their birthday suit. The main goal of feminism is for women to be seen and respected as full-fledged human beings, not as individual body parts and not as a convenient sex partner when one has the urge.

To be honest, I’m kind of straddling the fence on this topic. I will let the ladies of The View weigh in on the topic.

What do you think about Hugh Hefner? Was he the icon of a progressive ideal or just another man portraying women as mere sexual partners without brains or ambitions? Leave your comments below, I’m curious to know what you think.

1 Comment

Filed under Feminism, History, Television

One response to “Thoughts On the Passing of Hugh Hefner

  1. Hi, Writergurlny:

    Journalist Laura Mansnerus (2017), in a recent article within an article titled, “Hugh Hefner, Who Built the Playboy Empire and Embodied It, Dies at 91,” and published by The New York Times, provided a quote by Hefner. He expressed the following when he responded (in a baffled tone) to some of the feminists’ rejections set forth by his philosophy of Playboy.

    “We are in the process of acquiring a new moral maturity and honesty… in which man’s body, mind, and soul are in harmony rather than in conflict… Instead of raising children in an adult world, with adult tastes, interests and opinions prevailing, we prefer to live much of our lives in a make-believe children’s world.” (Mansnerus, 2017, NY Times Online).

    Hefner’s words made me wonder whether Playboy magazine encourages a real depiction of adult sexuality or one which an adult would fantasize. I even question whether Playboy is indeed a child’s fantasy of what it means to be an adult. According to Mansnerus (2017), many asked whether Playboy’s outlook could be described as “adult,” including the Harvard theologian, Harvey G. Cox Jr., who wrote:

    “Playboy and its less successful imitators are not ‘sex magazines’ at all. They dilute and dissipate authentic sexuality by reducing it to an accessory, by keeping it at a safe distance.” (Mansnerus, 2017, NY Times Online).

    Personally, I don’t see anything particularly wrong with presenting a chimerical world of sex through photographic images. However, based on Hugh Hefner’s thoughts about what Playboy Magazine the harmonizing of man’s body, mind, and soul, I would not say he was necessarily thinking about the harmony of a woman’s body, mind, and soul.

    Women are sexual creatures, and the topic of sex was something Playboy shamelessly exhibited. Plus, many of the women in the magazine, looked like they felt liberated by flaunting their sexuality. I mean, who could forget the cover of Marilyn Monroe on the first issue of Playboy? I agreed with Hefner when he said in his cameo in the 2009 comedy film – where he plays himself – “Miss March” (Moore & Cregger) that “Inside every woman, there is a bunny.” Then, the character, the 20-something-year-old, Tucker Cleigh – who is completely fictitious – responds, but “just not the ones you put in your magazine.” (Moore & Cregger, 2009).

    Thank you for your time, and your thought-provoking blog post. Please don’t hesitate to let me know what you think. I apologize as I know realize this comment is as long as a blog post.

    Best,

    Music Historian

    Works Cited

    Mansnerus, L. (2017, September 27). Hugh Hefner, Who Built the Playboy Empire and Embodied It, Dies at 91. The New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/27/obituaries/hugh-hefner-dead.html?emc=edit_na_20170927&nl=breaking-news&nlid=62991947&ref=cta

    Moore, T. & Cregger, Z. (Directors). (2009). Miss March [Film]. United States: Fox Searchlight Pictures

    Liked by 1 person

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