Search Results For "playboy"

On Playboy’s New Feminism

I’m going to start this post even though I don’t have an ending.

About a year ago I was asked to start writing for Playboy. The editor said that he was helping to transform the magazine’s website into one that “was a destination for smart writing on sex.” I said that I’d keep the offer in mind but, between you and me, the answer was no.

Around the same time, I heard of some other high-profile feminist writers being invited as well. “Huh,” I thought, “they may actually be serious about this.”

Since then, I’ve ended up on the Playboy website a couple of times, following links by like-minded people who found material they thought was valuable. I’ve been surprised and tentatively impressed. Then, this week there was a flurry of links to a piece by Noah Berlatsky, deftly and smartly analyzing feminist responses to trans woman Laverne Cox’s decision to pose nude for Allure.

The article began with a cropped screenshot of Cox’s photograph featuring her face and de-emphasizing her body and a quote from Cox about the widespread belief that black women and trans women, and especially black trans women, can’t be beautiful.

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Berlatsky then goes on to discuss the challenges intersectionality poses to feminism, conflicts within feminism about whether trans women count as women, debates over cosmetic surgery and the problem with trying to live up to patriarchal standards of beauty, and whether Cox’s decision to pose naked is degrading. You don’t have to agree with all Berlatsky says to notice that he is no stranger to feminist theory.

Moreover, he seems to look upon Cox’s photograph with a delicate and sensitive gaze, describing what he sees like this:

Cox is not fashion-model-thin. She’s not fashion-model-petite or willowy, either. She has very large hands, which are not hidden, boldly displayed. In the photo, Cox lies on a blanket; her body taut rather than relaxed, her head in one big, strong hand, eyes closed, a slight smile on her face — like she’s a little embarrassed and amused at being embarrassed. She’s voluptuous and awkward and sweet all at once. In her simultaneous enjoyment of and discomfort before the camera, she seems, in the frankly staged pose, startlingly natural — and beautiful.

As I reached the end of the article, I was considering sharing a post from Playboy for the very first time. Then, this happened:

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That’s a screenshot of a pop-up that arrived on my screen when I reached the end of Berlatsky’s thoughtful, feminist essay. It says: “Enter your email to see a 45-year-old with an amazing booty.” In other words, “Click right now to see a woman still fuckable after 40!” (And here I’m going to just go with the idea that this is sexist, but not engage with the extensive feminist theorizing about pornography.)

This is where I’m at a loss.

Is this what change looks like? Is this what change looks like, specifically, when it comes from inside of an organization? A slow, stuttering shift from misogyny to feminism, replete with missteps and contradictions?

Who’s in charge over there? What is their strategic plan? Are they trying to appropriate feminism? It’s not like they haven’t done it before. What role do they see this feminist discourse playing in a space that’s still so misogynist?

Or is the right hand just not paying attention to what the left hand is doing? Maybe Berlatsky was as surprised by the pop-up as I was, thinking “Come on, guys!” Or do they not think that their pop-up was sexist at all?

And, from a feminist perspective, does this do anyone any good? I don’t mean this rhetorically. I honestly don’t know how to answer that question. And, on the flipside, could this hurt feminist activism?

What say you?

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

The Invention of the Playboy

Flashback Friday.

In Hearts of Men, Barbara Ehrenreich talks about the launching of Playboy in 1953 and how it forever changed how we thought about single men.

At that time, a man who stayed single was suspected of homosexuality.  The idea of being an unmarried heterosexual adult of sound mind and body was totally foreign.  Hugh Hefner changed all of that by inventing a whole new kind of man, the playboy.  The playboy stayed single (so as to have lots of ladies), kept his money for himself and his indulgences (booze and ladies), and re-purposed the domestic sphere (enter the snazzy bachelor pad full of booze and ladies).

With this in mind, check out this attempt to attract advertising dollars from a 1969 issue (found at Vintage Ads).  It nicely demonstrates Playboy‘s marketing of a new kind of man, one who lives a free and adventurous life that is unburdened by a boring, dead-end job needed to support a wife and kids.

Text:

What sort of man reads Playboy? He’s an entertaining young guy happily living the good life. And loving every adventurous minute of it. One recipe for his upbeat life style? Fun friends and fine potables. Facts. PLAYBOY is read by one of out every three men under 50 who drink alcoholic beverages. Small wonder beverage advertisers invest more dollars in PLAYBOY issue per issue than they do in any other magazine. Need your spirit lifted? This must be the place.

Today, we commonly come across the idea that men are naturally averse to being tied down, but Hefner’s project reveals that this was an idea that was invented quite recently and promulgated for profit.

This post originally appeared in 2008.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Molson’s Divergent Marketing: Cosmo vs. Playboy

Anjan G. sent in an interesting pair of ads that ran as part of a Molson beer campaign in 2002/2003.  One appeared in Cosmo; it involves a man in a sweater cuddling with puppies and drinking a Molson.  It’s an example of an ad that glamorizes a soft and sensitive masculinity:

The other appeared in men’s magazines, including Playboy and FHM.  It tells readers, explicitly, that the first ad is designed to manipulate women into being sexually attracted to men who drink Molson:

The text is worth reading:

HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF WOMEN.
PRE-PROGRAMMED FOR YOUR CONVENIENCE.

As you read this, women across America are reading something very different: an advertisement (fig. 1) scientifically formulated to enhance their perception of men who drink Molson. The ad shown below, currently running in Cosmopolitan magazine, is a perfectly tuned combination of words and images designed by trained professionals.  Women who are exposed to it experience a very positive feeling.  A feeling which they will later project directly onto you. Triggering the process is as simple as ordering a Molson Canadian (fig. 2).

Extravagent dinners.  Subtitled movies. Floral arrangements tied together with little pieces of hay. It gets old.  And it gets expensive, depleting funds that could go to a new set of of 20-inch rims. But thanks to the miracle of Twin Advertising Technology, you can achieve success without putting in any time or effort. So drop the bouquet and pick up a Molson Canadian…

The second ad, then, portrays men as lazy, shallow jerks who are just trying to get laid (not soft and sensitive at all).  And it portrays women as stupid and manipulable.

The two ads are a nice reminder that marketers count on their audiences being separate.  They can send each audience contradictory messages, confident that most women will never pick up Playboy and most men will never pick up Cosmo.  This is an assumption that marketers have long counted on. Miller Beer, for example, includes pro-gay advertising in magazines aimed at gay men, counting on the idea that heterosexual men, many of whom are homophobic, will never see that Miller markets itself as a gay beer.

So Molson was counting on women never seeing their ads in men’s magazines.  Alternatively, they were perfectly happy to alienate female customers.  Or maybe both.

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Open Thread: Playboy Centerfolds, 1960s-1990s

These images, by Jason Salavon, are composites of the Playboy centerfolds in each decade. What do you see, readers?  Comments are open…

Thanks to Kristina Killgrove for the submission!

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Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Pre-Photoshopped Playboy Photos (Definitely NSFW!)

Dmitriy T.M. sent in a post by Irin Carmon at Jezebel about Playboy memorabilia up for auction, including images of centerfolds with editorial comments for the Photoshopper to fix various problematic aspects of the photos. The marked-up images gives us a peek into the process of creating a centerfold, as well as the scrutiny applied to literally every aspect of the models’ bodies, which are found wanting in a dizzying array of ways, with their blatant imperfections resulting from being actual living humans.

This one includes instructions to fix her large pores and soften her laugh lines (see the top left):

The rest of these images are *definitely* Not  Safe for Work, so beware:

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Marge Simpson in Playboy; Darine Stern Left Out

This month’s Playboy cover features Marge Simpson:

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In order to attract as many hits as possible, the Huffington Post featured a slide show asking “Who’s Hotter” and presenting no fewer than 25 Playboy covers to compare.

Ironically, the slide show did not contain the Playboy cover that inspired the Simpson drawing. Behold Darine Stern, the first black woman on the cover of Playboy (1971):

Darine-Stern-Playboy-1971

I wonder how she managed to get left out of the slide show.   Hmmm.  No other black women made it in either.

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Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

Appropriation of Social Movements in Playboy

Alberto Vargas is a famous pin-up girl artist. Below the jump (because they are likely not safe for work) are some of his illustrations from Playboy that appropriate social movements of the time:

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Playboy Ads in Germany


Ad Agency: Rempen & Partner, Duessldorf