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Hugh Hefner: Playboy's filthy founder

by Kristina Livingston - Executive Editor
Tue, Oct 10th 2017 09:00 pm

Hugh Hefner, may you rest in hell for as long as the days are bright and the nights are dark.

It’s hard not to have heard about the recent September 27 passing of the repulsive walking Playboy ghost, or as I will fondly remember him, everyone’s favorite exploiter of women young enough to be his granddaughters.

He was also, apparently, the peak of progressivism, because nothing says “rights for women” like becoming the pioneer of commodifying the male gaze. 

The history behind this man is too long to fit here, and I expect you know much of it already; most do.

Hefner’s “life’s work” accomplished nothing but convincing men that the most vile male fantasies were possible — silk robes all day with big-breasted women at their beck and call for pleasure whenever they wanted, getting them hooked on designer drugs to craft their personalities just how he would like.

One of Hefner’s many young gal pals credits him with “bringing women out of the kitchen,” according to MSN. There you go, folks. Feminist trailblazers, who? Former wife of Hefner, Barbi Benton thinks the late-91 sleazebag should be remembered for knocking over barriers for women.

“I honestly think that Hef had a lot to do with women making more money and getting better jobs,” Benton said. “Before Playboy, people couldn’t talk about sex. Hef brought them out and said, ‘Hey, the woman in the kitchen is pretty sexy.’”

Hold on, Barbi. 

You’re telling me that convincing women empowerment can be anything they want wouldn’t have been commodified by some other guy down the line?

What’s so iconic about it? And what a progressive thinker, right? If a woman abandoning her gendered chores within the home to more freely express her sexuality benefits you, you’re being generically male, not ironically masculine. As racial and gender power structures stand, Hugh, you weren’t too special.

According to Time, “Hefner’s commitment to women’s freedoms is apparent in how he treated the women in his life. The women who lived in the Playboy Mansion were essentially trapped, required to stick to tight curfews, pressured to engage in whatever sex acts their ancient benefactor demanded and plied with drugs (he reportedly called Quaaludes ‘thigh-openers’) to get them through it.”

As I write this, I find myself getting increasingly frustrated at the idea of anyone seeing this man, or anyone with such a position of power within close proximity of women, touching them, his hands on them however he pleases. No one is saying those Playboy bunny costumes aren’t incredibly cute, but when rape culture is being pushed to such a degree, you’ve really got to wonder if being a replaceable plaything is worth it. 

You have probably heard a phrase somewhere along the lines of “well, he died doing what he loved, you’ve got to respect that.” Nothing new, nothing special. Many vile people get that luxury. Hefner was just granted one big stamp of approval because he had the right political ideology to have at the time and he had it while pressuring barely legal women into sexual acts. 

There is no doubt that Hefner paved the way for accessibility to women’s lives, ensuring that if you got caught looking up a skirt or two, why, you were just admiring what a beautiful body she had, oh, and isn’t that a wonderfully picked out outfit? Where did she get it?

The hill I will die on is thus, a perfect summary in Time: “Brilliantly, Hefner attached himself to the sexual revolution and the feminist gains that precipitated it. From his vantage point, publishing a magazine full of naked women was just one part of the new culture of ‘free love.’ Except of course the promise of freedom in love was less free for women, who still found themselves saddled with the social expectation of being sexual gatekeepers…” 

Have a funeral parade for your hero of the sexual revolution, though. The immense success of Playboy had a monumental hand in shaping the way we address sex props: by their first name while we sneak our hand onto its behind.

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