No, Hugh Hefner Did Not Love Women

Hugh Hefner preferred his things: his silk bathrobes, his magnificent mansion, his selected cars. And of course, he would be discerning to say, his girls — those transmutable blondes all subsequent a certain age, with their Barbie-shaped bodies and smiles that never changed their eyes.

Hefner claimed to “love women.” He positively preferred to demeanour during women, or during slightest a form of women who fit a unequivocally sole model. He preferred to make income by offered images of women to other group who “love women.” He positively met a lot of women, had sex with a lot of women, talked to a lot of women. But I’m not certain Hefner ever unequivocally knew any of us. And he positively did not adore us.

Hugh Hefner wasn’t only a hillside in costly (if intensely cheesy) bathrobes; he was allegedly, according to multiple accounts, an abuser. To supplement insult to injury, he will be buried subsequent to one of a many women he wronged to heighten himself: Marilyn Monroe, whose images helped launch his magazine, though who never wanted them printed in a initial place.


Yes, Hefner was on a right side of many of a biggest issues of a complicated era: giveaway speech, reproductive choice, happy rights. Playboy pushed a pouch on nakedness and obscenity, sex and desire. But it did so within a narrowest of frames: men’s views, experiences, interests, biases and desires. Hefner approaching would contend that Playboy was a thoughtfulness of a manly psyche. But it also had a palm in moulding it — and a informative psyche, too.

What Hefner and Playboy never did was benefaction women as human, or cruise us anything like men. Hefner done womanlike sex objects some-more relatable and permitted — a Playboy centerfold was a lady subsequent door, not a famous film singer —but this wasn’t so many an betterment as a downward shift: amicable accede for group to demeanour during all women by a zipper in their jeans, and not even worry to fake it was otherwise.

Brilliantly, Hefner trustworthy himself to a passionate series and a feminist gains that precipitated it. From his vantage point, edition a repository full of exposed women was only one partial of a new enlightenment of “free love.” Except of march a guarantee of leisure in adore was reduction giveaway for women, who still found themselves saddled with a amicable expectancy of being passionate gatekeepers, and mostly impeded and abashed by any pregnancies that resulted.

And women didn’t have equal entrance to passionate pleasure, possibly – a energetic Hefner helped to foster. While “free love” meant that group increasingly faced reduce barriers to passionate access, it did not meant those same group attempted to intimately greatfully and support to a women they had sex with, nor take shortcoming for any amazing outcome – an infection, a pregnancy. Hefner advocated for contraception and termination rights, sure, though since those things benefited men’s sex lives, not since they were compulsory components of womanlike freedom. He didn’t essentially plea a perspective of sex as something women yield to group and that is essentially about manly pleasure and experience, with women in a performative role. If anything, he took that existent passionate imbalance and magnified it, formulating a code that is synonymous with sexualized women being gazed during as things a manly competence wish to acquire.

There’s zero wrong with removing exposed or being sexy, and some feminists competence disagree that Hefner superbly challenged a stupid informative puritanism. But American women have prolonged been approaching to be aesthetically and intimately pleasing; Hefner only had them uncover some-more nipple. Sexist prudery, that alike a woman’s value with her passionate choices, was supplanted by sexist objectification, that demanded a lady perform sexiness for manly approval, and still punished her if she was too passionate on her possess terms. Some deal.

Hefner’s joining to women’s freedoms is apparent in how he treated a women in his life. The women who lived in a Playboy Mansion were essentially trapped, compulsory to hang to parsimonious curfews, pressured to rivet in whatever sex acts their ancient champion demanded and plied with drugs (he reportedly called Quaaludes “thigh-openers”) to get them by it. Before she was a feminist leader, Gloria Steinem was a journalist, and one of her stories was about going clandestine as a “bunny” during a Playboy Club in New York, where a immature women had to follow an keen set of rules. They were told private detectives might be following them and enchanting in workplace prick operations to see if they were violation any. “Bunnies” were compulsory to bear an STI examination and a gynecological examination conducted by a manly alloy of a club’s choice before starting work.

America – and Playboy’s purpose in it — shifted significantly in a final years of Hefner’s life. The magazine, and Hefner himself, once trafficked in an picture of manly sophistication. But by a 2000s, that picture was, like McMansion America, some-more compared with a coarse and tasteless, a run-down mural embellished into serve erosion by a existence TV uncover shot during a Playboy Mansion. The repository itself also changed: With entire giveaway internet porn, Playboy’s guarantee of full frontal no longer sole copies. Playboy is now some-more or reduction nudity-free.

Hefner did terrible things, and got abounding off of them. But it’s still tough not to feel a small bit contemptible for a manly so clearly worried with himself that he built an sovereignty on a commodified and dull surrounding of manly passionate desire, a manly who threw mythological parties to bond with other group over bikini-clad women, and who paid pleasing women to live in his residence and have sex with him so he wouldn’t have to be alone. He was a manly who didn’t even trust his “girlfriends” would come home during a finish of a day if he didn’t make a rule. If Hugh Hefner wasn’t Hef, a owner of Playboy — if he was only Hugh Hefner, a manly – all of a things he confused with adore would have never come to him. Not a sex, not a girls, not even a group he deliberate friends.

He built an sovereignty on manly desire, though never seems to have been truly preferred himself. He sole a new kind of manly aspiration, of that he was a paradigm. It was a women he claimed to adore who gimlet many of a cost, though now it’s easy to see a cost he paid, too, a things a youthful and shoal small manly will trade for some time in a spotlight subsequent to a blonde with a good rack. How wise that, in death, Hef doesn’t elicit wish or ambition, though that simplest and many condescending of emotions: Pity.

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