Now, I am not going to produce an obituary to mark the passing of Hugh Hefner. I don’t think there are many new angles to be added to what has already been said. My favourite pieces are these two, which I would recommend you to read, written by a male and female journalists respectively, one in Europe, one in the United States.
This is the one in The New York Times.
Here’s another one in The Guardian.
Reading the news about Hefner’s passing I was immediately puzzled by the fact that he was actually going to be laid to rest next to Marilyn Monroe (and since has). Extremely unsettling, and don’t get me started on the symbolism.
Hefner’s passing has dragged many of his contemporaries (Gloria Steinem, I’m looking at you) to the debate that has followed. Before feminism became today’s mainstream-y thing to do, it was not. Steinem went undercover in the Playboy Mansion and reported back – those were the days of HC gonzo action. She was stigmatised (mainly by Hefner and his troops) because of the pioneering work she and fellow feminists did. Given that feminism as a political movement has evolved and gotten such a different rep since, how is it that the Playboy ideology continues to live so strong?
I do realise this is a naive question. I also don’t want to make a thesis out of this – it’s just a simple wonderingment of how is it that still in 2017 there are women who voluntarily go live in the Playboy Mansion with a fluffy cotton tail stuck to their arses? There have been attempts every now and then to organise beauty pageants for men but they have never quite caught on. Given that you can barely summon them to parade around in skimpy underwear for a cash-prize, I bet it would be absolutely inconceivable for anyone to think that there could ever be a Playboy Mansion inhabited by young, mostly uneducated men, existing to serve leery old perverted women.
Yes women across the world are being reduced to objects to sell absolutely everything, this is the oldest trick in the book, but people have become much more conscious. Many blatantly sexist stunts are just not possible today the way they were 50 years ago – the ever-present social media contributes to this greatly. Conference panels are being watched. Sexist adverts are being publicly made fun of. Many of them end up being withdrawn. Yet how is it possible that a place like Playboy Mansion still exists? And that a small group of people still manage to spin money off it? That there is an actual TV-show about it?
I am not getting my hopes up that Hefner’s passing will change anything. I read his sons will carry on the business of making money off young scantily clad women. The family has already made a bloody fortune exploiting women for decades so you would be forgiven in thinking the passing away of the founder of this lunacy would nicely mark the end to the Playboy shenanigans. Appears that we are quite not there yet after all.