This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
Sex, nudity, loads of money, pool parties at the Mansion. Those are all some of the first things that come to mind when a person thinks of the founder of Playboy Magazine, Hugh Hefner. What most people do not think of is the Playboy Foundation, the charitable part of Playboy that has donated millions of dollars since the foundation¶s founding in 1965 to charitable, literacy, religious, scientific and educational causes, and the many other non-profit organizations, as well as the many other positive contributions Playboy Enterprises has made since the founding of the magazine on October 1, 1953. Playboy Enterprises have done many things to positively influence the way that the American society is today, including passing abortion laws and helping with desegregation of African Americans and Caucasian Americans (Playboy Enterprises). Many Americans have a large misconception of Playboy magazine. The majority of Americans, informed by modern day feminists, believe that Playboy magazine is simply degrading to women. In reality Playboy Enterprises has had a largely positive influence on the way Americans view sex, as well as many other social issues our country has faced. There are many different sources of research about how Hugh Hefner and Playboy have affected our society since the company was first founded. Sociologists and magazine journalists are two of the most commonly known sources that discuss this topic in their work. There are many articles in psychology journals, health and body publications as well
as pop-culture and news magazines. There have been many scientific studies done to show the effects Playboy has had on the way women and men view the female body. The research concerning the effect of Playboy Magazine on the American society can be grouped in two main groups; research by feminists and general interviews with Hugh Hefner in many different types of magazines. Each of these sources has its own view on whether or not Hefner is a positive or negative role model. There are many different stances on Playboy taken by the feminist groups. One point of view is that Hugh Hefner¶s famous adult entertainment magazine has a largely negative effect on women. In the scholarly journal article ³Cultural Representations of Thinness in Women, redux: Playboy Magazine¶s Depiction of Beauty from 1979 to 1999´ the authors compare the centerfolds of Playboy Magazine directly to how average American women view their own bodies. The research showed that Playboy does support an ideal for women of being thin, but their research also showed that many of their centerfolds were above the healthy Body Mass Index (BMI) for their height and weight according to measurements that were obtained directly from the models. Another stance that some feminist researchers take is quite the opposite. In ³The Battle in Every Man¶s Bed: Playboy and the Fiery Feminists´ the author, Carrie Pitzulo, discusses the ways that Playboy has positively affected women¶s rights and the way women regard themselves. Pitzulo states that the Playboy Company took a progressive stance on the rights of women. Mackenzie Cato and Francesca Renee Dillman Carpentier argued in their article ³Conceptualizations of Female Empowerment and Enjoyment of Sexualized Characters in Reality Television´ that the women in the reality show ³The Girls Next Door´ attract as
many, if not more, women to the show as men because the sexual nature of Hef¶s girlfriends in the show is empowering to women. Most of the research that hade been conducted has only touched on the subject of the positive effect Playboy Enterprises, as well as Hugh Hefner himself, have had on the world. I feel that any future research should include a more in depth look into the positive actions that Hugh Hefner and Playboy have taken in the directions of progress for inequalities in America. It needs to explain specifically what the company¶s influences have been through all of their struggles with the United States government and postal system to the positive influences it has on women of all ages and backgrounds. This essay will include discussion of exactly what positive influences Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Company have had on America since their founding up until the present as well as their effect on the rest of the world. The research will include the women¶s rights movement, African American rights and any other positive expansions the Playboy Company has had on our society. My research will include all of the things that the company has done to help liberate Americans from their simple minded ways. It seems that Americans have been making their assumptions under many false pretenses. ³Playboy did not speak to women. Women were used as masturbatory fantasies. I don¶t see how any woman would be liberated.´ These are the word from feminist Susan Brownmiller. On this topic, Hugh Hefner replied that the magazine was started because ³beauty was everywhere´ (Hugh Hefner:Playboy Activist and Rebel.) He believed that women should all feel beautiful, whether they are the typical girl next door or a glamorous movie star. The thought that any woman can be a sex icon was intended to be invigorating
to women everywhere, to make them feel like they can be sexy even if they are not a certain body type or have certain hair or certain facial features. ³It¶s amazing to me, quite frankly, that we had such a revolutionary impact in the 1950s and 60s. To still be around and have a voice of some significance more than half a century later is unusual.´ Hugh Hefner said this to John Wenzel in an interview he did for the Denver post. Hefner never intended to have the impact on the world that he did. When Hugh Hefner was young, his parents raised him in a very puritan home. He has said many times that he was not hugged when he was a boy, and that his parents were not affectionate with one another. Because of this, he threw himself into his school activities. This is when he developed his interest that would make him pursue his degree in psychology. He said he wanted ³to find why people hurt one another and why they don¶t love one another as they should´ (Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel). This was his driving force when he started thinking about starting the magazine. He was working for a children¶s magazine by day and for Esquire men¶s magazine by night. He felt that something was missing. He didn¶t want to create a magazine that was just naked girls; he wanted to bring some literature into the works of the magazine. ³My feeling from the very beginning was not that we were creating a sex magazine. It¶s a magazine the focus of which is a romantic relationship between a man and a woman and the lifestyle surrounding it.´ Hefner kept at it through battles with the government including personal letters from President Ronald Reagan, conflicts with getting a second class mailing permit for the magazines and even being arrested one time for publicly opposing some government stances. ³I was a feminist before there was such a thing as feminism.´ This is a quote from Mr. Hefner himself in one of his magazines. The Playboy Foundation has funded sex
research and sex education programs, such as the work of Masters and Johnson and SIECUS, the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States. The foundation also supported birth control and abortion rights cases. The foundation was amicus curiae to the Roe v. Wade case. Amicus curiae is an outside professional, who has nothing to do with the case, that volunteer to offer information to assist the court in deciding a matter before they actually make a ruling. Besides simply supporting abortion rights and promoting the availability of birth control, Playboy Enterprises also opened up several day cares to help out single women who were trying to work and make a living but were unable to make ends meet. The day cares were free of charge, and helped promote women empowerment by letting the women work their jobs so they could be successful and would not have to rely on a man (Pitzulo). Hugh Hefner has always said that he wants girls who are NOT professional models. He believes in the notion that ³beauty is everywhere,´ empowering women to believe they are attractive. To the feminists that believe that the Playboy centerfolds and bunny costumes are minimizing women to simply being sexual objects, Hef says that it should not be taken in a degrading way. ³We should celebrate our sexuality. We should celebrate the differences between the sexes´ (Fraterrigo). Murray Fisher, a senior editor of Playboy Magazine, put it bluntly. ³The Magazine« is an intelligent magazine. It is also interested in tits and ass. So are men« Playboy didn¶t think one more important than the other, nor see and contradiction between them´ (Pitzulo). Young women now enjoy partying at the Playboy Club, wearing shirts and sunglasses that have the famous Playboy rabbit head logo and follow the televised exploits on The Girls Next Door. These young women are reaping the benefits from the
fruitsof the millions of men and women who have been a part of the women¶s movement. Women now have greater access to education and better jobs, to birth control, abortion and sex education. Women born after the 1960s have had more of these opportunities to further their lives into whatever they could dream of (Fraterrigo). John Clellon Holmes wrote a playful essay published in January of 1968 and in it described Playboy as ³an appreciated appraisal of the emergent modern female« self emancipated, unabashedly sexy, charmingly individualistic and a joy to the men in her life´ (Pitzulo). Playboy Enterprises recently purchased a channel for soft core gay male porn. Even in today¶s day and age, this is somewhat of a controversial issue. The truth be told, Hef loves controversy, and this is not the first time the company has been a supporter of loving whoever a person feels like loving, no matter the sex of the individuals. In the August 1955, Playboy published a controversial science fiction story called ³The Crooked Man´ by Charles Beaumont where being homosexual was the norm, and where heterosexuals were prosecuted. Beaumont had tried to put the story in Esquire magazine, but they turned it down because it was too controversial for their taste. Hugh Hefner received the story, and put it in the magazine. Hefner has always said that his magazine and all of Playboy Enterprises has thrived on controversy, so of course if Esquire turned it down because of the controversial aspect, Hefner wanted it inside the pages of Playboy. The story was very controversial for the time because anything other than the American norm, the typical segregated, heterosexual society Playboy also boasts to having the first ever desegregated cable television show, where ³desegregated´ means that African Americans and Caucasian Americans appeared on the same show at the same time. This had been unheard of before the show¶s air date of
October 24, 1959. The show was a blend of talking, different music varieties and comedic acts. The show celebrated stars like Sammy Davis Jr. and Dizzy Gillespie as well as lesser known interracial acts like the Gateway Singers, a folk group, and Lambert, Hendricks and Ross, a jazz vocal trio. These groups were breaking some very large borders in the society of the times; groups with people of multiple races in it were practically shunned by many Americans even if they weren¶t racist, because they were afraid of what their peers thought about them. Interracial groups were not allowed on cable television stations because the networks felt they were too controversial. Hefner didn¶t seem to mind controversy; he was known to test political boundaries within the show. He allowed many controversial bands and people on his show; for example, the show often visited the topic of the Vietnam War, and sometimes seemed to be a supporter in the protest against it (Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist, Rebel). On February 29, 1960 Hugh Hefner committed another very controversial act; he opened up the first Playboy Club in Chicago. In a time of great segregation, he opened the club up to everyone, no matter what their race. Hefner received a great amount of opposition for this choice. After an incident in the New Orleans Playboy Club, regarding two ³tan citizens´ being kicked out of the club, Hefner wrote a letter to Tommy Picou, the sports editor of the Daily Defender and key holder at the Chicago Playboy Club, who had also been denied admission to the French Quarter locale. The letter stated, ³We believe in the acceptance of all persons in all aspects of life on the basis of individual merit and without any regard to race, color, or religion. Do I mean that we are µtolerant¶ and that we believe in economic integration but not social integration? No, Mr. Picou, I mean we believe in being µcolorblind¶ straight down the line!´ Soon after, the Miami Playboy Club
was desegregated followed within months by Playboy Clubs International repurchasing the New Orleans Club and integrated their membership. Playboy Enterprises is also a very large supporter of the first-amendment rights. The company hosts many different events throughout the year to support the everyday people who work to support the first-amendment rights. One award is the Hugh M. Hefner award. The Hugh M. Hefner award was first presented in 1979 by the members of the Playboy Foundation to honor individuals who have made significant contributions in effort to keep sacred the first-amendment rights for all Americans now and in the future. More than one hundred individuals have been honored since the award was established, including high school students, lawyers, journalists and educators. Each award winner is presented with 10,000 dollars and a commemorative plaque. The Playboy Foundation also has what is called the Freedom of Expression award. It is a 25,000-dollar cash prize awarded to a person who has started a program or project that is dedicated to defending, advocating or supporting the first-amendment through their personal or professional pursuits. The emphasis will be placed on nominees who would benefit from receiving the financing to relieve inhibitions or burdens of pursuing the firstamendment ideals of their project of program (Playboy Enterprises). The Foundation has also recognized and supported socially aware documentary filmmakers. This program started in 1977 and has been awarding grants for production and distribution of a range of social change documentary films. The Foundation presented the Freedom of Expression award at the Sundance Film Festival from 1993-2004 to honor the documentary film that would best educate the public on an issue of social concern (Playboy Enterprises).
These awards have all helped to further protect the rights of Americans. Hugh Hefner and the Playboy Foundation have far exceeded what anyone expected from the company. From the beginning Hefner has always only wanted to have a positive effect on America. Sure, Hugh Hefner may be the ultimate Playboy, known for having more than one girlfriend at a time, once having as many as seven at a single time. He has also tested the limits of Americans beliefs and how much they were willing to tolerate someone opposing their way of life on multiple occasions. But would anything ever change or grow in the world if someone at some point did not test boundaries and push our comfort zones to the max? Hefner has made great strides in improving the American society as a whole through his work for the women¶s rights movement, for gay rights and African American rights, and for protecting the first amendment of the American constitution. He made it possible for the people who live in our country to enjoy many freedoms that without him, we may have never had the privilege to experience them. Many Americans have a large misconception of Playboy magazine. The majority of Americans, informed by modern day feminists, believe that Playboy magazine is simply degrading to women. In reality Playboy Enterprises has had a largely positive influence on the way Americans view sex, as well as many other social issues our country has faced. Never judge a book by its cover, nor a man simply by the books that he edits.
Works Cited Cato, Mackenzie and Carpentier, Francesca Renee Dillman. ³Conceptualizations of Female Empowerment and Enjoyment of Sexualized Characters in Reality Television.´ Fraterrigo, Elizabeth. ³Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America.´ Oxford University Press. USA. 5 Nov. 2009. Amazon.com. Web. 17 April. 2011. Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel. Dir. Brigitte Berman. Metaphor Films, 2008. DVD. Playboy Enterprises. 2011. Playboy Enterprises, Inc. Web. 14 Apr. 2011 Ingram, Billy. ³Playboy After Dark/Playboy¶s Penthouse.´ TV Party. Web. 12 Apr. http://www.tvparty.com/recplayboy.html Pitzulo, Carrie. ³The Battle in Every Mans¶ Bed: Playboy and the Fiery Feminists.´ Journal of the History of Sexuality 17.2 (2008) 259-289. Sypeck, Mia Foley, et al. ³Cultural Representations of Thinness in Women, redux: Playboy Magazine¶s depiction of beauty from 1979 to 1999.´ Science Direct 3.3 (2006): 229-235. Web. 1 March 2011. Wenzel, John. ³Fantasy Hugh Hefner is Comfortable with His Place in the History Books and Legacy.´ Denver Post. Denver Post, 25 January, 2009. Web. 8 March, 2011. 2011.
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue listening from where you left off, or restart the preview.