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A Feminist likes Playboy Magazine

13 Dec

I was in two minds over clicking the ‘like’ button on the Facebook page of Playboy Magazine a few weeks ago. On one hand, I like how women are depicted in the magazine and its presentation. On the other hand, as a feminist, I am opposed to the objectification of women for men that appears to be presented by the magazine.

I like the style of photography and presentation of the magazine. There is a classiness to it as opposed to other more pornographic mens magazines. I am a big fan and greater admirer of some of the Pin-Up girl artists who have contributed to the magazine over the years (Alberto Vargas and Olivia De Berardinis). These artists speak of pure admiration and wonder at the beauty of the female form, and present their work in this way. No exploitation or degradation.

I also like the fact that when the magazine was first published in 1953 it represented sexual liberation and the changing of attitudes towards sex and sexuality. I am interested in Hugh Hefner’s story as he had a hand in modern society breaking free of sexually conservative values and pushed natural things such as nudity and sex into the mainstream. I think it is interesting from a females perspective that there have been female editors, pin-up artists (such as Olivia De Berardinis) and photographers who have contributed to the magazine over the years.

Another major factor for me is that the women featured in the magazine don’t appear in my eyes as being exploited or simply a sex object. There is sense of respect. How the individual model feels when she poses for a photo shoot for the magazine is important. Is she in control of how she displays her body and how she is presented? Is she doing it for herself? Does she feel empowered and confident? Is this how she wishes to present her own sexuality? A good an example of this is burlesque performer, model and entrepreneur Dita Von Teese. Dita certainly appears to be a very empowered woman who is in control of her career, her body and her sexuality, and she has graced the cover Playboy and been featured in the magazine. I strongly believe that the women depicted in the magazine are in control of how they are represented and they are not exploited nor degraded.

Moving on from what I like about the magazine, from a feminist perspective I feel strongly about is the objectification (or perceived objectification) of women for a mostly male audience. But is it solely objectification? I think it is a combination of presentation of the female form for admiration and for erotic reasons. Yes, there are elements that the women depicted are to there as erotic stimulants. Purely for a mostly male audience to get ‘their rocks off.’ I am still undecided about this. I think there is objectification, but it is done somewhat differently to pornographic, and particularly hardcore pornographic magazines. Additionally, I don’t like the embracing of plastic surgery enhanced beauty that appears popular in the magazine, and certain ways that female sexuality is presented.

These are the reasons why I was in two minds about ‘liking’ the Playboy Magazine Facebook page. I was uncertain how my ‘liking’ the page would appear to My friends. I wanted to say that I like this because of the depiction of attractive women and not the objectification and perceived sleaziness.

But since ‘liking’ the page and contemplating this further, I am no longer in two minds. I like it for the reasons above and my feminist (sex positive feminist) ideals don’t completely oppose this. There is a celebration of the beauty and sexuality of women, and although it is mostly from a male perspective, I myself as a lesbian and a sex positive feminist can appreciate and take what I want from it. Since then I have set about reading some scholarly articles on Playboy and feminism.

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