Have we misunderstood Hugh Hefner – is he really a feminist?
Okay, we're being asked to withhold our prejudices and believe that the Playboy creator, Hugh Hefner (who just the other day was waxing lyrical about women being sex objects), is a feminist in silk pyjamas.
A Canadian director, Brigitte Berman, has just completed a film about him, entitled Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel. Berman insists that the movie provides a balanced view of him, providing new insights about him (see the story and short video on the Huffington Post).
Now the website Stuff has published an interview with Hefner, talking about his "liberal tendencies" in the form of footage from his TV variety show, Playboy's Penthouse, which screened in 1959 and 1960. At a time when segregation was in full swing, Hefner welcomed blacks and whites alike into his penthouse.
He also insists that Playboy was about more than naked women and that he was, in fact, at the forefront of women's rights campaigns.
'Before there was a women's movement of any significance, Playboy and the Playboy Foundation were doing the good work that is now thought of as 'women's issues'. We changed the laws in terms of birth control and we were the friend of the court in the Supreme Court decision that gave women the right to choose in terms of abortion.''
But, says the interviewer, arguably these were issues that dovetailed nicely with Playboy's core mission of sexual liberalism, and thus would also have benefited Playboy Enterprises anyway?
''I think anything that makes for a freer society would benefit, but I don't know about Playboy Enterprises,'' Hefner counters. ''A case could be made on the other side: the more liberal things became, the more difficult it became for Playboy Enterprises. We wound up getting a lot more competition.'
Personally I'm not convinced but read the article and decide for yourselves.