Hugh Hefner, founder of the famous Playboy brand, has recently passed away at the age of 91. He is remembered as an American icon behind the liberation of women’s sexuality.
Hefner wanted to demolish the Puritan, modest values from the American people’s mindset and in doing so, he created a monument to his warped view of the world. Hefner created a fantasyland filled scandalous parties and even more scandalous girls; the Playboy Mansion.
The Playboy Mansion branded an image of luxury and sex, manipulating the public into believing that Hefner allowed women to embrace their sexuality when he did nothing but exploit women for decades.
Hugh Hefner did not care about promoting women’s sexuality; he simply cared about having orgasms.
“The notion that Playboy turns women into sex objects is ridiculous,” said the notorious pimp, Hugh Hefner in an interview with Vanity Fair in 2010. “Women are sex objects… It’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go ‘round. That’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts.”
Hefner believed that the desire to be objectified is an inherent characteristic of all women’s sexuality and by creating the Playboy brand he was freeing women to become sexual objects.
To Hefner, that is exactly what the Bunnies were: sexual objects.
In 2015, Holly Madison, a former playboy bunny, shared shocking secrets about living in the notorious mansion in her book, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny.
According to Madison, sex with Hugh Hefner was a requirement of living in his Playboy Mansion. Before moving to the house, she was assured that none of Hefner’s “girls” ever actually slept with him. Once she arrived at the mansion, she quickly learned of the weekly group sex orgies fueled by Hefner-provided Quaaludes, or as he called them, “thigh openers.”
The girls themselves also did not have a lot of control over their life. Madison shared that many of the girls felt like prisoners inside the mansion, “Everyone thinks that the metal gate was meant to keep people out. But I grew to feel that it was meant to lock me in.”
Izabella St. James, former Playboy bunny, shared similar stories of life in the mansion in
her book, Bunny Tales: Behind Closed Doors at the Playboy Mansion. She described the group sex experiences as coerced and that missing even one of the “party nights” meant that the “offender” had to survive without her weekly allowance.
The weekly allowance was given by Hefner for clothes and other necessities the girls might need. To get their weekly allowance, the girls met individually with Hefner where he would bring up any complaints about the girls or their lack of sexual participation at the weekly rituals.
The Playboy brand is not necessarily a heinous monster against women. However, it also does not accurately represent female sexuality in its entirety. Female sexuality is more than wearing sexy lingerie. Female sexuality is more than being publicly nude. Female sexuality is more than being wanted by men. Hugh Hefner created a successful brand where women are tools for men’s pleasure but he did not care about female empowerment.