Feminists slam the late Hugh Hefner after claiming "he was a pornographer who locked women up"
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner yesterday died peacefully in his Playboy Mansion in Beverly Hills at age 91. The tributes are flowing, and many people have been given a new impression of how much good the porn mogul actually did.
As well as making pornography a mass commodity with Playboy magazine, he also advocated for gay rights way back in the 1950s. He was also known as a strong supporter of the civil rights movement in the 1960s. And even in the last tweets before his death, he was doing his bit by raising awareness and pledging support for Hurricanes Irma and Harvey relief efforts.
So following the news of his death, people have been remembering him for his humanitarian efforts. But undeniably, his empire and his legacy was built on pornography. And that can't be removed from his memory.
Although many people of varying levels of celebrity are applauding his charitable nature, many are still condemning Hefner for his impact on the objectification of women's bodies, as well as his excessive lifestyle.
People are criticising glowing labels of Hefner, some of which have touted him him the "godfather of sexual revolution". Historian and author Alex von Tunzelmann pointed out that a "sexual revolution" would be more about "readily available reliable contraception than porn". She released a series of tweets talking about exactly why Hugh Hefner was "anti-revolutionary" and a setback for feminism:
Given the nature of his success and Playboy empire, Hefner has never avoided criticism from feminists. A notable moment was when he caused a stir in his 2011 documentary titled Hugh Hefner: Playboy, Activist and Rebel, Hef by saying:
"Women are sex objects. If women weren’t sex objects, there wouldn’t be another generation. It’s the attraction between the sexes that makes the world go ‘round. That’s why women wear lipstick and short skirts."
Since his death, old stories have resurfaced from various ex-playmates who spoke of life at the Playboy Mansion. Many of them have given detailed interviews and even published books about their experiences over the years. Former housemates have told stories of strict codes of conduct, demands of "sexual participation" in Hefner's "bedroom parties", and more than often the mention of qaaludes – a sedative-hypnotic drug – being referred to as "thigh openers" by Hefner.
And when taking these allegations into consideration, it's unsurprising some people are not very supportive of everyone's heartfelt tributes to Hef's death.
Especially arresting are tales of sex acts in the house from former playmates. Kendra Wilkinson wrote in her book, "At about the minute mark, I pulled away and it was done. It was like a job. Clock in, clock out. It's not like I enjoyed having sex with him."
"Each girl gets on top of him for two minutes while the girls in the background try to keep him excited," recalls Jill Ann Spaulding in hers. And it seems people don't forget those kind of stories about Hefner – whether true or not.
Holly Madison, one of Hefner's former longterm "girlfriends" at the mansion famously revealed some gruelling stories of life in the Playboy Mansion in her memoir Down the Rabbit Hole. She wrote about "thigh openers" being offered to her by Hefner on her first night out with him, and how it was an unspoken rule and an expectation for the girls to sleep with Hefner after moving in to the mansion.
She also wrote that the girls were pressured to adhere to certain fashion and beauty aesthetics, with plastic surgery paid for by Hefner, unlimited salon beauty services and a $1000 per week allowance to buy clothes. "He made it abundantly clear that he preferred us in very over-the-top, sort of trashy outfits," wrote Madison.
One Twitter user said that although Hefner may have pampered his girlfriends and even respected them in his own way, he still treated women in general like "products to be consumed":
Hefner's death is a difficult one to process. While he did do good for gay rights, civil rights, and a more... liberal sex culture, there is still a strong community of people who condemn the man for how he proudly objectified and strengthened certain aesthetic standards of women. With so much being said about him even after his death, it's hard to say whether he'll truly be able to rest in peace.