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Does Christie Hefner Have Any Regrets?

By       Message Martha Rosenberg       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   4 comments

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When feminist Ti-Grace Atkinson said that a certain religious figure was knocked down, "knocked up" and never knew what hit her 37 years ago--only to be assaulted by Triumph reporter Patricia Buckley Bozell--she could have been talking about Christie Hefner.

Not pretty enough to pose for her father's Playboy magazine and not male enough to rate the company stock he bequeathed to his sons in 1997, Hefner is the Poster Child of female subjugation and codependence--propping up a regime she neither created or benefits from like Condi Rice.

Even Hefner's exit from the company in December after serving as CEO for twenty years was humiliating with TV stations running pictures of seminude models while Hefner dispassionately discussed company fundamentals as if it made silicone chips.

While media reporters tactfully say the Playboy name has more recognition than "readers," that fact is that Playboy is a porn distributor like thousands of other companies.

Playboy's early soft-core brand--which Gloria Steinem said for women to read was like Third Reich literature --was the cultural gold standard for how men thought women should look and act in the 1960s and 1970s. And most women agreed.

But by the 1980's, when Hefner took over as CEO, laddie magazines and even Sports Illustrated and Victoria's Secret catalogues had eroded Playboy's soft-core market and cable porn and later Web porn were stepping on its hard core market.

Stock price was at a ridiculous $2.20 a share when Hefner made her exit speech.

Of course Playboy was never just a magazine.

It was a Lifestyle that included hi-fis and party records, Salem and Dewar's, sexual emancipation and rejection of the Puritan work ethic as Hef's ubiquitous bathrobe testified.

It was a philosophy that said the "good life" of sex, consumerism and even recreational drugs wasn't "bad" if it hurt no one--a radical stance in the workaholic and sexually repressed 50s and 60s.

From naming the outspoken Dick Gregory as in-house comic at the Chicago Playboy Club--when audiences were still white-- to running an interview with Malcom X, Playboy was an early voice for civil rights.

It's was also an early voice for abortion rights.

And its clubs and mansions drew hepcats like Norman Mailer and Sammy Davis Jr.

Which of course was the problem.

At the same time it elevated sexuality from peep shows and "hat-in-lap" theaters to cool, it legitimized women's place in the new lifestyle as-- to quote Black Power leader Stokely Carmichael when asked about women's position in the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC)--"prone."

In Chicago, the Playboy Foundation was active in backing liberal causes including First Amendment rights. But, like the radical chic whose leaders writer Tom Wolfe ridiculed for their African-American domestic workers, there was the Little Problem.

It deemed half the world worthy of flashing itself in its pages.

Even Hefner tried to draw the line, telling the Daily Telegraph as a "feminist" she would not--repeat not--take the magazine hard-core.

Unfortunately Dad overruled her and the company bought X rated television stations in 2001.

"This kind of less-edited programming is here to stay," she conceded.

As a Summa Cum Laude graduate of Brandeis University Hefner says she planned a legal career before working for Dad as, some would say, an editorial Madam.

Will she become a post hoc feminist like Linda Lovelace--who repudiated Deep Throat--and Jane Fonda?

A Monday morning ethicist like Scott McClellan?

Will Hefner become embittered if her half brothers turn the magazine around like she couldn't--and win Dad's approval?

Already 17-year-old.Cooper is discussing the "place" of women in the magazine when he starts working there--never once questioning his male fiat.

"I'd want the girls to be presented more as they were in the pictorials back in the 1950s and 1960s--kind of artsy, classy," Reuters quotes him saying.


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Martha Rosenberg is an award-winning investigative public health reporter who covers the food, drug and gun industries. Her first book, Born With A Junk Food Deficiency: How Flaks, Quacks and Hacks Pimp The Public Health, is distributed by Random (more...)

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