Join the Socialist Party Join us today!

Printable version Printable version

Facebook   Twitter

Link to this page: https://www.socialistparty.org.uk/articles/26223

Posted on 2 October 2017 at 16:41 GMT

Hugh Hefner: "Political activist" or glorified pimp

Becci Heagney and Amalia

In the film Men in Black the eponymous characters press a button and erase your memory. Reading the obituaries about the death of Playboy founder and multi-millionaire Hugh Hefner certainly felt like such a button had been pressed as the writers of many of these articles fell into a state of collective amnesia.

The articles overflowing mainstream media about the death of the notorious Playboy brand boss depicted him as a positive example of a successful businessman (which technically he was) and as a:

1. Defender of free speech

2. Sexual revolution avant-garde

3. LGBTQ+ rights advocate

4. Political activist

What a slander for people who truly campaign on all the above. In reality Hugh Hefner did none of this. All he achieved was towards normalising the exploitation of women and building a massive multi-billion dollar industry, the porn industry.

Women - not here for his pleasure

Hefner described himself as a "feminist before feminism was even a thing". It is misleading to suggest that the women's movement was merely about 'sexual liberation'. And the liberation that women were fighting for was on their own terms and precisely the opposite of what Hefner produced in Playboy - which reflected his own very narrow ideal of what women should look like and how we should act. Hardly a celebration of female sexuality! He added to the perception of women's bodies as objects; that our existence is reduced to the size of our breasts and in the service of men.

Criticisms published in the press

Fortunately, since his death not only glorified obituaries hit the press. Many also published analysis pieces and reports with very important first-hand witness statements.

Highlights of these include a journalist's undercover research as a Playboy Bunny. Amongst the things described in her story is the obligatory smear test for Bunnies (technically a waitress job) and the tightness of the obligatory corsets Bunnies had to wear (you shouldn't catch a cold because they would break with a sneeze).

The memoir of a former Playmate and Hefner's ex-girlfriend describes the Playboy Mansion as a place where the girls were constantly competing with each other. This was evident also in the reality TV show "The Girls of the Playboy Mansion" where it's all about who gets on Hef's good side .

Not only that but girls were also denied their "allowance" if the Playboy boss thought they broke a rule or felt dissatisfied by something they'd done (including not wearing matching pyjamas)! It's been revealed that the girls in Playboy Mansion were living under a curfew regime and were pretty much obliged to have sex with Hefner without any protection (and he would never get tested for STDs)!

Were they forced to?

Part of sexist propaganda against women today is about the illusion of 'choice' - that women have liberation now and so can choose whether to become a Playboy, for example.

This doesn't take into account financial pressures on women and the huge amount of pressure within society to conform to certain behaviour and appearance; nor the power imbalance in the type of relationship between a multi-millionaire like Hefner and the women he exploited.

A stalker even in death

Marilyn Monroe was Hugh Hefner's first ever cover-girl. He used to call her the ultimate blonde. They never met. However Hefner bought for $500 some pictures she shot before she was famous for which she received at the time $50.

He basically "leaked" those pictures in the first issue of Playboy and became an instant celebrity. She got no compensation and had to apologise for them and the whole thing almost cost Monroe her career. Now she can't even get away from him in death as he bought the crypt next to where she's buried, stalking her in death after having exploited her in such a way in life!

A successful son of the American Dream

It is no surprise to see praise in the mainstream media of Hefner and his lifestyle. He made a fortune - a personal value in itself in a world where being rich is seen as the ultimate goal.

The so-called American Dream is all about how if you "work hard" and are "smart" enough you can even become a multi-millionaire. Hefner made the dream come true for him but it was by exploiting women and by applying business practices very similar to all the horror stories we read about wages and conditions in the hotel and restaurant business - you won't be surprised to read what the tip regime in Playboy clubs was, for example.

Lured into the job with promises of getting a break into show biz, who knows how many hundreds, if not thousands of women were used so that Hefner could elevate his status in capitalist society and fatten his wallet.

Socialists can't fight against capitalism and its exploitative nature without fighting against all forms of oppression including fighting for women's rights and women's liberation. Women in the US are fighting the sexism of Trump, which is little different to the sexism of Hefner.

It is damaging to suggest that Hefner was a feminist or a progressive political activist; "Social progress is measured by the position of women in society". We need a united movement to ensure that women's position in society is improved and so that we can achieve genuine liberation for all.

Why not click here to join the Socialist Party, or click here to donate to the Socialist Party.






Related links:

Sexism:

triangleEast London Socialist Party: Fighting sexism today - and for socialism

triangleIn defence of socialist feminism

triangleOver one million students strike against sexism and for inclusive sex education

triangleSolidarity with Irish rape trial protests

triangleLibres y Combativas: striking for women's rights in the Spanish state

Women:

triangleUnnecessary surgery scandal shows need for democratic control of NHS

triangleWaltham Forest Socialist Party: International women's day

triangleLeicester Socialist Party: A fighting programme for women workers

triangleRefuges turn away 64% of women - set no-cuts budgets now!

Feminist:

triangleInternational Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women

triangleSpanish state: Historic 8 March action

triangleInternational Women's Day 2019: End oppression with fight for socialism

Feminism:

triangleUniversal Credit forces women into 'survival sex': scrap it now!

triangleHuddersfield Socialist Party: Marxist feminism

Reviews and comments

Reviews and comments

19/2/20

Film

Brilliant Korean film exposes class inequality

12/2/20

BBC

New BBC series - Insight or whitewash?

5/2/20

Liverpool

Liverpool council: "No more cuts" - Is Joe Anderson serious?

5/2/20

Socialist

Socialist Inbox

29/1/20

Socialist

The Socialist Inbox

29/1/20

Review

TV review: The Trial of Christine Keeler

22/1/20

Revolution

Robert Burns: of the people, for the people

22/1/20

Letters

The Socialist inbox

15/1/20

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

15/1/20

George Monbiot

TV Review: Apocalypse Cow

15/1/20

Food

Sustainable food production and the need for socialism

8/1/20

Letters

The Socialist Inbox

4/12/19

Socialist Party

The Great Big Socialist Party Quiz 2019

27/11/19

Plymouth

Plymouth Blairites side with anti-tenant landlords

27/11/19

Minimum wage

Minimum wage debate

triangleMore Reviews and comments articles...


Join the Socialist Party
Subscribe to Socialist Party publications
Donate to the Socialist Party
Socialist Party Facebook page
Socialist Party on Twitter
Visit us on Youtube

LATEST POSTS

CONTACT US

Phone our national office on 020 8988 8777

Email: info@socialistparty.org.uk

Locate your nearest Socialist Party branch Text your name and postcode to 07761 818 206

Regional Socialist Party organisers:

Eastern: 079 8202 1969

East Mids: 077 3797 8057

London: 020 8988 8786

North East: 078 4114 4890

North West 079 5437 6096

South West: 077 5979 6478

Southern: 078 3368 1910

Wales: 079 3539 1947

West Mids: 024 7655 5620

Yorkshire: 077 0671 0041

ABOUT US

ARCHIVE

Alphabetical listing


February 2020

January 2020

2019

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

2013

2012

2011

2010

2009

2008

2007

2006

2005

2004

2003

2002

2001

2000

1999