But now, continuing my thoughts from my reading of Female Chauvinist Pigs
Ariel Levy talks about an interview that she has with Christie Hefner, Hugh’s daughter and CEO of Playboy. During this interview, Hefner talks about how she views the playboy bunny logo…
…[The bunny logo] symbolizes sexy fun, a little bit of rebelliousness, the same way a navel ring does… or low rider jeans! It’s an obvious I’m taking control of how I look and the statement I’m making as opposed to I’m embarassed about it or I’m uncomfortable with it.
Levy points out in her book that if you’re looking at it in this way, then you will fall into the trap that I spoke of in my last post.
I think that has more to do with the current accepted wisdom that Hefner articulated so precisely: The only alternative to enjoying Playboy (or flashing for Girls Gone Wild or getting implants, or reading Jenna Jamenson’s memoir) is being “uncomfortable” with and “embarassed” about your sexuality. Raunch culture, then, isn’t an entertainment option, its a litmus test of female uptightness.
So then Hefner goes on to talk about how olympic atheletes, lawyers, mothers… all sorts of women appear in Playboy. Playboy, in her opinion, appreciated all sorts of women and helped women to prove they were sexy (one example she gave was that the Olympians proved in their spread that they could be atheletic and sexy).
But Levy responds that as you flip through the pages, the Olympians have been molded into the same look that every other playmate has. Its not celebrating what they do – its making them into what everyone else is.
Why can’t we be sexy and frisky and in control without being commodified? Why do you have to be in Playboy to express “I don’t think athleticism is at odds with being sexy?” If you really believed you were both sexy and athletic, wouldn’t it be enough to play your sport with your flawless body and your face gripped with passion in front of the eyes of the world? Rather than showing that we’re finally ready to think of “Sexy” and “athletic” as mutually inclusive, the Olympian spread revealed how we still imagine these two traits need to be cobbled together: The athletes had to be taken out of context, the purposeful eyes-on-the-prize stare you see on the field had to be replaced with coquettish lash-batting, the fast-moving legs had to be splayed apart.
That women are now doing this to ourselves isn’t some kind of triumph, it’s depressing. Seuxuality is inherent… yet somehow we have accepted as fact the myth that sexiness needs to be something divorced from the everyday experience of being ourselves.
I really appreciate the angle from which she is approaching this subject. I’ve been noticing examples of it everywhere in life. Its really fascinating.