Photo by Charles Deluvio
When did Playboy magazine suddenly become a half-decent feminist platform of speech instead of those eye-catching images of busty women that the magazine is known for? I can’t give you an exact date on when this transformation took place but the magazine itself has certainly been going through a journey of what it means to be a porn magazine. First, I’m going to quote Jordan Emanuel, Playmate of the Year, who caught my attention scrolling through the news app on my iPhone with this statement, “ I would like to thank Playboy for always embracing and displaying that women are more than meets the eye. Obviously, you’ve all seen the pages of Playboy, and it’s eye-catching, to say the least. But those pages have always represented the versatility that women have. We are witty women. We are smart women. We are driven women, and we are bold.” My curiosity was sparked, I mean, how could a porn magazine truly empower this woman or any woman for that matter? Playboy screams sex, and sex is one of the most debated topics in not only westernized cultures but all over the world. In western countries especially, we are obsessed with sex as a culture but at the same time, we fear and condone it. Talk about mixed signals, we slut-shame sex-positive women while at the same time putting them on the cover of magazines like Playboy. I don’t know about you all but I’m certainly confused.
I searched for a little clarity by going onto the Playboy website and searching for this mystical feeling called “empowerment” and I found it when I realized much of the content on their website is written by women about the many topics that circle around sex and gender. There’s an article written by Arkee Escalera called, “Searching for the Secret Gay Agenda in Animation”, that essentially debunks the myth that cartoons are teaching children how to be gay. Another favorite of mine is an article titled, “TV’s De-Romanticization of Bad Female Behaviors”, which offers thought to the idea that in pop-culture media, women are often portrayed as stereotypical party girls or other characters without recognizing the truth behind these behaviors and the mental cost it takes on not only them but those around them. For Playboy, a magazine that was a huge part of bringing porn to the forefront of our culture, to comment and digest the ways in which our society treats “sex” in a modern, reflective, and progressive way is a huge step in the right direction for the entire sex-industry and our society as a whole. Sex is a part of our existence as human beings so why deny that it’s happening or shame others who don’t ignore the fact that we all have desires? To quote the queen of weird herself, Lady Gaga, “Don’t hide yourself in regret just love yourself and you’re set.” That’s the underlying message behind much of what makes up Playboy’s written content.
That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement, in fact, there's a lot of room. For example, the idea that only men watch or look at porn is so 1950s so why are all of the Playmates women? This magazine was built for men, yes, but more and more women both straight and gay are embracing their sexuality so there’s a significant need for content out there that appeals to us, as straight women, gay women and also queer men. I will say they have featured some photoshoots and interviews with queer stars like Ezra Miller and he may pose with those classic bunny ears but it’s still a problem that Miller cannot become a Playmate according to the Playboy’s rules. Every single human being on this earth no matter their sexuality, skin color, disability, or anything else one could possibly think of, should be able to hold the title of a “Playmate” because sex isn’t just for straight white men anymore, it’s for everyone.