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Was Hugh Hefner Sexist?

Hugh Hefner was 91 years old when passed away on September 27, 2017.  Hefner is well known as the founder of Playboy magazine. Founded on October 1, 1953, Hefner had a vision of a magazine that would stun readers. The first issue was published in December 1953. Icon Marilyn Monroe was featured as the first cover girl. The issue that contained nude photographs of her sold over 50,000 copies. With this success he expanded his business; it wasn’t just magazine anymore which lead him to take on different types of media.  According to Wealth-X, a market research firm, it was estimated that Hefner was worth about $110 million by the time of his death.

Playboy wasn’t just a magazine; it was Hefner’s entire business. Playboy would grow with the modernization of journalism. It evolved into Playboy Online, Playboy TV, and much more. The Playboy bunny is one of the most recognizable symbols in the world.  His business became a great success and which prompted him to spend his wealth; buying a mansion in Los Angeles. The Playboy Mansion, or the Playboy Mansion West soon became a hot spot for many in California. He threw many parties in his home throughout his lifetime where Playboy bunnies, celebrities, and friends of Hefner were invited.

At his gatherings, girls were required to wear revealing outfits. Many times they were completely naked with body paint. Not only was his business about exploiting women, but his parties kept up with the same theme.  In order to get an invite to one of his events, you had to be a high profile celebrity. Women who were not celebrities had to meet the Playboy standards of “attractive.”

One of Hefner’s famous events was “Pig Night,” where guest would engage in various sexual acts. Cameras were set up in various parts of the mansion as an insurance policy just in case anyone would release details of the night’s events.

Hefner was only married three times, but he had many “girlfriends,” which included more than one at a time. Hefner prided his masculinity on a claim that he had slept with over 1,000 women. His business of viewing women for pleasure was influenced by his personal life. Hefner had a standard woman; tall, thin, and large breasts. They not only entertained him but also made him profit for his business. He never included women of different body types in Playboy. It was his standards of what he deemed attractive or the woman wasn’t good enough.

Many people believe Hefner was a feminist being that he encouraged women to be free and feel powerful with their sexuality. He was not a feminist by any means. His main goal was profit for himself off these women. Women were objects to him and were only created to please men within sexual acts.

Journalist Suzanne Moore wrote a piece in The Guardian about Hefner. She referred to Hefner as a “pimp” who “bought and sold women to other men.” She defended her statement by stating “part of Hefner’s business acumen was to make the selling of female flesh respectable and hip, to make soft porn acceptable.”


Hefner did start from the bottom and make a successful business out of it. However, this does not excuse the fact that he did it by objectifying. He used the male gaze and created this idea only the women who were featured in Playboy were considered desirable. A feminist he was not. Wants, needs, and money is what Hefner should be known for.



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