by Mike Pyatt
In a October 2000, interview with Fox News’ James Rosen, conservative pioneer, William F. Buckley, who wrote columns in Playboy Magazine for nearly four decades, was asked why he wrote for that magazine, quipped, “It was the fastest way to communicate with my seventeen year old son.” What compelled Buckley to write for Hefner’s magazine, that he publicly found so abhorrent? Buckley’s explanation that the best writers in the world published in the magazine fell woefully short of the “moral smell test” in appealing to others who opposed everything the Playboy Philosophy advocated. His February, 1974, column about court rulings on obscenity, Buckley assailed “the thoughtlessness of the Playboy philosophy, and the individualization of ethics, which of course the sexual revolution has been the driving wedge.”
Evangelicals and co-belligerents have long inveighed no one should’ve been surprised that Hugh Hefner’s empire grew from his 1953, $8000 investment, given the growing, insatiable, appetite, for sleaze, masquerading as art. Sadly, it wasn’t moral outrage that ultimately toppled his publishing empire-it was competition from Penthouse, and the unending stream of pornographic filth, readily available on the internet, rendering his glossy pornographic magazine passé. Today’s retail lingerie catalogues mirror the early Playboy Magazine model.
Portraying himself as urbane and sophisticated, in a silk smoking jacket, pipe-in-hand, Hefner surrounded himself with provocatively clad “Bunnies” for generations. Though he disputed his opposition to “monogamous marriage,” according to his biography, he went through three marriages and five partners. While there was an unbridled appetite for airbrushed nude women photos to the American male, there was a corresponding appetite for legions of young women who voluntarily lined up to “bare it all” before the camera. Was it fame and fortune? Or exhibitionism? Were they naively manipulated by publishing moguls and over zealous agents? Was it the same Hollywood titans, like Harvey Weinstein, founder of Miramax Studio, who’ve for generations sexually harassed female starlets with their iron-fisted misogynist grip?
Many scholars trace the rise of modern sexual revolution, to Alfred Kinsey, who founded the Institute for Sex Research in 1947, at Indiana University. Although Freud cracked open the door to freeing society of sexual prohibitions, Kinsey kicked it wide open, ending what he labelled “sexual puritanism.” Lict and Kiefer documented that unrestrained sexual freedom existed in ancient Greece and Rome. Historically it was the Christian, Jewish and Muslim societies that rejected such conduct. Although Hefner’s an easy and guilty target, it’s apparent that other people and forces glamorized the “liberated single women,” who’d come to symbolize the sexually uninhibited woman to flaunt their sexual prowess, freely enjoying casual sexual encounters. Feminist pioneers like Margaret Sanger, Betty Friedan and Helen Gurley Brown, editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan Magazine, author of the landmark,1962, book, Sex and the Single Girl, advanced Kinsey and Hefner’s revolution. Both were contemporaries in the sexual revolution, advancing the popularization of sleaze.
Kinsey identified himself as “religious” as a youth. After completing his doctorate at Harvard, later he claimed to “be an atheist,” though not surprisingly, given his early penchant for Darwinism and eugenics. He became a proselytizer that abnormal sexual behavior was common. His statistical conclusions on their face appeared unrealistic-claiming that 67-98% of men had premarital sex, and half of all men had at least one homosexual experience, and 26% had extramarital affairs. The implications were clear-premarital sex, adultery and homosexuality are “normal.” Furthermore, Kinsey reported, the outmoded “puritanical sexual morality” is unnatural. Ignoring longstanding, Biblical underpinnings, Hefner and Kinsey crusaded for a solipsistic philosophy of what should be, not what is. Now we see where that road has taken us. Original sin was vacated from his writings. The sign posts were there and ignored.
Yesterday’s “liberated woman” is today’s “empowered woman.” We’re asked to believe that one in every four women have been sexually harassed? The call for Harvey Weinstein’s lynching is on everyone’s lips in Tinsel Town and social media. Three weeks ago, we’re told only the inner sanctum knew the gory details inside this dark, sleazy culture, that apparently winked at such conduct. Suddenly, Weinstein’s benefactors of his political campaign largess and cinematic favors, there’s now outrage from celebrities, clamoring to give his tainted money away to charity, distancing themselves from his despicable conduct.
The most stunning and philosophically puzzling aspect of this issue is the gender that claims to be empowered, and powerful, destined to chart their own course, is suddenly so feckless, in light of the recent events in Sleazeville. Nearly thirty women, claimed a range of sexual advances and assaults, who for years exchanged careers for silence, refusing to report rape for decades. Is it the economics of consent? Many in the industry were unconcerned how the sausage was made as long as they got their bite. Moral amnesia?
This twenty year silence, obsequiously for some, most surmise, is based on fear of reprisal, loss of career, or that offended women would be ridiculed in the face of male dominance and misogyny. This sexual harassment construct has more layers than an onion. For generations sleaze was predominantly a male trait-though not exclusively. However, for the past thirty years countless females have made great strides catching-up with their male counterparts. Christie Hefner took the reigns of dad’s sleazy empire. Robin Quivers, Howard Stern’s co-host, is no shrinking violet. In 1998, Feminist, Gloria Steinem was nearly mum on Bill Clinton’s serial trysts, saying, “I’m not against sex.”
Both genders made historic contributions in our brief Republic. Since McGuffey’s Reader, females dominated the field of teaching. Men primarily paved the movement west, built railroads, towns, and infrastructure. Females dominated the caring fields, and rearing children. Both excelled in the arts, finance and science. As our nation drifted gradually over the past seventy-five years, it occurred at light speed in Hollywood. Why’s anyone shocked that sleaze reigns, or at the Harvey Weinstein revelations? Botox, cleavage, glitz, paparazzi, and profanity outrank character, and subjects like wholesomeness are routinely dismissed as toxic, inimical to box office sales. Christian values are as warmly embraced as the swine flu.
They’ve ushered in sterility of conversation between the sexes in the work place.
Recall the 1973, symbolic “Battle of the Sexes,” between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs. What’s next? Wonder Woman v. Emasculated Man? What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona County resident. His email’s firstname.lastname@example.org