I only read it for the articles

Jan 02 2012 Published by under AntiFeminist Asshole

ah, a tragic conundrum emerges from the thickets.

Carl Zimmer (yeah, science writer! blogger! our dude! woot.) has published a new profile of Neil deGrasse Tyson (popular science! woot! one of the bigger media presences on science right now, yay!!!).

Then @MiriamGoldste noticed that there was some objecting going on in commentary to her Gplus (which nobody sees cause nobody is on the geeeplus). And she asked,

Should respectable authors publish in Playboy? http://bit.ly/w3ARtA

My kneejerk response was "No.". No, I do not think that respectable authors should participate in the continue oppression of women that is instantiated by the laddie-mag, porn-lite, "lifestyle magazine" or whatever you care to call Playboy. The magazine that, articles or not, sells based on youngish women appearing naked and air-brushed and photoshopped to a fair-thee-well.

In both the gplus discussion and in a Twittply to me, @miriamgoldste seems to be pursuing the thesis that Playboy itself is so irrelevant and dinky at this point, not to mention kinda tame, compared with internet pR0n and other sources, we should not be getting our knickers in a twist over this.

So I'm conflicted. I tend to agree that Playboy is tame stuff, the print magazine (even pR0n!) is dying a slow, inevitable death and as far as such venues go...it is semi respectable. However, given that it is the granddaddy of mainstream legitimized pornography, we also have to appreciate the role that this magazine has played in normalizing the pornification of culture. Also the resulting impact on women.

Which ain't good.

Despite the way I sound, I'm not particularly prudish on this issue. One ideal of Playboy, that of releasing all of us from puritanical restrictions on our sexual beings, is not half bad. I'm down with that. Problem is, the impact seems not to have been as good as it could have been. We're still fighting the whole woman-expresses-the-sexxah-and-was-asking-for-a-rapin' thing. And the grown ass men who are fixated on a single age-range of extremely young women as their only appropriate sex target. Not to mention lots of women trying to fit themselves into the 1% plus cosmetic surgery body type/image with a lot of resulting disorders of affect, behavior and eventually metabolism and physiology.

Not being a social scientist, I'm uncertain as to the direction of causality...so I turn to you, Dear Reader. Is our revered scribe off science Carl Zimmer off the reservation on this one? Should he have thought twice?

Should we recognize that free lance writers have to take their pay where they can?

Should we be happy for the opportunity to present something, anything about science to the Playboy audience?

74 responses so far

  • Dirkh says:

    "Should we recognize that free lance writers have to take their pay where they can?"

    Within limits set by each writer for his or herself, yes. Have some mercy when it comes to venues--most can't afford to refuse to write for every outlet that has done something they disagree with.

  • I am all about tricking people into learning about science while they're consuming the kinds of content they would be anyway. And really nowadays, nobody buys Playboy to get off. Maybe to satisfy curiosity about some celebrity, but it's kind of a whimsical investment if you don't intend to read the articles, which are pretty quality.

  • drugmonkey says:

    "whimsical investment"...so what, only porn hipsters get Playboy anymore?

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    I reckon frat houses probably also maintain Playboy subscriptions, unless things have changed a lot in the last two decades.

    Freelancing is a difficult path, which makes it easier (in my mind) to spot freelancers the latitude to make the deals they can reconcile themselves to.

    But, I think there are probably some interesting trade-offs to be negotiated here, primarily associated with the kind of audience you are likely to reach (or not reach) with your writing. If one were to publish *only* in outlets like Playboy, for example, one might reach an awful lot of men ... and significantly fewer women. If one were to publish in an outlet not only not-read but also actively alienating to a certain segment of one's potential readership, one might risk losing a whole bunch of those potential readers even when publishing in an outlet they normally read.

    Really, beyond the writer's personal gut-check (taking account of conscience and hunger) on each piece, I don't know that there's a sensible way to navigate such trade-offs. It would be cool for some social scientist type to assess the available information about how these issues influence audience short term and long term and to build a model ...

  • Alex says:

    I tend to agree that Playboy is tame stuff

    The only way to make that statement, or to agree with it (or disagree, for that matter) is to actually read it. So, are you admitting that you have purchased and examined this publication? Or is this just what you've heard from your friends?

    :)

  • Pinko Punko says:

    I would say no, he shouldn't have done it if he didn't have other places for the piece. Now if they pitched it, maybe he should have politely declined. I just think on the whole it should be an easier call. Would Zimmer write a piece for Tech Central Station? I doubt it. There are places where he would most likely say "no" about publishing there no matter what, so I see it as a possibly easier choice for him, perhaps less for writers of the more struggling variety, especially in the age of a lot of free content.

  • drugmonkey says:

    My experience is quite dated by now Alex but yes. You got me! Booga booga booga.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Re Dirk: it really bears admitting that many of us are in professions where there are situations in which some of what we do as part of that job may conflict with certain principles. If it were easy it wouldn't be worth discussing......

  • drugmonkey says:

    http://t.co/twvHLyc9

    Additional reading in historical impact of Playboy

  • drugmonkey says:

    And more reading on the problem with Playboy

    http://t.co/q4CgGba4

    H/t: @sciliz

  • becca says:

    I would like to point out I have nothing but respect for Asimov, LeGuin, and Zimmer as writers. So I knew there was a real overlap in Playboy's idea of "redeeming social value" and mine.

    That said, I agree with Natalie Angier: "Does the world really need more pictures of tits and ass?" (http://www.salon.com/2002/10/11/playboy_3/)

    I was surprised to see Zimmer's piece in Playboy (snigger), but realized the bigger problem is that there are a ton of adorable precocious boy children in the astronomy event Zimmer is describing. No adorable precocious girl children... or else, they were edited into boys to make them more appealing for the readership. And a cute discussion of how Pluto isn't a planet because it's tiny, with no mention of how it did get it's name...So clearly, we've gotta get Tyson changing how he talks to crowds to include more girls in astronomy.
    If Tyson goes and adjusts some outreach events to target women, and Zimmer starts chronicling those efforts it in forms of media that target 18-35 year old women, I'll forgive them happily.

    "Should we recognize that free lance writers have to take their pay where they can? "
    Ed Yong raised this point. Which made me giggle, because I think there'd be a market if Playgirl could get his... pieces to publish.

  • It's worth noting that Carl is certainly not the first popular science blogger to publish in that particular magazine.

  • drugmonkey says:

    Oh and plenty of very well respected writers from various literary traditions as well Sheril. Dating from waaaay back in the history of the magazine. Zimmer is hardly unique in this.

  • Hermitage says:

    It says something about the state of today's society that a magazine dedicated to the objectification of women's bodies is considered 'tame' and 'mainstream'. Free-lancers can get their money wherever they like and I will exercise my distaste by never reading any of it. Everybody wins!

  • DrugMonkey says:

    Mainstream was a modification of "pornography", Hermitage. "Tame stuff" is perhaps more ambiguous but a fair read would also apply this term within the context of pornography, given the overall purpose of this entry. You are making a bit of a leap here since those terms are applied within the limited set of "dedicated to the objectification of women's bodies", not generalized.

  • Mark Palko says:

    "Not to mention lots of women trying to fit themselves into the 1% plus cosmetic surgery body type/image with a lot of resulting disorders of affect, behavior and eventually metabolism and physiology."

    Wouldn't this apply even more to Vanity Fair than to Playboy? The first twenty pages of that magazine are filled with horribly unhealthy body images -- arguably worse than PB -- and those images are more likely to be targeted at young women, Would a VF publication carry the same stigma?

  • becca says:

    Over at the G+ thread there seems to be a theme of "but it's such a great way of getting a huge and different audience!", which is starting to bug me.
    1) Playboy is a lousy way to reach Playboy's target demographic (18-35 year old men are on the internet, except for sports)- as their sales numbers show
    2) the piece itself is great to put in a non-science publication. But it would have been a great thing to hand off to a precocious 10 year old- it's exactly the kind of thing my dad would have seen in The New Yorker and handed off to me- why isn't The New Yorker publishing this?
    That's a criticism of The New Yorker, not Zimmer, to be clear.

    @Mark Palko- I'd say Lindsey Lohan (Playboy) and Lady Gaga (Vanity Fair) as they appear in their respective publications are about equally different from standard women's bodies (albeit in slightly different ways). Though Lady Gaga gives me distinct pause given her explicit comments about not being able to eat a hamburger because of having to look a certain way to appear on stage. Of course, Lohan's problems with the law lead me to wonder if appearing in Playboy will be seen as a further decline for her (not that it should be, unless it was desperation for money that drove her to it, which isn't actually discernible from the "oh it was an honor to pose like my hero Marilyn Monroe!" bubbly bit on wiki about it)

  • drugmonkey says:

    MP- let us be clear, I despise those women's porn "fashion" magazines. For many of the same problems I noted about Playboy. Plus the bonus fact that all the "what men *really* want" bullshittio is as insulting to men as it is demeaning to the women who buy those rash-inducing tree killers.

  • iGrrrl says:

    Somewhat OT, but DM, I read Vanity Fair for the economic and political reporting. I usually skip the cover articles, but during the early stages of the financial crisis, they had the most information on what was going on at Bear Stearns, Lehman, etc, as well as several articles on Madoff. Some of the best of it was collected inThe Great Hangover - Tales from the great recession. Another recent issue had a great article on Daniel Kahneman and his new book, "Thinking, Fast and Slow".

    OT, I agree with what was expressed above, in that it seems like an odd thing for Playboy to publish, but I don't read the magazine and can't judge how it fits, or if they have broader content like VF does. It gives the article a stigma, though, which is unfortunate.

  • Mary says:

    On the oppression of women front--I think some churches are WAY more of a problem, and have had more direct impact on my work in science. Yet people are always saying that we need to reach out to churches more--speaking engagements with church groups, publishing in their venues.

    But I wouldn't stop anyone from doing that either.

  • Dirkh says:

    Are scientists boycotting Nature/SciAm for the Jesse Bering essay? Just wondering. We all have to live in the real world, cut deals, make compromises--except for zealots and idealogues.

  • becca says:

    Dirkh- Nature/SciAm is 10% Jesse Bering, Womanspace, et al and 90% glamor science
    Playboy is 10% good science/science fiction writers and 90% tits and ass. Do try to keep up.

  • Diverging view says:

    I have yet to see a clear cogent argument about the evilness of Playboy. It all seems to boil down to sublimized prudery, if you ask me.

    A healthy male can look at T&A and not infer from it that every woman is a sexual object, just like a healthy male can watch 180 minutes of physical carnage, otherwise known as the NFL, and not infer from it that every male is a battering ram.

    I don't think it takes some special type of talent to figure out that the midwest airhead sagittarius who wishes for "world peace" and lists "singing in the shower" as a hobby is not the same as the geeky young woman doing advanced science next to you on the lab.

    There is an implicit message that one cannot appreciate beauty in the (naked) human form without the ensuing sexual objectification of all humans.

    If I'm gay and consume gay porn, does that mean I think of my colleagues as boy toys? This argument is absurd on its face, but somehow when made about women it automatically gains currency. Perhaps this currency is out of sympathy to its claimed victims, which do endure many other real, non-imagined hardships in this patriarchal world we live in.

  • Grumble says:

    Dv, the issue is not that looking at Playboy causes men to view all women as sexual objects, but that it leads men to accept only a ridiculous, near-anorexic standard for female attractiveness. Playboy of course isn't the only guilty party, but its airbrushed cheesecakes are pretty egregious examples of media that has this effect.

    So, when a respectable writer contributes a respectable piece of writing to Playboy, it has the effect of making whatever else is in Playboy seem normal. Or so the thinking goes. IMHO, Playboy is pretty irrelevant in the age of internet porn, so who cares. 14 year old boys are already corrupted; a science article in Playboy isn't going to corrupt them more.

  • Diverging view says:

    Grumble,

    Thanks for your reply.

    the issue is not that looking at Playboy causes men to view all women as sexual objects,

    I've seen several critics claim this, including here, such as "a magazine dedicated to the objectification of women's bodies".

    it leads men to accept only a ridiculous, near-anorexic standard for female attractiveness. Playboy of course isn't the only guilty party, but its airbrushed cheesecakes are pretty egregious examples of media that has this effect.

    Perhaps, but if so then why focus on Playboy, particularly when the magazine has been the target of medieval censorship from people who oppose the mere thought of a healthy attitude to sex?

    Choosing playboy as a notable target in this quest seems to be the textbook definition of useful idiot, if you pardon the crude expression (not mine).

  • drugmonkey says:

    Because Zimmer published there. Duh. If he'd chosen Juggs or RHS we'd be talking about those...

  • Diverging view says:

    If he'd chosen Juggs or RHS we'd be talking about those...

    If Zimmer had published in the equally nasty VF or Cosmopolitan it is unlikely there would be such controversy. You should seriously consider the possibility that you are unwittingly carrying the water for the religious right, valid as your concerns are.

  • drugmonkey says:

    1) maybe I *am* the "religious right", did you consider that?

    2) If I catch one of the gang being lauded for a bit in Cosmo you are damn right I'm going to object.

  • becca says:

    "I don't think it takes some special type of talent to figure out that the midwest airhead sagittarius who wishes for "world peace" and lists "singing in the shower" as a hobby is not the same as the geeky young woman doing advanced science next to you on the lab. "
    And who gets to tell the difference? I'm sooooooooooo glad I have guys like you to help me categorize women. I am a proud midwest capricorn (on the cusp of sagittarius) who wishes for "world peace" and who sings in the shower as a hobby... I'm also a PhD in Molecular Medicine. How do I know if you are going to take me seriously or ask to see my tits?

    Also, since you are So Concerned with us sounding like the religious right, you might want to know that this categorizing of women into "ok to objectify" and "not ok to objectify" sounds to me exactly like this: "You know girls in general are all right. But some of them are bitches....The bitches are the type that...need to have it stuffed to them hard and heavy.”
    You are unwittingly carrying water for convicted rapists. KNOCK IT OFF.

    Dear Men of The World: you are exactly as misogynistic as you treat the lowliest women on your totem pole. You do not get to be judged solely by how you treat your mother, daughter, Mother Theresa, or even Marie Curie. You will be held accountable for how you treat them ALL (confidential to CPP- yes, even your postdocs).

  • drugmonkey says:

    But, but....dudes just want to get some donchaknow

    http://t.co/5hJA93M6

  • Isabel says:

    "Dear Men of The World: you are exactly as misogynistic as you treat the lowliest women on your totem pole. "

    This statement cuts through A LOT of crap. Very well put!

  • Diverging view says:

    you might want to know that this categorizing of women into "ok to objectify" and "not ok to objectify"

    I did no such thing. The women choose to objectify themselves by posing for playboy while the person next to you didn't. It is people like you who argue that if one person posed nude, then all women including the original model will be treated like that. Personally I've met a couple of nude art models and I didn't see them in any way as objects simply because I knew how their bits looked like. Say, do you think of your spouse as an object because you've seen him/her naked (I hope) in a sexual context?

    I made no judgement on the appropriateness of posing or not posing for playboy, but for the record, I believe women are free to do whatever they want with their bodies, including pose naked for T&A magazines if that's their thing.

    I also take issue with the whole "objectification" of women adjective. The fact that a man might be a battering ram on a Sunday NFL game does not mean that he (much less all males) are forever objectified as hammering objects. Why does a woman taking off her clothes for a nude photo session means they are now forever to be treated like objects?

    Lastly, you are building a strawman, including the supposed condoning of rape and attacking that. You seem to be unable to argue the subject on its merits.

  • Isabel says:

    "Personally I've met a couple of nude art models and I didn't see them in any way as objects simply because I knew how their bits looked like."

    What does this have to do with anything? Art models?? You think the argument is with nudity? How childish.

  • The women choose to objectify themselves by posing for playboy while the person next to you didn't.

    Yes, they "choose" to do this, just like I choose to have a Diet Pepsi and not a Diet Coke.

  • Diverging view says:

    I appreciate the time Grumble took to answer. While he didn't convince me, he engaged in a civilized discussion and there is some merit to the anorexic standard promoted by playboy. Others feel so strongly about this issue that do not seem to be able to engage in a conversation about it.

    It is interesting that no argument was put forward to support the dubious claim that objectification of women comes from naked pictures for a T&A magazine instead of originating from dudes who were sexist to start with.

    We have rejected the claim that provocative dressing style is what leads to rape. Why exactly then do we believe then that provocative T&A posing leads to objectification? Or to put it in other words, do you think if we had a society where women were fully valued and not discriminated against, ogling some T&A soft porn would make someone say "gee, I never realized my coworker is an object?"

  • drugmonkey says:

    "comes from"?

    Is it so difficult to understand that cultural forces are complex and arise from interplay between different sources of input? Of course Playboy did not invent objectification. The question is whether it promotes and enhances objectification, which it clearly does. It also promotes an unattainable standard of appearance.

  • drugmonkey says:

    "dressing style"

    Yes well one of the many areas I depart from my feminist friends is that when it comes to objectification issues (note, this differs from the rape justification/excuse issue) I think choosing to dress in ways designed for no other purpose than drawing sexualized gaze contributes to objectification. High heels, short skirts and plunging necklines have no functional purpose other than to induce thoughts of sexxah-time in some segment of the public who has to look upon them. All that "you aren't forced to look" and "I do it for myself" crap is utter nonsense

  • Diverging view says:

    I'm with main stream feminism on the issue of dressing style, but DM does raise some interesting points.

    First we need to distinguish what exactly we are talking about. I think there is a distinction between sexy dressing and sexually aggressive dressing style. A provocative/sexy dress says "see, I'm cute," a sexually aggressive attire says "yeah baby" [insert Austin Powers accent].

    Let's focus on the latter here and see how it plays in other settings.

    Let's think of a policeman wearing a uniform. S/he is quite intentionally sending the message "in this situation think of me first and foremost as an officer of the law". This is not the same as saying "I'm a police object, think of me as Robocop".

    So I agree with DM that a woman dressing sexually aggressively is sending the message "in this situation think of me primarily as a sexual being" what I fail to see is why this means one should think of her as "merely an instrument (object) towards one's sexual pleasure" [wikipedia definition of sexual object].

    Sex is not the same as sexism, and sexual desire is not the same as sexual objectification. I assume you all are attracted to your partners but this doesn't mean you think of them merely as sex objects.

  • becca says:

    @DM- plunging necklines are handy for breastfeeding.
    ;-)

    And no, you don't 'have' to look. Really.
    BUT I will readily grant that clothing is a form of communication and we're a social species- so I agree "I do it for myself" is a bit nonsensical in many cases.

    That said, consider what the research tells us (e.g. http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/11/111110142100.htm). Seeing more bare skin encourages us to perceive the person as more sensitive to harm and thus be more protective of them. Isn't it possible that some people ( women, in most cases) are indeed trying to induce thoughts... thoughts of protectiveness or thoughts of relative lack of agency? And can you think of any reason at all women in our society might want to induce these thoughts as a form of self-protection?

    Diverging view-One cannot objectify oneself, and I no more built a strawman than you did by comparing us to religious conservatives.

    However, you're perfectly right that, in my ideal anti-kyriarchical society, there'd be no problem with soft porn. For that matter, in THIS society, pornography that at least makes an effort (such as Jincy Lumpkin's work) exists, and is available for the discerning consumer. Sadly, they cannot pay for science articles as well as Playboy can (though if they did start having such articles, they'd get my subscription $ for the sheer novelty of it).

    So we are left with the question- is it morally good to support non-ideally coercive forms of sexualization in a society which feeds off of this and produces people less able to fully value and not discriminate against women?

  • Diverging view says:

    becca,

    Once again you misrepresent my position. I did not compare you with religious conservatives. I said you guys could be unwittingly helping them. Indeed, there is a presumption in there that you are not a religious conservative. This was not lost on DM, since he even replied: "maybe I *am* the "religious right", did you consider that?"

    is it morally good to support non-ideally coercive forms of sexualization in a society which feeds off of this and produces people less able to fully value and not discriminate against women?

    There is a false dichotomy there. I do not support playboy (don't read it, neither for the articles nor for the pictures), but by the same token I would not attack it:

    - first because said malign effects are, in my opinion, yet to be well argued,

    - second, because as a strong believer in freedom of the press and I think in this case this right trumps the objectification argument,

    - third, because playboy is a symbol of sexual liberation, and I'm in favor of a world where people are free to do whatever they choose to in that regard (straight, queer, porn, artistic nude, non-artistic nude, naturist, open relationship, whatever is your thing)

    -last but not least, precisely because it is such a symbol perhaps killing it does more to benefit the cause of religious conservatives than that of women.

  • drugmonkey says:

    I don't agree with you that objecting to Carl Zimmer publishing in Playboy is the same as recommending "killing" it or of violating the freedom of the press for its publisher.

  • becca says:

    Diverging view- yeah, no one is actually saying "down with Playboy!!". For someone who whines so much about other people supposedly misrepresenting your views and putting up strawmen, you sure seem well-practiced at it. Trollishly so.

    Anyway, there's no false dichotomy. I'm not saying one has to support Playboy or argue for it's demise.
    Zimmer did support playboy by selling them his excellent writing. That is not in dispute. That is the act that I am questioning the ethical ramifications of.

    Apparently, you believe that discussing negative ethical implications of supporting Playboy could perhaps do more to benefit the cause of religious conservatives than that of women.
    Whereas I believe that your particular defense* of Playboy could perhaps do more to support the cause of convicted rapists than it could do to diminish the cause of religious conservatives. Also, I believe it almost certainly does more for the cause of rapists than the cause of women.

    *Whether you wish to define your position as "supporting" Playboy or not, saying women "choose to be objectified" by appearing in Playboy is indeed a defense of both Playboy itself and a variety of oppressive status quo attitudes toward women.

  • Isabel says:

    "Sex is not the same as sexism, and sexual desire is not the same as sexual objectification. "

    YOU are the only one here who doesn't understand this. You are equating Playboy with sex and sexual desire?

    "playboy is a symbol of sexual liberation"

    Yes, "sexual liberation" for passive, eager-to-please, shaved, surgically-enhanced, air-brushed 18-24-year-old female"hotties" and drooling men of all types, ages, shapes and sizes.

  • drugmonkey says:

    And no, you don't 'have' to look. Really.

    This simply begs the question of why dress in completely and utterly impractical clothing, for which there is no other plausible justification, if the goal is not to leverage the very well supported presumption that other people are, in fact, going to look even if they do not "have" to do so.

    Seeing more bare skin encourages us to perceive the person as more sensitive to harm and thus be more protective of them.

    Yeaaaah. that's it. "protective". and we know this since all of the women's porn "fashion" magazines emphasize this on every fricking page....not some other ridiculous nonsense like the sexxah part.

    Now, I grant you, that women are not motivated to dress in the aforementioned entirely impractical (and in the case of heels unhealthy) garb because they wish to solicit immediate sexual activity with all who view them. Not at all. See above comment about rape-scusing. It is to leverage the (well supported presumption of the) sexxah-thoughts reaction towards ends that may, themselves, be grouped under the "protective" umbrella.

    We may not be able to do much about the conditioned factors that makes certain types of garb look better to us than other types. But we can certainly do something about the manipulative part.

    Just like we can ask men to minimize deployment of the tools of the patriarchy that happen to benefit themselves at the expense of others, we can ask women to minimize their own deployment of the tools of the patriarchy that benefit themselves at the expense of others.

    One of the traditional roles of critique of the patriarchy is to identify the tools of oppression and to illuminate the effects of overt and covert, even unconscious, deployment of those tools.

  • Diverging view says:

    I'm not saying one has to support Playboy or argue for it's demise.

    If the suggestion is that we say "tsk, tsk" to authors who publish in playboy then I have nothing against that. If the suggestion is that we are to black list them and no longer consider them serious authors, then we might as well argue for its demise.

    Whereas I believe that your particular defense* of Playboy could perhaps do more to support the cause of convicted rapists. Also, I believe it almost certainly does more for the cause of rapists than the cause of women.

    I don't follow. Also you are stating quite an unsubstantiated belief. Raping is not about sexual titillation which is why good looking women are not particularly more susceptible to be raped.

    Yes, "sexual liberation" for passive, [etc]

    Sexual liberation for middle America, indeed and not just for women but also men. Not long ago one couldn't show a navel or even a single bed for a married couple on TV. Playboy was a big step forward in that context.

    I must presume from your comment that you are rather young, since you seem to be unfamiliar with the long and protracted battles to allow playboy to be published and distributed.

  • becca says:

    DM- I don't know if you've noticed this, but in our society 'sexxah' and 'vulnerable' are rather mixed up together for women.

    But my point is, whether or not revealing clothing serves the purpose you postulate it serves (putting one in the 'sexxah' category), there is a perfectly logical reason people might wear such clothing that does not require that they want to be seen as 'sexxah'.
    So, while I can possibly accept the argument that a socially aware person will only wear revealing clothing if they are willing to be seen as 'sexxah'; I cannot accept the argument that the only purpose of revealing clothing is to be seen as 'sexxah'. 'Sexxah' could be a cost that's worth the benefit of the protective umbrella.

    High heels are not revealing, and could, in theory, be entirely about 'the sexxah'... except I know women and men who explicitly consider high heels to be about professionalism or height, and I don't think there's data to rule out those as contributors.

    In sum: clothing is a complex form of communication. 'Sexxah' is part of the clothing you described, but not everything.

    Diverging view- I personally am offering a sort of limited tsk tsking to Zimmer, and also The New Yorker (who should have published his piece).

    As far as your position... the idea that some women 'objectify themselves' by appearing in Playboy is the type of position that will 'carry water' for rapists who try to justify rape by saying some women deserve it. It's all in the category of "don't worry about what is happening to these women, you're safe" type of safe-world-affirming fiction.

    And, for the record- it's perfectly possible to observe naked people without objectifying them- but Playboy isn't the place to learn to do that.

  • drugmonkey says:

    "professionalism"????

    Yeah right. Look, the list of things people delude themselves about is not a short one...

  • Janet D. Stemwedel says:

    Let the record reflect that some employers require their employees to wear heels, pantyhose, etc., in the service of "professionalism". And we're talking employees in corporate archives, not Hooters.

    I will grant, though, that such requirements are horseshit that results from *someone's* culturally embedded delusions. It's just not always the delusion of the person wearing the heels and hose.

  • Diverging view says:

    becca,

    Your rape argument is wrong in so many levels.

    First I still question the connection. The fact that people are responsible for their actions in one context does not in any way imply that they are always responsible for whatever happened to them in another (such as rape).

    Second the "supporting rape" argument is so inflammatory that little rational discussion can follow thereafter. This is why Goodwin's law discourages the use of Nazi analogies unless the parallel is so complete that one would consider the accusation informational rather than inflammatory. One of the corollaries of Goodwin's law is that whoever uses a Nazi analogy has thus lost the argument. Your continuous harping on the rape subject is getting rather close to this.

    Lastly, and only for the sake of the argument lets say your rape claim is correct. This alone is not enough to make playboy bad. Sharp instruments (such as scalpels) can be used as a weapon for rape, yet I'm an advocate of the use of scalpels in operating rooms. This "scalpel support" does indeed logically carry a minuscule "support of rape" given their misuse described above. Yet pointing this out, while logically correct is at the end of the day irrelevant and once again simply inflammatory.

    I suspect I'm not saying anything you didn't know already, which is why you keep coming back to that well.

  • becca says:

    DM-
    http://www.practicalparalegalism.com/2010/10/should-legal-staffer-be-required-to.html
    I can go on...
    Yes, we are still fighting this battle.

    Diverging view- it's Godwin's law, for reference.
    First, on personal responsibility, I think you underestimate the degree to which I see money per se as a coercive instrument. This is partially because I am a biomedical scientist, and our ethical training requires that we give careful consideration to questions like "how much is too much to pay a research subject for a microdialysis experiment?". For that reason, I suspect that it's entirely possible that the compensation that Playboy provides calls into question whether any woman appearing in it is offering truly free consent. So I am not sure women appearing in Playboy are "volunteering" in any way that makes Playboy morally correct.

    Second, if you think it's "inflammatory" to be told you are carrying water for rapists, think of how it is to be told, day in and day out, that people have a right to oggle, objectify, commodify and judge you... essentially because you lack dangly bits. And, oh yeah, some subset of these people who are telling you about how people have a right to do all that crap also want to rape you. Yay!

    Thirdly, I'd place Playboy as more of an AK-47 than a scalpel. Sure, I'm sure somebody did some good with an AK-47, but the beneficial: harmful usage ratio is not quite the same as for a scalpel.

  • Isabel says:

    "Let the record reflect that some employers require their employees to wear heels, pantyhose, etc., in the service of "professionalism". And we're talking employees in corporate archives, not Hooters."

    By require, do you mean this is in writing? Do you have any actual examples to provide? This is sick, especially in 2012. And discriminatory, as not everyone can wear high heels. Where is our flat shoe wearing Rosa parks? Can't private employers still be sued for discrimination?

    "Sexual liberation for middle America, indeed and not just for women but also men. "

    Please explain how *women specifically* were liberated by Playboy, the Playboy club, etc. And by that I mean regular women, not 18-24 year old twin cheerleaders or whatever.

    "I must presume from your comment that you are rather young, since you seem to be unfamiliar with the long and protracted battles to allow playboy to be published and distributed."

    Yeah I wasn't an adult in the 1950's, so I'm obviously rather young - what are you, 90?

  • Isabel says:

    And before someone starts yelling at me for using a racism example, I happen to think forcing employees to totter around in unsafe and crippling footwear for the visual satisfaction of others is so sick and so discriminatory it qualifies for the comparison.

  • drugmonkey says:

    As becca's link bears out, the "professionalism" of wearing heels is an imposed professionalism. Arbitrary at that. And quite obviously not related to practical working demands but rather a desire that people forced to wear them *look* a certain way. Consequently I'm not seeing where this explicit excuse has any special standing. It just takes the choice away from the individual? Is that your point? How many people are under this *explicit* demand that they wear heels (of what altitude) and how many are doing voluntarily more than is really the obligation? I don't know but I bet explicit demand falls short of accounting for 100%. Nevertheless I grant you that I was not accounting for those who are essentially forced at the point of continued employment to wear heels. They are off the DM hook. happy?

    I will then return to my point and underline Janet's. No matter the source that is motivating the wearing of highly impractical and injurious shoes, the underlying intent is the same. "Professionalism" by any usual definition is not the factor. Induction of thoughts of hubba-hubba on the part of those visually exposed to said woman who has been induced to wear those shoes is the goal. It is intended that such thoughts will have a beneficial effect on the person's professional accomplishments*, perhaps, but the means** are what are at issue.

    *whether that means getting the sale or keeping the boyz in the office "happy" is irrelevant to the point at hand.

    **I am willing to entertain the claim that in sharply limited numbers of cases this is related to the ability to use stature/height to advantage and the only goal is to make someone else physically intimidated rather than aroused. seems a low percentage play to me though, if average woman height is 5'4" and average male height is 5'10". I would anticipate that any intimidation effects accrue to a woman being (unexpectedly) at the same (eye to eye) height or above for this to have effect. Then we have to layer in those minority of cases where intimidation is more productive than induction of thoughts of the sexxah.

  • Busy says:

    Isabel

    Please explain how *women specifically* were liberated by Playboy, the Playboy club, etc.

    Think about The Vagina Monologues. A Martian looking at that play without context (think Mr. Spock from Star Trek) would describe it (or at least parts of it), in purely logical terms, as a puerile turret-esque play yard rant on pussy. But that would be missing the historical and societal context in which the play appeared.

    The play was tremendously liberating for middle American women, which have been historically conditioned to think of sex as dirty and the vagina as embarrassing.

    A more sophisticated feminist can point the many flaws of the play (and indeed some have) but while their objections were often valid they missed the point that imperfect as it was, The Vagina Monologues was a milestone in middle America female attitudes to their sexuality and yes liberating.

    Similarly, the fact that one could see nakedness at the corner store at a time where navels in TV alone were considered indecent was absolutely liberating for both men and women.

    Hey, forget pornography, America was once so repressed that simply letting your hair grow long or smoking a dubbie was a counter-establishment liberating statement. Today smoking a dubbie is something kids in suburbia do while taking a break from skateboarding, so I can perfectly understand when you say "a dubbie? liberating??? please explain" and I hope you understand when I answer "consider the times".

    becca-

    some subset of these people who are telling you about how people have a right to do all that crap also want to rape you.

    If you could prove this connection of pornography with rape, we would agree. Problem is, there is no evidence for it, in fact there is as much if not more research suggesting exactly the opposite, i.e. that rape is more common in places where pornography is less readily available.

    Even noted feminists allow for this possibility (e.g. Wendy McElroy). In fact the main feminist movement against pornography (WAP) disbanded at the end of the 90's because of this lack of consensus.

  • Isabel says:

    I didn't ask about feminism, the Vagina Monologues, nudity, or even pornography in general. Sexually themed or erotic literature and art is not being discussed at the moment. How many times do I have to repeat this?

    I asked how Playboy magazine specifically liberated real women. Again with the obsession over nudity. Who are the real prudes here? Is pornography that features artificially enhanced 18-24 year old women for the "entertainment" of men really the first thing you think of when you think of nudity? Then how liberated can you be?

  • Diverging view says:

    Isabel,

    I've answered your question several times already. You simply refuse to acknowledge it.

    It is funny how you can easily believe that naked pictures can have a bad effect on people's attitudes towards women but absolutely refuse to even consider the possibility of the reverse phenomenon, namely, that Playboy pictures at one time had a salutary effect in people's attitudes toward sex.

    I asked how Playboy magazine specifically liberated real women. Again with the obsession over nudity.

    The reason we are talking about nude pictures from Playboy is because the discussion is about Playboy and the nude depictions of women therein.

    If you cannot see this either you are incredibly limited (which I seriously doubt) or (more likely) too flustered to carry this argument. Either way, this seems to be a good time to stop replying to your messages.

    p.s. "artificially enhanced 18-24 year old women": read up on the history of playboy, seriously. pay particular attention to "the girl next door" look which was a driving concern until sometime in the late 70s. I just googled a random month in 1975 and I'm staring at a rather plain looking, wholy unenhanced Ms. Rollins.

  • becca says:

    DM- I don't care for heels, but I'm compelled to defend the right of any woman < 5'6" to wear them simply as a boost to height. Do you KNOW how annoying it is to NOT BE ABLE TO REACH THINGS?!! Screw looking men in the eye, I just wanna be able to get shit from the shelves.

    But anyway. Yeah, yeah. If you wanna oversimplify, miss nuance, paint with a broad brush, and assume based on 'common sense' rather than data, "the point" of high heels is to trigger thoughts of the sexxah. I just think it's like 30-70% of the point, not 95% (like you seem to be arguing). But I allow for "wants to appear attractive" as a discrete category from "wants to appear sexxah" because the research is pretty clear all kinds of non-sex related things are preferentially given to the attractive.
    Also keep in mind that the same aspect of personal responsibility comes into play- if a study came out linking wearing high heels and having a high income (controlling for profession) would you concede that society is coercing women into this?

    Busy- I don't think reading Playboy makes men more likely to rape.*
    I do think Playboy can reinforce certain notions of gender and sexuality that benefit rapists, such as "it's ok to use women to get off despite their lack of enthusiastic affirmative consent" and "images of women's bodies are commodities to be bought and sold" (this is NOT the same as "women's bodies are commodities to be bought and sold" , but I don't trust everyone to intuitively grok the distinction).

    *That could be true, but I have reservations. Although it's an empirical question, it's very hard to do studies on. "The data are unconvincing because the studies, even well-intentioned ones, suck" is different from "The data are convincing that there is no link". Still, it's been looked at and I'm not aware of utterly convincing data one way or the other. That said, I'm not fully convinced by the violent video games/violence connection, and I'm still not letting my two year old near violent video games (or Playboy, for that matter). I do not consume mainstream pornography because I do not like the impact it has on me and because I do not like the conditions it was produced under (I also prefer to buy milk and eggs from animals that weren't fed antibiotics).

  • Isabel says:

    Wow. How clueless can people be? I have NO problem with nudity. I've been attending life drawing classes since I was 14. I used to run around naked when I was a kid. (that's not allowed anymore I hear-so much for the liberation Playboy has given us). And airbrushing goes WAY back, way before the 70's. That's enhancement.

    And you still haven't explained how women were liberated because a slick magazine subtitled "entertainment for men" displayed the navels of the girls next door. Specifically, how does this work? We need details!

    "that Playboy pictures at one time had a salutary effect in people's attitudes toward sex."

    I am asking you for evidence of this. Whose attitudes? Just saying it over and over doesn't cut the mustard. How does it work, specifically? Again, I am not talking about erotica, art photography etc. We are talking specifically about Playboy magazine.

  • Apparently, this fucken dippeshitte hasn't the faintest clue that there are different fucken kinds of "nude pictures", and that the ones in Playboy are not at all about "liberating women to freely celebrate their nude bodies" or whatthefuckever, but rather about enforcing the rule that women's nude bodies exist expressly for the purpose of serving as objects of the male gaze. This ignorant buffoon clearly needs to do some Feminism 101-level reading.

  • Diverging view says:

    Perhaps someone can point out where I claimed that playboy's goal was to "liberate women to freely celebrate their nude bodies" (quotes freely added by CPP).

    Claiming that playboy did so, does not mean it was by design or purpose. Playboy is, of course, a tittie magazine whose goal, is, obviously, to sell copies. However it was attacked by other groups not because they opposed a magazine earning a buck and selling copies, but because its nude/sexual context, which is why many distinguished people including intellectuals and proto-feminists rose to its defense (do you know which famous author has published various pieces in Playboy including not that long ago? Margaret Atwood).

    Specifically, how does this work? We need details!

    Back in the day, winning the right to avail oneself of nude/sexual pictures was an important freedom to be won. This freedom states that the human body is not dirty, that T&A is not a sin, that sex is a normal thing and that women are not children that should be forbidden by laws from displaying their bits, for their own protection. That they can make that decision themselves. That people have a right to their own sexual choices, be them to ogle nude pictures, be in an open relationships or engage in gay sex, which was until not long ago a crime in most states. I call the removal of such restrictions, backward attitudes and laws liberating, both for men and women. You guys don't seem to think so, which truly surprises me.

    To borrow the analogy from Isabel, this is like someone saying today: "well, what is so bad about sitting at the back of the bus, is not like those seats are better or worse than any others. Explain how exactly sitting at the front of the bus is liberating" which completely misses the point that the battle was as much for the where you sit (which at the end of the day is not really that important) than for what it represents: ending the practice of society claiming the right, through Jim Crow laws, to separate people on the basis of skin color.

    So it was with playboy. The act itself of buying a nudie magazine is not terribly important, it is really about the statement "you can't ban this, it is not in your purview. get your laws off my magazine, off my books, off my body, off my sexual choices".

  • Isabel says:

    "not because they opposed a magazine earning a buck and selling copies, but because its nude/sexual context"

    I give up. You are obsessed with this symbolic history. It was a free speech issue, and yes it should not be banned because of the nudity. This doesn't make it automatically liberating, and yes, those were your words. Maybe it had some promise, but it never fulfilled it. And you still have not offered a single suggestion of how women were liberated rather than objectified in the long run.

    It also sounds like you are giving Playboy way too much credit for societal change. Ever consider that Playboy benefited from changes that were occurring anyway? You also have a very exaggerated idea about how free and liberated our society is as a result. Do you think women in America are free to express their sexuality without judgement as a result of the availability of "titty magazines"? How's the current ubiquity of porn in our daily lives working out for women?

    "that women are not children that should be forbidden by laws from displaying their bits, for their own protection"

    Women are STILL not allowed to walk around without covering their breasts. And children weren't forbidden from "showing their bits" (?!) then, only now. Nice work.

    This conversation reminds of something I heard Alan Dershowitz say once. He was strongly opposed to the demands of some women activists who wanted to be able to walk around topless, like men are allowed to. Dershowitz complained that it would be awkward for families out enjoying themselves to run into a topless woman. And after all, he said, there are plenty of topless bars where women can go topless if they want to. Yep, he actually said that.

  • Diverging view says:

    Ever consider that Playboy benefited from changes that were occurring anyway?

    No, it never occurred to me. I always thought that sexual liberation was 100% due to Playboy. I also thought that the equal rights amendment was 100% due to Rosa Parks. I'm shocked to learn that this is not the case.

    And since they are not 100% due to them, of course it follows that they played no part on it, as your reasoning goes.

    You also have a very exaggerated idea about how free and liberated our society is as a result.

    How would you know? The only comment I made on the subject was on my first post: "perhaps this currency is out of sympathy to its claimed victims, which do endure many other real, non-imagined hardships in this patriarchal world we live in." Anything else is yet another imaginary strawman you built in your head.

    You start with something I said, liberally add adjectives until it becomes an extreme and untenable position, and then charge against it. Hey, if I said the things you guys claimed I said, I would be the first person attacking those positions.

    No one in their sane mind would ever claim that all of sexual liberation happened because of the fight against censorship of playboy and the relaxation in attitudes that it contributed to, just as no one would claim that the equal rights amendment happened simply because of Rosa Parks alone.

    However it would be equally asinine to fail to see the contribution of each of those episodes to their respective causes.

  • Diverging view says:

    becca

    I do think Playboy can reinforce certain notions of gender and sexuality that benefit rapists, such as "it's ok to use women to get off despite their lack of enthusiastic affirmative consent" and "images of women's bodies are commodities to be bought and sold"

    I agree that playboy reinforces the second part of your proposition, i.e. "images of women's bodies are commodities to be bought and sold", though I'm not sure it is so readily transferred to people.

    I'm not sure the first one, namely "it's ok to use women to get off despite their lack of enthusiastic affirmative consent" holds, though it is an interesting point. Off the top of my head, a critical aspect of porn, as you may know, is the "come hither" attitude (hence consent) displayed in the pictures (you'd be surprised to the lengths they go to have the pictures of the woman suggest consent). Most people find nudity without the "come hither" attitude quite a bit less enticing.

  • Isabel says:

    "No one in their sane mind would ever claim that all of sexual liberation happened because of the fight against censorship of playboy"

    I didn't say you said "all" - you're the one putting the magazine on a pedestal and also the one building strawmen left and right. eg no one is advocating censorship, no one is objecting to nudity. This is all going on in your head because apparently you feel a symbol is being tarnished or something. And now you are comparing the fight for Playboy's right to publish photos of cheerleader's navels to Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat.

    You haven't shown *any* positive effect on women, or that the society is more sexually liberated in any way as a result of Playboy's existence. You are attached to a symbol, not the magazine itself; and you don't want anyone to take any stand against the magazine, ever, for any reason, because of this symbolism. No wonder this conversation is going nowhere.

  • Diverging view says:

    and you don't want anyone to take any stand against the magazine, ever, for any reason,

    Thanks for illustrating my point about adding adjectives until it becomes an extreme and untenable position. Couldn't have asked for a better example.

  • Kaleberg says:

    Playboy had a big effect on American society. If nothing else, it tried to get people to accept that sex could be something fun men and women could do together besides playing bridge; that it didn't have to be secretive and guilt ridden and invariably lead to tragic consequences. When Playboy was first published, you could still get arrested for mailing a pamphlet to a married couple explaining about condoms or birth control pills, and Hefner was on the side of more open information, less guilt, and more understanding. Playboy's goal was to move sex into the mainstream.

    Back in the 60s, a lot of women read Playboy. My mother and father both read the articles and both liked the pictures. The Playboy bunnies always looked happy, well fed, and playful. One middle aged woman, a second relation, always brought the party jokes section to family gatherings. I didn't always get the jokes, but they were much more sophisticated than the ones I was hearing in middle school hallways.

    If you are worried about deGrasse Tyson supporting a media outlet that benefits from the exposure of women's legs and the like, you'll be leaving him with a pretty sparse market. Magazines aimed at men and women are full of pictures of scantily clad women in come hither poses. Find a print ad for a beach resort that doesn't have a picture of a woman in a bathing suit. (Granted, beach resorts are full of women in bathing suits, many contemplating sex, perhaps while the kids are at Camp Hyatt.)

    When I was five years old I was fascinated by a Playboy foldout pinup. My parents thought it was hilarious. The whole women with their pants off thing came much later, but I'm still interested in paper folding. Maybe it's because I grew up with Playboy, that I just consider it a general interest magazine that has positive sexual attitudes and runs pictorial essays, some rather silly, featuring naked women. deGrasse Tyson is a good author. Maybe I should buy an issue.

  • Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it seems as though you
    relied on the video to make your point. You clearly know
    what youre talking about, why waste your intelligence on just posting videos to your site when you could be
    giving us something enlightening to read?

  • apollo e cig says:

    Thanks in favor of sharing such a good thought,
    post is nice, thats why i have read it fully

  • Irma says:

    I'm not sure why but this website is loading extremely slow for me.
    Is anyone else having this problem or is it a problem on my end?
    I'll check back later on and see if the problem still exists.

  • Lynette says:

    I appreciate, result in I discovered exactly what I used to be
    taking a look for. You have ended my 4 day long hunt!
    God Bless you man. Have a great day. Bye

  • What's up to every body, it's my first visit of this website; this blog includes amazing and
    really good information for readers.

  • Write more, thats all I have to say. Literally, it
    seems as though you relied on the video to make your point.

    You clearly know what youre talking about, why throw away your intelligence on just posting videos to your weblog when you
    could be giving us something enlightening to read?

  • Marietta says:

    Thank you for any other wonderful article. The place else may anyone get that type of information in such an ideal method of writing?
    I've a presentation next week, and I am at the search
    for such information.

Leave a Reply