Design By Humans
Published On: Thu, Oct 5th, 2017

Feminist Hugh Hefner Dead at 91

Yes, he liked to look at, touch (I’m assuming) and built his empire around naked ladies. The creator of the Playboy brand and magazine, one of cultures more recent proponents of free speech, a man who was arguably a star in his own right, just died at the age of 91 and we should as much pay tribute to the man as expose that which very few people consider when they think of Hef . . . that he was a feminist through and through.

Working as a copyeditor for Esquire in the early 50’s, Hef had a dream back when you could dream in the U.S. and make it a reality. In 1953, with some funding from family and friends, he began his magazine in his apartment, on a tray table basically and as we all know by now, he acquired Marilyn Monroe nudes and featured the mega star as the first-ever Playboy covergirl. In addition to offering nudes in his magazine (discreetly posed until he allowed full frontal nudity in the early 70’s) Hef also wrote copious amounts of copy about his philosophy of life, published some of the earliest writings of men and women who would go on to become huge literary figures, featured notables of the day in the magazine’s “Interview” section, and published artists and cartoonists thought too subversive for the mainstream.

In 1963 Hef was arrested on obscenity charges but he beat that rap and because of it, began his Playboy Foundation, leading research into human sexuality (lots of which Hef published in the mag) and fought censorship (Hef championed free speech from the start and felled the color line in his clubs so any performer, of any race or sex, could work them). There was the infamous Playboy After Dark T.V show, his move from Chicago to his L.A. mansion (complete with grotto), those aforementioned Playboy Clubs and their ubiquitous “Bunnies” and deeper branding then anyone had ever seen before (and I feel, since).

In 1982 Hef handed over the reins of his operation to his daughter Christie, who became CEO in 1988. Recently his son took over the running of the magazine, putting the nude centerfold back in the magazine where it had been taken out a few years before in a bonehead move to try and make Playboy ‘current.’

Saddled with obvious sexist and misogynist labels, in point of fact if one considers that Hef put lots of his dollars where his mouth was in fighting for sexual liberation (he was a staunch supporter of “The Pill” when it was first introduced and Children of the Night founder and president Dr. Lois Lee presented Hef with the organization’s first-ever Founder’s Hero of the Heart Award) one could argue (as one does here) that Hef was indeed a feminist, in the best definition of that word…a person who fights for the rights of everyone, regardless of sex/color and religion. And less we remember, when it came to being a Playboy Bunny in one of Playboy’s infamous clubs or when a lady took off her clothes for the magazine, a T.V. show or a video, she was exercising her freedom to do that which she wished in the way she wished. Hugh Hefner, feminist? Definitely!

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Feminist Hugh Hefner Dead at 91