He was a living legend, a larger-than-life character who lived in the glare of the public spotlight, a media phenomenon surrounded by beautiful women, three of whom he married. And so the story goes… his mansion, a museum of relics of the chauvinist pig era of 1960-1980 America when strait–laced morality defined woman’s place in her home, attending to her man (husband of course) and raising their children. Taboos that 21st century women can’t fathom. Like the word pregnant, its use forbidden on the I Love Lucy show in the sixties even when Lucy did, in fact, give birth, or the matter of contraceptives illegal in many states at the time (the Supreme Court legalized the use of contraceptives for married couples in 1965, unmarried people had to wait until 1972). Women couldn’t sit at a bar in most states, and sexual harassment of women in the workplace was considered a male right of passage.
Here’s something I bet you didn’t know. John F. Kennedy, still considered by many liberals the best friend American women ever had in the White House told Eleanor Roosevelt shortly after naming her to chair the Commission on the Status of Women that he created in 1961. “We want to be sure that women are used as effectively as they can to provide a better life for our people, in addition to meeting their primary responsibility, which is in the home.”
In this climate, Hefner was no outlier. But his obnoxious sexism managed to raise the temperature of the feminist debate just beginning to heat up in the sixties. By 1963, when future feminist icon, Gloria Steinem, (an ex-beauty queen) went undercover as a playboy bunny and revealed the demeaning circumstances of bunny employment, it was clear that Hefner’s “Emancipation Proclamation of the sexual revolution” was just a fancy name for exploitation. Steinem once issued a challenge to Hefner — daring him to attach a cottontail to his rear end and prance around a restaurant full of people and “feel the burn.” Hefner’s non-response spoke volumes.
Obituary writers in most of the major media who credit Hefner for “ushering in” or “helping to start” the sexual revolution might be advised to tune into a comment Hefner himself made when trying to explain what the sexual revolution wasn’t — “Now some people are acting as if the sexual revolution was a male plot to get laid…” Truth will get you every time.
One story you may not see in the major media is how America’s first and perpetually enticing sex goddess, Marilyn Monroe, and Hefner, a magazine publisher, who made a business of flaunting sexual taboos on his way to profiting mightily from a sexual revolution male in creation and implementation, wound up in each other’s life story, although she insisted they never met. Out of all the beautiful women Hefner dated and the others he claimed to have slept with (over one thousand he insisted) why did Hefner decide, as he put it in a 2012 interview, to “spend the rest of my eternity with Marilyn…” Find out why and how he managed it in “How She Did It and Why: The True Story of ******’s First Two Nude Photos (Adult content, Adults only)”
Rest easy for all eternity, with the woman that
helped you start it all, Marilyn Monroe.
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