By Steve Pokorny
The impossible happened. Playboy is giving up nudity. At least, at first glance that’s what it looks like.
From their press release: “A reimagined Playboy magazine will include a completely modern editorial and design approach, and, for the first time in its history, will no longer feature nudity in its pages.”1 They’ve decided to go anti-au naturale in the same print magazine that gave Americans an entirely different view of Marilyn Monroe.
This is partly a business decision, as the circulation currently stands at 800,000, down from 5.6 million in 1975.2 It seems that it’s about trimming the fat, as it’s costly to pay the women who are featured in the buff. If readers aren’t buying, then they have to to change course in order to cut their losses and stay competitive in the marketplace.
This is not the first time Playboy has stripped nudity from their products. Playboy.com has been nudity free since August of 2014,3 What‘s fascinating is that when they did this, “Playboy executives said, the average age of its reader dropped from 47 to just over 30, and its web traffic jumped to about 16 million from about four million unique users per month.”4
Maybe they’re onto something, and maybe this is a good thing for society in general. In the course of trying to increase their revenue streams, it appears they’re creating one less avenue for pornography access.
However, I believe there‘s something else going on here. Three thoughts:
First thought: I was intrigued upon hearing that Playboy.com had no nudity. So I logged on myself and as stated in their press release, while there were articles discussing sex and relationships, the site has been scrubbed of nudes.
According to Complex.com, “Playboy chief executive Scott Flanders told the New York Times, ‘You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture.'”5 Taken at face value, this means that because porn can be found anywhere, they just can’t compete financially with other pornographers.
However, upon digging a little deeper, I found that this latest move is simply part of a larger inbound marketing schema to drive viewers to Playboy Plus (a pay-to-play site), where plenty of skin is shown. Thus, like Playboy from the beginning, they’re using false motives to push their product. The magazine will encourage readers (yes, you can actually say now that you read Playboy for the articles!) to check out the website, which will filter viewers over to their more graphic image sites.
As for porn being “Passé” – Pa-lease. Porn is everywhere, and business has never been better. The execs at Playboy know what they’re doing. They would not be where they are in the market and a driving force in the culture without being business savvy. Instead of being truly philanthropic, this announcement is a PR stunt to draw attention to the Playboy brand.
Second thought: As stated in their press release, “Playboy has effectively accomplished its founding goal of normalizing the female body by introducing women to the world in their au naturel state, the magazine’s mission has been accomplished.”6
From the very beginning of it’s launch, while Hugh Hefner may have had a legitimate goal, the way he went about it did the complete opposite of “normalizing the female body.” Instead of revealing and uplifting the dignity and worth of women where all aspects of her personhood are appreciated, women as a whole have been devalued, where now ordinary women are accepted or rejected on the basis of their “sex appeal.”
Never has Playboy valued what is truly important to most women: Real love, chaste intimacy, solid marriages where their gifts and talents are nurtured and given a place to flourish, a correct understanding (let alone acknowledgement) of her fertility, not as a disease to be discarded, but as part of her “genius” (from the phrase coined by St. John Paul the Great). In the fight for women’s liberation, Playboy has been nothing but a slave trader, selling a woman’s worth for the basest of desires.
Third thought: From their press release [http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2015/10/13/playboy-covers-up/], “It promised to “continue to publish sexy, seductive pictorials of the world’s most beautiful women, including its iconic Playmates, all shot by some of today’s most renowned photographers.” In essence, Playboy is going GQ.
Upon seeing this announcement, I’m sure some, including Christians, celebrated this as a good thing. But it begs the question: Is this move really a good thing? Is it really reducing the amount of porn available?
While there will be less nudity in the pages of the most prolific pilfering pornographic printed periodical, in a very real sense, this will only further entrench pornography in our culture. Playboy has always been synonymous with inspiring lust, and we shouldn’t expect this trend to change. Just because the models will have more stitches of clothing on doesn’t mean that they’re going to be viewed with more respect.
Playboy has always been about mainstreaming pornography, making people think that looking with lust at others (“NOW with more clothing on!” is an improvement) is as American as eating bacon, drinking beer, and driving up debt on your credit card. Everybody does it, so the notion goes, and so should you. Looking at porn is “normal,” a rite of passage, and we should just fall in line.
Like the first launch, this redesigned launch of Playboy Magazine will not satisfy the deepest longings of our hearts. We should be focused not on new ways to exploit women, but instead work to bring about a true sexual revolution, where the whole person, not just their sex appeal, will both men and women’s dignity be upheld and revealed.
What do you think about Playboy’s new policy? Leave your thoughts in the box below.
1 Ryan Gajewski. “Playboy to No Longer Feature Nude Women” http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/playboy-no-longer-feature-nude-831575.
3 Ryan Gajewski. “Playboy to No Longer Feature Nude Women,” http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/news/playboy-no-longer-feature-nude-831575.
4 Ravi Somaiya, “Nudes Are Old News at Playboy,” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/13/business/media/nudes-are-old-news-at-playboy.html?_r=0.
5 CRISSY MILAZZO, “Playboy Magazine Will No Longer Publish Fully Nude Photos,” http://www.complex.com/pop-culture/2015/10/playboy-stops-publishing-nudes-photos. [Date Accessed: October 14, 2015]
6 Bryan Logan, “Playboy will no longer feature nude women in its print edition,” http://www.businessinsider.com/playboy-magazine-will-no-longer-feature-nude-women-in-its-print-edition-2015-10 [Date Accessed: October 17, 2015]
Steve Pokorny is the founder of Freedom Coaching, a one-on-one mentoring program designed to break the power of an attraction to lust and pornography. After 12 years of being enslaved, Steve has been granted the grace of freedom and offers a path for others to have their chains broken. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.