The Playboy of the Western World
The Moral Bankruptcy of the Sexual Revolution
Few items are as ubiquitous to the American male experience as Playboy magazine. Whether it is stacked in closets, tucked in between mattresses, or casually thrown around the frat house, Hugh Hefner’s contribution to American letters has left an indelible mark at the forefront of the sexual revolution since the first issue hit the stands in 1953. Indeed, the Playboy Empire has encircled the globe and expanded from print and night clubs to video releases, a cable television channel and even playmate dolls. The Playboy bunny logo is one of the most recognized corporate logos in the world. But, recent revelations by one of Mr. Hefner’s former “girlfriends” has shone a light on seediness of the empire and metaphorically swung open the doors to the Playboy Mansion to expose a lifestyle that is as hollow and as bankrupt as the sexual revolution itself.
The image of the Playboy Mansion is that of the endless party: of celebrities, beautiful women, and unchecked hedonism. But, what we are privy to is only the airbrushed image that Mr. Hefner wants us to see. The reality of what goes on in the inner-corridors of the Halls of Self-Gratification is decidedly different if, that is; the words of Izabella St. James are to be believed. What Ms. St. James presents is a reality that is less like Dionysian revelry and more like a Motel 6.
Izabella St. James met Hugh Hefner in a night club when she was 26 years old. She eventually moved into the Playboy Mansion as one of Mr. Hefner’s seven official “girlfriends.” Far from the glamorous life that Ms. St. James was expecting, what she found were dirty mattresses, carpets stained by the numerous pets running about, drapes that wreaked of urine and “womanly duties” that left her somewhere between a concubine and a prostitute. All of this, for a man who enforced strict curfews, controlled her money by giving her an allowance to live on, pushed his “girlfriends” to get plastic surgery in order to live up to his own ideal and then would evict anyone who refused to have sex with him.
Most telling, was Ms. St. James account of a sexual encounter with Mr. Hefner. Without going into the gory details, what we have is a picture of the aging playboy, living on medicated virility for the sake of his audience. As Ms. St. James so aptly put it in the Daily Mail:
‘I wanted to see if this experienced King of Sexdom knew anything the rest of us did not,’ she recalls. ‘But he just lay there like a dead fish.
‘We often wondered why he did it at all. He must know deep down that it is just a show. But he is trying to live out this fantasy he has been selling to people since 1954. He wants to live up to the Playboy image he created and the expectations people have of him.’
Sadly, this is not just the world of Mr. Hefner. The sexual revolution that he and those like him waged on American society has spread beyond the Playboy Mansion and is being waged across the country, in family rooms as kids watch television shows like Glee that present teen girls as sexualized as any Playboy centerfold, in shows like Will and Grace (and Glee, again) which seeks to normalize homosexuality. And, in the music of artists like Lady Gaga who, went she isn’t tweeting Harry Reid to overturn “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell,” is adding terminology like “bluffin’ with my muffin” and “take a ride on your disco stick” to the lexicon of stupid, sexual lyrics. Ironically, when I was researching Ms. Gaga’s lyrics online, one site included user comments in which one father commented how funny he finds it when his 9 year old daughter sings the “disco stick” line.
Mr. Hefner’s sexual revolution has had the ultimate result of, not freeing women from the imagined constraints of a patriarchal society, but of reducing sexuality to commerce. And, in doing so, the so-called “liberated woman” has played right into the hands of many American men who would have her abandon responsibility and self-control in the name of licentiousness. This particularly effects the newly sexualized young girls, as is evident in 19 million new STD cases every year (about half of which occur to those between the ages of 15-24) and 750,000 pregnant teens every year.
The original Playboy Mansion in Chicago boasted a brass plate on the door with the Latin inscription, Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare ("If you don't swing, don't ring"). Sadly, too many people did ring and were swept up by the outer façade of sexual freedom, only to find themselves in a society that was decrepit and rotting on the inside.