Synopses & Reviews
For a lot of people, thoughts about the sexual politics of Playboy
run along the lines of what Gloria Steinem reportedly once told Hugh Hefner: and#8220;A woman reading Playboy
feels a little like a Jew reading a Nazi manual.and#8221; Hefnerand#8217;s magazine celebrates men as swinging bachelors and women as objects of desire; ergo, itand#8217;s sexist.
Not so fast, says Carrie Pitzulo. With Bachelors and Bunnies, she delves into the history of the magazine to reveal its surprisingly strong record of support for womenand#8217;s rights and the modernization of sexual and gender roles. Taking readers behind the scenes of Playboyand#8217;s heyday, Pitzulo shows how Hefnerand#8217;s own complicated but thoughtful perspective on modern manhood, sexual liberation, and feminism played into debatesand#8212;both in the editorial offices and on the magazineand#8217;s pagesand#8212;about how Playboyand#8217;s trademark and#8220;girl next doorand#8221; appeal could accommodate, acknowledge, and even honor the changing roles and new aspirations of women in postwar America. Revealing interviews with Hugh Hefner and his daughter (and later Playboy CEO) Christie Hefner, as well as with a number of editors and even Playmates, show that even as the magazine continued to present a romanticized notion of gender difference, it again and again demonstrated a commitment to equality and expanded opportunities for women.
Offering a surprising new take on a twentieth-century icon, Bachelors and Bunnies goes beyond the smoking jacket and the centerfold to uncover an unlikely ally for the feminist cause.
"Pitzulo, assistant professor of history at the University of West Georgia, begins her history of Playboy appropriately enough with the birth of its iconic founder, Hugh Marston Hefner and his battle to escape his repressive 'typically Midwestern, Methodist home.' Pitzulo's narrative can feel fixated on the brand's founder, and the narrative soars when it pulls away from him to consider (and humanize) the Playmates and the Playboy milieu: the roiling political and social changes of the 1970s and the heyday of the women's liberation movement. The book's detailed portrayal of feminism as it played out in the streets, in the Playboy offices among the staff of men and women, and in the pages of the magazine itself, is the book's most compelling part. The ending, however, loses steam with a hurried conclusion that only briefly considers the past 30 years and Hef's daughter, Christie Hefner, the enigmatic woman who carried Playboy Enterprises Inc. from 1982 to 2009 as the president, chair, and, finally, CEO. Photos. (May)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWxyz LLC)
has always been a puzzling and complicated cultural phenomenon and its publisher, Hugh Hefner, a troubling icon.and#160;Carrie Pitzulo here takes a fruitful second look at the magazine and provides a fresh interpretation of the man and his empire of sex.and#8221;
and#8220;In this eye-opening study, Carrie Pitzulo turns conventional wisdom on its head. She finds in Playboy
a message that, if not quite feminist, was nonetheless empowering to women in surprising and important ways. Her counter-intuitive analysis certainly persuaded me.and#8221;
"In a magazine long criticized for objectifying women and advocating irresponsible male hedonism, Carrie Pitzulo finds compelling evidence for reappraisal. Her perceptive account looks beyond Playboy
's famous centerfolds to reveal the magazine's complex, paradoxical, and often progressive messages about changing gender roles, sexual equity and responsibility, and feminism."and#8212;Elizabeth Fraterrigo, author ofand#160;"Playboy" and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America
"Pitzulo makes a convincing case that both Hugh Hefner's political views as expressed in his editorial column, 'The Playboy Philosophy,' and the philanthropic contributions he made through the Playboy Foundation were evidence that the magazine was not the mere purveyor of porn it was thought to be. She argues that it took seriously such issues as gender equality and civil rights, helping its readers to learn about the important issues of the day. Fans of Playboy
, as well as students of feminist studies and gender politics will find this an interesting and well-researched book."
About the Author
Carrie Pitzulo is assistant professor of history at the University of West Georgia.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Playboy: The Sassy Newcomer
Chapter 1 The Womanization of Playboy
Chapter 2 Inventing the Girl-Next-Door: The Pulchritudinous Playmates
Chapter 3 Selling the Dream: Playboy and the Masculine Consumer
Chapter 4 Lack of Love is a Tragedy: Playboy and Romantic Values
Chapter 5 The Battle in Every Manand#8217;s Bed: Playboy and the Fiery Feminists
Chapter 6 Feminism, the Playboy Foundation and Political Activism