Today, Playboy announced that it was bringing nudity back to its magazines, a year after it had previously banned naked spreads. Following a series of tweets tagged #nakedisnormal, Chief Creative Officer, Cooper Hefner made the announcement this morning, stating that naked is normal and should not be treated as something to shy away from.
Naked is, indeed, normal. However, for a magazine that has been founded on the profits of pornographic material, naked is a profitable kind of normal, one that is used merely for exploitation. Playboy has founded itself on the oppression of women, and to claim that a return to featuring nudity is in our interests is nothing more than a lie. It’s a return to instant gratification, and the ownership of women’s bodies in an attempt to bolster sales.
In their return to featuring nudity amongst their pages, Playboy has co-opted the Free The Nipple campaign. But this is a campaign that is troubling in itself, given how it has been backed by Nice Guys TM, who want to assure women that if they want to sit topless beside them, that’s absolutely fine. It’s troubling, given that a quick search of the related tag on Tumblr shows that the tag has been co-opted by porn blogs, rendering the campaign something that can be – and has been – hijacked for the male gaze. The trouble with this lies in the fact that men have been raised in a society – that we’ve all been raised in a society – which treats women’s bodies as a reward. You can pay in and be rewarded, whether it’s with money, with kindness, or with your so-called support for their activism.
Given Hugh Hefner’s past – his involvement in the rape of Linda Lovelace and involvement in the rapes perpetrated by Bill Cosby– and the misogynistic undertones of Playboy that have run from conception to now, it’s easy to see the roots of this latest development. In a year where we have a President who has countless accusations of rape and assault to his name, in a culture where rapists are spared jail in exchange for being told they have to refrain from sex until marriage, this isn’t progressive. It is nothing more than rape culture, coming full circle.