Playboy isn’t just fun

Normally, I really like @victoriacoren, but this week in the Guardian she has it absolutely wrong.  She argues today that Playboy girls are cute, sexy, and completely harmless.

Just because these women aren’t model thin, and that they attended auditions of their own free-will, doesn’t mean that feminists have nothing to complain about.

There is no male-equivalent of a bunny girl.  Okay, so Hef is a funny old stereotype of a dirty old man.  But he has a name, and his own personality.  As opposed to the interchangeable bunny-girls.

And okay, so the bunny-girls also need to have charisma and intelligence.  But they’re not picked on the basis of these qualities.  First and foremost, they’re there as titillation.  Otherwise, if they gained half a stone they wouldn’t be sacked.

But most importantly, is what we’re saying to society as a whole.  We’re saying that a good night-life is there for any man to enjoy, while women must be sex-toys for men to play with.  We’re saying that to have value in society, women must be sexy.  We’re teaching women that what they should aim to be is dependent on their looks, and defined by misogynistic ideas of sexiness and beauty.

Then there’s the thin-end-of-the-wedge argument.  By saying that Playboy bunnies are ok, by extension you can’t object to other lap-dancing clubs.  And from there, who really cares if you get a prostitute on a stag night?  By accepting Playboy, society is legitimising the buying and selling of women as a commodity.

And where do other women fit in to this society?  If Playboy becomes an acceptable place for after-work drinks and entertaining clients, how do we think women will be judged in these workplaces?  Do you really think you’re going to be taken as seriously as your male colleagues when all around you are other women dressed as sex-toys?

Playboy bunnies may be healthy-looking women.  The individuals involved may be having a good time.  But that doesn’t mean that as feminists we need to let them be.  I’m sure that there are plenty of women in Saudi Arabia who are quite happy not driving, and happy to be protected by a patriarchal society.  But I absolutely applaud the women taking to the streets in their cars this week.  Just because some women think something is ok, doesn’t mean all women need to get in line behind them.  Some of the most infuriatingly offensive misogynists getting press-space at the moment are women (that would be you Ms Dorries).

Some people may think that Bunny girls are cute and harmless.  But just because there are worse things out there, doesn’t mean that we have to be happy about this one.