A 'Playboy' cover from the 1970s

“Whether you are talking about the magazine or Hugh Hefner or [his daughter] Christie, there is always contradiction. There are always these two things: Playboy is productive for women and unproductive for women. The [Playboy] philosophy, as articulated by Hefner, was about freedom in many instances, but sexual freedom in particular. And so, when the magazine was talking about women’s sexuality, it was very vocal in terms of women’s rights to control their own reproductive destinies. But Christie’s a very good businesswoman. She says we are going to make money as we need to, as we can. She has made an effort to get Playboy into a more pornographic market through the production of porn for couples, and the company was trying to create video products that straight couples can enjoy together. So she has tried to continually remember the perspective of women as they’ve gone further and further down that path.”

—The historian Carrie Pitzulo, who argues in her new book, Bachelors and Bunnies (University of Chicago Press, $25), that Playboy’s formative years helped promote sexual equality and the women’s movement.


Photograph: Courtesy of Playboy