Why is a feminist posing for Playboy – again?
When I was asked that question after I posed for the Girls of the Pac 10 pictorial in 2005, for various Special Editions and as Coed of the Month in 2006, I used the excuse that I was working on my women's-studies honors thesis at UCLA. It was a project called "Posing for Playboy From a Feminist Perspective: How Media Images Impact Women's Empowerment." I planned to expand the thesis into a book upon graduation. Although some of my friends and family were unhappy I had posed and my sorority, Kappa Delta, placed me on national probation for making this perfectly legal choice, it wasn't for or because of them that I clung to this excuse. It was more out of a fear of facing up to my decision. I even went through a period after graduation when I tried to escape the big-breasted blonde stereotype by dying my hair. But eventually I realized I was happier as a light, bright blonde who happens to be big-breasted – and that I wanted to work with Playboy again.
But would I still be a feminist? Although the term is often deemed to be synonymous with man hater, a real feminist is anything but a man hater, and I, for one, am definitely a man lover.
A real feminist believes in the social, political and economic equality of men and women. Let's not fool ourselves: Women and men are different creatures, and I am certainly glad of that. But our differences should not preclude us from living in the way we are most joyful. Most important, such joy may or may not involve wearing dresses, suits, a corset or anything at all – which brings me to the complicated issue of empowerment.
Many feminists ask if celebrating this particular (sexy as hell) image of myself is progressive. My response is, So what if I want to dress up like a Barbie doll? Or dress down like a Barbie doll? Or wear rugged chic outfits like an earthy hippie woman? My identity – my identities – can be as fluid as I wish.
But for some it's not that simple. Many women feel compelled to weigh such issues as objectification, pornography and body image before acting on their intuition. As much as these topics need examination, we cannot become so judgmental of ourselves that we undercut our own empowerment and advancement by prejudging our choices based on notions of political correctness. This will only limit our potential and restrict the range of identities available to us. Whatever identity we choose, we ultimately honor the different aspects of the goddess and the god within ourselves.
And ultimately, following this reasoning, I came back to Playboy, still a feminist.
Yes, Playboy has at times been at odds with the feminist movement about perspectives on female beauty and nudity. Yet Playboy has directly and indirectly facilitated much progress for women and American culture.
Playboy has been a pioneer in promoting female sexuality in a puritanical, censored society and at the same time supports women's political rights, especially in the area of sexual and reproductive issues. The magazine has given a voice to great writers, thinkers and political figures in support of civil rights, free speech and free thought.
It's time for feminist scholars to develop a more productive attitude toward the Playboy way of life. Why can't we all just get along? Instead of arguing, I prefer creating joy, harmony and balance in my own life. Right now. In this moment. On these pages.
Now more than ever, I can explain why a feminist would appear in Playboy: because it's fun. It's creative. And I feel like it. And that adds to my joy and empowers me as a human being.
What's more, it freshens my perspective on my book. Ah, yes, my book – the climax to this entire journey!
Yeah, I had to end with a bang. I hope it was as good for you as it was for me.
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