Hugh Hefner: Friend or Foe

In 1953 an infamous magazine made its debut on newsstands with the most famous woman in the country, Marilyn Monroe, as the cover photo. Included inside, were nude photos of her. This magazine is known as Playboy.

According to the New York Times, Hugh Hefner, the founder of Playboy, died on Sept. 27 at the age of 91. He was a controversial public figure who was known for sexualizing women to make a profit. This is not what he should be known for. He was more than a sexist and more than a playboy.

Hefner should be remembered as an advocate and protector of the first amendment. He practiced his own right to free speech and made his magazine a platform for uncensored self-expression.

In the first installment of the Playboy Philosophy, Hefner said, “we must confess at the outset that we do not consider sex either sacred or profane. And as a normal, and not uninteresting, aspect of the urban scene, we think it perfectly permissible to treat the subject either seriously or with satire and good humor, as suits the particular situation.”

The ‘50s were not prepared for Playboy’s message. It was a post-war time when the nuclear family was the status quo. Families were made up of a wife, a husband and two children. Nobody spoke about sex.

California Lutheran University’s freedom of expression professor, Dr. Sharon Docter said, “From a freedom of expression stand-point, Hugh Hefner has the right to publish his magazines and his images as long as they don’t meet the legal definition of obscenity.”

Hefner said in the first installment of Playboy that he could not understand how photographing the human body could be obscene when the body is “the most beautiful creation on this earth.”

I don’t beleive that Hefner intended for the magazine to be pornographic or obscene. He saw the artistic beauty in nudity and the true romance in the sexual relationship between humans.

In Bobby Box and Shane Michael Singh’s Playboy article, “10 Times Hef Changed the Way We Think About Sex,” Box said that Hefner founded the Playboy Foundation to “pursue, perpetuate and promote” freedoms of all people.

Sexual topics should be protected by the First Amendment and available for open, public discussion.

The Playboy foundation was impactful on the free speech movement by defending everyone’s right to speak freely on taboo topics.

Rissa Gross