A Hop In The Right Direction? Playboy To Stop Publishing Nudes

We all know that bow-tied bunny logo, and at one point in time it was probably printed on your hot pink pillowcase and blu-tacked on your bedroom wall in the form of a cheeky poster that proved you were grown-up enough to know what that bunny represented (even if you actually had no idea).

Although the logo remains infamous, the magazine has slowly but surely faded into the background with circulation dropping from 5.6 million in 1975, to 800 000 in 2016. With hardcore porn only a click away, Playboy’s nude photographs of women certainly don’t evoke the same forbidden excitement that they once did. Aware of the increasingly competitive pornography market, on the 12th of October, Playboy announced the news that beginning March 2016, the print editions of Playboy will no longer feature any images of fully nude women. The magazine will continue to feature women dressed scantily in provocative poses, but none will be naked.

This radical decision is just the latest move in a long line of attempts to make Playboy relevant again in today’s society. Recent efforts have included Playboy making a Safe For Work (SFW) website in 2013, and including features on “women’s issues” such as catcalling and college sexual assault. Cory Jones, Playboy’s Chief Content Officer and instigator of the non-nudity movement, has said that these steps had been taken in order to make the brand “a little more accessible, a little more intimate.”

So the question is: once you take the nudity out of Playboy… what’s left? The answer is - actually quite a lot! Mostly recognised for its explicit centre-folds of Marilyn Monroe and Pamela Anderson, it’s easy to forget that Playboy has a pretty impressive publishing history outside of its pornographic origins. World-renowned authors such as Vladimir Nabokov, Saul Bellow, Haruki Murakami and Margaret Atwood have contributed short stories to the publication. The magazine has also conducted hard-hitting interviews in the past with key figures like Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. By removing the nudity, Playboy hope to rebrand themselves as a magazine known for their thought-provoking articles and rid themselves of the reputation that caused such articles to be overlooked in the past.

 

What does this mean for the 2015 feminist? On the surface, you would think this to be a success for feminism but getting into the theory behind the non-nudity move, it really isn’t anything of the sort. Firstly, this is not a decision made with the intention to be socially just, it is simply another business decision designed to make money. To be honest, I could look past the misdirected intentions if the outcome of the decision meant a win for feminism. However, people thinking this is a step towards equal rights, when Playboy continue to publish provocative images of dressed women in their magazine, implies that there is something inherently sexual about a woman’s naked body. The nudity in Playboy magazines is not the problem that needs to be addressed, it is the objectification of women that is catered to the male gaze, as is explicitly stated in their tagline “Entertainment for Men.” If anything, this decision only worsens the feminist cause, as the removal of nudity being perceived as a step in the right direction leads to the female naked body once again being sexualised without permission.