Pornography

What Hugh Hefner's Daughter Told Reason About Feminism and Pornography

From the Reason archives

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Playboy founder Hugh Hefner passed away yesterday at age 91. Reason interviewed Hefner's daughter, Christie Hefner, back in 1986, a time when the magazine was facing intense criticism from elements of both the left and the right. (At the time, the younger Hefner was Playboy's chief operating officer.) Here's an excerpt:

Bill Hogan

Reason: What do you think of feminist efforts to ban or restrict the display and dissemination of pornography?

Hefner: Well, I think it's an enormous error of judgment, both in misunderstanding what impact pornography has on society and in misunderstanding what laws like that would be used to do. On the latter, the reason why a lot of feminists have now become so outspoken against that effort is because censorious laws are interpreted by the people with power in society, not the people without power. It was only the '70s when Bill Baird was arrested for talking about contraception in front of an audience that included a woman with a baby—and he was arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. So if you think that laws that have to do with sexuality are going to be interpreted by feminists, that's very naive. If you think that the first things that are gone after are not things related to abortion and lesbianism, that's a very naive understanding of the process. So that's one perspective that I have that I think a lot of feminists share.

On the impact of pornography on society, the rhetoric has so overwhelmed the reality that there is no reasonableness applied to the subject at all anymore. If, for example, the president of the United States really wanted to have a useful commission on pornography, one would have thought that what the commission would be doing is updating the research that the 1970 Commission on Pornography and Obscenity did. That would mean original research, reviewing research that has been done in the interim, looking at what's happened in Denmark and other countries that have liberalized pornography laws, and coming out with a thoughtful report. Instead, the commission has no budget for research and has been traipsing around the country listening to individuals give their life stories, which is anecdotal evidence that has no validity. It would be like deciding whether or not to go back to Prohibition by having people come forward, and some people would tell terrible stories about being beaten up by a husband who was drunk or having their child killed by a drunk driver. I don't want to take away from the seriousness of those problems, but they don't have anything to do with the cause and effect of pornographic images in society.

Other questions from the Q&A include "Would Playboy survive in the marketplace without pictures?" and "Is Playboy a victim of hardercore pornography?" To read the whole thing, go here.

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12 responses to “What Hugh Hefner's Daughter Told Reason About Feminism and Pornography

  1. Don’t bother going to the original Reason article. There’s no pictorial.

    1. More importantly, no commentary either!

  2. I don’t get feminist hatred of it.

    Either women are able to make decisions about their behavior/careers or they are not.

    1. You don’t get it because you think feminism is about what it claims to be about. The truth is that it is not. Feminism isn’t about equality or empowering women. In fact, it is just the opposite. Feminism was created by women angry that some women by virtue of being attractive and interested in being married had more power than those who were not attractive or not interested in marriage. The entire thing was a sham to sell women on the idea that having a career was somehow empowering and that sex and marriage were demeaning. If you are an ugly woman or a woman who doesn’t like sex, you have much less power in the world than an attractive woman who does. Feminism was nothing but an attempt by the women who didn’t to level the playing field. Everything else was just rationalization.

  3. More importantly, no commentary either!

    1. Who are you? P Books all the sudden? (Was it P Brooks? It’s been so long.)

  4. So if you think that laws that have to do with sexuality are going to be interpreted by feminists, that’s very naive.

    You know what else is naive?

    Thinking feminists interpreting law will prevent rather than exacerbate this problem (as the Title IX debacle demonstrates).

    1. Her point was that people imagine that the laws they are advocating will get passed, enforced, and adjudicated by people who think like themselves. Nothing could be further from the truth. The laws will get passed, enforced, and adjudicated by the same corrupt and self-serving people they are railing against.

  5. It would be like deciding whether or not to go back to Prohibition by having people come forward, and some people would tell terrible stories about being beaten up by a husband who was drunk or having their child killed by a drunk driver.

    Imagine!

  6. I would come post a tearful memorial for Hef, but the man was 91 and by his own account had a good run. RIP

    1. Word. He lived the life of a sultan, in a day when sultans are few and far between.

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