Wednesday, August 10, 2011

The Playboy Club: Probably Not Empowering, Actually

This post is a part of my “Out of the Kitchen” weekly column at The Progressive Playbook in which various news and pop culture items will be examined through a feminist lens.

There is a long raging debate amongst many feminists about the line between expressions of female sexuality as objectification vs. empowerment. At the crux of these discussions is usually sex work. Sex work and pornography are undoubtedly feminist issues, with many layers and questions. For example, what makes pornography feminist instead of objectifying? Can female sexuality be fully realized in our patriarchal society? Are there links between consumption of misogynistic pornography and violence against women?

So of course, the feminist blogosphere is a-twitter about the new show, The Playboy Club. While cocktail waitresses in bunny suits aren’t sex workers, the debate surrounding the show and the Playboy empire, certainly conjures these images. I have been watching the coverage of this show with mild interest and horror.

Set in the early 60’s, “This provocative new series captures a time and place that challenged the social mores, where a visionary created an empire, and an icon changed American culture,” according to the show’s website. Hm. Okay. But what is it really about? Linda Holmes over at NPR saw a screening of the pilot episode and wrote a great piece about the show. Apparently, it is working very hard to appear female empowering. Read more...

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