So, the long overdue has finally happened: Hugh Hefner is dead.
He leaves behind four children, two ex-wives, and one current one who stands to inherit…NOTHING. That’s right, folks, she gets bupkus, thanks to a pre-nup that Hef had her sign on the eve of their ill-considered marriage:
Hugh Hefner’s wife reportedly won’t get a penny after it was announced that the Playboy editor died this morning, aged 91.
Crystal Harris, 31, married Hefner in 2012 in a New Year’s Eve ceremony that took place at the infamous Playboy mansion.
Harris is reported to have signed an “ironclad” prenuptial contract, which prohibits her from inheriting any of Hefner’s $43m (£32m) fortune, a source revealed to Us Weekly shortly after the couple tied the knot.
Instead, the original Playboy’s assets will be split between his four adult children, the University of Southern California film school, and several charities.
The two were originally set to marry in June 2011, however, five days before the ceremony was due to take place, Harris called it off.
Before they successfully managed to rekindle things, Harris went on The Howard Stern show to talk about the break up and admitted that she was “not turned on by Hef.”
However, she later publicly apologised for her comments and told Us that the two were hugely excited about their impending nuptials in the lead up to the big day.
And they say love is dead. Relax, folks, it ain’t goin’ nowhere, because it was nowhere in this shambolic marriage to begin with. (And, to all the “Christian” conservative types who are constantly hyperventilating about LGBT people ruining marriage if they ever get to have same-sex spouses: How about all the straight people like Hef ruining it for the rest of us, who, if we marry, will still have other-sex spouses? Or do marriages for money and so-called prestige somehow not count as degrading?)
Of course, the eulogies are already pouring out, claiming that Hef “liberated” sexuality. He did no such thing. He enforced the strict, sexist gender norms of his day. As a deeply sexist publication where the men got to keep their pajamas on while the women had to strip down to bunny ears and corsets with cotton tails, Playboy was, if anything, an anachronism by the time the real liberator of female sexuality, the birth-control pill, made its debut. And it was even MORE of an anachronism by the time safe abortion finally became legal. By the time the first “abortion pill”, RU-486, debuted, Playboy was downright old hat. And at no time, ever, did it make women feel free to love and have sex with whomever they chose; that credit goes to feminism, and the reliable birth control methods it championed, as well as the alternative life options it raised. It goes to women — straight, gay, bi, pan, asexual, cis- and transgender. (And if any of it must devolve to men, let us now sing the praises of Dr. Carl Djerassi, who gave us the Pill — or, here in Canada, Dr. Henry Morgentaler, a Holocaust survivor who regarded abortion as a basic human right, and didn’t stop pushing the whole clinic-vs.-hospital debate until abortion was out of the Criminal Code and in the Canada Health Act, where it belongs.)
So. What DID Hef do for sexuality, then? He did sweet fuck-all, people. Well, all right, let’s give him credit for one thing: He did liberate straight male wankers from the ignominy and boredom of having to masturbate with nothing in hand but the obvious. It’s always easier to get off with a glossy, airbrushed, silicone-enhanced dream girl under your nose than it is to try to use your imagination, right?
Oh yeah, and I guess we can also credit him with “liberating” those same men, if that’s the right term, from the ever-onerous work of actually building healthy relationships with women, instead of pseudo-relationships with images. Hey, who needs to grow up and actually learn what makes women tick, much less cater to it, when there’s a barely-legal “Playmate”, fresh every month, to indulge your perennial immaturity without breaking your carefully nurtured self-delusions by saying a word? Not the sort of man who “reads” Playboy, that’s for sure.
Yes, yes, I know, they published some good articles. And some good short stories, too, back in the day. Even my feminist literary idol, Ursula K. Le Guin, had a space-opera in there, back in the early days of her career, titled “Nine Lives”. It was about a group of clones — half male, half female — who passed some of their spare time in deep space having sex with one another, thus raising the provocative question: Is it incest…or masturbation? Less provocative, but more thought-provoking, was the fact that her story appeared under the vaguely masculine byline of “U.K. Le Guin”. That was the Playboy editors’ decision. She made light of it by wondering what else the initials could represent: “Ulysses Kingfisher?” Nevertheless, her first appearance in their fiction section ended up as a one-off; she got the impression that, despite their reputation for nurturing new writers, they weren’t very supportive of female authors.
And she was right about that; the publication, on the whole, wasn’t a great place for women. Respect for females was always much lower than it was for males. Even those who got to have their navels stapled were required to sleep with Hef to get the “coveted” centrefold slot. Yes, that’s right, they really had to BE “Playmates”, at least once. Whether they wanted to or not. (Most, I’m guessing, didn’t want to, but figured that it paid better than the other kind of prostitution.)
Well, you ask, how about those risqué Playboy Clubs? Yes, what about them? As far as I’m concerned, the last word on those goes to Gloria Steinem, who went undercover as a Bunny trainee and exposed them for the dens of piss-soaked hypocrisy they were. Oh sure, Bunnies were supposedly “protected” by the house rules, but more often than not, they were expected to bend them for wealthy cronies of Hef’s, who expected not only fawning attention from the help, but sexual favors as well. (And who got them, more often than not, because it was that or be kicked out. Losing the “Bunny Image” could happen any number of ways, and gaining weight was the least of it.)
As for the “iconic” Playboy mansion, it was a hellhole for women. Not only because those who resided there had to put up with Hef (and that was a job and a half at times), but because it was unsanitary and stank of dogshit. The Jacuzzi alone must have been the breeding ground of at least a dozen new superbugs. And if the bugs didn’t fell you, the drugs probably did; Hef kept a stash of Quaaludes, which he charmingly called “thigh openers”, on hand for any girls who were reluctant (read: too sober) to put out for “Daddy”. Who, of course, took Viagra later on, when the flesh got too weak to stand on its own.
But if they were expected to throw themselves at Hef’s head (the lesser one, natch), the “Playmates” were more cloistered than Fifties housewives. Nothing sexual was allowed to happen in the mansion except at you-know-whose behest. The gates on the place, as one Playmate observed, seemed less designed to keep undesirables out than to keep the Bunnies in the hutch. Including the last Mrs. Hefner, who was all of one-third her husband’s age…and who now has nothing to show for her marriage of dubious convenience.
If this is sexual liberation, it’s a very shabby one-way street. One that no woman with any dignity or self-esteem would want to go down. And now, with Hef gone, it’s a dead end…one where nobody will deign to go before too long.
So long, Hef, and thanks for nothing.