March 4, 1998 · Cavalier Daily

Let Women Make Playboy Choice

This opinion article responds to a Playboy ad in the Cavalier Daily, seeking students to appear in the "Women of the ACC Issue." The writer analyzes her own feminist response to the ad but resists condemning the magazine, concluding that feminism is multifarious and the decision to pose for Playboy constitutes an individual's choice.


1998-03-04 Cavalier Daily Let Women Make Playboy Choice.pdf
Julia Miller
Cavalier Daily
Cavalier Daily
Let Women Make Playboy Choice
Decision to pose for ‘Women of the ACC’ should not face feminist fire
SOMETIMES even the smalles events in everyday life can challenge the way we think about an issue. In Monday’s Cavalier Daily, a Playboy ad appeared, announcing the search for students who would appear in their "Women of the ACC” feature. My first inclination told me I should be shocked— after all, the objectification of women should elicit a visceral reaction from my feminist conscience. But my conscience remained unusually silent.
Popular feminist ideology tells me I should be outraged, or at least bothered by the call for women to pose for Playboy. My instinct to condemn the ad's message results from the feminist conception that instructs that, because I am a woman, I stand up against the male domination that has made the objectification of women in magazines like Playboy permissible. But does posing for a magazine mean a woman has fallen prey to male superiority? No.
There is an unfortunate extension of the idea that pornographic magazines demonstrate the subjugation of women. It is the belief that the women who pose for the publications do so not of their own free will, but because society conditions them to believe physical beauty is a measure of one's worth. That is a serious underestimation of women’s intelligence.
Women who pose for Playboy do so for a variety of reasons. Some find money alluring, some enjoy the thrill of showing off their bodies and some feel empowered by the idea of sitting for photographs naked. The reason, however, is irrelevant. I was not upset or disgusted with the ad because I believe adults can make their own decisions.
To place responsibility on anyone but the woman participating removes any vestige of freedom of thought and action. There is no doubt that society has a profound impact on how men and women view the world and the decisions they make. But a female college student is fully able to choose her own path and take responsibility for the consequences of her actions.
It's not important whether we agree with posing nude or whether we are willing to display our own naked selves. Instead, we must respect these decisions for what they are: personal choices.
The condemnation of magazines and the simultaneous absolution of the women who pose for them creates a strange message for American women. Mainstream feminism constructs a narrow path along which so-called liberated women must tread. In an effort to make the dreaded f-word comfortable for homemaker and ambitious lawyer alike, conceptions of female roles and responsibilities are confined to a small area of acceptable ideas. There is little room to dissent from the norm and still feel connected with the ideals of the women’s movement.
The reality, however, is that feminism and all its connotations represent the feelings of a variety of women and beliefs. Within the women’s movement itself, there are women who believe pornography should be banned because it exploits women. There are women who think feminism should increase the female presence in the workforce. There are also women who believe, like me, that feminism is about equality and that we should (deal with one another as humans, not genders.
The key is that each of those ideas falls under the feminist umbrella. Feminism is a Iarge enough concept to encompass many different beliefs and ideas of who women are and our role in society. Restrictions of who and what fits under the umbrella limits the progress women make toward a world that values equally the opinions and actions of men and women and the choices they make.
Certainly, accepting a woman’s decision to pose as one of the “Women of the ACC” is a departure from traditional feminist ideas. Acceptance, however, does not mean wholehearted support. Society would improve without the objectification of women and men. As long as choices are made freely, however, we must regard those choices as an expression of freedom of thought.
To most effectively embrace a wider perspective of feminism, we must allow for the celebration of diversity of ideology. In allowing for variety, every woman is empowered in her expression of personal belief.
(Julia Miller’s column appears Wednesdays in The Cavalier Daily.)
Date Added June 28, 2016
Date Modifed December 23, 2017
Collection Cavalier Daily: articles about gender discrimination

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