Will we forever have to read unmoderated praise of the supposed sophistication of Playboy magazine and its legendary great literature (November 29, Hot Type)?

Just as a west-side pimp boasts diamond and emerald pinkie rings, flashy green silk suits, and dramatic animal-skin hats, so too media pimp Hugh Hefner flashes his wealth created by the sexual labor of women.

More brilliantly than the ghetto pimp perhaps, Hefner co-opted at least one significant cultural shift of his era when his corporation bonded their image to what came to be called the sexual revolution.

However, while a major part of that revolution had to do with women taking possession of their own sexuality, Hefner merely continued a centuries-old social inequity by managing women’s bodies for his own financial gain. Most women who observed the decades of change in sexual attitudes maintained a clear distinction between sharing oneself sexually and selling oneself sexually. Most women still consider the economic choice of having to sell your body sexually–either in person or via photographs et al–to be an unfortunate option.

Writers and artists are also undervalued and underfunded in our culture, so their acceptance of money from Playboy speaks more to the same economic choices facing women than it does to any greatness of the magazine. It is also important to note that Playboy’s readership remains merely 12 percent female, whereas women typically consume great literature in much greater numbers than that.

Mary Carvlin