“If you don’t swing, don’t ring”
Hugh Hefner played a large part in shaping society as we know it today. With the launch of Playboy magazine in 1953, he opened America’s eyes not just to the beauty of naked women, but he started a conversation about sex and sexuality.
I can remember finding Playboy magazines in my brother’s room when I was in middle school. He hid them underneath his bed and as soon as he was out, I would flip through them. I couldn’t understand why he was hiding them so one day I bravely pulled pages of the naked girls out of the magazine and pinned them onto his bulletin board. He was shocked (and pissed) when he walked into his bedroom. My mother came in to see what the fuss was all about. She shrugged her shoulders and told him it added some character to his room. He left them on the board for as long as I can remember.
Hugh Hefner did what others thought about. He lived an extraordinary life which exuded sexuality. He did not apologize for opening people’s minds up about sex. If swingers have someone to thank, it is clearly Hugh Hefner. Without him, we would not be where we are today. He allowed people to talk and think about sex. He dated multiple women at the same time and nobody was hiding this fact. It was his life and he lived it as he chose.
I often hear that people think Hugh Hefner was exploiting women but I find that reprehensible. Why do people blame him for the way some women choose to live their lives? He offered them something and it was their to decision to be a part of it or not. Why is it that every time a woman is sexy or sexual it is always said it must be to please a man? I will be the first to say that when I want to look sexy, it is for me. It is how I choose to look or act. Please don’t blame the men in my life for something they have no control over!
Hugh Hefner paved the road for others to seek out the lifestyle that he lived. His extravagant parties at the Playboy Mansion with beautiful, sexy women. What fun they must have had! They always looked like the ultimate swinger parties! How I wish we could have attended one. Would it disturb me to see all those beautiful Playboy Playmates running around in their skimpy bikinis and bunny ears? No! Why would it? The women were all doing this at their free will. If it was something that was against them, they should not have been there at all.
It is not surprising that Hugh Hefner’s name sparks controversy primarily amongst women. Some see him as the anti-feminist; a man who spent his life exploiting women, squeezing them into their tight corsets with little white cotton tails and bunny ears atop their heads, all to appease a group of chauvinistic men. Many women feel his need to constantly surround himself with young, perfectly proportioned blondes was arrogant and pathetic. Marrying women 30 years his junior only fueled the fire. My question remains: who was he hurting? Women who could not live up to his standards of beautiful or sexy? Women who insist on being recognized and applauded for their accomplishments in their field of work, and not their physical bodies? Hefner was quick to point out that he treated women as “sexual beings” and not “sexual objects.” This is where I think Hefner was actually helping women to accept their sexuality. To be open to the notion of enjoying sex.
Personally, I will always see Hugh Hefner as a visionary, a pioneer in the sexual liberation of both men and women. He did not hide from the controversies that surrounded his lifestyle choices. The original Playboy Mansion even had a doorplate that read, Si Non Oscillas, Noli Tintinnare “If you don’t swing, don’t ring.”
Hugh Hefner might have been the most open swinger of our time. Hopefully, we can pick up the ball and keep running with it. Swingers have come a long way, but they are not at the finish line just yet. RIP Hef.