Today I was looking around and found some really good information on Gloria Steinem. Steinem was a quintessentiall feminist during the 20th century, and continues her efforts today. She’s been tightly linked with movements concerning the equality of wages, availability of contraception, legality of abortion, etc. She founded her own magazine focused on feminist issues, titled Ms.
Oh. She also worked as a Playboy bunny in the 1960s.
That’s right – not exactly what you’d expect.
I’ve attached the link to a PBS interview with her below – in it, she talks about her thought processes before coming to learn of the feminist movement during her time at Smith College – essentially, that “to be normal”, one had to get married and have children. Along with that, she discusses the future of feminism and what it means to be a feminist today. It’s a pretty interesting look at a very extraordinary woman.
Something that I’d like to discuss, however, is an article that she wrote in the 1960s – I Was a Playboy Bunnie. In this extended gonzo-fashioned piece of journalism, Steinem recounts her experience going “undercover” (i.e. with a false name and not revealing that she’d be publishing a piece on it) into one of New York City’s Playboy Penthouses. The entire piece exposes the darker underbelly of the adult entertainment scene during the mid-20th century, which includes massive sexual exploitation of women in desperate need of money, as well as a false image of happiness and contentment for the Playboy bunnies. Throughout her experience, she witnesses how women are completely objectified in their roles as Bunnies – not only by clubgoers (as is predictable), but even by their employers.
How does this relate to our topic, though?
I viewed her story as an example of an educated woman’s experience in a “traditional”/”non-educated” woman’s shoes. The feelings of pity, horror, and simple shock that her tale evokes are all worth mentioning.
Here’s a link to the interview as well as the article I refer to: