I asked my boyfriend to buy me a Playboy yesterday.

Paul Wong
Diamond in the Rough<br><br>Emily Achenbaum

If I had known that the magazine wouldn”t have lived up to its lurid “n” lush reputation, I would have been a liberated women who can buy porn from Village Corner with a straight face herself. I wanted to read the April issue before hearing Playboy contributing editor and columnist Asa Barber and National Organization of Women President Patricia Ireland speak at Rackham tonight. It was not the bull”s eye feminist target I was hankering for. All this fuss over a magazine more excited to present their in-depth interview with Metallica than its own centerfold?

There are so many great things the feminist movement can do, and blindly attacking Playboy is not one of them. Key word here is blindly.

Let”s pay attention to the details and be aware of the following:

Playboy”s advice columnist is surprisingly less demeaning than expected, answering a debate over cup size with “when a man loves a woman, her breasts look just right” and telling a would-be philanderer that “a man can”t live on cheap sex alone.” The infamous cartoons, jokes page (and amusing who voted for Gore/who rents porn graph on page 61) are pretty tame. The film reviews, fiction and interviews are sophisticated and make up the majority of the magazine.

Does that make Playboy harmless? Of course not, but if it is going to be attacked, it should be for the right reasons. I”m not going to touch on the pornography debate as a whole, but rather the specific reason why the pornography in Playboy is dangerous.

Playboy suggests that there is only one type of “beauty”: fake-tan, fake-blonde, fake-boobed.

When you have to use the word fake three times to describe the typical Playboy model, perhaps it is needless to say no one naturally looks like that, but hey I guess the fantasy/reality line can be hard to draw.

Two weeks ago I saw Students Promoting Education, Awareness and Knowledge about Eating Disorders (SPEAK) perform at their Speak Out, where brave women (with varying cup sizes, hair colors and concentrations of melanin) spoke about their quests for the unattainable. The cause of eating disorders is multi-faceted, but there is no denying the role of the mass media. Playboy does not offer a lot of variety they picked one view of female beauty and have stayed surprisingly monogamous to it.

Playboy can try to squirm out of the you-make-girls-hate-their-bodies accusation by claiming they promote a “womanly” figure, but silicone does not a woman make. Take a look at last week”s People magazine, which had the audacity to proclaim “Healthy bodies are back!” on its cover. Featured are Drew Barrymore and Kate Winslet (who have always been Hollywood”s zaftig heroines), Catherine Zeta-Jones (whose soft tummy and swelling breasts are not a statement but the result of just giving birth) and former Baywatch star Gena Lee Nolin (who claims to love her new curves, now that she”s up to 129 lbs. on her 5″9″ frame). What these women and Playboy”s women all have in common is a rack, be it a baby fat, post-baby-fat or a silicone-induced rack. Tits, no matter their origin, make 120 lb., 5″11″ models like Heidi Klum and Giselle “curvy” and “feminine” their boobs are heralded as double-handedly responsible for the end of heroin chic and self-starvation.

Is causing self-doubt exploitive? In Playboy”s case, yes they make a fortune off of it.

Playboy”s first cover model, Marilyn Monroe, is the ultimate symbol of 20th Century female exploitation and insecurity. Playboy contributes to an environment where women feel insecure, and capitalize on their desire to prove themselves worthy making them think they are beating the system, yet they are becoming its ultimate victim.

The weird thing about Playboy”s models is that they, despite being crowned Perfect Woman with a photo spread and intimate wax job, don”t look radiant. They know damned well what their breasts and hair once looked like, what their faces look like without crazy amounts of makeup, what their butt looks like without self-tanner. But they were convinced that “themselves” wasn”t good enough, and all the foundation in the world can”t mask the fear of not quite meeting a warped standard. And that”s not very sexy.

Emily Achenbaum”s column runs every other Monday. Give her feedback at www.michigandaily.com/forum or via e-mail at emilylsa@umich.edu.

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