Category: rants

Aug 28

The Revenge of The Bunny

Debunking of the Playboy myth began in 1963 when Gloria Steinem went undercover as a Bunny at the New York Playboy Club and revealed the ill-treatment behind the glamour in “I Was A Playboy Bunny”.

Still, the lure of Hef in his silk pyjamas, the man who says his best pick-up line is “Hi, I’m Hugh Hefner”, continues to enthral.  48 years after Steinem’s exposé, over 3000 women auditioned for positions as Bunnies in the London Playboy Club, almost half a century of feminism having apparently passed them by, so they could go to work in a leotard, rabbit ears, bowtie and pom-pom.   Women send him pictures of their naked bodies to appraise, in the hope he’ll make them Playmate of the Month, some having invested heavily in plastic surgery in the hope it will increase their appeal.  Anyone in his employ with a complaint about working conditions or the boss has tended to keep shtoom.

Then the High Priestesses of Bunniedom, Hef’s girlfriends, started ditching him and writing tell-all accounts of life inside the Playboy Mansion.  Jill Ann Spaulding’s Upstairs and Izabella St. James’ Bunny Tales: Behind the Closed Doors of the Playboy Mansion bear no relation to the glamour and liberalism with which Hefner has so desperately tried to associate himself.  Instead, they talk of dog shit encrusted carpets, curfews, unprotected sex, Hef’s miserliness, quaaludes given to Hef’s favourites en route to night clubs where they were allowed to do nothing but fawn over him, bitching and boredom.  Hef’s twice-weekly “sex parties” the women have to attend – unless they’ve recently had surgery, in which case they’re excused – consist of each woman sitting on his condomless viagra-hardon for two minutes while the others cheer “fuck her daddy” and play at being lesbians to keep him turned on.  If they don’t want to have sex with him, they keep their pink pyjama bottoms on, but repeatedly doing so tends to result in the woman being asked to leave the mansion.  St. James’ book is billed as a “steamy tell-all”, but, based on the content, I don’t think that’s quite how she intended it to be perceived.  Unless stepping in dog shit while queuing for your weekly allowance and faking lust for the “dead fish” that was Hef in bed, do something for you, I don’t see that it would steam up anything.

I don’t really have a cogent argument against The Playboy Mansion, per se – though I have many against what Playboy itself represents as a brand, concept, and perpetuator of damaging cultural attitudes.  I just don’t get the appeal of The Hefster – like piccalli, Tom Cruise, and vampires.


Aug 06

Murder, mutilation and rape: the lot of women in advertising

News that, as a result of Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson’s campaign against “overly perfected and unrealistic images” of women in advertising, L’Oréal had been forced to pull their ad campaigns featuring Julia Roberts and Christy Turlington because they’d been airbrushed was hailed as tremendous progress in the ongoing protest against the way in which women are presented – and addressed – by the advertising industry.  And it was.  The case proved that, even in the face of the world’s largest cosmetics company (with annual revenues of €19.50 billion), personal protest was still worth making.

A good sign, but we all know that the promises made by cosmetics companies are false.  No one actually expects to emerge from the bathroom looking like Christy Turlington because they smeared their faces in Maybelline’s latest foundation, The Eraser.  Acknowledging the fact that cosmetics companies lie is a progressive step, but it’s only a small one.  In adverts aimed at both women and men, women are patronised at best and murdered at worst.  They’re gang-raped, mutilated, cast as objects and subjects of paedophile fantasy, and degraded.  They’re accessories to men and their demands.

Even those trying to use advertising for the benefit of women fare little better.  The Breast Cancer Foundation, instead of displaying mastectomy scars deemed off-putting by focus groups, decided instead to use a single-breasted, nippleless plastic doll and perfectly symmetrical breasts of models painted with colourful cartoons suggesting all women were concerned with was their skin, hair and the size of their bum when they should be thinking about their health.

I applaud Jo Swinson’s victory and hope it’s the first step of many towards even a semblance of male-female equality in advertising, but it’s not enough.  Women need to demand more.  Change needs to be more radical.  Given the violence to which she may be subjected to sell products, excessive airbrushing is about the most pleasant fate of a woman in advertising.


Aug 04

Vogue Italia’s Belle Vere. Celebrating women’s bodies or using plus-size models as a gimmick?

The June cover story in Vogue Italia, Belle Vere, was all about the curves.  Languid, bare-breasted models gaze from the pages, pouting and purring in their lingerie.  They’re beautiful – gorgeous in their preened, fleshly glory.  There’s a luxurious air about them that no amount of pouting on a stick-thin model could convey.  These are women of appetite – they look like they’d be fabulous company at dinner, not like they ought to be on some nutrient drip.  Surely, this is a celebration of women’s bodies at their finest.  A beauty ideal to which we can all aspire should we so desire.

Or is it just marketing?  Sales may be flagging so perhaps a little notoriety – in the shape of someone with breasts all of her own flesh – was needed to pick them up. The poses are no different from those adopted in any other lingerie photoshoot: on her knees, legs apart, breasts tumbling from her corset.  She’s enjoying herself – or doing a fine job of faking it – but for whom?  And why the porn star poses?  Sexualised isn’t the only way to present a woman, even if Vogue is trying to make the point that just because your body fat ratio isn’t 1%, doesn’t mean no one will want to look at you. So long as pouting for the boys remains the default manner in which to convey sexiness, it doesn’t matter what dress size the models, it remains a no-win situation.  She’s still just a figurine no matter how normal her figure.  We don’t have to take off our clothes to know we look good naked so neither should she.


Jul 28

Exposing Phallacy Excerpts

Whatever you think about flashing – nothing at all, mildly curious, or think of nothing but – here are some excerpts from my book on the subject, Exposing PhallacySlick Slits and Throbbing Clits, The Penis and Masculinity and The Demise of the Good Old-Fashioned Roll in the Hay.  Enjoy.  Or possibly not.


Jul 21

Twitter account suspended

Just a quick note to say that, after posting a tweet about the Turn Your Back On Page Three campaign with a link to its facebook page and to The Sun application form, my twitter account was suspended.  Censorship in action.  Hopefully, I’ll be allowed to play again soon.  If not I’ll just open a new twitter account and continue the campaign.  Wish me luck!  By the way, if you’d like to join the campaign against the use of pornography in The Sun, go to