I’m Not Crying Over This One…
An American icon has died and I’m sure there are millions around the world weeping. The man was a trendsetter, a rulebreaker, and someone that changed the world as we know it. The man was a media giant, who’s publication interviewed the greatest actors, actresses, and politicians on the planet. His passing has been noted.
I am, of course, writing about Hugh Hefner, founder of Playboy and the Playboy properties. Soon there will be documentaries, retrospectives and fond farewells littering the media making him sound like a saintly advocate for women’s rights and American business-god. Some of it might even be true.
Let me state, upfront, that I am neither a rightwing Christian nor completely anti-pornography. I like a naked woman as much, or more, than any man on the planet. I’m human, and I don’t hide my flaws very well, but here’s the deal…
Recently I was in a rather heated debate about sexual harassment in the workforce. Specifically, in relation to the comic book industry and a rogue at a company call Dark Horse Comics by the name of Scott Allie. The company in question is based out of my hometown and well… I’m still a bit of a comic book geek, so the whole situation seemed interesting at the time. The gentleman, and I use the term loosely, allegedly had a problem with boundaries towards both men and women and his behavior had been “protected” by the company for years.
I don’t practice, nor do I believe in sexual harassment in the workplace, it’s ridiculous and does nothing but make it a difficult and unpleasant place to spend eight hours of your day. Being male, my main argument in the debate was, “well, if she is unhappy working in that environment, she should leave and get a different job, or report the person to the HR department until the situation gets better. If I was unhappy, for any reason, with my current work environment, I’d pack up and leave.”
The discussion devolved from there…
“Why should the woman have to quit because a d-bag can’t control himself?
Being a guy, you’ve never had to wonder if your boss is being nice because you did a good job or just because he wants to get laid.
In almost all male-dominated companies, women have to work three times as hard to get promoted, if they can get hired at all. What are they supposed to do, go to a male dominated bank and ask for a loan to start their own company?”
And so forth…
I was wrong across the board, and admitted as much, because I’m an average male that has never been exposed to the darker side of employment, but I did draw the line in the sand on one point, and still do. The behavior of some males in the workplace is reprehensible, especially in the enlightened era we live in today, but there is also a certain amount of responsibility that must be placed on the woman as well. There is always a choice in these situations, accept the harassment or walk away. The results of the choice may be unpleasant no matter which you choose, but unless there is a gun to your head… you have a choice. We no longer live in the fifties, where women who worked had to put up with just about anything to keep their jobs to support their families. Times are different, women have more choices now than ever, and equality in the workforce is closer than it has ever been.
Once again, I am not saying sexual harassment in the workplace is acceptable or that it’s the woman’s fault. I think men that sexually harass women in the workplace should be severely reprimanded and terminated, but the acceptance of the situation, and refusal to take a stand against it, is a choice that carries responsibility as well. There is an apt old saying, “If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.” So, stand up and become part of the solution.
Which brings me back to Hefner and Playboy. I’ve already read one article applauding the man for his accomplishments. Let’s take a moment to remember who he really was. In 2015 Holly Madison, famous Playmate, wrote about her experiences in the playboy mansion. It wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t glamorous and it began with what most people would consider drug and alcohol induced date-rape (really no other term applies) by Hugh Hefner and six of his girlfriends at the time. After the first night, broke and with no place to go, Hefner used his wealth, power and influence to keep her around with the promise of fortune and fame. A fortune that never came, and fame that she earned the hard way.
Kendra Wilkinson, another playmate, spoke of similar situations where she would have to become very drunk and stoned in order to “endure” sex sessions with the man. In 2005 former Playmate Jill Ann Spaulding wrote a book entitled, “Jill Ann; Upstairs” that tells a similar story. Earlier stories from the seventies tell of Hefner passing off his girls when he was done with them to his guests at the mansion like property. If they wanted to keep their place in the mansion, essentially their job, they had to comply. (Those are unverified rumors as the non-disclosure agreements signed by the women are ironclad, yet a simple search on google will get you there if you really want to know.)
As for the man’s real contribution to society, how about we consider what Playboy has really done. It’s given men an unrealistic expectation of women, sex, and relationships for over sixty years. Between Mr. Hefner, and all of the Playboy properties, sexual harassment in the workplace takes on new meaning. There was even a time where Playboy was a publicly traded company with SEC filings, investors, and presumably an HR department, but apparently the laws stopped at the gates of the mansion.
Maybe he was a great man and a visionary of sorts, but I tend to think he may have done more harm than good on this rock that we live. That’s my two-cents on the issue. Feel free to disagree with me if you wish, I’m hard to offend.
Rambling soapbox done…. Oh… and go buy FBoM and read Chris Cross on KindleUnlimited. FBoM; The Betterment is coming out soon and you don’t want to fall behind… ?