I was bemused by the letters to the editor which expressed offense to the Playboy advertisement which appeared on March 9. Most of the objections centered on the "demeaning" nature of photographs depicting partially-clad women and the subsequent promotion of inequality supposedly engendered by such a display. One writer even threw out racism (apparently to raise the emotional stakes because this topic does not seem to be relevant when discussing Playboy). Liberty and justice for all citizens were also given as reasons for protesting the advertisement.
My response to this obviously hysterical reaction is a small dose of reality. Playboy plays the same role in many men's lives that romance novels and firemen calendars play in the lives of many women: data for masturbation fantasies. Sexuality at its most playful can indulge in "puerile and unrealistic fantasy" ( as one writer described it) and mutual objectification. For persons without partners, any sexuality without some degree of objectification would be impossible. Whether you use pictures or stories, any sexual activity without another person is sex with an object, unless you count yourself. Anyone who thinks that story fantasies portray men or women as real people has never even glanced at a romance novel.
Now I realize that we aren't supposed to mention such topics in public, but I feel I must take a stand for open communication. How would our "Dworkinesque" readers suggest dealing with this fact of nature? What methodology might they suggest that is acceptable to all persons and does not objectify anyone? Do you deny (against all psychological fact) the importance of autoeroticism, or do you simply expect society to play along with your communication games and hypocrisy? If you have no partner do you go without? I don't buy it for a minute. What do you use for data in your "lighter" moments? The boy/girl next door perhaps? This is hardly any less objectifying than Playboy. I prefer honest communication and I understand that many single people engage in autoeroticism. Being reminded of this fact does not trigger any pangs of sexual repression for me.
The "M" word has serious overtones in our society. The Surgeon General was fired for using it; men's egos frequently won't allow them to admit to it (I only read the articles); and the mere mention of it can offend many females. The fact is that many people need data for autoerotic fantasies. Often it's either that or go without anything at all. Let's be real and honest about this subject. Thank you for listening.
Education Master's Candidate
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