Several months ago Playboy shockingly removed nude images from its magazine because they felt they couldn’t compete with Internet porn. However, after this short failed experiment the iconic Playboy has brought the porn back in its March/April 2017 issue. The much younger Cooper Hefner is replacing his father at the helm of the company. He’s setting out to re-brand Playboy for this generation.
The front cover of the new issue has, written in bold, the declaration “Naked is Normal.” Is it?
Yes, I would have to agree, it is normal. In the context of a loving private relationship, of course it is normal. But that is not what we are dealing with in Playboy. There is healthy and harmful sexuality just as there is healthy and harmful food. The objectifying nudity in Playboy is certainly the latter.
We’ve reached a point where if a woman wants to be visible in today’s pornified society, it’s almost imperative that her sexuality be exploited.
Companies like Playboy are reinforcing the normalization of the display and consumption of the hyper-sexualized female body. In our porn-saturated world, “porn culture” has indeed made sexual exploitation and the commodification of the human body a normal thing—that is to say, something our culture has sadly grown accustomed to.
So yes, as Playboy is so boldly declaring, naked pornographic images have become normal. But why? One reason is because, as companies like Playboy have grown in popularity, the media at large has adopted the same “sex sells” ideology, powerfully influencing our entire society. We’ve reached a point where if a woman wants to be visible in today’s pornified society, it’s almost imperative that her sexuality be exploited and put on display for the world to consume.
Take for example your typical music or TV reality star Instagram feed. Just scroll through some of the most famous names in pop culture and you will find a trove of photos that leave absolutely nothing to the imagination. Kim and Chloe Kardashian, Chrissy Teigen, Katy Perry, Miley Cyrus, and Chelsea Handler—just to name a few. These celebrities make getting naked on social media part of their attention grabbing, money-making routine. These aren’t “adult performers” in the porn industry. They are household names!
What happens to a society in which the objectified naked female body has become normal?
First off, we have to understand that viewing porn does something. It isn’t a static phenomenon viewed without any kind of reaction from the mind and body of the viewer. If you need proof of the potency of visual media on thought and behavior, consider the companies who pay multiple millions of dollars for advertising slots during the Super Bowl.
McDonald’s consistently spends over $900 million each year on visual media advertising. Why? Because any marketing-savvy company knows that media powerfully affects behavior. Media influence is a studied and researched force exerted by a media message. It results in either a measurable change or reinforcement in beliefs and actions. This relationship has been described as the “media effect.”1 Immunity from the effects of media simply does not exist.
Like with other kinds of media, expert Dr. Gail Dines powerfully shared with us in an interview that when people view porn they don’t “just” see a naked body and a sexual encounter.
What they don’t realize is they come away with a lot more… They come away with a worldview, they come away with an ideology, they come away with an identity about who they are—with ideas about what relationships look like, what sex looks like. And the thing about the stories that porn tells is these are the most intimate stories that seep into the very core of who you are.2
The story that Dr. Dines is referring to is one in which females are merely objects to consume, use, and abuse, and in which men are unfeeling, sexually obsessed predators and consumers.
Reclaiming the story
Although we live in a pornified world where naked has become normal, it is encouraging to know that fighting back against porn is becoming normal too. Organizations and people around the world are beginning to take a stand against porn. They are adopting a healthy sexuality and reclaiming the story of what it means to be a man and a woman. Even celebrities like Russell Brand, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Terry Crews, and Pamela Anderson have come out publicly with strong messages against the harms of porn.
Speaking about Playboy’s recent transition back to nudes, Cooper Hefner tweeted, “Nudity was never the problem because nudity isn’t a problem. Today we’re taking our identity back and reclaiming who we are.”
Well Mr. Hefner, today WE are taking OUR identity back and reclaiming who WE ARE, male and female alike. Men are so much more than mindless sexual consumers and predators. Women are so much more than sexual objects—a buffet of flesh to be bought and sold as currency in the market of pop culture acceptance. We are sons and daughters of a King, deserving of respect and dignity, and we are of great value, even with our clothes ON.
- 1. Bleakley, A., Hennessy, M., Fishbein, M., & Jordan, A. (2011). “Using the integrative model to explain how exposure to sexual media content influences adolescent sexual behavior,” Health Education & Behavior, 1090198110385775.
- 2. Dr. Gail Dines, in-person interview with Exodus Cry. 2013.