Throughout his life, Playboy founder Hugh Hefner was a strong advocate for black, LGBT and women’s rights, and should be remembered as an ally to civil rights movements, infers Stephanie Petit of People. What makes his actions so impressive is that he took them at times when such movements were far less popular than they are today. In 1965, he took a stand for abortion rights. He was a strong contributor to gay rights during the AIDS campaign. Playboy has long featured black celebrities and journalists while donating to black civil rights groups. In 1991, he published photos of a transgender woman. Hefner’s positive mark on history is indisputable.
Hugh Hefner may have succeeded at painting himself as a supporter of equal rights, but he actively mistreated and degraded countless women, writes Julie Bindel of the Independent. In the Playboy Mansion, they would be forced to obey a tight and uncomfortable dress code. Offering him sex was one of the unspoken rules. His guests would follow his lead and treat them like dirt too. Using his status and power, Hefner bullied and demeaned women, calling them “dogs” and “sex objects.” He led the commodification of pornography, making women’s bodies and suffering a resource for the masses. Hefner should be reviled for his misdeeds.