Tag Archives: Playboy

Three Diversions for the Fourth

4 Jul

Get your fireworks wherever you can, neighbors.

By Alexa Day

A merry Fourth of July to those who celebrate!

There’s always some measure of conflict about how the Fourth is best celebrated in the States and among Americans abroad. Does the day call for a trip to the beach? A cookout? Baseball game? Fireworks? What would best embody the nation’s ideals? Does the nation still have ideals?

This year, I mark the Fourth of July with one of my family’s enduring American values: I’m working. Work is the backbone of both sides of my family, so it would feel kind of strange to have nothing to do. But the spirit of the American workplace also demands an outlet for distractions. There’s little sense to working on a holiday if you’re not going to spend part of the day goofing off.

So for those of you who are working today, and those of you who are not, I present a brief list of holiday distractions. I just have one request for you all. When you encounter those who are working today, be good to them. It’s not enough to say that freedom’s not free. For a lot of Americans, freedom is damned expensive.

Now go have fun.

1. Playboy is on point as always. Get ready to see the founding fathers in a whole new light as the venerable Bunny Mag takes you on a kinky trip through America’s past. Feel free to break out those factoids when your fellow partygoer insists on the annual history lecture. He probably doesn’t know that Ben Franklin preferred cougars.

Also, this article about Pornhub’s new interactive porn caught my eye — you guys know I love the teledildonics. Pornhub says their interactive offerings are mostly (entirely) for men and their sex toys, but they’ll be sure to have something for the ladies soon. We must fight for our rights, my friends, and hold them to it.

2. OMGYes has been around for a long time, but I’m really just becoming aware of it. It’s a large repository of women sharing their frank observations about what gets them off. (Hint: the clitoris offers a near-infinite variety of avenues to climax, the most pleasurable of which are the least direct.) It’ll cost you to get in there, but $39 is a small price to pay for so much wisdom. Indeed, for some of us, that money is a tax deduction. Ain’t America grand?

3. Teen Vogue has emerged as a powerhouse of American journalism, and I am so, so proud to be able to say that without irony. Its standout political coverage, along with fashion articles and a feature on cake decorating that delivers on its every promise, declares to this nation and the world that the interests of teen girls are diverse, all-encompassing, and not limited to teen girls. Don’t sleep on the girls. Don’t sleep on Teen Vogue.

Guess what made me happiest? You got it — this article on BDSM and consent. It refers to itself as the “teen’s guide to understanding consent in BDSM,” and its crux, that uninformed consent is not consent at all, should be printed on billboards. Also not consent? Coerced consent. Such as when someone threatens to leave the relationship in his helicopter — or other conveyance, whatever — unless you do whatever he wants without complaint.

Actually, you know what? I’m no good at being coy. I’ll just drop a quote here.

“Christian Grey essentially coerced an inexperienced novice into a world of kink— she consented, but she didn’t even know what she was consenting to,” says Gigi Engle for Teen Vogue. “That is problematic and it is wrong.”

Her truth is marching on.

Have a happy Fourth and follow Lady Smut for all the fireworks.

“Naked is normal”: Playboy restores the nude pictorial

7 Mar
Nudity might be normal, but what about shame?

Nudity might be normal, but what about shame?

By Alexa Day

I remember writing about Playboy’s decision to remove the nude pictorial from their print issues. At that time, the pictorials had already been removed from the online issues. I wasn’t sure how I felt about it at the time, in large part because I read Playboy for the articles. I’m just not that interested in the nude female form. If I want to see female nudity, I’ll take my own shirt off.

I thought I’d heard that nudity had returned to Playboy, and on Saturday, my colleague Elizabeth Shore confirmed my suspicions. This was just a couple of weeks after I named Playboy one of the three things that was getting me through a bit of a creative slump. So now I’m presented with another opportunity to examine my feelings about the presence of the nude pictorial in Playboy, and I think I’m finally able to pick a lane.

I don’t care. I don’t care whether the nudity is present or not.

On the one hand, the restoration of nudity isn’t affecting the reasons I show up to the metaphorical Playboy party. (I mention the metaphor to emphasize that I am absolutely available for a real Playboy party.) I took a quick look at the website before I began to write this post and found an article about a hormone that improves sex (and isn’t testosterone or oxytocin), an advice column explaining what exactly a fuckboy is, and a short story about a young woman taking charge of her sexual awakening. The last time I visited, when I found a story in praise of sex with unattractive partners, I noticed how many women are contributors to Playboy. In fact, all the stories I just mentioned were written by women.

Here’s where it gets complicated for me.

If, indeed, the reason for bringing nudity back to Playboy is to increase readership, are we to believe that nudity is the only reason people will pick it up? That’s a little depressing. Playboy is bringing it right now. It should have a solid, dedicated audience of sex-positive people looking for the sort of content it supplies in abundance. I wonder if it might not benefit from more time to draw that audience. My suspicion is that a lot of potential readers are being scared away by their perception of Playboy’s reputation. Those folks are going to stay away now because they’re going to see this decision as a commitment to boobs before content.

Having said that, if the editorial staff stands to benefit from this decision, I will find a way to support it. After all, if nudity gets more eyes on the pages, at least some of those readers will stay for the stories. Nudity might sell that magazine, but strong content sells subscriptions. We’ve all seen what strong content is doing for Teen Vogue right now. I imagine Teen Vogue has picked up a lot of readers who don’t mind flipping past the story on six quick dorm-room breakfasts to get to the political coverage.

Don’t flip past that breakfast article, by the way. It’s sound advice. I actually eat two of the six featured breakfasts regularly, and I haven’t lived in a dorm in almost 30 years.

But what about the nudity itself?

I’ve always thought that a woman’s decision to pose nude for a magazine is just that — her decision. I can’t police that for her. I wouldn’t police it for her if I could. I’m never going to do it because nudity is a hard limit for me, but if it gives another woman pleasure to be photographed in the buff, I say go for it. Sure, people might point and leer, but I myself want to preserve the freedom to point and leer at unclothed men. Besides, I’m not sure we should let our presumptions about What Other People Think govern other women’s decisions. That position isn’t moving any of us forward.

The return of the nude pictorial is announced in the March/April issue with a cover announcing that “Naked is normal.” But if that raises the spectre of that one creep everyone seems to know, the one whining that “naked is normal” when he’s trying to convince you to cross a boundary, take heart in this month’s short story. In “Supercops,” an 18-year-old girl makes the decision to lose her virginity to an older man, so that she’ll know what sex is like before heading to college. The encounter is not described in any detail — indeed, the protagonist reflects on it with some regret — but her thoughts on the matter are significant.

“[A]fter graduation,” Meredith muses, “a woman not only had the right, she had the responsibility to use her body the way she saw fit—or what was feminism for?”

If feminism isn’t a woman’s decision to do what she damn well pleases, whether that’s choosing the princess life, attacking the glass ceiling, or posing nude for Playboy, then what is feminism’s purpose, in the final analysis?

Playboy’s official position is similar (careful, that link comes with music). In a world trying to decide “what freedom is, and what it looks like, for all of us,” the magazine wants to examine “how freedom, feminism and nudity intersect.” The new issue includes an essay on the topic from Scarlett Byrne, whose nude pictorial is also featured this month. Scarlett Byrne’s fiance is the magazine’s chief creative officer, but if you think she got here on her cup size, you might be part of the problem, she says.

“[W]hen women associate themselves with anything involving ownership of their sexuality, they’re often perceived as having abandoned their intellect,” Byrne writes. There’s a great deal of truth to that. It’s an accusation leveled against many a romance writer, especially those of us writing erotic romance, and we are in turn quick to point prudish fingers at others. Byrne goes on to say that she was hesitant to appear topless on this month’s Playboy, heralding the magazine’s return to nudity, but that she changed her mind when she considered a longstanding double standard.

“Was it just me who thought it was absurd that if Playboy published a topless woman on the cover and Men’s Health put a man on the cover in a similar pose, Playboy would be the one to be put behind blinders?” Byrne asks. “When I considered that fact, it became clear in that moment that it didn’t have anything to do with Playboy. It was about the double standards still being applied to gender roles.”

I wish Playboy a long and happy future. And if nudity is what it takes to secure that, then I guess I support the nude pictorial as well.

Still, I’m curious to see what lies ahead.

Follow Lady Smut. We promise to keep it tasteful.

For Your Amusement: Three Diversions to Occupy Your Impatient Mind

24 Jan
Dorothy and Lucas, from Emerald City. This ain't Kansas, and that guy's no scarecrow.

Dorothy and Lucas, from Emerald City. This ain’t Kansas, and that guy’s no scarecrow.

By Alexa Day

Three weeks until The Walking Dead comes back.

Eight months until Pitch returns.

Day 3 of the new President’s first 100.

These are hard times for an impatient woman. I found myself in search of diversions, something to take my mind off the political clusterf*ck that is social media. Something that would make time go by much, much faster.

I got lucky this week and found three.

1. Emerald City. Mixed opinions follow Emerald City, an NBC series inspired by L. Frank Baum’s Oz books. It’s a dark reimagining of the stories many of us know best through the 1939 movie The Wizard of Oz. But the Oz books were darker than the film, and the series is darker still. Just within the first few episodes, the story reveals prostitution, ritual suicide, and the introduction of gun violence into a world that’s already a pretty dangerous place.

I love it.

Visually, Emerald City is quite a spectacle. The spires of the titular city rise high over the sea, and we’re treated to a variety of sweeping landscapes. Everything looks just unreal enough. It’s a big change from the Technicolor experimentation of the film.

Women dominate Emerald City’s storylines. The Wizard has forbidden magic in the realm of Oz … and magic is used primarily, if not exclusively, by women. The story traces several women’s relationships with their powers, whether their magic is stifled, latent, or on full, startling display. Morality, identity and power come together in fascinating ways, and before long, the Oz of Emerald City starts to raise questions that have troubled women for a long, long time.

Oh … and the Scarecrow’s never looked quite like this.

Give it a try. It’ll make you think.

2. Playboy. I wrote a while ago about what Playboy would be like without its nudes. I popped over there last weekend, looking for something to read, and I was very pleasantly surprised. Playboy has always upheld a somewhat proud literary tradition; its track record with short fiction is long and impressive. And then there’s the Playboy interview, whose question-and-answer format gave Alex Haley a way to use laconic jazz legend Miles Davis’s curt responses. When I read Playboy, I really was there for the articles. But I’ll confess that I haven’t read any part of it in a pretty long time.

I don’t know if the disappearance of the print pictorial has anything to do with it, but my recent visit to the website revealed a wealth of women writers, alongside their male counterparts. The lineup of articles includes coverage of the Women’s March (including the best of the signs), questions about women, jazz and La La Land, a critique of modern journalism, and my favorite — a peek at how much better sex can be with an unattractive partner.

Are there still scantily clad women on the Playboy website? Sure. But I work in a world of scantily clad men. I will not now be seen to point fingers.

3. Exhibit Unadorned. In its struggle to redeem itself this past week, Facebook introduced me to a new-to-me blog, Exhibit Unadorned. Kayla Lords, a woman I’m proud to call a Facebook friend, wrote this interview with Exhibit A, a male sex blogger from London. Exhibit A didn’t match my stereotypes of what a male sex blogger would sound like. Sure, his blog has a whole page of links to dick pics sprinkled generously through his posts. But his post about a sex party he attended with his girlfriend would be at home in any erotic romance. A his-and-hers commentary about a shabbily written list of sex don’ts is too cute for words, and all too true.

I feel bad for being surprised by this. I don’t really have a reason, other than being narrow-minded, to think that a male sex blogger can’t produce this kind of inviting, fun, sex-positive work. Perhaps Snctm left a bad taste in my mouth.

If you’re looking for a diversion for the next 98 days and beyond, I hope I’ve given you a lot to click on! We’re all in this together, after all. And if you’ve got diversions to share, hit me up in the comments.

And follow Lady Smut. The time will just fly by.

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