Playboy is making a big deal about featuring their first transgender Playmate, Ines Rau on their cover next month. The magazine has featured transgender models as far back as the 1980s but it has never put one on the cover before. Why? Because Playboy has been successfully marketed for 64 years to the vast majority of men who are straight and who want to look at biological females with their clothes off.
An estimated .58% of Americans are transgender, according to a 2016 poll by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy. That’s just over half of one percent of the population. Transgender rights certainly must be protected – but must trans aesthetics be shoved down the throats of the remaining 99.42%? Why is an equation suddenly being made between these two positions in our pop culture?
Cooper Hefner, the Chief Creative Officer at Playboy magazine tweeted, “We should collectively be fighting for a more open world, not one that promotes hatred and lack of acceptance.”
I’d say that most straight American men don’t hate trans people; they accept them and want to see their civil rights protected. This is a very different matter from straight men wanting see trans women in a girly mag! Again, transgender Americans (including female-to-male) comprise .58% of the population. This is not Playboy’s marketing niche.
Or it hasn’t been. Cooper Hefner told the New York Times that choosing Rau as the Playmate “speaks to the brand’s philosophy. It’s the right thing to do. We’re at a moment where gender roles are evolving,” he said.
What does he mean, “Gender roles are evolving”?
The wonderful scholar Camille Paglia weighs in here on the current “transgender mania” that we’re seeing, whereby disaffected youth, who in previous generations might have become Beatnicks or Hippies are today affecting gender dysphoria. In her decades of study, Paglia has seen an obsession with androgyny and the denial of masculinity go hand-in-hand with the decline of a particular culture. From the ancient Greeks to the Weimar Germans, she’s seen this again and again. Inevitably, the culture in decline is being surrounded by conquering barbarians who unquestioningly believe in the heroism of masculinity; groups like the Huns and ISIS…