Working at Playboy from a female’s perspective

A $500 million media empire with a largely male readership, Playboy is infamous for late founder Hugh Hefner’s flamboyant lifestyle, nudes, and Playmate bunnies. Popular opinion is that Playboy objectifies and degrades women, propagating the notion that women exist merely to serve men for pleasure. On the other hand, the publication can also be viewed as a celebration of women’s beauty, one that encourages women to embrace their sexuality.

Having read the last 4 issues of Playboy expecting it to contain nothing but nudes and sex articles, I was surprised to find the magazine’s topic range to be diverse and filled with insightful pieces on culture, politics, and people on the level of Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. The publication is taking a new, bold direction, aiming to appeal to younger audiences and cover topics that are relevant to us. I interviewed Anita Little, an Associate Sex & Culture Editor at Playboy Enterprises, a feminist, and also my dear friend, to give Kali readers a female (& feminist) perspective on what it’s like to work at Playboy.

Q: Has working at Playboy changed your outlook on sex and/or the feminine archetype?

A: I’ve always been pretty sex-positive and open about sexuality as a feminist, and I feel becoming an editor at Playboy only served to heighten that aspect of myself. However, one thing that’s changed is my perception of nudity and the naked female form. I’ve come to appreciate just the spectacle and wonder of a female body in a way that I hadn’t really explored previously and have come to see it, with all its curves and valleys, as a real work of art. I’ve also come to celebrate the nature of attraction much more.

Q: What’s your favorite perks of working at Playboy?

A: Honestly, just being part of such an iconic, legacy brand that’s contextualized and given shape to so many important moments in our country’s history. From civil rights to LGBT rights to reproductive rights, the magazine and brand has been at the forefront of American progressivism. (And all of the free Playboy swag is pretty nice too! My wardrobe is half Playboy gear at this point.)

Q: What’s the toughest part about working at Playboy?

A: Probably people not always understanding our ethos or our company mission. Since it has such a long history with so many different eras, some find it to be a polarizing brand and have strong opinions about it. I sometimes have gotten questions about why a feminist would work at a “porn” mag since they conflate anything having to do with nudity or sexuality with being lascivious. To me, freedom has always been the overriding philosophy of Playboy throughout the decades, and I feel that’s something that sometimes gets lost.

Q: How has working at Playboy changed your dating life?

A: It’s definitely a great conversation starter and automatically makes me appear more interesting than I actually am? Usually when I say where I work, some remark about me missing my bunny ears and tail follows soon after. But for the most part, people I date have intelligent questions about it and are genuinely curious.

Q: What’s your typical day like?

A: Honestly it’s like any other workplace. I get to my desk around 9, edit and publish stories, pitch ideas, correspond with writers and meet with the other creative departments to tackle our “big idea” projects.

Written By: Andrea Lee, @organicbeautylover