Columns 2009

Hugh..urp!…Hefner, the result of untreated venereal disease?

I was channel surfing the other night when I came upon Hugh Hefner and some young blond women promoting a show in which they appear. As best I could tell from the few moments that I sat there watching with my mouth agape and all belief in human intelligence suspended, this show was about those very young women being that very old man’s girlfriends.

The young ladies in question were about what you’d expect.  They couldn’t successfully fill out an application for Hooters but they are qualified to be Hefner’s special friends. They spent most of their airtime exhaling these very strange giggles that require their bosoms to heave in what seemed a totally unwarranted fashion for the sounds coming out of their mouths.

I realized as I turned the channel that Hugh Hefner reminded me of nothing more nor less than an ad for what happens if you leave your venereal disease untreated. He actually caused my stomach, to heave… which is just as well since at my age I’m not sure my breasts are capable of heaving anymore.

As I continued to surf through the channels, the picture of Hugh Hefner on that couch surrounded by women who were maybe one-fifth his age just wouldn’t leave my mind.  Here we are in the dawn of a new century. We’ve just finished a campaign in which two women were credible contenders for the highest offices in the land.  Women are routinely appointed to the strongest positions in government, from Secretary of State to Supreme Court judges. Even boardrooms are starting to change, slow though that change might be.

Yet here sits Hugh Hefner, a throwback to an era when women were confined to the home, secretarial pool or nursing station.  He’s stuck in a time and place that the rest of the world passed by long ago. 

So how does he still rate a TV show, a magazine and women who – if they are not really dumb blondes – are doing their best to imitate that genre in order to have the privilege of sitting next to dried up old codger who wouldn’t get a second look from them if it weren’t for his money and power?

When I was younger and thought this way, I always wondered if somewhere deep inside of me I wasn’t just a little jealous that these women were able to fill a man’s fantasy in a way I never could. Now that I’m older, I know that isn’t the case. I’m angry because these women degrade all women by their willingness to be degraded by a dirty old man. These women are living out an old man’s fantasy while allowing themselves to be viewed as sexual objects with little value beyond how well they shake their booty. 

Once again I feel the need to point out that you never ever see women of 80 cavorting with 20 year old men without a chorus of “Eeeyeu” being sounded out behind them. You don’t see Cloris Leachman making it with Mark Wahlberg on the big screen – unless it’s being done in a fantasy dream sequence from which she awakens knowing it could never happen. (On the other hand, Mark, if it could happen, call me). Yet you routinely see a portly (to put it in its kindest light) Jack Nicholson as a romantic lead with a woman half his age, or less.

I try to convince myself I shouldn’t mind if women use whatever means are at their disposal to make it in a world still so slanted towards men. I try to not feel that swelling of revulsion when I watch young women expose themselves for their fifteen minutes of glory, knowing that some day their glory will sag as it has for the rest of us and then what will they have.

I don’t wish Hugh Hefner ill…. well, maybe a little… but the civilized being in me tries not to wish him too much ill. I do wish, though, that he would retire himself from the sex scene and have enough compassion to save some of these dimly lit women from humiliating themselves on reality TV. It would seem the least he could do to give back to all those who have apparently given him so much.