Sex. This is the subject Americans seem to always be talking about. It is on our televisions, it is in our magazines, and it is always on our minds. Yet how did sexuality become so public? When is it that sex became such an integral part of American life?
In my case study paper, I plan to analyze Playboy magazine and how this well known magazine single-handedly changed the way Americans feel about sex and sexuality. By sexuality, I mean more than just images of half naked girls under waterfalls. I am talking about a lifestyle that comes with being hip and sexy. I call this lifestyle the “bachelor lifestyle.” Hugh Hefner’s Playboy magazine exposed the country to how sex and the bachelor lifestyle could be a more exciting, fulfilling way to live life.
This lifestyle was enticing to the suburban men of the 1950’s that felt the “Leave it to Beaver lifestyle” was the only thing they could aspire to in life. Playboy was a lifestyle they could buy into. They could buy the images of attractive young sexually expressive girls in expensive city apartments. From an Bernays point of view, Hugh Hefner was a master salesman. He made it possible for sexually frustrated, unfulfilled suburban men to buy the bachelor lifestyle they always desired for only a few dollars (if that).
I want to explore more than how just Playboy made it possible to buy a lifestyle. I want to explore how Playboy paved the way for other magazines to take on this image of the “bachelor lifestyle.” Specifically, I would like to examine GQ and Cosmopolitan. Because men were not the only ones inspired by this movement for the bachelor.
I feel that magazine covers and cover stories are more than just eye candy for the grocery store or the doctor’s office. Magazines are a representation of where society is at that time in history. Therefore, studying Playboy, GQ, and Cosmopolitan (3 of the most popular magazines in the country) I will have deeper insight into who Americans were (specifically during the 1950’s, ’60’s, and ’70’s).
How did Playboy influence a nation through images?
Did Hugh Hefner use Bernays’ philosophy to sell sex and the bachelor to America?
Can women truly become bachelors in their own right?