Creepy Reason Hugh Hefner Chose The Bunny As Playboy Symbol
I always presumed the bunny behind the playboy bunny was meant to symbolise sexual stamina, as in ‘at it like rabbits’ or the famously virile Duracell Bunny.
Turns out the real reason is kind of icky and further reveals the vintage brand of sexism which for many people defines the late Hugh Hefner much more than his contribution to journalism or his notable civil rights record.
Writing in 1963, Hugh penned the following passage which lays bare his questionable views on women which has been tweeted by journalist Sophie Wilkinson:
The rabbit, the bunny, in America has a sexual meaning, and I chose it because it’s a fresh animal, shy, vivacious, jumping – sexy.
First it smells you, then it escapes, then it comes back, and you feel like caressing it, playing with it.
A girl resembles a bunny. Joyful, joking.
As if likening a woman to a ‘fresh animal’ didn’t sound weird enough, Hugh continued to explain his rather patronizing preference for ‘simple’ rather than ‘difficult’ women:
Consider the kind of girl that we made popular: the Playmate of the Month.
She is never sophisticated, a girl you cannot really have, she is a young, healthy, simple girl – the girl next door. We are not interested in the mysterious, difficult woman, the femme fatale, who wears elegant underwear, with lace, and she is sad, and somehow mentally filthy.
The Playboy girl has no lace, no underwear, she is naked, well-washed with soap and water and she is happy.
Of course, it would never have occurred to Hef his ‘healthy, simple girls’ would have complicated thoughts beneath their bunny ears.
How uncomfortable would it have made ‘Heff’ to know they too could be regarding and scrutinising him right back.
Hugh offered the sort of fantasy world which only appears glamorous if you squint hard enough.
Despite those enormous iron gates and infantilising 9pm curfews, seedy details of life at the Playboy Mansion have seeped out.
Former models have spoken out about the damp bedrooms with stained sheets, the dinners which tasted like hospital food – all so far removed from the glittering Gatsby-esque wonderland of the public imagination.
These ‘joyful, joking’ girls were also not always what they appeared on the surface.
Former bunny, Holly Madison, spoke about Hugh’s manipulative nature and her own suicidal thoughts while living at the mansion in her eye-opening autobiography, Down the Rabbit Hole: Curious Adventures and Cautionary Tales of a Former Playboy Bunny.
Holly wrote about how she found Hugh to be emotionally controlling, as well as how she came to feel trapped at the mansion because of concerns over her perceived limited career opportunities.
As an early champion of women’s reproductive rights, Hugh openly regarded himself to be a feminist.
By celebrating female sexuality way before it was acceptable, many people still view Hugh to be something of a pioneer.
Furthermore, Playboy has included quality writing from notable women writers such as Margaret Attwood and Germaine Greer.
Much like the bunny sign, there’s a lot more to Hef than we all perceive and it’s difficult and complicated to work out.