Gloria Steinem must be experiencing a serious case of déja vu. Forty-eight years after she went undercover as a Playboy Bunny and wrote an infamous exposé revealing the club's "underpaid waitresses in too-high heels" with few work options had to undergo pelvic exams and STD screenings among other things, she's laying bare the exploitation she saw all over again in part thanks to the new NBC show The Playboy Club. Steinem is calling for a boycott of the show, which she fears will glamorize "one of the tackiest places on earth."
In a new interview, Steinem told Reuters that while she considers Mad Men a net positive because it presents the '60s with some realism, she expects that "The Playboy Club will be a net minus and I hope people boycott it. It's just not telling the truth about the era." While we've come a long way since the '60s, Steinem thinks glamorizing the sexist aspects of the era can have negative consequences today. In her opinion, the show "normalizes a passive dominant idea of gender. So it normalizes prostitution and male dominance."
Last week the show's star Amber Heard said she thinks it is "empowering." Amber said, "This is about choice, ultimately. It was a different generation, there were different opportunities and different expectations for women . . . It's chauvinistic to deny a woman her sexuality. If they are making the choice, then they're not being exploited." Other network officials called it "all about empowering these women to be whatever they want to be" and a "really funny soap opera." With nostalgic distance, it's impossible not to look back and see the past as more glamorous than it was. But if the makers of the show want to give it some historical accuracy too, they need only consult Gloria's original piece.