STYLE

What's The Point Of Playgirl Magazine?

12/04/2011 11:06 | Updated 22 May 2015

Last week marked the launch of the UK edition of Playgirl magazine – the title that was originally founded in 1973, at the height of the second wave of feminism, in response to men's magazines like Playboy and Penthouse.

Across the pond, it's a monthly magazine aimed at heterosexual women – although half the readers are gay men – that features full-frontal nudity, and the online edition is even more explicit.

But you won't find any willies in the UK edition because their research showed that delicate English roses don't like looking at naked men.

Instead, it's only going to feature pictures of topless 'hunks', along with interviews with male celebs, high-street fashion, health features, depressing real-life stories and – the section that would really horrify 70s' feminists – recipes.

And in another blow to female sexual liberation, the cover star Robert Pattinson – although undoubtedly easy on the eye – is best known for playing chaste vampire Edward Cullen in the Twilight movies. If you're familiar with the books you'll know that Edward holds out on Bella until they're married – even though she regularly begs for sex and eventually agrees to getting engaged only if he'll put out.

If the man who stars in a series of teen films credited with making abstinence cool has become the ultimate sex symbol for today's women, then what does that say about female sexuality in 2011?

And how did a publication that's supposed to be all about sex come to be rebranded as a frothy lifestyle and entertainment mag?

Of course, it's been a long-standing joke that men only buy Playboy "for the articles." But imagine the reaction if the editor decided to get rid of all the naked models and bouncing boobs, throw in a few thought-provoking real life stories about erectile dysfunction and stick a red carpet shot of Keira Knightley on the cover.

I'm guessing that sales figures wouldn't be the only thing to deflate.

While it's probably true that women aren't all that interested in looking at pictures of naked men – let's face it, an upstanding centrefold is more likely to make women giggle than turn them on – that doesn't mean that the first erotic magazine for women should be reinvented as something that you wouldn't be embarrassed to flick though in the dentist's waiting room.

Women's glossies have long known that erotica is popular with their readers, which is why they often incorporate an 'X-Rated Sealed Section' or supplement. And magazines like Scarlet prove that it's possible to present women's sexuality in a frank and empowering way without subjecting us to any more pictures of The Chippendales.

Playgirl, on the other hand, treats readers to two pages of interviews with largely unattractive 'real men', sharing their thoughts on the perma-hotness of Cheryl Cole, why men should always make the first move and outlining how they prefer women to dress.

Spend five minutes reading what this lot have to say and you're likely to go off sex for good.

And surely that defeats the purpose of picking up a copy of Playgirl in the first place.

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