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Feminists in Chicago are protesting a proposal to name a street in that city after Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. Isn't there already a street named after Hefner? Isn't it called Wacker Drive? -- Jay Leno, April 12, 2000

Vote NO to Hugh Hefner Way

Date: April 11, 2000
From: Nick Seidenman

A decision to name a public street after misogynist Hugh Hefner will say much about the character of Chicago's governing body and its attitude toward women -- none of it good. Please do not let this measure pass. When you vote today, vote 'no' to naming any street after someone who made his money off the backs of women on their backs. I think Mr. Heffner is nothing more than a pimp. By voting 'yes' you only help the city become another of his johns.

Nick Seidenman
Ft. Lauderdale, Florida

April 11, 2000
From: John Burke & Margaret A. Gannon, Esq., San Francisco California

I urge you to oppose the proposal to name a Chicago street after Hugh Hefner.
     Hefner has consistently opposed women's struggle for dignity and equality, just as the Faubuses, Wallaces, Maddoxes and other diehard segregationists opposed equal rights for African Americans. Chicago would never consider honoring any of those men; for exactly the same reason—a commitment to justice—Chicago should not honor Hefner. Thank you.

Date: April 12, 2000
From: Angela Bortel

I am an activist currently working on issues of prostitution and trafficking in St. Petersburg, Russia. However, I spent much of my childhood in and out of Chicago. As a city I consider one of my hometowns, one I'm usually proud to claim, I'm appalled at the Council's decision to commemorate Hugh Hefner - pornographer and woman-hater.
     Often held up as a "tasteful", "respectful" alternative to so-called hard-core pornography, even cursory examination reveals Playboy to be rife with the themes of incest, dominance, violence against women, and other themes hardly in-step with the so-called egalitarian messages Hefner purports to represent.
     Call a spade a spade: Playboy is pornography. Playboy demeans women. Playboy harms women, as well as the men who become accustomed to consuming women as such product.
     To bestow him this honor legitimizes and justifies the harm he's done to both those women used in the pornography, as well as those women victimized by men who have consumed it. Although Hefner retorted that those opposing the street were relics of another century, his brand of palatable misogyny harkens back to days many would like to think are long gone. So then, perhaps his archaic messages are, sadly enough, in-step with contemporary America's political climate.
     Having worked on issues of prostitution and pornography for years, the links between the two, as well as the individual and societal harm they engender, is clear. We can not separate them - they are too intimately linked. The pimps control both industries. They make the decisions on who gets beaten, how it gets done, and how much victimized women will be paid, if anything. Hefner's women (please note the subjective nature of this often-used phrase) may be smiling, but perhaps it's because they're being made to? Is it possible these emissaries of sexual freedom are not in fact enjoying their "work"?
     Hefner's tireless efforts to ensure his porn rag is afforded the fullest protection of the First Amendment further demonstrates the power differential in this so-called industry. Quite simply, pornographers' "speech", or right to subject women to anything from humiliation to violence, has been deemed protected expression. This has ensured that women victimized by the pornography industry are effectively precluded from seeking even civil recourse. These women's very tangible speech on the beatings, drugs they were forced to take, kidnappings, etc., they have endured has few listeners beyond the feminist community.
     Their speech is free in the unsophisticated sense that they are theoretically able to say what they like (after they've gotten out of the porn industry, if they are so fortunate). However, when considering whose "speech" is valued, respected, and simply believed, the pornographers win every time. With their money and connections to public figures, as well as organized crime, they can assure their "speech" remains free to squelch all dissenting voices - that is, all those accusing them of perpetrating violence against women. Hardly an open forum.
     I strongly urge the City of Chicago to reconsider its actions of recent days. To honor Hugh Hefner is yet another smack in the face of every woman who has been damaged or swallowed up by the pornography industry. I urge you to re-examine your actions. Talk to activists who have worked with women victims of pornography. Talk with survivors themselves. They will paint a picture different from the happy go-lucky scene Hefner promotes. Get informed. Don't go to the free speech institutes. Playboy is often one of their biggest donors.
     Thank you for your time. Please act responsibly and in good conscience. Don't let Chicago be known as a bastion of woman-hating.

Angela Bortel
ulitsa Korablestroitelei, Russia

Naming a Street After a Pornographer

Date: April 10, 2000
From: Patricia Barrera

Dear Mayor Daley,
I have just heard about your administration's proposal to name a street after a pornographer, Playboy publisher Hugh Hefner. I am very upset about this idea. How is it that this man could top the list of potential community members to be honored in such a way? There are numerous local academics, health care professionals, musicians, and artists who deserve our recognition and honor. To elevate Hefner above these community members who have done so much for our city is a shame.
     The pornography industry has done nothing of value for our communities. These pimps express nothing but contempt for women and our bodies, and maintain rigid stereotypes about human sexuality and intimate relationships. And their horrific treatment of the women and men they use to create their pictures and films is simply unacceptable for people of conscience.
     I urge you to act immediately to drop this proposal to show any amount of respect to Hefner and his ilk. We, the people of Chicago, deserve more.

Patricia Barrera
Rogers Park resident

Date: April 12, 2000
From: Shyla Welch

Dear Chicago City Council Members,
Today you vote on whether to honor Hugh Hefner, and by extension "Playboy" magazine, by naming a street Hugh Hefner Way. I encourage you to vote against this measure.
     Concerns about pornography are not baseless, alarmist reactions by anti-sex prudes or extremists. Rather, they are based upon thousands of controlled research studies that invariably demonstrate the significant negative effects of pornography--including negative effects on attitudes, values, and behaviors. I am sure you are aware of the harmful secondary effects of sexually oriented businesses--Chicago has zoned those businesses into certain areas *because* of those secondary effects.
     The Hefners say they do not consider their magazine to be pornography, and doubtless they wish the rest of us did not recognize it as pornography, either. The Hefners' intellectual dishonesty does not change the nature of their business, nor does it alter the negative effects of their pornography, in any way. Furthermore, the Hefners use of proceeds from this enterprise to further certain political and charitable causes does not miraculously change the impact of their product, nor does it legitimize their magazine.
     What cloaks this magazine in legitimacy, Ladies and Gentlemen, is your vote to honor Hugh Hefner by naming a street after him. The message you send to the citizens of Chicago, and to society in general, is that the perpetuation of stereotypes and antiquated attitudes toward women is fine, as long as you talk a good line and donate some of your enormous
profit to charity.

Very truly yours,
Shyla Welch

Boycott the Old Boys City

Chicago, Where is your sense of responsibility and respect for women in naming an avenue after Hugh Hefner? You decided this rich man who pedals "tits and ass" should be glorified and that his contribution merits a tribute usually reserved for those like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Helen Keller or others who have genuinely devoted themselves to following the basic tenants of courage and justice and equality for all. Is Hugh Hefner's name one our children should consider Honorable or inspirational? What shallow thinking has influenced you to be led by the lowest common denominator? It is easy for elected officials to open more doors for people to hate those of color, women, homosexuals or the handicapped. You are responsible for elevating a man who has successfully devoted his life to capitalizing on exploiting women. You are responsible and there is no way you can trivialize your decision to the satisfaction of people who are serious about making the world a little kinder and respectful to those who stand to benefit from Affirmative Action. It is not okay to portray women as sex objects. It is not okay to name streets in America after people who have used their creativity to objectify women, blacks or anyone. Will you next name the avenue leading up to the holocaust museum the" Honorable Adolf Hitler Lane"?

From: Laura Geenchild
April 12, 2000

Date: April 12, 2000
From: Elizabeth Matz

"She was soft-featured, a child--she could be 12 or 20--whom you might expect to be demure and modest, but there was glint of craziness in her smile...Thinking too many judges had daughters under 18, Derek waited and smiled back at her." --Playboy, June 1975, pp.93-98)
     From an earlier issue, in 1973, Playboy published a story called "Voices" about a man :
"Mr. West had two big problems on his mind. One had to do with Amelia--lovely, desirable, willing and attainable, but also 14 years old, his niece and feeble-minded. [staying with him while parents in Europe] The very thought of her made his hands itch and his nose tremble. But then he thought about the penalties for statutory rape and decided to postpone that one." In the closing paragraph Mr. West's "inner voice" says, " ...about Amelia--all you have to do is spike her kool-aid with two Nembutals tonight and you can figure out the rest for yourself....Every man must follow the dictates of his own inner voice."
     Please consider! Hugh Hefner and Playboy have promoted the sexual exploitation of girls for over 25 years! The above are typical, not isolated examples. Do not honor him, please do not name a street after him. If you have done so, please undo it! This is real and serious, if you want to see these original items, Please feel free to contact me.

Elizabeth Matz
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Do not name street after Hefner, Please!

Date: April 11, 2000
From: Donna Hughes

Dear Mayor Daley and Aldermen of Chicago,

I have heard that the City of Chicago is considering naming a street after Hugh Hefner.
     I believe this action is an offense to women everywhere, especially to the women and girls of Chicago. Hugh Hefner has built is empire on sexism, sexual exploitation and immorality. He may have a First Amendment right to publish his views on women, but that doesn't mean that most people share those views or should have to drive on a street named after him.
     I do research and teaching in the area of violence against women and sexual exploitation. On a daily basis I hear accounts of violence against women in the sex industry. Hefner himself has been accused of acts of violence against women, although no one has ever been able to hold him accountable.
     I'll keep this message short, as I'm sure there are many women in Chicago who can explain to you why Hefner is not an appropriate person to have a street named after him.
     I urge you to oppose the nomination of Hefner to status of honor and respectability reserved for street names.

Donna M. Hughes
Eleanor M. and Oscar M. Carlson Endowed Chair
Director, Women's Studies Program
University of Rhode Island

I'm disgusted.
The Committee on Transportation and Public Way ought to have considered one serious impact of their decision. Chicago is a convention town, and, as for myself, I intend to contact organizations to which I belong and fight to boycott Chicago as a site for a convention. The city "fathers" have made a stupid and offensive decision
regarding honoring a self-centered, money-grabbing misogynist.

Stephen D. Grubman-Black, Ph.D.
Professor (Joint Appointment)
Women's Studies Program and
College of Human Science and Services
University of Rhode Island
Room 314
90 Lower College Road, Suite 13, Kingston, RI 02881


April 11, 2000

"Don't let Hefner get his way with Chicago!" is the demand of Advocates for Prostituted Women and Girls, an organization that assists teen girls and young women who been used in prostitution and pornography.
     Alderman Burton Natarus is forcing this resolution through the City Council, despite the clear opposition from citizens and fellow aldermen. People of the city of Chicago are being refused an opportunity to understand the issue and express their opinion.
     Hugh Hefner's creation, Playboy magazine, objectifies women and girls and promotes rape and incest. Playboy has published articles and letters by Lawrence Stanley, Bill Andriette and other writers who are members or defenders of pedophile organizations debunking child pornography and incest as "myth" and encourages readers to see the problem of child sexual abuse as not serious.
     The city names sections of streets all over Chicago to honor respected citizens who have contributed great deeds and good works to the community. Hugh Hefner has made his millions off of the sexual exploitation of women and girls. He is simply a high-class pimp. What will tourists, who come from all over the world to shop at Michigan Avenue stores, think of a city that honorarily names a street corner after a pornographer?
     Advocates for Prostituted Women and Girls works with the survivors of the pornography industry after people like Hugh Hefner are finished using up and profiting from them. We will be at the ceremony to unveil Hefner's sign - a ceremony planned and arranged before any vote was taken - to inform the public about the reality of Playboy and let everyone know that Hefner deserves no honor.

Other Playboy links
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