Letter to advertiser and response to Playboy publisher
Complete version of a letter Linnea Smith wrote to advertisers in Playboy magazine and response to Playboy publisher (July, 1995).
The goal of a just society must be to recognize the full humanity of all its citizens. I'm asking you to please...now...demonstrate your commitment to the equality and security of women and choose other magazines to support with your advertising dollars. I'm writing as a professional in the health care field. I'm writing as a member of the largest consumer population in the U.S.--women. When you advertise in Playboy, you're saying to the world that it's OK to devalue women, to objectify them, to see them only as sex objects--and children as smaller versions of the same.
Thank you for your time and attention. I hope my appeal moves you to make smarter advertising buying decisions, and I look forward to hearing from you about this important issue. Please expect more letters like mine soon. I've enclosed a brief booklet citing examples of the abuse we're trying to halt.
On August 18, 1995 Richard Kinsler, Playboy's executive vice president/publisher, wrote to Linnea Smith. He had received word from the Seagram's alcohol company that Smith had contacted them with her findings on the magazine. While Kinsler's letter was directed to Smith, she believes that its real audience was the Seagram's company, who received a copy. The following letter is what Smith wrote in response. She went section by section, answering Kinsler's letter (shown here in italics) in the way people communicate within the Internet.
"October 31, 1995
Your letter, Mr. Kinsler,
The letter, Dr. Smith, ...you've written to Mr. Edgar Bronfman, Jr. at Joseph E. Seagram & Sons, Ltd., has been passed on to me, as a matter of information. I would very much like to respond and ask that you have an open mind in reading my remarks as I am indeed sensitive to what you have written.
It's funny, Mr. Kinsler, the way you carelessly throw around words and phrases that should have meaning and importance. At the same time that you ask me to have an open mind and understand your sensitivity, I see a magazine that refuses to accurately inform its readers and the general public about its methods and content. From your letter to me and Seagram's, I see these same shenanigans played out with your business clientele as well.
How can there be any meaningful dialogue when you deny what is in print and stored in your own archives...Not to mention lying on coffee tables, in boxesin closets and under the mattresses of your readers young and old? Once again, this dishonesty has influenced me to distribute these disturbing depictions of what you say "in no way have or would" do. Can you honestly, with an "open mind" as a "sensitive" person, look at these depictions and once again, as in your letter to me, deny their very existence?
As far as our all American team selections, they are made by Gary Cole, our sports editor, who's well versed and extremely knowledgeable about all college sports programs across the country.
In what way is Mr. Cole well-versed? How knowledgeable is he? What in his background qualifies him alone and not a committee of respected professionals to be select All-Americans...and then disqualify them if they refuse to participate in the weekend photo session? Why does this have an impact on whether or not they make your "team"? Hardly sportsmanlike, Mr. Kinsler.
The question of pornography is certainly subjective. We at Playboy do not think of our magazine in that context and in fact specifically target the publication for readers over 18. Our median age is 32.
At least 30% of your cartoons and illustrations are child magnets*- Santa Claus, the Wizard of Oz, etc.. Why, if you're NOT targeting the vulnerable juvenile audience? The average young male sees his first Playboy at age 11. Ninety*-seven percent of young males in middle school have been exposed to your or other gateway magazines. ALL*-100% of males in high school have read or looked at your publication and similar "men's entertainment" magazines.
We in notway depict the "sexualization" of children, nor would we.
Please look again, Mr. Kinsler. Research counted an average eight child images per issue of Playboy *--5% of your total imagery (1954*-1984). Are eight depictions of children per issue, most in sexualized scenarios, the same thing as "no way"? Please, feel free to open an issue and count them yourself...or refer to a review of the original date featured in the 1994 book Media, Children and The Family: Social Scientific, Psychodynamic, and Clinical Perspectives, edited by nationally recognized researcher Dolf Zillman, Chair of Communications for the University of Alabama.
Major studies have shown the pictorials Playboy features in no way lead to aggression or cruelty to others as you mentioned.
What major studies, Mr. Kinsler? I'd be very interested in reading those studies you mentioned*- with the same open mind, of course, that you read my material. The only ones I know of are the phony front organization and PR campaigns your group financed to discredit the Attorney General's Commission on Pornography and its findings, especially findings about your own content. What studies, excluding publications you paid for, can you recommend for my reading?
The magazine is offered to adults as a matter of choice. I certainly recognize your fundamental right to express yourself and believe you must give the same right to other people on this and many other subjects. Sincerely, Richard Kinsler.
You talk about fundamental rights, Mr. Kinsler, and choice. There is no choice without truth. It is dishonest to dupe the general public and advertisers into choosing without first giving them accurate, honest information. This whole issue as I see it is about truth...being able to open your own magazine, see these sexualized depictions of children and admit, 'OK, so we DID print child pornography. And it's wrong.' The issue is about honesty...being able to read and weigh the merits of the scientific data that says pornography is a public health hazard endangering all citizens. Of course, we both know there won't be 100% consensus on such a complex social issue. But there certainly exists an increasingly growing body of sanctioned, internationally recognized and respected scientific data that supports this concern. But we're not just talking about so-called hard-core violent material. The evidence implicates non-violent and dehumanizing pornography as well. It harms not only women and girls, but also men and boys--your primary consumers. According to Garyaaamm. Brooks, PhD. in his l995 book The Centerfold Syndrome, "The Centerfold Syndrome represents one of the most malignant forces in contemporary relationships between men and women,"impairing male sexuality and sabotaging intimacy.
I know in the spirit of openmindedness and truth, you agree. What do you choose to do, Mr. Kinsler?
P.S. The day you're willing to appear naked*--bent over, legs spread (air-brushing allowed)-- and say it's NOT demeaning to you, then you can make that claim for women so displayed. I look forward to being able to understand and share your view with Seagram's and other corporate sponsors."
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