The Girls Next Door
The show has such a weird dynamic, with Hef seeming more like an overindulgent father than a co-equal boyfriend. And this girlfriend-as-child trope is definitely what bothers Alice, with good reason, obviously. So I have come to hold her position. The show is just gross. There is a book about girls like the ones on the show and it definitely applies here. I heard the author on NPR, and I'm not sure I agree with all her analysis, but for the Girls Next Door, her point definitely stands. It doesn't really seem to me like the Girls Next Door are empowered feminists, who manipulate men with sex appeal to increase the scope of their freedom. They are just sex objects.
Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture is a 2005 book by Ariel Levy.
Levy takes issue with two breeds of feminists: "lipstick feminists" and "loophole women." According to Levy, lipstick feminists believe, for example, that stripping is empowering and that putting on a show to attract men (be it through makeup, clothing, or girl-on-girl gyration) is not contrary to the goals and ideals of feminism. Levy disagrees with this view.
On the other end of the spectrum, Levy takes issue with women who make their way in a man's world by playing by men's rules. Sometimes, she argues, these women even make their fame and fortune by objectifying other women; for example, Levy finds it interesting that Playboy is currently run by a woman. Even to those women who make their way in their field legitimately, but shy away from feminism, Levy protests: "But if you are the exception that proves the rule, and the rule is that women are inferior, you haven't made any progress." (p. 117) From Wikipedia
Recently, I created a blog on The Girls Next Door for my gender and popular culture class. I noticed your opinion about the Girls Next Door that the girls are just sex objects and that they are not empowering feminist, who manipulate men for money and freedom. I think that a further analysis must be done in order to make this assumption clear.
The girls are obviously portrayed in the show as being "sex objects". Their over the top sexy appearance- wearing barely anything- is apparent in the show. And it may seem as though they are Hugh Hefner's property, his girlfriends, who he protects and provides for on a daily basis. However, these girls may not be as ditzy or stupid as they are portrayed in the show. This may as well be an act to get what they want. Why else would three beautiful young girls drool over an 80 year old man? These women know what they are doing, and if they weren't satisfied then why would they continue to produce a show and be a girlfriend?
In society, women are encouraged to put on a ditzy persona and be very sexually appealing in order to climb the ladder of success. This makes them look weak and needy, which in return, encourages the "dominant" males - strong with potential- to help them. Holly, Kendra, and Bridget are embracing this hegemonic norm and it seems to be working in their favor.
There is much to be analyzed in terms of gender, race, and class in this show which could bring light to the hegemonic norms and messages that are being fulfilled by the girls. Feel free to comment.