I am woman, I read Playboy; hear me roar

Chico State student Robin Epley is double-majoring in English and journalism.

In a corner of our back yard, my father has a Man Shed. It is the last bastion of testosterone in an otherwise female-dominated household, and is his retreat from all that estrogen: We girls are (jokingly) not allowed in. Discreetly sitting on the corner of a salvaged desk, and next to the mini-refrigerator full of beer, are Playboy magazines.

I am not ashamed to admit I have read them.

Pornography is rampant in my generation. The once-taboo obsession with the perfect female form is no longer off-limits and America’s fascination with the female body has definitely been engrained in both sexes, yet it is taboo for a woman to admit she admires another woman’s form. But just because I might admire a beautiful woman does not mean I am a lesbian.

Playboy has come under criticism for promoting a false idea of womanhood by airbrushing models who are already gorgeous. Yet a Playboy model is not what I aspire to be. If there were a woman out here who looked like that centerfold without the airbrushing or copious amounts of makeup or God knows what else, she would make me feel horrible. But those pictures are what they are: a false ideal.

I know there are men out there who know not every woman looks like Miss November. I have enough brains to know that those are the men I want to be with.

Too many girls have body issues. I admit to being one of them. But when I see one of those Playmates spread out across the page, it makes me feel sexy and feminine. Her confidence makes me feel confident in turn.

Some think of Playboy as a textbook: “Act this way and men will want you.” According to feminists, I should feel ashamed for thinking that. But I have the same “attributes” she has. If I can figure out how she looks sexy, I know I can look sexy, too.

It’s not just enough to bat your eyes anymore; it’s a persona, an air of confidence and sexuality. I can learn that from studying those models. But if it’s “wrong” to read the textbook, and think the way I think, then how can I gain confidence?

I hope that people begin to realize that not all girls consider Playboy to be offensive and that there is truly an underground movement of women like me who read it. Until society sheds its idea that women can’t admire women without being sexually interested in them, the Man Shed will have to continue to secretly share its supply of “naughty” magazines with some uninvited estrogen.