Playboy and the Making of the Good Life in Modern America
Playboy was more than a magazine filled with pictures of nude women and advice on how to mix the perfect martini. Indeed, the magazine's vision of sexual liberation, high living, and "the good life" came to define mainstream images of postwar life. In exploring the history of America's most widely read and influential men's magazine, Elizabeth Fraterrigo hones in on the values, style, and gender formulations put forth in its pages and how they gained widespread currency in American culture. She shows that for Hugh Hefner, the "good life" meant the freedom to choose a lifestyle, and the one he promoted was the "playboy life," in which expensive goods and sexually available women were plentiful, obligations were few, and if one worked hard enough, one could enjoy abundant leisure and consumption. In support of this view, Playboy attacked early marriage, traditional gender arrangements, and sanctions against premarital sex, challenging the conservatism of family-centered postwar society. And despite the magazine's ups and downs, significant features of this "playboy life" have become engrained in American society.
- Hardback | 320 pages
- 162 x 240 x 26mm | 580.6g
- 12 Nov 2009
- Oxford University Press Inc
- New York, United States
- 25 black and white line illustrations
About Elizabeth Fraterrigo
Elizabeth Fraterrigo is Assistant Professor of History at Loyola University Chicago.
the book's main strenghts lie in Fraterrigo's analysis of specific episodes in the magazine's history. Her careful research and assessment of its advice on consumption, its take on public and private spaces, and its negotiations with both civil rights and feminism are original and sharply observed Miriam Reumann, Journal of American Studies
Table of contents
INTRODUCTION ; 1. "We Aren't a Family Magazine": Sex, Gender Anxiety, and the Family Ideal in Postwar Society ; 2. "Work Hard and Play Hard, Too": Modern Living and Moral Economy in Postwar America ; 3. Pads and Penthouses: Playboy's Urban Answer to Suburbanization ; 4. The Ideal (Play) Mate: Gender, the Workplace, and the Single Girl ; 5. "For Us It Is the Good Life": The Cultural Currency of "the Playboy Life" ; 6. Casualties of the Lifestyle Revolution: The "Decline & Fall of the Playboy Empire" ; EPILOGUE AMERICA'S PLAYBOY CULTURE