When the going gets tough, the tough get – naked?
When I was a newly minted certified public accountant I
worked for a company that was then the ninth largest accounting firm
in the country. The giants of the industry were known as the “Big
8,” a group now down to five and perhaps soon to four thanks to the
Enron woes of Arthur Andersen.
My employer’s inferiority complex over being out of the
top eight was the biggest part of its corporate culture and a
natural target for jokes. So when Playboy magazine came to our city
on a highly publicized model search, I had a brainstorm.
Why not, I thought, dummy up a flyer for a “Girls of the
Big 8” photo shoot and plant it on the office bulletin board? The
coup de grâce would be a forged note from our managing partner:
“Ladies, please don’t mention we’re number nine.”
Out of respect for my female colleagues I let the
impulse pass. But that was a quaint era, a time when accomplished
professional women might reasonably be expected to be annoyed by
such a stunt.
I’m sure most still would, though I’ve heard no public
indignation over Playboy’s plans for a “Women
of Enron” issue. “Women of Arthur Andersen” can’t be far
probable layoffs that could cut 20 percent of that firm’s
workforce. I thought I was just a prankster all those years ago; it
turns out I was prophetic.
Playboy is portraying this as a humanitarian gesture, their way of
helping hard-working folks who have fallen on hard times. “If
you’re a female employee of Enron and your working days have hit a
snag,” one ad reads, “we’ve got a new career opportunity for you.”
Men are on their own, I suppose, unless Playgirl suddenly finds a
Playboy dropped the “Girls of” title for these features
in favor of “Women of” some time ago to avoid bruising anyone’s
sensibilities, apparently believing the word “girl” more offensive
to women than asking them to strip for public view. I guess I run
with a different crowd. In any event I have a hard time seeing this
as a career opportunity.
Does Playboy have a pension plan for nude models? How
about dental coverage? Do they offer a 401(k) plan or stock
options? What’s the mandatory retirement age? 23?
A small number of women have leveraged a Playboy
appearance into bigger things, but most drop quickly out of the
limelight while others sink deeper into porn. This is about as
humanitarian as peddling life jackets on the Titanic; Playboy
executives believe they can turn a buck off headlines and the
misfortune of others, nothing more.
Aside from the fact a nude layout isn’t something most
management recruiters look for in a resume, is there any real harm
in so-called soft pornography like Playboy, or am I being a prude?
Yes and yes. “Prude” is a label hung on people who believe
sexuality has a higher purpose than magazine sales, television
ratings, and arousing strangers for kicks, by people who don’t. I
take no offense.
Former president Jimmy Carter was ridiculed for his confession in a
Playboy interview that he had “lusted in my heart,” a reference to
Matthew 5:27-28: “You have heard
that it was said, ‘Do not commit adultery.’ But I tell you that
anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery
with her in his heart.” As usual, Jesus makes things difficult,
expecting us to get right in spirit rather than simply follow rules.
One needn’t crack a Bible to see the harm done by
juvenile, misguided sexuality. Playboy might be offering a nice
payday, but I suspect opportunities with genuine rewards won’t be
hard for the real women of Enron to find.