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Bye-bye to the Bunny in the centre(fold).

** Please pardon the double-entendres that may follow- I couldn't resist.

Playboy magazine announced this week that it would no longer be putting photography of nude women in its magazine as a reflection of the evolving times.

Photo courtesy: Ben Klaasen/ Flickr

The 'times' refers to the internet porn explosion. Did you know that 30% of all the data transferred via the internet is porn related? ("Porn Sites Get More Visitors Each Month Than Netflix, Amazon And Twitter Combined" The Huffington Post).

With a plethora of porn sources to suit every mainstream and niche fantasy, it would appear that having (arguably) artistic nudes is certainly redundant. The main quote from Playboy’s CEO Scott Flanders when the announcement was made goes like this: “You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free. And so it’s just passé at this juncture” (Somaiya, Ravi. "Nudes are old news at Playboy." The New York Times).

With so many different strokes for different folks, it’s nice that on some level, society has one less large-scale magazine promoting a ‘one size fits sexu-all’ female centerfold ideal for your titillation.

Playboy has certainly been an interesting cultural snapshot of the idealized female 'physique du jour’ over the last 50 years- debatable whether the magazine in fact responded to societal trends or defined and dictated men’s preferences. Regardless, Tech Insider does a nice job of tracing the evolution of the Bunny.

Playboy's readership peaked at 7 million and by 2011, circulation was down to 1.5M. Of course, all magazines are scrambling to evolve their strategies. But, unlike many other periodicals, Playboy is now poised to present all sorts of new content to its readership- a readership it feels it can expand, now that the focus falls on the writing. Playboy may just be reborn as a source for great storytelling! But will it be able to compete with the likes of Maxim and Esquire and GQ, magazines who have been cultivating their male audiences since their inception and offer a robust range of content for the modern man? (Somaiya, Ravi. "As Playboy and Penthouse Fade, Newer Magazines Tilt Artistic" The New York Times). And the challenges to magazines' survival continue. In fact, accurately tracking digital circulation numbers themselves continues to be a great challenge, making it hard to gauge health.

But, back to boobs.

While I don’t want to get into the societal ramifications of porn debate and the problems with the ever-present male gaze, a part of me is ecstatic to hear that there will no longer be this iconic reminder on the ‘newsstand’ that women are objects for male pleasure. I’d rather men (and women too for that matter) seek out whatever flavour of pleasure they suit in privacy. It’s indeed the end of an era. Future generations will no longer experience the printed centrefold, by its definition a larger than 8x10 photo spread that can fit into a magazine format thanks to strategic paper creases. The first Playboy centrefold, when the magazine debuted in 1953, featured Marilyn Monroe. Who will hold the monumental title of the very last?

And just like that, the North American pre-pubescent male rite of passage – sneaking a first peek at bare bosoms in print via dad’s hidden stash -- becomes an artifact of a time before the digital revolution.

Unfortunately, the Playmate herself won’t become a historical artifact, if Hugh Hefner’s son has his way. He’s planning on redefining her but hasn’t revealed in what way…. Yet…

Bunnies/playmates telling stories, perhaps? I'm sure that would get a few readers' ehrm....'imaginations' going!

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