Women’s rights leader Gloria Steinem will not be tuning into NBC’s Playboy Club when it premieres in September.
Steinem once worked undercover at the New York City nightclub to report on conditions at the club, and told Reuters she doubts the drama will depict the scene realistically, “Clearly The Playboy Club is not going to be accurate. It was the tackiest place on earth. It was not glamorous at all.”
Her essay on the club, “I Was a Playboy Bunny,” depicts a workplace where its employees were regularly harassed and mistreated. Steinem says, “One of the things they had to change because of my expose was that they required all Bunnies, who were just waitresses, to have internal exams and a test for venereal disease.”
She went on to say she hopes there’s a viewer backlash about the subject, “I expect that The Playboy Club will be a net minus and I hope people boycott it. It’s just not telling the truth about the era.
“It normalizes a passive dominant idea of gender. So it normalizes prostitution and male dominance. I just know that over the years, women have called me and told me horror stories of what they experienced at the Playboy Club and at the Playboy Mansion.”
The Playboy Club‘s cast and creatives recently argued that the program was, in fact, about female empowerment. Exec producer Chad Hodge told reporters at the Television Critics Association press tour, “This show is all about empowering these women to be whatever they want to be.”
Series lead Amber Heard agreed, “There are so many women who went on to do things, have careers, become entrepreneurs. I have yet to meet an ex-bunny who is disgruntled about her experience. I have talked to many women who look back fondly and are thankful for that experience.”
Cast member Naturi Naughton argued, “It’s empowering, because these girls were smart, they’re going to school, they’re buying homes, property — things that show what women couldn’t do at the time, using resources and relying on themselves.”