One man, many women. It’s a concept that fascinates and horrifies us, but it’s one that we all find intriguing as well. Why is it that we praise Hugh Hefner, who has many partners with whom he lives and has sex, while condemning others who do the same thing, most of whom are “married” to and have children with their multiple partners?
The controversy, judgment, and disgust that seem to be aimed at certain groups who practice polygamy becomes completely reversed when the man “practicing” polygamy is Hugh Hefner with his many Playboy Bunnies. Since the inception of Playboy in the 1950s, people have either hated or admired Hefner and his enormous Playboy Empire. The Playboy mansion the well-known home of Hefner and his multiple partners, who constantly come and go. In interviews with ex-Playboy Bunnies, it’s been mentioned that Hefner likes to have between 3 and 15 women in the mansion at all times, all of whom are expected to be intimate with Hefner. Doesn’t this define polygamy? Perhaps not.
Digging deeper in the world of polygamous relationships it’s clear that the biggest difference between Hefner and other polygamous men is that his partners aren’t in committed relationships with him, they aren’t legally married to Hefner. So, has Hefner practiced polygamy by having multiple partners at any one time? No, he isn’t legally married to these women and the women can choose to go at anytime without any ties left behind. The stigma on polygamy comes from the negative portrayal of it in the media and the religious foundation is stems from. There’s unfair stigma associated with Mormon polygamy, especially when it’s judged side by side to what is considered the “normal” monogamous marriage. What it should boil down to is whether everybody in these plural marriages are there because they want to be and are genuinely happy with the lifestyle or whether they are forced to accept it. Should we all be free to choose how to live our lives?
What truly seems to be the issue is that polygamy has become synonymous with religion. The institution of marriage between one man and one woman is, at least, in the general public’s mind, one that is sacred and shouldn’t or can’t be altered. The Church of Jesus Christ of Later-Day Saints, whose branch of Fundamentalist Mormonism is the most well known institution to practice and teach polygamy, has in recent times begun to change its doctrine. The church now claims that their standard doctrine is monogamy (according to their website), and that individuals found practicing polygamy will be excommunicated.
So why do we praise a man with multiple lovers, while condemning other men with multiple wives? The two can’t be equated. What seems to keep Hefner in good standing and tends to evoke a grin from most, is that he does not marry every one of his partners and does not have families with them. He’s simply an old man trying to (and succeeding) live out his fantasy life with many young and beautiful women. Instead of creating a home and children with them (as in most marriages), he catapults them into fame, which—let’s be real—is what the many young women who go into the Playboy mansion want.
Hefner is currently in his third marriage—he tied the knot to Playboy Bunny Crystal Harris on Dec. 31, 2012. She is the same bunny that dumped him five days before their original wedding date in June 2011. One of the rumored reasons for her cold feet? His poly-sexual lifestyle.