From the bachelor pad to the jungle: Bunnies, Playboy magazine, and Vietnam soldiers
Batura, Amber Brianna
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Playboy magazine’s role in the Vietnam War has often been ignored as many assume its only function was to provide soldiers with erotic images of women. This study analyzes Playboy’s presence in Vietnam and the various ways in which soldiers manipulate the magazine to suit their various needs. Starting in the Playboy Clubs stateside, this study explores the lives of Playboy Bunnies to illustrate the type of women that epitomized Playboy. Though the magazine is often accused of objectifying women, the centerfolds soldiers consumed were meant to represent more than empty measurements. The Playboy Bunny, the living embodiment of the Playboy woman, was a strong, independent, woman. The women in these clubs used their position to gain access to better education, better pay, and independence. The women employed at Playboy were able to manipulate their role as sex object to realize feminist goals long before the women’s movement was at its peak. Moving from the ultimate bachelor pad to the jungles of Vietnam, this study analyzes Playboy’s opinion of the Vietnam War to explain its popularity in the war and branding thereof. Soldiers used the magazine to fulfill more than just a sexual desire. The magazine functioned in various ways to provide soldiers with not only entertainment, but provided access to uncensored information, consumer products, and a forum for soldiers to vent their frustrations and communicate with themselves and the rest of the world. Finally, this study seeks to understand Playboy’s role in military consumption as Vietnam soldiers bought their way through the war. From the bachelor pads in the United States to the hooches in the jungles of Vietnam, soldiers and civilians alike manipulated the magazine to fulfill a number of various needs and wants.