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Posing Nude For Playboy Isn’t Autism Awareness

Posing Nude For Playboy Isn’t Autism Awareness

Former Playmate and current anti-vaccine activist Jenny McCarthy is planning to pose nude for the July/August issue of Playboy, in the name of raising funds for autism.

McCarthy says that her son Evan was diagnosed with autism in 2005 (she writes about him having epilepsy first in her book Louder Than Words); that a vaccine caused autism in him; that he has been cured through the gluten-free casein-free diet and various alternative medicine treatments.

While scientific evidence accrues in refutation of a link between vaccines and autism, this notion has refused to disappear. Just last year, the journal Pediatrics found that 24% of parents surveyed placed “some trust” in celebrities on the subject of vaccines and vaccine safety. McCarthy, who has been the spokeswoman for anti-vaccine/”pro-vaccine-safety” organization Generation Rescue for a number of years, has played a leading role in keeping the myth about a vaccine-autism link alive.

With her latest announcement that she’s going to pose in Playboy, McCarthy is tacitly condoning the objectification and commodification of women’s bodies. How many women say they hate their bodies and are disgusted by them because they don’t measure up to what they see in magazines and on celebrity websites? How many adolescents, how many young woman, are putting themselves on a diet, are binging and purging and on their way to developing an eating disorder, so they can have a “perfect” physique — perfectly airbrushed, that is — like a Playboy pinup?

Given how she rose to celebrity, no one should be surprised at McCarthy’s latest stunt to get media attention “in the name of a good cause” (i.e., autism). Disputes about the causes of autism are sure to continue, however much scientific research is presented and published. But we can send a loud and clear message that, in the 21st century, women have plenty of other means at their disposal to make a difference than to pose naked in the likes of Playboy and other publications that exist to make a profit from women’s bodies.

Posing nude for Playboy just is not “autism awareness.” It is sad to see McCarthy, to see a woman, feel so compelled to make (literally) such a public display of herself, while being so unaware of the harmful messages she is sending to women everywhere.

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158 comments

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8:22AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Interesting debate about whether or not Jenny McCarthy is using a constructive way to draw awareness to her issue about autism.

It seems unlikely that most men reading the article will pay much attention to what she has to say about her views on the subject of vaccines and her belief that this caused her son's autism or whether the viewing of her photos will be of far more interest. No doubt her images will remain with the reader far longer than her message.

Bringing awareness on whatever the cause is likely more effective on a TV talk show, a medical show such as The Doctors or a magazine article not featuring nude photos, a musical fundraising venue or something far more viable. Whether or not her views of vaccines are valid or not it seems that her photos and not her message will be what impacts the reader long after the magazine hits the stands.

12:15AM PDT on Jul 4, 2012

I don't see why everyone is so surprised. Jenny's career is based on a skill that the average kindergartner has, being able to undress herself. Clearly she doesn't have the intellect to figure out how to get her message across, aside from being nude. Working at McDonald's to raise money for her work would even be more impressive than this.

Whatx's sad is because Jenny was so lauded for her body, she never developed in a intellectual manner. Part of that is our society praises women for their looks more than their accomplishments. It's not entirely Jenny's fault that she's too ignorant to figure out other ways of getting attention besides posing nude. However, if she can understand her claims about vaccines, she should be a big enough girl to know how to keep her clothes on.

4:55PM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

i agree

6:45PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

(cont'd)...wanting women with "perfect" bodies; actually, it's kind of unfair to stereotype men in that way. Men have a lot of differing things that they admire about women, and to just group them all together as being superficially demanding is just as narrow-minded as anything else.)

6:42PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

(cont'd) ....presented to the world as "what everyone should aspire to be," because the fashion, cosmetic etc. industries make craploads of money off of women trying to imitate those celebrities. But the cosmetic companies and clothes stores, for example, are not physically reaching into female consumers' purses and stealing their money out of them. Trying to imitate celebrity images is a conscious decision, and you can't really blame Jenny McCarthy for taking this job for Playboy if it's offered to her--it's just a job, and if she's able to create more awareness about autism in general by means of doing this, then more power to her. I mean, "shake what your mama gave you," right? If your mama gave you looks which most people consider good, then get a career which uses them if you want to. If your mama gave you a super-intelligent brain, then use that to your advantage. Ultimately, individuals are responsible for their own actions, and if they feel pressured/uncomfortable by society, then that is unfortunate, but it is also up to them and them alone to rise above those feelings. We can't just hold everybody's hand and censor everything that is offensive somehow, because then many of the women in our own neighborhoods would never be allowed to leave their own houses, simply because they were considered more attractive than other women in the neighborhood.

(On a side note, all men are not pigs, either--not all of them sit there drooling over Playboy models and wanting

6:41PM PDT on Jun 1, 2012

Honestly I don't see how her posing for Playboy is that "harmful" to women who are uncomfortable about their bodies. I was about 40lbs overweight for most of my life, and I felt a lot more pain from seeing skinny non-celebrity girls walking around my hometown than I ever felt from seeing scantily-clad women on TV. The reason being, in most cases, celebrities are not a threat when you are trying to find a guy to date; I think most guys are smart enough to know that they will not end up in relationships with famous "hot women". However, by contrast, the "hot chicks" in your local neighborhood are very much a threat, as they are far more accessible to the guys in your local dating pool. And not all of them sit there trying to look like celebrities; a lot of them are just fortunate enough to have good genes and high metabolism, and don't have to make any effort to be in good shape.

With this in mind, I think it's fair to say that the problem does not lie with the widespread availability of promiscuous media in society; the problem is actually the way that people in our society react to such media. This same argument has come up numerous times with regard to video games: people blame video games for promoting violence, but in reality, the games are not to blame because the player HIM OR HERSELF is responsible for how he or she reacts to seeing the stuff in the game, and interprets it. With regard to glamourous, "hot" celebrity women, of course they are going to be presen

2:02PM PDT on May 31, 2012

Oh, and by the way - YOU GO JENNY!!

I don't care how she gets the information out there so long as she gets it out! Good for her.

1:59PM PDT on May 31, 2012

Ms. Chew - May I ask how much you know about either Hugh Hefner or Playboy? Because my guess is you know JACK!! Hugh Hefner was on the forefront of women's issues and civil rights back in the 1950's. Obviously you have never read his editorials or have any knowledge of the legal services he has donated for women's causes and civil cases.
I'm so sick of some so-called feminist trying to tell me how people SHOULD feel. I happen to feel a bit older now, but in my 40's, I felt sexy and showed it off. I LIKED it. It makes me sick and sad when people like you complain about the comodification of women. It makes me believe that you don't understand men at all while complaining about them not understanding YOU!
Men like looking at pretty women. It's biology. They have hormones. It's not being rude or condescending unless they act like boors about it. When I was dancing, I had the power for a change, as opposed to being a waitress or housekeeper. I decided what behavior I would tolerate.
And I didn't have to tolerate much. Generally, men acted like - well - Gentlemen. It's the women who were condescending, ungracious and rude when I worked for them. In the club, I worked for myself. And had a grand ole' time!
So please don't condemn a magazine and philosophy you know nothing about since I've been subscribing to it since 1975.
And the pics are FANTASY - fantasies ARE allowed. Want someone to tell you yours aren't?

8:20PM PDT on May 28, 2012

when was there ever any argument is raising money for a cause? she's causing harm to no one, especially easily influenced girls because they don't read the magazine as it is not directed towards them in any means. she is famous for being a playmate so why not go back for a better cause and collect a portion of the funds towards autism awareness, etc. this opinion article shouldn't even exist as there are plenty of other stories that can be covered. people are so judgmental these and have to comment on even the good samaritans of the world. get a life

9:19AM PDT on May 27, 2012

Maybe she's trying to raise money for more research for autism as she couldn't nab them on childhood vaccinations!

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