Military Green Lights Playboy and Penthouse Before Banning Them

The military has declared that Playboy and Penthouse don't violate its standards but banned them from its exchanges, anyway.

playboy-base-exchange

The military has declared that Playboy and Penthouse don’t violate its standards but banned them from its exchanges, anyway.

USA Today (“Adult Magazines Dropped From Shelves At Base Exchanges“):

Adult magazines for sale at the local Army PX have gone the way of the cavalry charge after a decision Wednesday to strip the shelves at base exchanges of magazines such as Playboy andPenthouse.

While morality groups and the brewing sexual assault scandal in the military have raised the temperature on issues such as the availability of pornography to the troops, marketers said it was declining interest in the magazines that led to the change.

“In this digital age, magazine readership and buyer-ship is declining. So it’s just a chance for us to re-evaluate our stock assortment, find out which ones are selling, which ones are not,” says Chris Ward, spokesman for the Army & Air Force Exchange Service.

He said the magazines have been on sale for soldiers for decades.

Oddly enough, the exchange made its decision just days after the Pentagon, in a written response to the organization Morality in Media, declared that the magazines did not violate department rules against selling sexually explicit material on military property.

A Pentagon review board concluded that “based on the totality of each magazine’s content, they were not sexually explicit,” Frederick Vollrath, assistant secretary of Defense for readiness and force management, wrote in a response to the group.

The juxtaposition of the ruling and the decision are amusing and I’m not sure that I find the explanation plausible. If the exchanges are going to keep stocking magazines that sell less well than Playboy and Penthouse—and I’m guessing they are—then sales isn’t the driving factor. Leadership has been trying for decades to juggle the demands of the troops (who are mostly young, heterosexual males) and freedom of the press on the one hand and the strange message that selling magazines objectifying women sends to the women who comprise roughly 15 percent of the force. My bet is that they’ve just decided that it’s untenable.  The recent attention to the problem of sexual assault in the force likely contributed as well.

Then again:

The current top 10 magazines purchased by troops are, in declining order of interest: People WeeklyMen’s HealthCosmopolitanUS WeeklyStarJetMaximNational Enquirer, Muscle & FitnessWomans World.

Aside from the fact that they continue to sell Maxim, which is basically Playboy for a more immature audience, it appears that women are buying most of the magazines.

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Military Affairs
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Scott says:

    I think the availability of anything you want on the internet is driving the obsolescence of Playboy and Penthouse. The magazines are just not that much in demand. Consider it an end of an era.




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  2. Tyrell says:

    The age of the large, slick magazines is coming to an end. It is interesting that Cosmopolitan is high on the list. Also interesting is the absence of a sports publication such as Sports Illustrated or ESPN. Muscle and Fitness: used to get those long ago. Some good training programs and advice, but some of the people in there have to be taking high powered stuff. Long ago most of their ads were selling equipment. Now it is just about all supplements. Wish they would emphasize healthy food more.




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  3. Caj says:

    Who are the military kidding? They try to be so prim and proper which is ridiculous. Those magazines are out there anyway, do they think ‘their guys’ don’t buy them? Hell they don’t care about running around with assault weapons killing all and sundry in war time or blowing up places. But they want to ban a raunchy magazine. Are you kidding me! It’s pathetic.




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  4. John Peabody says:

    Bring back “Sex to 60!” A staple of military exchanges at least through the 70s, it was nothing but sex cartoons and jokes, for the (then) large portion of military members that didn’t read so good.




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  5. John D'Geek says:

    @Caj:

    Who are the military kidding? They try to be so prim and proper …

    Okay …. either I missed the sarcasm or you’re completely clueless about the military. They are well disciplined, yes, but never “prim & proper” (well, unless they’re in Mess Dress …)




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  6. the brewing sexual assault scandal in the military have raised the temperature on issues such as the availability of pornography to the troops

    I really can’t believe that an editor allowed that sentence into the article. There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest that the availability of pornography has anything to do with sexual assault rates.




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  7. Davebo says:

    They still print Playboy??




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  8. James Joyner says:

    @Timothy Watson: The argument isn’t that there’s a causation but that it sends a bad signal. You can’t encourage the objectification of women by peddling pornography at the same time you’re ramping up prosecutions for sexual misconduct.




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  9. Also, if objectifying people is bad, who can they keep selling People?




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  10. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    Magazines? How quaint. Good thing the intertubes-device does not reach into military bases….




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  11. Brett says:

    I had a buddy who did time on a sub a couple years back (didn’t end up getting a position in the sub force), and I remember him talking about how a ton of the guys had mini-dvd players with the screens allowing them to watch porn without an internet connection when they were in their bunks. The chief even showed him one of those slip-cases with dozens of sleeves for CDs/DVDs, with dozens of discs of nothing but porn. I’m fairly confident they’ve moved on technologically speaking.




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  12. Rafer Janders says:

    @James Joyner:

    You can’t encourage the objectification of women by peddling pornography at the same time you’re ramping up prosecutions for sexual misconduct.

    Uh, sure you can. One has nothing to do with the other. Pornography encourages sexual fantasizing and masturbation, while sexual assault is a crime of violence against another.

    There’s absolutely no link between the free and easy availability of pornography and sexual assault rates. In fact, some of the societies with the worst rape and sexual assault rates on the planet, such as fundamentalist Muslim societies, are also the ones where pornography is least available, while societies with laissez-faire attitudes to sexual content, such as the northern European states, have lower rates of sexual assault.




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  13. Mike says:

    But what will I read at work?




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  14. merl says:

    @John Peabody: I used to steal my dad’s copy.




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  15. gVOR08 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    There’s absolutely no link between the free and easy availability of pornography and sexual assault rates.

    Actually, I’ve seen some claims that, as per your examples, there is a link. A negative link, that porn reduces sexual assault.




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  16. Mike says:

    @Timothy Watson: they have read Art 134 of the UCMJ about patronizing a prostitute or call a prosecutor in Korea and they will tell you about the # of cases they have.




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  17. Andre Kenji says:

    @Timothy Watson: Patronizing prostitutes per se is not objectifying women.




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  18. Paul Hooson says:

    Unfortunately, you only read both PLAYBOY and PENTHOUSE for just the articles. Both are as softcore as they come, while many other adult magazines feature actual sexual intercourse these days. – But, Morality In Media has their own demons. For decades this organization has had a smarmy history. The Better Business Bureau had difficulty for years to get former president of this organization, Robert Peters to disclose the organization’s finances. It was one of few “nonprofits” that would not disclose how donations were actually spent. In addition Morality In Media has been making what appears to fraudulent use of nonprofit status tax status by falsely claiming to be some sort of antjuvenile delinquency social service organization, although it has absolutely no programs or literature available on the subject of juvenile delinquency. Morality In Media is much like Citizens For Decency Through Law, the organization founded by convicted savings & loan scandal criminal, Charles Keating. Some members of congress have even awarded MIM grants using our tax dollars in previous years, although this organization would not disclose their finances, lies about their mission in order to cheat on taxes, and failed in some years to find even one example of an illegal pornography business that deserved prosecution through the DOJ. It appeared that leaders of MIM simply pocketed those grants. For years the organization has urged the prosecution of pornography. But, I think they have it wrong. These crooks that run MIM deserve to be prosecuted.




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