Rabbit FailCategory: General   Jul 5th 2015  10:08AM   0

I'm 2 chapters into Holly Madison's tell-all about life as Hugh Hefner's #1 (now ex-) girlfriend and pretty disappointed in it.

I'm neither naive nor optimistic but I did hope she wouldn't go the "I was broke and drunk and vulnerable and manipulated by a big bad man and catty gold-digger frenemies" route. I stupidly hoped Holly had amassed some level of self-awareness and the courage to own her choices. Then I remembered that our current wave of feminism blames men for all women's conscious choices, because unless a woman literally, enthusiastically says "YES!" then she can always claim she meant "No!" and was just too traumatized by the presence of a penis to think or behave logically. These days, some version of "battered wife syndrome" is so prevalent that if a man looks cross-eyed at a woman it's interpreted as "coercion" and she's no longer accountable for her actions (or inaction). (That's not hyperbole; it's an actual law in California (SB 967) requiring "affirmative consent.")

Holly got the fame and (relative) fortune she sought, then realized it was superficial and constraining. Okay ... so, big deal. Just move out, right?

Erm ... no.

According to Holly, Hef was such a cunning and manipulative devil he took complete control of her bunny brain ... or something. This 75 year old man, who by all accounts was emotionally detached from all his girlfriends, could, and routinely did, replace house bunnies on a whim, yet Holly felt so helpless and trapped by her situation (the cushy life, fame, and ideal launch pad into a lucrative solo performing career), that one night she considered drowning herself in a bathtub.

And now I'm pissed.

I'm not sure suicide is actually as easy as laying on one's back in 18" of water, but I am absolutely certain that her fleeting fantasy did not equate to suicidal. And to include the anecdote in her book, especially the prologue, as some sort of dramatic setup for the ensuing "desperate struggle," is an insult to everyone who was ever trapped in a bad situation and seriously considered (or committed) suicide. 

What bothers me most is that Holly actually has a great story. Written authentically, it could've been a game-changer, and I have to wonder if her editor, agent, husband, or someone else convinced her to pander to the masses ... the puritanical American book reading public that only truly supports women from the sex industry who are sufficiently repentant. I have no doubt the facts she lays out are true. It's her inner monologue that sickens me, the disingenuous self-reflection and wild assumptions about everyone else's nefarious motivation. She doesn't just say, "Hef did this," or "the girls did that," but she ascribes maliciousness to everyone, yet offers no real evidence. Not even flimsy evidence. 

This isn't a memoir. It's a modern Cinderella or Little Red Riding Hood; there's a victim and some villains, the end. (Maybe Holly will get a film deal and Kristen Bell will do her animated character's voice.) I don't mean to belittle her struggle. I just mean to clarify it. It's not "man against man" here, but man against himself ... end of story. Holly's version of events simply does not ring true to someone with 20 years in the sex industry who's been in many of these same situations, settings, and social circles. I can't imagine any experienced stripper, escort, companion or sugar-babe thinking it does either. (In fact, any ladies from that background reading this, who've also read Holly's book, please email me your take on it.)

Holly is young(ish). I had some tough experiences in my late 20s, during which I wasn't strong enough to state my needs or maintain healthy boundaries. I was taken advantage of by men who, for the most part, were oblivious to my ambivalence and inner conflicts. They were blind to my emotional damage because I HID IT (just like most women do ... pretended I was fine with a situation that was actually hurtful, then blamed the guys who didn't read my mind and magically fix it without being asked). It was easier to blame them than admit I'd brought it on myself, and I was almost Holly's age before I saw the whole truth of it. Women aren't generally taught to state their needs; I certainly wasn't. That's not Hugh Hefner's fault. He takes advantage of that fact, sure. He, and men like him, will stop as soon as women learn to "grow a pair" (I know it's a sexist phrase; just stay with me here) and stand on their own. We are responsible for setting boundaries and that doesn't mean demanding a notarized "YES!" to all things. 

People are self-seeking. It's not their job to set my boundaries and it's not my place to expect everyone to have the kind of integrity I need. It's my job to interact with people who prove themselves capable of respecting my boundaries. That's how it works. That's called LIFE. That's empowerment. Owning my past freed me. Had Holly written a book owning her choices, she would've freed herself and everyone who read it. She shortchanged us all and probably earned a tidy sum for it.

Go girl ... I guess. (Seriously, how far you've come.)

When you lay on the ground like a door mat don't be shocked and appalled when people wipe their feet on you. Be as angry as you want, just direct it at the full grown, mentally and physically capable woman who allowed it. Instead, Holly and whoever convinced her to write the book like this (or perhaps "coerced" her) has further infantilized Holly and all women. There is nothing inspiring or redeeming about the way Holly blames everyone else for her situation. She manages to slut-shame herself and play victim at the same time. No one wins here. Oh, except the feminists. (Sigh)

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