It’s time to stop idolising the successful bachelor stereotype

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    It's time to stop idolising the successful bachelor stereotype
    Hugh Hefner, who died this week aged 91. (Picture: Charley Gallay/Getty Images for Playboy)

    Big mansion, wrought-iron gates, soft-top sports car and comfy-yet-somehow-smart clothing.

    The image of the successful, entrepreneurial bachelor is one that’s forever etched onto our eyeballs. Bigged up in the media for decades, this archetypal character is the quintessential ‘man’s man’.

    He’s a top shagger for starters, refusing to be tied down by such concepts as ‘monogamy’ and ‘relationships’, or indeed ‘respect’ and ‘compassion’.

    He’s a big spender, too, never seen out of high-end sports cars or higher-end fashion.

    That aforementioned mansion is an essential part of the lifestyle. Perfectly symmetrical, the oblong palace which he calls home isn’t complete without 20-foot tall wrought-iron gates – whether they’re there to keep people out, or trap people in, is up for debate.

    Hugh Hefner – who died this week aged 91 – is the ultimate successful bachelor idol.

    It's time to stop idolising the successful bachelor stereotype
    (Picture: Venturelli/WireImage)

    The Playboy mastermind spent his whole life surrounded by a bevvy of beautiful women, rarely seen out of his bedclothes, and built a business empire on his aspirational, freewheeling, sex-first-and-ask-questions-later lifestyle.

    But the idolisation of him is a gross remnant of an era that really should’ve gone by.

    Since his death, friends and fans of Hefner have showered praise on the softcore porn hero, calling his female-form-first work a victory for feminism, and celebrating his work in campaigning for gay rights, and numerous charitable acts.

    What’s been largely excluded from the conversation, though, is the darker side to this bachelor stereotype.

    It's time to stop idolising the successful bachelor stereotype
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    Throughout the years, numerous tales have leaked of Hefner’s overbearing and degrading attitudes towards the numerous ‘girlfriends’ he kept under lock and key in his Playboy mansion.

    A 2015 interview in The Mirror with former ‘Playmates’ (let’s not even get into how creepy it is that this guy used a word typically reserved for children to group together his sexual partners) Carla and Melissa Howe revealed the gross way the women in the Playboy Mansion were treated.

    From being made to sleep on dirty mattresses surrounded by dog poo, to a 9pm curfew, to seriously abusive behaviours such as a ‘code of conduct’ preventing them from getting visibly drunk in photos, banishing ‘girls who’ve annoyed him’ to a separate room to eat, and (as Diply reports) demanding sex off ‘his’ girls before they were allowed to join his gang, Hef was even reported as referring to date rape drugs as ‘thigh openers’. The big loveable oaf! What is he like?!

    The Playboy Mansion couldn’t be much further from the idealised glamour-house it’s painted as.

    It certainly was not a feminist wonderland.

    metro illustrations
    (Picture: Ella Byworth for Metro.co.uk)

    This is far from the first time we’ve heard such accusations against the big-time bachelor figure. Just a few weeks ago, reports emerged (via Buzzfeed) from the similarly secluded mansion of singer R Kelly, alleging he was hypnotising and sexually and emotionally abusing young girls in his ‘cult’-like commune. The evidence and accusations were harrowing to read.

    Which is exactly why these figures need to be reviled, not revered.

    Films, books and TV need to stop presenting these men as mysterious (looking at you, 50 Shades Of Grey), charming (Barney in How I Met Your Mother), or badass (the less said about Dan Bilzerian, the better).

    By normalising the likes of Hugh Hefner, heralding him as an American hero and wiping clean his grubby slate because he was an ‘adorable old man’ who ‘did some feminism once, I think’, we’re sending the message that this kind of behaviour is acceptable – or worse, something to aspire to.

    It’s a toxic breed of masculinity at play – one that hides behind a smiling public face, in an attempt to further degrade the testimonies of those who are victims of his abusive actions.

    Being a reclusive creep is not ‘cool’ or ‘classy’, and it’s certainly not sex-positive.

    Idolising these figures degrades us all, man or woman. In 2017 we deserve a better form of masculinity – one which is considerate of women, doesn’t treat them like objects, and certainly doesn’t try to pass off abusive behaviour as upholding a feminist ideal.

    We all want to be rich, successful, and have loads of sex.

    But let’s start heralding the people who do that without treating others awfully as part of their ‘fun’ bachelor identity. 

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