The Rabbi and the Centerfold, Part 2
SB: Okay, theory number two. The second theory again in nudity and pornography is this: You know, in the American South for 400 years there were black slaves. And after a while, when people are conditioned generation after generation to enslaving others, when a white man looked at a black man, he didn't even see a person. What he saw was a walking bale of cotton. He didn't see a human being with their own ambitions, their own dreams, their own pain, their own laughter. What he saw was someone who can get my work done.
So slavery is a dehumanizing process that robs and strips people of their humanity and their dignity. The argument goes that pornography is similar insofar as it teaches men not to see a woman but to see the walking satisfaction of their sex drive. This isn't a woman who has her own person, who is an end. This isn't someone with her own dreams, her own mind, her own heart, this is rather someone who is there to excite me. . It's dehumanizing and it strips them of their human dignity, making them means instead of ends...
In other words, the men who look at this [magazine]--they couldn't care less about your bat mitzvah or your trip to Israel. What they care about is, she excites me. That's it. You're there for them, you're not a person any more.
LV: I mean, obviously because they don't get to speak to me, they obviously don't care about those things. Obviously, in their mind, they know they'll never have an opportunity to know what I'm about, so they take what they can, which is the most pleasing part of it, which is my body, and write the rest off.
I mean, women have always been less than men and, you know, in the same aspect of what the slave thing is. And I'm actually learning about this in my sociology class right now. It is just like that for women, but it's been going on for so long, it's accepted.
Does nudity undermine female dignity?
SB: So you would say that pornography is disrespectful to women?
LV: It could be. I don't feel disrespected at all.
SB: But do you feel that you've contributed to this idea that women are a means to male satisfaction?
LV: I mean, that's why this magazine was made, to satisfy men's--
SB: That's why the magazine was made, but is that why women were made?
SB: So that was not God's intention, or evolution's intention, or whatever?
LV: Oh, I don't think that was God's intention. But again, I question why God does a lot of things.
SB: So do you feel, therefore, that by taking off your clothes for Playboy, you're subverting or undermining female dignity? That by making yourself into the means for male libidinous satisfaction only, you're contributing to the degradation of women?
LV: Not women in the whole, maybe just myself. People ask me do you think it's right to read Playboy religiously, I'm like no, what I did was personal. No, because I posed for this for me. So if I'm degrading anyone, I'm just degrading myself. What other women do--
SB: But the biggest sins in life are where we hurt ourselves even more than other people.
LV: But I don't feel like I'm hurting myself.