Note: My sassy post title — “If there’s a lady involved, it’s gotta be feminist” — is in no way making shady sub-reference to Mish Barber-Way. She may well be feminist AF. I don’t know her, but she seems pretty legit.

I recently corresponded with writer Eric Ducker who was working on an article for The Ringer about Penthouse magazine, focusing on its current editor, Mish Barber-Way. Barber-Way also fronts the punk band White Lung, which is awesome.

Ducker wanted some help with some historical context about women in leadership roles at Penthouse specifically, as well as in adult magazines in general. Unfortunately, he hit me up in a major time crunch. I couldn’t get to all of his questions, but the ones I was able to respond to are copied below (as well as his full list of queries). Enjoy!

Also, check out “From Penthouse to the White House and Back Again” via The Ringer right here (published May 24, 2018).

Eric Ducker: How common or uncommon is it for women to hold leadership positions in the world of adult publications? 

DrCT: It’s not uncommon at all. Women occupy/have occupied leadership and high-profile content generation and management  positions at most major adult publications — this includes B2B spaces as well content producers — as well as many of the smaller lifestyle and news blogs. This has increased over the years obviously — meaning, relative to the ’90s for instance, there are more women involved now as opposed to 20 or 30 years ago. This is similar to patterns you see in most industries though.

Penthouse says that in recent issues it’s been trying to showcase different types of models than the current adult industry standard (more natural bodies, more pubic hair, etc.). Have you noticed a difference in what they’re doing from what else is happening in the industry?

DrCT: Not especially — the entire adult industry, though to varying degrees that are impacted by market demands and specific brand spaces, seems to be publicly pushing diverse and/or nuanced “looks” in terms of content presentation, which obviously includes model and performer presentation.

Historically, adult content and the industry that creates it has been far more diverse (and gender inclusive) than it’s been given credit for — especially relative to mainstream Hollywood, for instance. Part of the reason why we may believe there is a big new push towards diversity today though is because 1) there are certianly new initiatives moving forward but, more so, 2) as a culture we have historically jettisoned adult entertainment to the sidelines as a space unworthy of serious critical or cultural consideration. As such, we as a culture have essentially missed or ignored much of the diversity and or inclusivity that has come before.

Here are the remainder of the questions Eric had for me that I was unable to answer within his (super tight, like, 24 hour) deadline. Tough stuff!:

Penthouse has cultivated a reputation as a publication that employs women in top leadership positions. Do you think that reputation is accurate?

Has the amount of women in leadership positions significantly changed over the past 30 years?

Are certain adult publications considered more female-friendly work environment than others?

Have you found that publication with more women on staff are more progressive in the type of female models they showcase in their publications and how they present them?

What would you like to see a female-led adult magazine do that other outlets might not be ready to do or might not know it should be doing?

(pictured: image via The Ringer)

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Got a sociology question? Need some social justice informed life advice? Contact Dr. Chauntelle right here.

Get your copy of Exposure: A Sociologist Explores Sex, Society, and Adult Entertainment on Amazon here.

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