Jenny McCarthy Playboy Backlash Toes Line Between Assertions Of Ageism (Good) And MILF-Shaming (Bad)

Illustration for article titled Jenny McCarthy Playboy Backlash Toes Line Between Assertions Of Ageism (Good) And MILF-Shaming (Bad)

So that Jenny McCarthy "39 and SHE'S STILL GOT IT!!!11" Playboy spread released this month has been getting a lot of play since the new issue hit the stands. On the cover, she wears fingerless black fishnet gloves and little else. To the lower left hand corner, incongruously, is the smaller story "A Night In Paris With Wes Anderson." That is basically all you need to know but here's a picture if you want it. "I'm really proud of it," McCarthy told People. "The pictures are really gorgeous and classy. They're really elegant," she added. "It's probably a lot more sophisticated than a lot of stuff you'd see of people with their clothes on."


The backlash was inevitable, so all we can do is wait for it... wait... wait... 5 more seconds... OK, it's here. An essay on Salon, reprinted from, argues that all of this hubbub about McCarthy's age and "preservation" highlights America's desexualization of 40+ women, to which we can all voice a resounding "Doy." Yes. That is true, and the Earth revolves around the sun, and water is wet. The author also accuses McCarthy of that most awful girl-on-girl crime: being a "loophole woman," a.k.a. betraying her gender by framing herself as the exception (hot older woman) to the rule (wizened old crone hags doubled over from knowledge, etc.). McCarthy mentions, for instance, that she hears from a lot of her female fans that she is on their husbands' no-penalty fuck list, which is kind of where the author's argument runs into problems:

(The "list" is, presumably, of women said husbands are allowed to bone without penalty, should the opportunity present itself. Which it won't. Ever.)

The knee-jerk disclaimer that always sounds unconvincing:

While Jenny McCarthy obviously has the right to do whatever she wants


McCarthy called the cover "a salute to the MILFs" (the acronym for "mom I'd like to fuck") which is gross in more ways than one. (If anyone called my mom a MILF, I would puke on the spot.)

Note that the author doesn't say "if anyone called me a MILF." Also love the implication that it's gross for 2 reasons: it's a sexist, degrading comment (yes) and ostensibly the second reason is "EWWW, Mom's still doin' it." This sort of editorializing ultimately detracts from her argument, and it's not the best-written article in the world, but it does raise some points about certain women's need to shit on women who self-identify as beautiful, rather than women like Scarlett Johansson who are identified by the media as beautiful and don't have that self-identification autonomy.

For whatever reason, it seems to be the women with the agency to refer to themselves as beautiful who provoke this sort of ire. I mean, look at Samantha Brick. But not directly at her, or your eyes will explode.


'Topless Jenny McCarthy sizzles in latest Playboy pictorial' [NYDN]
'Jenny McCarthy's Playboy spread hurts older women' [Salon]



Aside from the central issue, I think people who think you're done for at 39 are pretty fucking boring. Ditto for those who use the term MILF.