Playboy SA joined the many voices against the rising levels of rape with a racy cover titled No means no.

Cape Town - A controversial anti-rape campaign from a popular men’s magazine has drawn mixed reactions. Playboy SA joined the many voices against the rising levels of rape in the country with a racy cover titled “No means no”.

The cover features the exposed back and buttocks of a woman, with red text sprawled across a black background. The magazine chose the picture because it was “just suggestive enough to attract the reader’s eye without distracting from the main message”, said editor-in-chief Charl du Plessis.

However, Patrick Godana of Sonke Gender Justice Network disagreed.

“We oppose any picture or graphic that depicts women as any less of a human being. These pictures continue to perpetuate stereotypes and strip the dignity of women.”

Godana believes that the pictures were only used as marketing strategies.

Gender Links chief executive Colleen Lowe said: “It is important that all sectors of society join in this campaign. Popular culture – and we include Playboy – has a strong influence; much more so than mainstream media. We are not against anyone enjoying their sexuality.”

Lowe believes that it’s not about one cover, but an overall set of messaging that does little to discourage men’s sense of entitlement in society.

“Where Playboy misses the point is that in our society it’s almost always women who are presented as objects for men’s pleasure, not men. Are women not also entitled to enjoy their sexuality and to admire beautiful men?”

Du Plessis has lashed out against what he calls the “misperceptions among South Africans about what Playboy is about”.

“It is part of our mission to promote a mature and respectful enjoyment of sexuality, by men and women alike.”

He believes the behaviour that needs changing is that of men.

“As a men’s lifestyle publication, and especially one that promotes the enjoyment of sexuality in a responsible and respectful manner, it is natural for us to reach out to a male audience and offer them deeper insight as well as practical steps on how to make a change and to get involved.”

Du Plessis said the cover has been misinterpreted by people who believe that the only solution is to deny sexual nature.

“There is nothing shameful about sexuality and desire. The shame in this country comes from the manner in which men deal with it.”

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Cape Argus