ah, a tragic conundrum emerges from the thickets.

Carl Zimmer (yeah, science writer! blogger! our dude! woot.) has published a new profile of Neil deGrasse Tyson (popular science! woot! one of the bigger media presences on science right now, yay!!!).

Then @MiriamGoldste noticed that there was some objecting going on in commentary to her Gplus (which nobody sees cause nobody is on the geeeplus). And she asked,

Should respectable authors publish in Playboy? http://bit.ly/w3ARtA

My kneejerk response was “No.”. No, I do not think that respectable authors should participate in the continue oppression of women that is instantiated by the laddie-mag, porn-lite, “lifestyle magazine” or whatever you care to call Playboy. The magazine that, articles or not, sells based on youngish women appearing naked and air-brushed and photoshopped to a fair-thee-well.

In both the gplus discussion and in a Twittply to me, @miriamgoldste seems to be pursuing the thesis that Playboy itself is so irrelevant and dinky at this point, not to mention kinda tame, compared with internet pR0n and other sources, we should not be getting our knickers in a twist over this.

So I’m conflicted. I tend to agree that Playboy is tame stuff, the print magazine (even pR0n!) is dying a slow, inevitable death and as far as such venues go…it is semi respectable. However, given that it is the granddaddy of mainstream legitimized pornography, we also have to appreciate the role that this magazine has played in normalizing the pornification of culture. Also the resulting impact on women.

Which ain’t good.

Despite the way I sound, I’m not particularly prudish on this issue. One ideal of Playboy, that of releasing all of us from puritanical restrictions on our sexual beings, is not half bad. I’m down with that. Problem is, the impact seems not to have been as good as it could have been. We’re still fighting the whole woman-expresses-the-sexxah-and-was-asking-for-a-rapin’ thing. And the grown ass men who are fixated on a single age-range of extremely young women as their only appropriate sex target. Not to mention lots of women trying to fit themselves into the 1% plus cosmetic surgery body type/image with a lot of resulting disorders of affect, behavior and eventually metabolism and physiology.

Not being a social scientist, I’m uncertain as to the direction of causality…so I turn to you, Dear Reader. Is our revered scribe off science Carl Zimmer off the reservation on this one? Should he have thought twice?

Should we recognize that free lance writers have to take their pay where they can?

Should we be happy for the opportunity to present something, anything about science to the Playboy audience?