Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Humanities and Cultural Studies

Major Professor

Daniel M. Belgrad Ph.D.

Committee Member

Robert E. Snyder Ph.D.

Committee Member

Laurel Graham Ph.D.


careerism, consumerism, feminism, individualism, sexuality


In this thesis, I provide an analysis of 1960s American popular culture by examining Playboy, "The Playboy Philosophy," Cosmopolitan, and Sex and the Single Girl. These cultural artifacts furthered the feminist movement by challenging gender structures and sexuality. I discuss how these publications focused on the advancement of the individual through careerism, consumerism and sexuality. These publications assisted in challenging and breaking down various aspects of gender and sexual boundaries and assisted in reworking social limitations that kept women from advancing themselves outside of the pre-set gender roles of domesticity. Regardless of the traditional feminist critique of Hugh Hefner and Helen Gurley Brown, this thesis argues that in fact these popular culture icons and their publications worked to re-negotiate sexual liberation, which assisted in furthering women's liberation. This thesis analyzes the writings and advertisements of these publications and shows that Hugh Hefner and Helen Gurley Brown have positive correlations to feminist discourse.