Penthouse, Playboy deemed appropriate for sale on military bases

An anti-pornography group is fuming over the military’s decision to allow sales of adult magazines, including Playboy and Penthouse, on properties under the Defense Department’s jurisdiction. 

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Last month, Morality in Media sent a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, contending that the Pentagon has failed to implement a 1996 statute prohibiting the sales or rentals of certain adult materials on property overseen by the military. 

In particular, the group questioned the sales of Playboy, Penthouse, Nude and other magazines ”that dominantly depict nudity in a lascivious way.” 

The description is a nod to the Military Honor and Decency Act, which bars sales or rentals of sexually explicit material, “the dominant theme of which depicts or describes nudity, including sexual or excretory activities or organs, in a lascivious way.” 

In response to the inquiry, Assistant Defense Secretary F.E. Vollrath said the department’s Resale Activities Board of Review previously reviewed the publications cited in the Morality in Media letter.

The board concluded those magazines do not meet the definition of sexually explicit material under the statute, and are permissible for sale, Vollrath wrote. 

He noted that all adult material approved for sale must be displayed on top shelves behind privacy panels and out of children’s reach.

Morality in Media criticized the response as “tragic.” The group linked the availability of the material to widespread reports of increasing sexual violence in the military.

“Now our military is reaping what it has sown, the sexual exploitation and assault of thousands in uniform, particularly women, each year,” the group wrote to Hagel.