Gloria Steinem publishes part one of “A Bunny’s Tale” in SHOW magazine

After enduring a brief but grueling stint as a Bunny in Manhattan’s Playboy Club, feminist writer Gloria Steinem published the first half of her landmark account, “A Bunny’s Tale,” in SHOW magazine on this day in 1963. Steinem’s undercover reporting increased her profile and stripped back the glamorous facade of Hugh Hefner‘s empire to reveal a world of misogyny and exploitation.

Steinem, a freelance writer, was commissioned by SHOW to apply for a job at the Playboy Club under a fake name and document her experience. Ads for jobs as a server at the club, whose female employees were all known as Bunnies, portrayed the work as something akin to paid participation in a party straight out of Playboy Magazine. As Steinem quickly learned, the truth was far uglier. Bunnies were paid less than advertised and subject to a system of demerits, which could be given for offenses such as refusing to go out with a customer in a rude way (even though Bunnies were strictly forbidden to go out with most customers) or allowing the cotton tale on the back of their uniforms to get dirty. 

Steinem’s account was replete with examples of the toll the work took on Bunnies: uniforms so tight one could barely move, swollen and blistering feet from hours of working in high heels, and near-constant harassment by the drunk businessmen who made up most of the clientele. After one night when roughly 2,000 people came through the club’s doors, Steinem estimated there had been maybe ten who “looked at us not as objects … but as if we might be human beings.”

“A Bunny’s Tale” was one of the first feminist attacks on Playboy and the “sexually liberated” but male-centric lifestyle it embodied. Hefner tried to take it in stride, stating that Playboy was on the side of the women’s liberation movement and asserting that applications to work at the Playboy Club had increased thanks to Steinem’s article. He also ordered the club to stop giving new Bunnies mandatory blood tests and gynecological exams, practices Steinem had questioned in her article. 

Though it helped an early-career Steinem establish her credentials as a reporter and a feminist, she regretted the piece for years after it ran, dismayed by a slew of offers to take on sexualized undercover roles and haunted by photos of herself in the Bunny costume, which had been taken during her brief time as an employee. Over time, however, she has said that she is glad she wrote the piece, an exposé that laid bare the struggle of women who were more or less objectified for a living.

READ MORE: Inside Gloria Steinem’s Month as an Undercover Playboy Bunny

Jill Biden

Dr. Jill Biden is a longtime educator, the wife of the 46th U.S. president-elect and former vice president, Joe Biden, and the future first lady of the United States. From 2009-17, as second lady of the United States, she advocated for greater support of military families and breast cancer research, among other issues, while working as a professor of English and writing at Northern Virginia Community College.

Early Life & Marriage to Joe Biden

Then-Senator Joe Biden of Delaware is shown with his wife, Jill, at a rally, Wilmington, Delaware, 1988. The Senator was then a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. President in the 1988 National election.

Born Jill Jacobs in 1951, in Hammonton, New Jersey, she grew up as the oldest of five sisters in Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, a suburb of Philadelphia. At 18, after briefly studying fashion merchandising at a junior college in Pennsylvania, she married Bill Stevenson. The two began attending the University of Delaware together, but divorced a few years later. Jill briefly left college, but later returned to earn her bachelor’s degree in English in 1975.

That same year, she was introduced to Joe Biden, then a U.S. senator from Delaware, by Joe Biden’s younger brother, Frank. Nine years Jill’s senior, Joe Biden had lost his first wife, Neilia, and his one-year-old daughter, Naomi, in a car accident in 1972, shortly after he was elected to the Senate for the first time. His two sons, Hunter and Beau, were injured in the same accident but survived.

Joe famously proposed five times to Jill before she accepted. In June 1977, they were married at the United Nations chapel in New York City. Jill helped raise Hunter and Beau, as well as their daughter, Ashley, born in 1981.

Teaching Career

Jill Biden earned two master’s degrees, in education (with a specialty in reading) from West Chester University in 1981 and in English from Villanova University in 1987, while teaching adolescents at a psychiatric hospital. She later taught for years at Claymont High School, Brandywine High School and Delaware Technical and Community College.

Biden returned to the University of Delaware to pursue her doctorate in education, which she earned in 2007. Meanwhile, her husband was re-elected to the Senate five times, and ran unsuccessfully for president twice, in 1988 and 2008, before Barack Obama, the eventual Democratic nominee in 2008, chose him as his running mate.

Jill Biden as Second Lady

After Obama and Joe Biden were inaugurated in 2009, Jill Biden began working as a professor of English at Northern Virginia Community College (NOVA). According to the Los Angeles Times, she was believed to be the first second lady ever to hold a paying job while her husband was in office. Known to her students simply as “Dr. B,” she was known to grade papers during various state trips abroad.

Over the next eight years, Jill Biden collaborated with first lady Michelle Obama on the Joining Forces initiative, aimed at supporting military families. In 2012, she published a children’s book, Don’t Forget, God Bless Our Troops, based on the impact of her stepson Beau’s deployment in Iraq on his wife and young children. She also advocated for education and the value of community colleges, hosting the first White House Summit on Community Colleges with President Obama in 2010 and traveling the country for a Community College to Career bus tour in 2012. As co-founder of the Biden Breast Health Initiative, she continued to voice her support for breast cancer research and early detection.

Road Back to the White House

Former Vice President Joe Biden, Democratic presidential nominee, left, and wife Jill Biden smile during the Democratic National Convention in Wilmington, Delaware, August 20, 2020. 

The Biden family sustained a tragic loss in May 2015, when Beau Biden, an Iraq War veteran and former attorney general of Delaware, died of brain cancer at the age of 46. Despite speculation that Joe Biden would run for president again at the end of Obama’s second term, he ultimately decided against it. Jill Biden continued working full time as a professor at NOVA, and in 2019 published a memoir, Where the Light Enters: Building a Family, Discovering Myself.

During Joe Biden’s campaign to defeat the incumbent President Donald Trump in the 2020 election, Jill Biden played a more visible role than in her husband’s previous presidential runs. She served as one of his most active campaign surrogates, reached out to lawmakers to discuss immigration reform on his behalf, and helped him select Kamala Harris as his historic running mate. A couple of times, she even acted as his unofficial bodyguard, memorably helping to ward off protesters who interrupted his speeches.

At the Democratic National Convention, held virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Jill Biden underlined her lifelong passion for education by speaking from her former classroom at Brandywine High School. Before the election, she said she hopes to continue teaching after her husband takes office as the 46th president. “It’s important,” she told CBS News. “I want people to value teachers and know their contributions, and lift up the profession.”

Sources

Dr. Jill Biden. Obama White House.

“Jill Biden is finally ready to be first lady. Can she help her husband defeat Trump?” Washington Post, August 17, 2020.

“Dr. Jill Biden on family, teaching, loss and levity.” CBS News, August 9, 2020.

“Hi, I’m Jill. Jill Biden. But please, call me Dr. Biden.” Los Angeles Times, February 2, 2009.

“Jill Biden: All the Vice President’s Women.” Vogue, November 2008. 

“House of Cards,” Netflix’s first original series, starts streaming

By 2013, Netflix had already fundamentally changed the way Americans consumed movies and television. The service offered unlimited DVD rentals—and, starting in 2007, direct streaming of many of its titles—for a flat monthly fee, a wildly popular model that almost single-handedly drove Blockbuster and other video rental stores out of business. In February of 2013, Netflix introduced House of Cards, the first major TV show that ran exclusively on a streaming service. It was another Netflix innovation that would alter the media landscape.

Director and producer David Fincher began developing an American version of the British political drama House of Cards in 2011. Cable and premium channels like HBO and AMC, which had experience with “prestige TV” programming, were in talks to pick up the show, but Netflix outbid them, hoping to begin its foray into original content with a bang. Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey was announced in the lead role the same year, and buzz built around the show.

House of Cards’ first season was released all at once rather than episode-by-episode, another first. The show was a hit, garnering nine Emmy nominations, a first for a streaming-only program. House of Cards ran for five more seasons and received a total of seven Emmys and 56 nominations, ending with a final season that focused on Spacey’s character’s wife, played by Robin Wright, after a series of sexual misconduct allegations against Spacey became public.

Netflix had another major hit with Orange is the New Black, which premiered a few months later, and its original shows have numbered among the most popular in the country ever since. Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney+, and other streaming services have made a concerted effort to produce original content in the years since House of Cards debuted, and 60 percent of Americans now subscribe to at least one streaming service. In 2018, Icarus became the first Netflix production to win an Oscar, taking home the award for Best Documentary Feature, and the following year Alfonso Cuarón’s Roma won three Academy Awards.