Fabrizio del Wrongo writes:
I got to thinking about the Femlin after reading this excellent post at Bandsiusetalike.com about the virtues of ’70s-era Playboy and the culture that created it.
The Femlin was the creation of LeRoy Neiman; presumably the name is a play on “gremlin,” a creature whose mischievous spirit the Femlin shared. For years she adorned the pages of Playboy’s “Party Jokes” feature. Does she still? I almost don’t want to know the answer.
Although minimalist of design and somewhat roughly rendered, the Femlin really stands for something, doesn’t she? Equal parts Bettie Page and Tinkerbell, she embodies the non-maternal traits that men desire in women. She’s sexy (duh), fun, great at making and taking jokes, and helpful. Most importantly, she’s keen to please and take care of her man: Neiman often shows her tending to his wardrobe or toilet, and she is more pleased by these attentions than is their beneficiary (he bemusedly tolerates her).
In the early ’80s Playboy eulogized the Femlin thusly:
From the beginning, the Femlin has retained her basic personality, but she has changed with the times. She started out as nothing more than a party girl, but lately, she has roller-skated and manipulated pocket calculators. She’s also been getting outdoors a lot — carving her initials into trees or picking flowers. As Neiman says, “She’s an all-American girl.” (You mean there’s no Femlin in the Kremlin?) Anyway, many saucy returns to the saucy little lady who proves the adage that good things do come in small packages.
There’s something joyous and comforting about the Femlin. Even as a kid, I loved to see her. Today, I fear most people would take her as an opportunity for a diatribe concerning sexism. What can you do?