Playboy Magazine has been in circulation for more than fifty years. Hugh Hefner and his ‘bunnies’ have titilated and provoked in equal measures, however there is one chapter of its history that is simply tragic. It is the story of Dorothy Stratten.
Born Dorothy Hoogstratten, in Vancouver Canada. During the first 16 years of her life she lived a quiet, uneventful life. Then she met a man who changed her life for the better and the worse. Paul Snider was 9 years older than Stratten and his was not only a club promoter but a pimp too. Not exactly the ideal boyfriend for such a young, vulnerable girl. He decided to take some nude pictures of Dorothy and send them into Playboy magazine (one problem was that she was underaged to pose for such photos). So already Snider was not only controlling Dorothy but is also hustling to make money off the back of Dorothy’s beauty. Eventually they moved to Los Angeles, Snider naturally became her manager and she became Miss August. She focused on her modelling and with a name change from Hoogstratten to plain Stratten eventually landed the coveted title of Playmate of the Year in 1980. Snider is now not only Stratten’s manager but also her husband. So again Snider was making himself more and more connected to Dorothy so that he could keep a tight leash on her. Many close to Stratten including Hefner told her to leave her possessive and controlling husband. Stratten began to focus on an acting career, landing herself small parts on ‘Fantasy Island’, ‘Buck Rogers’ and ‘Skatetown USA’; she also left Snider and started seeing directer Peter Bogdanovich. It is worth noting that Dorothy’s new life and prospects without Snider would have been enraging to a control freak like Snider, so he resorted to spying on her and decided that if he could not have her, no one could.
On 14th August 1980 Dorothy was found dead. Next to her naked body was Snider, he shot Stratten, abused her posthumously and then killed himself. She was only 20 years old. Just as she was taking charge of her life, it was all taken away.
What is important to note that Stratten’s murder is sadly not unusually. On average 2 woman a day are murdered by their partner or ex. Snider had allot of warning signs that he was a danger. First he starts a relationship with young teenager who is easier to manipulate that an older, more secure woman. The fact that her moved her to California, from her family and friends, in part to isolate her. He made sure that he controlled her financially and probably felt that he had ‘made’ her. Marrying her was just another means of making sure that leaving him, would be even harder. His jealous serveillance after she has left him further proves his possessiveness. It is also very important to note that women in abusive relationships are at most risk of being killed following separation. It is essential that as a society, we are aware of the signs of domestic abuse and take proper steps to ensure that women are safe from the threat of being murdered. We also need to ensure that abusers are appropriately punish and not blame victims for the behaviour of someone who bullies, manipulate, degrade and hurts those they are meant to love.