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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Romania Spanks Its Local Playboy

NEW YORK -- Playboy magazine is known for its pictures of nude women, a founder who wears pajamas almost everywhere and - of course - the articles.

While Playboy is not necessarily a feminist's dream publication, it was not known for publishing purposefully misogynist articles - that is, until Playboy Enterprises made a licensing arrangement with a multimedia publishing company in Romania called Media Pro Group, which began publishing a Romanian edition of the magazine in October.

The April issue in Romania clearly stepped beyond the boundaries of American and other Playboys, outraging women's groups in Eastern Europe and even causing a stir at the Playboy corporate offices, with an article titled "How to Beat Your Wife ... Without Leaving Marks on Her Body."

The article, which the editor in chief says was meant to be construed as an April Fool's satire, describes a step-by-step procedure for spousal battery, accompanied by a series of pictures of a woman being beaten by a man.

"You have decided to beat her up, then do it," the article reads. "Hit hard and steady, since you don't know when you will have a second chance." Afterward, "you will notice that the wife sometimes wants to be beaten again."

The photographs that accompany the article show a man beating a woman with a nightstick and holding her by the hair, and the woman examining her body for bruises. In the last picture, she appears to be offering the nightstick back to her aggressor for more punishment.

The Romanian Playboy is one of 16 foreign editions. Most are published through licensing agreements in which foreign publishers use the Playboy brand name and agree to publish content that hews to the Playboy philosophy.

To the embarrassment of Playboy Enterprises, women's organizations based in Romania issued a protest last week. "We think this article is a clear incitement to conjugal violence," read a statement signed by 14 different groups, including the Foundation for an Open Society, the Fulbright Commission, the Civic Education Project-Romania and the Foundation for Equal Opportunities to Women.

Christie Hefner, the chairman and chief executive of Playboy Enterprises, said the article was not indicative of Playboy's attitude toward women and that the editor had been reprimanded.

"This article flies in the face of Playboy's 46-year history of strongly opposing any visual or editorial depiction of violence toward women," she said in a statement last week. "We do not condone it and will not tolerate it." Cindy Rakowitz, a Playboy spokeswoman, said that the women of Playboy are "incensed and unhappy."

"The Romanian editors should have alerted us that they were running a piece like this, and they did not," Rakowitz said. She said the president of Playboy's international division, David Walker, flew to Eastern Europe last week to reprimand the editors.

Playboy said last week that it would not cancel the licensing agreement with the publishers of Romanian Playboy. Dan-Silviu Boerescu, the editor in chief, said that he regretted publishing the article.

That the article made it to publication points to a larger issue. As magazine companies go global, how can they possibly control the content on each and every page of every magazine that bears their brand and that must also cater to the tastes of a local audience?

Last year, Conde Nast confronted a similar kind of question when the editor of British GQ, James Brown, included "the Nazis" in a list of the 200 most stylish men of the 20th century. A photograph of Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, in Nazi cap, was included. Conde Nast dismissed Brown.

George J. Green, the president of Hearst Magazines International, which publishes more than 100 foreign magazines - including 33 editions of Cosmopolitan - said that it was a growing issue of concern for magazine companies.

"It is an interesting problem, and it is one we fear all the time," he said. "The only way to prevent it is to understand who you are getting into business with from the outset."