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The decision by Playboy to stop running photographs of fully nude women in its iconic men’s magazine marks a passage of sorts in America.

For many generations of American males, Playboy was a primary source of titillation, presenting a world of sex and intrigue accessible in few other places. But then came the Internet, which changed everything, but few things more than pornography.

Porn stashes moved out of closets and garages and onto websites. Anyone of any age can now see anything at anytime.

The advent of Playboy in 1953 signaled a loss of national innocence, bringing through the mail the deliciously bare images of Marilyn Monroe, Raquel Welch and my personal favorite —and Hugh Hefner’s — the bouncy brunette Barbi Benton. It was the height of risque in its time, but it still left some things to the imagination.

Playboy seems quaint compared to the wide range of erotica available online, where nothing is left blank.

“You’re now one click away from every sex act imaginable for free,” says Scott Flanders, Playboy’s CEO, who acknowledged his publication’s fare was “passe.”

There’s something sad about the reality that in today’s culture, there is no innocence left to lose.

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