The death of a public figure is sure to create a media storm these days, as people remember, celebrate and share stories online.

Last Wednesday media pioneer, advocate of the left and early 'champion' of free speech and sexual liberation, Hugh Hefner, passed away at the age of 91, and few celebrities are likely to garner such divided opinion.

As the founder of the Playboy brand, 'Hef' played a pivotal role shaping the media landscape. He incited people to embrace their sexuality, making it mainstream, and commissioned groundbreaking written pieces by the likes of Hunter S. Thompson and Martin Luther King.

For anyone with the drive to make it on their own, he was also the epitome of the American Dream: his magazine was initially launched with just $600 of his own money, topped up by $1,000 borrowed from his mother.

No matter what people's personal opinion of the man, there's is no denying the large footprint he has left.

In the days that have followed the announcement of Hef's death, many have spoken out about the man's legacy. Some regard him as a visionary, whilst others, myself included, can't ignore that his egalitarian society, when you strip away the glitz and the glam, was one created solely for men and their pleasure.

Capitalising on the 1960s' cry for female liberation, Hef made a lot of money exploiting the female form.

Some would argue these women had a choice, no one forced them to pose naked on magazine covers. But when the vehicle of liberation was used to make money from women's bodies, just who here was benefitting? As far as I'm aware, no men were parading around with bunny tails strapped to their behind or freeing themselves of their clothes. This so-called forward thinking model of 'equality' we were fed from Playboy, always seemed very far from it.

Yet those who have spoken unfavourably of Hef in the aftermath of his death are quickly cast down from their social media platforms; slapped on the wrist and told to have some respect for the dead.

But it begs the question, just when is the right time to reflect and critique a life that has had such an obvious impact on society - not all of it for the better?

Are we strictly forbidden to discuss an issue unless the person in question is in their prime? Do we wait until their twilight years, when old and frail? Or do we use the news of their passing and the vacuum it creates to get to the heart of the issue once again?

The simple matter is that we all die, and a 91 year old should not be given a free pass because the inevitable has happened.

There is no denying that Hugh lived a long and prosperous life, his passing arguably should be generating heated discussion.

When his life encompassed an issue which is very much still prevalent today - the exploitation of women - surely we need to remind ourselves how far we still have to go.

Whilst opinion may be divided of Hef and the media empire he created, let us not shy away now from looking past the bunny ears to the undeniable underbelly of his creation.