Erotica Cover Watch: Frenzy, ed. Alison Tyler
Frenzy, ed. Alison Tyler, pub. Cleis Press
Watched by Mathilde Madden
Yep. We’re back. And guess what – not much has improved.
Okay, so, this cover, at first glance it really does look as if it is a picture of a woman just sitting on the toilet. Oh, except she is still wearing her underwear. And the toilet seat is down. Hmm, look again. The angle of her head… the arch of her back. Oh! Filth!
It’s actually a crafty image. In some ways. If it didn’t piss me off I’d probably like it. I like the double take factor. Because, at second glance – oh – she’s clearly engaged in some bathroom sex with a guy (okay, I’m assuming it’s a guy – shoot me). Can you see what it is yet?
So yeah, kind of fun to do something like that. An image that looks innocent (well, as innocent as a woman sitting on the lav can be) until I look again. And then I think – oh, clever. For about a nano-second. And then my thinking of ‘clever’ is overwhelmed by raging.
Because – of course – this image fits into a whole I can see no menz tradition of erotica covers.
Because of that, because of the culture that surrounds it, this is just another insult. Another case where the need to never ever show a man on the cover of an erotica book seems to just be going to desperate measures.
I mean, really, there is a guy there, but he’s hiding!
Now, look at this. This is another cover where we see some sex through a half open door. The difference here is that this is an erotic romance book. And as we have discussed before erotic romance is different. In fact, erotic romance does some really lovely covers with men on them. But only because straight men are not the consumers of erotic romance.
In erotica, as we know, because straight men are potential consumers they become the only consumers. And because straight men are (apparently) terrified of seeing cock – or let’s face it a man’s arm – the men on erotica covers get hidden behind doors.
(Although maybe we should be grateful the presence of a man is even hinted at, given erotica’s current staple cover image of a woman wanking.)
By the way, both of us at Erotica Cover Watch know Alison Tyler. In fact we consider her a good friend. She has even joked with us about this project, wondering when her turn would be. Because, of course, it was coming. Because Alison gets saddled with truly horrid covers sometimes. Just like other editors. We know editors don’t get a say.
Authors don’t get a say too. We get published in anthologies that have covers which say really confusing and offensive things about female sexuality. I know a lot of authors feel the way we do and don’t say anything. Because it’s a cold hard world out there and getting published is often a cherished ambition.
Some people have said to us that we shouldn’t complain so much. That we should be glad we are even published authors. Well, we are glad. We really are. But, chaknow, we could be so much gladder.
And we want to be gladder. We love this industry and this genre. Writing erotica gets so much stick. Women writing erotica get so much stick. It’s 2009 now and the erotica publishing still thinks erotic can only be demonstrated by a picture of a nekkid chick. This problem needs to be talked about.
Happy New Year!