Erotica Cover Watch

Why only women on the covers of erotic books?

Erotica Cover Watch: Best of Best Women’s Erotica, ed. Violet Blue

with 32 comments

BBWE

Erotica Cover Watch: Best of Best Women’s Erotica 2, ed. Violet Blue, pub. Cleis Press

Watched by Kristina Lloyd

Erotica Cover Watch is officially en vacances but clearly I’m a workaholic heading for a heart attack because there we were, Mat and I, sipping pina coladas by the pool, when I was struck by an overwhelming urge to call the office and yell, ‘What is it with all the women’s arses? Seriously, what the fucking fuck is wrong with you? Can’t you do anything right? I left a memo saying: HETEROSEXUAL WOMEN FIND MEN ATTRACTIVE. And what do you give those bitches to look at? More women’s butts! You’re FIRED!’

Best Women’s Erotica is, to quote the publishers ‘a legendary and groundbreaking yearly series, and is the best-selling women’s erotica collection, period. Every year BWE raises the bar for explicit erotica written by and for women.’

OK, now remember that part, ‘by and FOR women.’

Here’s more from the call for submissions: ‘The desired orientation within the main sexual element of the stories is primarily heterosexual.’

You got that? It’s het. So here we have an anthology aimed at women; its stories are primarily heterosexual, meaning its main target audience must be primarily het women too. In case you missed the memo: straight women fancy men. Seriously, they do! So what are you going to put on the cover of this book? An elephant, yes, that’s right! Or … or a car. What about a large pile of phone directories? Excellent! You’re hired. The important thing is, if you want to market erotica to women, choose an image which completely bypasses their desire; try to forget the fact they even have desire. Here’s two we made earlier:
BWE2010BWE2010_2

These images are both for BWE 2010. The first image was a result of a regular marketing meeting; on the agenda: ‘another book of het erotica from Cleis. Cover suggestions?’ And everyone shrugged and said, ‘Woman’s arse, the usual.’ A few weeks later, management thought a BWE cover ought to be a bit different so they put a naked women in some trendy shoes on a chair and told her to look at the camera. This is a clever trick to fool people into thinking this represents an empowered woman expressing her sexuality. Cos she’s not just being looked at, she is looking right back. Cool! Equality! Also, add some hip consumer desirables to the pic of the chick and people can’t help thinking it’s a little bit more feminist cos, look, she has agency! She’s been shopping!

Cleis Press have been featured on ECW several times. We’ve written to Cleis’s editors. No reply. Nothing much has changed – although, hang on, the recently released The Mile High Club does include a guy so may be somebody is paying attention. It’s a little too early to tell.

I have a story in the forthcoming BWE 2010 which was then selected from the last five+ years of the series to be included in Best of Best. This was the first time I’d ever subbed a story to Violet Blue so I was thrilled with the double hit. And not so thrilled when I saw the covers. If you’re an author you may know how horrible it feels when work you’re proud of gets packaged in a cover which insults your writing.

Here’s two more of the latest images from Cleis Press, Best Lesbian Erotica and Best Gay Erotica.
BLE2010BGE2010

Doesn’t that break your heart? Or make you hopping mad? Or both? Those are two gorgeous covers accurately representing the content and the sexualities of the books’ target readers. They feature couples expressing desire, affection, sexiness, lust, love. Kissing! There is some very beautiful kissing going on!

I want kissing too! Why, oh why, can’t BWE incorporate images of men to feature heterosexual couples on their covers? Just picture that image on Best Gay Erotica with a woman below the guy with the extraordinarily lovely arm. Sexy, no? But instead, Cleis Press are selling us yet another book in which a lone woman is objectified on the cover. Does that look like female heterosexual desire to you? No, me neither. Small wonder that last year’s Best Women’s Erotica is usually riding high in Amazon’s Gay and Lesbian charts. It is confusing.

It’s particularly baffling when these covers are coming from a progressive, liberal publishing house which prides itself on championing marginalised groups. It looks as if straight female sexuality is just a tad too radical for Cleis whose het erotica covers are peddling the same old sexist shit, perpetuating the notion that straight female desire is insignificant; that straight women are happy to identify with images of women and to be the ones who are looked at, never the ones who are looking and actively desiring.

ECWstatsAug09_xCleis Press describe the BWE series as ‘groundbreaking’. The content may well be but the claim is starting to look increasingly dubious and dated when the ideology underpinning Cleis’s marketing to women comes straight from mainstream culture’s sexism.

Since we started this campaign, the growth in support has been astronomical. We’ve caused a leading UK erotica publisher to rethink its covers; have had articles published in one of the UK’s top newspapers; and have been one of the driving forces behind Filament magazine’s successful bid to print erections for the female consumer. (We also have an exciting top sekrit project in the erotica publishing pipeline – sshh!). Meanwhile, across the pond, Cleis Press are simply looking the other way, acting as if we are not here, as if our voices – ours and yours – don’t count.

But we are here and our voices matter. And we are staying and we are fighting for change.

Pass the pina colada, Mat. Same book, same time next year?

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Written by Kristina Lloyd

September 3, 2009 at 8:12 am

32 Responses

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  1. I agree with all of this!

    But I would like to give BWE a half-mark for at least improving on their last cover, which to me was one of the most ‘male gaze’ images I’ve ever seen. BWE 09: woman in lingerie and (?) pony shoes lying on the floor with her legs up in the air, touching her ear coquettishly…

    Let’s hope this more comfortably-posed, unmodified woman represents a mid-way point to getting some lovely men in.

    Suraya

    September 3, 2009 at 9:38 am

  2. Allow me to join in and say GRRRRRR!!
    And now for my next bit of aggro… why aren’t I in this book?

    Ms Naughty

    September 3, 2009 at 10:57 am

  3. As someone with stories in Best of Best Women’s Erotica 2, BWE 2010, and Best Gay Erotica 2010, I have to say that…I don’t see a problem with any of the covers. To me, as a woman (bisexual, as it were, not that that really matters), the woman’s ass represents a woman who’s maybe curled up in bed after reading a hot story, hence the book. And I love the new BWE cover.

    Obviously, I think everyone is free to like or not like the covers but ultimately, I don’t see any problem with putting women on the cover of books aimed at women. Even heterosexual women. I just fail to see this as a slight against heterosexual women; I fundamentally don’t understand what’s wrong with asking women to identify with the woman on the cover. I also fail to see how Cleis’s “marketing to women comes straight from mainstream culture’s sexism.” I have genuinely tried to see your point here, and can’t speak for anyone other than myself, but as a woman, and a reader and writer, I see at least something of myself in those covers.

    Also, well, I can’t help but ask why the BLE cover isn’t being charged with somehow pandering to “mainstream culture’s sexism” as well. I’m not saying I think it is—I happen to think that’s one of the hottest covers I’ve ever seen—but I don’t see why that one gets a pass and the BWE ones are being judged so harshly.

    Rachel Kramer Bussel

    September 3, 2009 at 8:46 pm

  4. Now that I’m sober I’m going to come in and say something more intelligent.

    I can see Rachel’s point that the image may be considered to represent the woman who is reading the book but within the wider context of erotic book covers in general it’s part of the trend. The idea persists that having a guy on the cover will result in bad sales.

    Ms Naughty

    September 4, 2009 at 1:03 am

  5. Don’t mind it, but don’t love it. I’d but the very bottom right in a minute though. O-o

    Sarah

    September 4, 2009 at 8:07 am

  6. *sigh* that was supposed to be buy. Must be late and must be tired, my spelling blows. heh.

    Sarah

    September 4, 2009 at 8:17 am

  7. Hi Rachel,

    I’ll try and explain it again as clearly as I can:

    1. You said ‘I fundamentally don’t understand what’s wrong with asking women to identify with the woman on the cover’. There is nothing *fundamentally* wrong with asking this. The problem is that’s all we ever get offered so it’s more that we are being forced (not asked) to identify. I would like to be asked to look at sexy men.

    2. You asked ‘why the BLE cover isn’t being charged with somehow pandering to “mainstream culture’s sexism” as well’. But I am not saying it is (fundamentally) sexist to show images of women – so it’s not that I’m giving representations of lesbian sexuality ‘a pass’! In part it is about plain old numbers in the realm of het sexuality – women, not men, are eroticised. That imbalance is sexist. I am also talking about cultural constructions of female het sexuality which are reflected and perpetuated in covers for the het erotica market, covers which depict women as the viewed, as objects of another’s desire, as having a sexuality which is passive.

    Is that any clearer? To put it another way, you know that sexist idea that women aren’t as into sex as men? That our desire is less than his? BWE covers, in their refusal to acknowledge active female lust, are telling us this is true.

    And that’s why I judge harshly.

    kristinalloyd

    September 4, 2009 at 1:07 pm

  8. Hmm, gee, why is it appropriate (i.e not ridiculously sexist) to put a sexy woman on the cover of a book for gay women but not on the cover of a book for straight women?

    Well, maybe if you think about the difference between gay women and straight women (clue: their desire) the answer might magically appear.

    Straight women get off on men. Let them look at them. (And please, let’s not start saying this is hard to understand, jeez.)

    mathildemadden

    September 4, 2009 at 1:19 pm

  9. In response to Rachel, I think there is no problem whatsoever with individual women liking the BWE cover and thinking that it represents them, and therefore wanting to buy it.

    What I do have a problem with, is that it is nigh on impossible to find an erotic book cover with a man on it, and that the people who publish these choose to put women on the cover because they assume that (straight or bisexual) women are *only* identify sexually with images of their own bodies. If this were true, it’s a moot point because (a) images of men designed for straight women (as opposed to gay men) are rare to the point of being practically non-existent, and (b) we’re only ever offered images of women’s bodies – in psychology, this is called “adaptive preference” – where we experience or even strongly express enjoyment of something, in the context of not having other options, because it makes us feel like we’re making a choice.

    As it is, the assumption that women are more attracted by images of their own bodies than by images of men’s bodies appear not to stack up, as I believe the one erotica publisher (so far!) who has tried putting men on some covers, experienced increased sales. And these (to my eye) looked like gay-designed images, so imagine how much impact it might if the used photography designed for women!

    I’m sure that Erotica Cover Watch are not saying that *all* erotic fiction should have men on the cover, or *only* men on the cover, but that the reasons for not putting men on the cover are based on assumptions that don’t seem to stack up.

    And (my view), I wonder if maybe women were allowed to experience our sexuality through enjoying men’s bodies visually, women might not suffer eating disorders at 43 times the rate of men, nor have 9 times as much cosmetic surgery. So I’d like to see more hot, images of men, which are specifically designed for women, on erotic material that’s designed for straight women everywhere. It certainly can’t hurt, and it might just be part of the solution to some really major problems that afflict women.

    Suraya

    September 5, 2009 at 11:37 am

  10. I know I’ve said this before, but I really think that the line between erotica and erotic romance is disappearing. And the erotic romance marketing system is ahead of the curve as far as putting sexy men or sultry couples on the covers. Once that line evaporated entirely (which I think it will), the argument will be over. Type in “erotica) on Amazon. You’ll see that many, many covers pop up featuring couples or sexy men.

    As far as Cleis goes, I know that two of their top-selling erotic collections *do* feature couples. Lust (#1 selling erotic title on Amazon right now: http://www.amazon.com/Lust-Erotic-Fantasies-Violet-Blue/dp/1573442801/ref=pd_ts_b_1?ie=UTF8&s=books) and Afternoon Delight (which is at #11, I think: http://www.amazon.com/Afternoon-Delight-Erotica-Alison-Tyler/dp/1573443417/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252172065&sr=1-6).

    So maybe you *are* being heard!

    XXX,
    Alison

    alison tyler

    September 5, 2009 at 5:35 pm

  11. P.S. I’m not saying it’s a good thing or a bad that the genres are blending. I’m just saying I think that’s what is happening.

    alison tyler

    September 5, 2009 at 5:41 pm

  12. “Obviously, I think everyone is free to like or not like the covers but ultimately, I don’t see any problem with putting women on the cover of books aimed at women. Even heterosexual women. I just fail to see this as a slight against heterosexual women; I fundamentally don’t understand what’s wrong with asking women to identify with the woman on the cover.”

    At first, it seemed a bit strange to me to portray a naked woman on a book that is marketed towards female readers who are sexually attracted to men. On the surface, it seems to make about as much sense as putting a guy’s ass on the cover of a mainstream porn DVD that’s aimed at a heterosexual male market. Or a Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue with lots of photos of young men wearing tight, wet Speedos. Publishers never seem to market porn or erotica aimed at hetero men with images of attractive young men.

    But I guess that makes sense, since heterosexual women are primarily aroused by tits and ass. It’s inexplicable, really: you’d think that women who have sex with men would find the male body attractive, but, as we’re narcissistic and nearly asexual creatures who experience no sexual response to visual stimuli, our only sexual interest is in other women’s bodies. My god, I can’t count the times I’ve wanked off to pictures of beautiful women while imagining I’m the girl in the photo having sex with a guy. Because my sexuality is completely filtered through an appreciation of the female form and I have no interest in those nasty male bodies with their messy external genitalia and smooth muscular planes. Who wants to look at that? Unlike heterosexual men, where the prevailing quality that defines “heterosexual” means an attraction towards the female form, the average heterosexual woman finds the greatest sexual pleasure by either sleeping with other women while men watch, looking at her own and only her own body during sexual relations with a man, or perusing a copy of Playboy while a guy fucks her. No wonder men think women are inscrutable and mysterious. And little wonder that a photo of a woman’s ass is used as cover art for a book that focuses on heterosexual erotica aimed at a female audience.

    vtm

    September 6, 2009 at 4:18 am

  13. vtm:

    But I guess that makes sense, since heterosexual women are primarily aroused by tits and ass

    I challenge you to come up with one piece of reliable research that supports this claim.

    Even if it were the case, given that there has never (until Filament) been erotic images of men designed for a female audience (you’ll find the magazine For Women were completely open about having bought their images off the gay market, and although the case for Playgirl is less clear, most of the photoshoots seem to have been done by men, and some of them scream gay loud and clear!) does it not seem to you that the fact that some women jack off to images of other women is likely to be a case of adaptive preference? ie, they don’t have any choice (apart from images clearly designed for and by gay men?)

    Suraya

    September 6, 2009 at 2:45 pm

  14. I’m guessing that one day we’ll be able to design covers that work for us and print them off for each book we buy. A DIY, print-on-demand situation.

    Then buyers could have women, men, couples, antelope, etc. on the covers.

    I think we’re getting closer to this type of system, honestly. You’ll be able to get a large-type book with a dark-eyed body builder—if that’s what you want. Or a pretty naked hunk in the shower with a Palatino-fonted interior, if that’s more your style.

    alison tyler

    September 6, 2009 at 3:10 pm

  15. …Uh, I think vtm is being sarcastic. (Magnificently so, incidentally.)

    Also – the gay and lesbian erotica books have gay and lesbian couples on them respectively, so the odd one out is the heterosexual erotica book in having one woman on her own. (I know it’s best *women’s* erotica, but hell, unless every single story in there is actually about jerking off, those women are going to be *with* somebody.)

    Tab

    September 6, 2009 at 11:01 pm

  16. the more I read your post, the angrier I get. and it’s yet another reason I refuse to identify as feminist, lest I be seen as coming from such a judgmental, closed-minded, and assumption-crippled point of view.

    also, I wish I’d had an inking you’d slam the books I put you in (before working with you). you didn’t even show the courtesy of asking about the covers, when you full well have access to me and could ask me anything you want.

    if you read my blog, you’d have seen the post I did when I was excited to have the new BWE cover — that I chose, from photographer Samatha Wolov.

    I choose my own covers.

    the cover has NOTHING to do with shopping. how fucking insulting. a well-known quote of mine is “our fantasies are about fucking, not shopping.” shame on you.

    there is a pretty girl on the cover of my book because THAT IS WHAT I WANT TO SEE on that book. it is my book. it reflects my readership’s sensibilities. do you know about point of sale mechanics? that is how people select books — they see something of themselves on the cover, and something eye-catching.

    and that is how I make books. “management” did not decide these covers. I am Cleis’ top selling author: when I do a book for them it wins awards, has (so far with EVERY BOOK I’VE DONE) a lifetime of reprints, and (thankfully) my books continue to sell beyond anyone’s expectations (including distributors, publishers and yes, even Amazon). and because if this, I get the access of having hands-on decisions with the marketing of each title: that means the covers. books for women have a strong woman on them, and the viewer can decide for herself what’s going on with that woman. books for het couples have a hot het couple on them. it’s seriously shortsighted of you to assume that a single woman on a cover is “gay” or heerosexual, or *anything*. you have no idea who’s looking at her or what she means to the viewer. you can’t.

    tell me what you know about purchaser demographics. I’m curious. you seem awfully sure about what women want. and what they find sexually empowering in a bookcover. especially heterosexual women. I’d like to know what, besides yourself, you’re pulling point-of-sale bookcover data from. it seems I could learn a lot from your sources.

    the mainstream sexism being brought to this conversation is coming from you.

    me, and my feminist-identified publisher, and my female photographer and her model, and all the women who’ve identified with my covers in the past — you’re tarring us all with the same, very dated, brush.

    for you to state that my BWE bookcovers ‘refuse to acknowledge female lust’ tells me you need to crack a spine and understand what those covers mean. because it just comes off as a very narrow-minded view of female lust — one in which my bookcovers, and the women in them (who are real women) do not belong. that’s exclusivity. and female sexuality should never have such inhibitive limitations placed on it.

    that cover looks like female desire to ME. of any kind that I choose. that’s my power and my agency. for you to try and take that away from me by labeling my work as “peddling the same old sexist shit” is doing exactly that. it’s the same old sexist shit.

    in fact, your argument makes no sense. unless it’s 1970, anyway.

    you are a very gifted author. but you really should have asked. and because you didn’t, I’ll now be judging you, and your work, equally as harshly.

    violet blue

    September 7, 2009 at 10:17 pm

  17. Berkley has reprinted 2 Shayla Black/Shelley Bradley novels as Heat trade paperbacks, with covers featuring het couples:

    Bound and Determined
    http://www.amazon.com/Bound-Determined-Shayla-Black/dp/0425226905/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1252384192&sr=1-1

    Strip Search
    http://www.amazon.com/Strip-Search-Shayla-Black/dp/0425229254/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3

    Part of the strategy seems to be to match the soft-focus het couple covers of Decadent and Wicked Ties for those who didn’t catch Strip Search or Bound and Determined when they were Berkley Sensation mass market paperbacks (now half price in Zellers bargain bins).

    Susan

    September 8, 2009 at 4:36 am

  18. Cover watch has been going for a year. When we started many writers hinted to us that whistle blowing about erotica covers might affect our ability to get published. Some writers even said they felt the same but were wary to say anything about the way the covers of erotic books fail to acknowledge straight female desire.

    But we decided to stick to our guns – frankly this subject was just too important to us. Violet Blue’s comment above is the first time an editor has publicly said: you shouldn’t have said this; and because you have said it I will take away your ability to work in this industry. (That is certainly how I read the closing of the comment above.)

    Utterly shocking.

    mathildemadden

    September 8, 2009 at 6:56 am

  19. I don’t see Violet saying that at all. I think she’s saying that you are publicly criticizing the books she put your work into, rather than communicating (at least first) with her about your opinion on her cover decisions.
    I’m wondering why, if you are the book cover designers — which is what I gather from you saying that you were in a marketing meeting and “here’s two we made earlier” — you didn’t express these concerns with her and Cleis at that time. If you were in the meeting, and you saw the agenda, that seems like a perfect time to air the concerns.
    And if you have these concerns, why do you make the covers look like that? Why not make the covers you want to see, and bring those prototypes to the marketing meetings?
    None of this makes much sense to me. I’ve never heard of graphic designers being upset that their work was selected.

    Amy

    September 8, 2009 at 7:38 am

  20. […] a comment » Whilst Kristina was recovering from Thursday’s arse fest, I unexpectedly took yesterday off. I’d like to claim I fancied taking Labor Day as a holiday […]

  21. Wow, I’ve been blacklisted!

    Hi Violet – I do sometimes read your blog and I did see your post on BWE 2010 where you wrote “What’s great* is that I didn’t like the first cover, this incredibly sexy one is shot by Samantha Wolov, whom I know and love, and my publisher (Cleis Press) lovingly tied my upcoming book Best Women’s Erotica 2010’s content with the cover’s image” and “*Another thing that’s great is that I first learned today about the cover change is from people saying how much they liked it — on Twitter

    From that, I got the impression Cleis chose the cover. But really, the issue of who chooses the cover is academic. Cleis, as publisher, must take ultimate responsibility for their output. If you want to take responsibility for the cover, fine. Let’s work with that for now. What’s key here is that just because *you* feel empowered by having chosen a pretty-girl image to your liking, it doesn’t follow that this image is therefore empowering to all women. There is a world of difference between personal empowerment and political empowerment. A woman asserting her personal ‘power’ can have a detrimental effect on other women.

    I also completely fail to see how I am being sexist here! The logic behind that accusation would seem to be anyone who criticises another woman’s actions or politics is sexist. You really believe that?

    I’m not a publisher so I don’t know much about purchaser demographics or ‘point-of-sale bookcover data’. But book buyers aren’t being given a free choice in covers, so you surely can’t be suggesting the data shows that women prefer covers with women on them when covers with women on are all that’s being offered! Furthermore, I think something more important than publishers’ profits is at stake here. If, during a transitional period of moving away from the sexism of women-only covers, a publisher faces a dip in sales when featuring/including a guy on the cover, then they should damn well take it (esp a publisher supposedly so principled as Cleis), just as women’s mags and publishing houses should take a dip when featuring black cover models in order to assist in making our culture less racist.

    Whether that dip in sales would happen remains to be seen. I actually think guys and couples on erotica books would sell and broaden the market. I love the Wolov cover to Lust and wrote positively about it here.

    I’m sorry you’ll be judging my work harshly when I submit to your anthologies in future. To echo Mat, this is shocking, and also the first time an editor has blacklisted either of us for speaking out. In most other industries, people are protected when they bring sexist practices to wider attention. We’ve had editors and publishers who’ve disagreed with us, or with aspects of our argument but none have ever refused to publish us. I was thrilled to be selected for BWE 2010 and Best of Best. I hope you’ll reconsider your stance and in future judge my work purely on its merit.

    Because I won’t be intimidated into silence, nor will I feel the shame you attempt to cast on me for protesting. I sincerely hope other authors who have publicly supported us won’t feel they now need to shut up lest they too have their submissions ‘judged harshly’. I am a well-established, popular erotica writer who wishes erotica publishing were better. If my career is jeopardised by my criticism of sexist book covers, then I am saddened not just for myself, but also for my many readers and for the readers of other authors who may now find themselves in a similar position.

    kristinalloyd

    September 8, 2009 at 8:43 am

  22. Amy, we are authors not designers. You have missed the satire and the set-up in my post.

    Susan, interesting covers. Romance books (as opposed to erotica) generally feature men on their covers, no problem. The cover image on Bound and Determined is particularly interesting to me though because, argh, it’s from the same image used on my 3rd novel, Split. (I did get more of the guy on my cover though – which is nice.)

    kristinalloyd

    September 8, 2009 at 9:01 am

  23. I’m sorry to see this debate turn into a squaring off or polarization. Obviously, as a writer, my opinion doesn’t matter much about covers, but I suspect that many publishers do follow the tradition of putting sexy women on the front of erotica books just because it worked in the past, and consumers have come to expect it. It’s not as simple as that the consumer gets what the consumer wants – availability plays a role in what the consumer is taught to want. So I enjoyed this debate of men on covers. And it is especially useful at a time when publishing as a whole is going through such upheaval. The market is changing fast, and this is beyond debate, so why not explore new approaches.

    At the same time, on a personal level, as a shopper for books, I find for erotica that focuses on the interior erotic reflections of a main female character, a female on the cover is suitable for this. However, I do, personally, get put off by photographs of women who I, being fuck-ugly, could never possibly be and cannot identify with.

    On the other hand, I think that books containing an anthology of nice raunchy sex stories, written for women and aimed primarily at arousing the reader might benefit from a mouthwatering male on the cover – so that when I get too horny to actually comprehend what I’m reading anymore, I’ve got a nice picture to look at while I wank.

    *Smile*

    remittance girl

    September 8, 2009 at 10:15 am

  24. Came here for the pretty boys, but I saw this and thought I’d give my $0.02 anyway. 🙂

    I really don’t understand how a woman’s dismembered lower half is indicative of either a strong woman or heterosexual female desire. 😐 I can’t claim to speak for anyone else, but I was buying erotica the other day. I did see several “Best Women’s Erotica” titles, but I thought that they were for lesbians and passed them over. I had no idea they were meant to be for straight (or mostly-straight, or bisexual) women until I read this blog. One of the books I ended up buying (Megan Hart’s “Stranger”) seemed to focus a bit more on the man’s body than the woman’s, and the other (“Naughty Bits”) didn’t have any bodies on it at all. (My eye was drawn to several pretty-boy covers, but unfortunately they were all for men. 😦 ) Frankly, even if I’d known that the “Best Women’s Erotica” series was for het women, I probably wouldn’t have bought it anyway. Call me crazy or unfair, but I *do* judge a book by its cover, and I’m not interested in reading stories that focus on how hot & sexy the women are while giving me almost 0 description of the men. That’s exactly what the covers are doing here, and that’s what I’d expect to see in the books. I would love to have some erotica with droolworthy men on the covers. Hell, I bought an issue of Filament, and after currency conversion it was more expensive than most of the paperbacks I own.

    Meg

    September 13, 2009 at 7:01 am

  25. […] fucking hot. Been doing lots of sightseeing. Violet Blue Someone said our argument hotel was very 1970s but we think maybe her sunshades are too strong because as you can see, it’s excitingly fresh […]

  26. […] cases verging on dehumanized) parts of people. To me, the final cover of the book in contention (at the top of the post) would be a much more effective representation of the interior if it looked less like my bed after […]

  27. I’ve been a shopper for volumes of short stories for a while now. One of the reasons that I’ve never purchased a copy of Best of Women’s Erotica, is, as mentioned above, I was under the impression that it was for lesbians. And now you tell me that it is for hets. Well, that says something about judging a book about its cover. Yeah, we all do it. Even I, college educated and all that, judge a book by its cover.

    Milinda

    September 27, 2009 at 2:47 am

  28. I think the idea of straight porn for men with pictures of men in speedos says it all. Though I fear for us all that someone failed to notive the sarcasm biting in that post.

    I get the idea that women respond to images we identify with – I also think that is something we’re trained to do. See the pretty woman, wish you were her. See yourself as a sister, a daughter, a mother, a wife.

    Identify. Don’t go forging out there and grab identity for yourself, like men are taught to do. Stay home, learn a role.

    I wrote my thesis on this idea, how the female bildungsroman works, it’s funny how it fits.

    I understand Violet Blue’s defensiveness, and how she might feel her work is attacked. It’s not a pleasant offensive she offers though.

    I have to say, I’d go for covers of pretty people doing stuff to eachother over disembodies arty parts too, arty though they may be.

    Jo

    October 13, 2009 at 1:21 am

  29. […] Um, I (Kristina) have been blacklisted by Violet Blue and won’t be appearing in her anthologies again, a sure sign we touched a […]

  30. Violet Blue talks of point of sale mechanics. She says that is how “people” select books. They see themselves on the cover. Really? Are all those men out there buying magazines with hot girls on the covers practicing this “point of sale mechanics”? Do they purchase something with a sexual image of a woman because they see themselves as being her? You did say this was something “people” do. Oh I get it. It is something only women do. Men don’t want to be someone else, just women want to be someone else. Men are trained to go after what they want, and it is there for them with the flip of a page. They feel entitled to look. How empowering. Somehow we have been trained to be looked at, even by our own sex, and oddly, that is suppose to be empowering to us?

    Think about it. Publications, on their covers, cater visually to straight men, Gay men, bisexual women, and lesbian women. The only orientation that is treated as though it is visually blind, is heterosexual women. Apparantly, we can only be visually stimulated by looking at ourselves? No wonder why the female libido has been shown in studies, even in young women, to be on the decline. That is particularly the case here in America.

    While women are being denied any opportunity to gaze at men, men are being drenched with erotic images of women, on a day to day basis. It is prevelant in ways never before seen in our media. And it is highly disproportionate. Women are being indoctrinated to what I see as an almost perverse loss of visual appreciation toward male erotic images.

    sweetiris

    July 13, 2010 at 1:51 pm

  31. […] sweetiris says in this post: “Publications, on their covers, cater visually to straight men, gay men, bisexual women, and […]

  32. […] In the midst of it all, Erotica Cover Watch asked one simple question: “Why are only women on the covers of erotic books?” This question later spawned a backlash against Fleshbot and got them blacklisted by Violet Blue. […]


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