Erotica Cover Watch

Why only women on the covers of erotic books?

Man Candy Tuesday

with 12 comments

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 – but I’m in the UK – so it’s down to plain old forgetfulness. Too much Man Candy, it seems, rots the mind. A price I am more than willing to pay.

But, my lateness, has turned out to be fateful, because it means I can bring you this news just in:

Our last post touched a nerve. In the last year we’ve criticised publishers and editors of erotica. We know we’ve hurt feelings, but, for the most part, we’ve found the people we have engaged with on this problem have mostly been interested in what we’ve had to say and responded positively one way or another. Some have changed their view of erotica covers, some have re-thought policy, some have laughed at us.

But now we have our first blacklisting from an editor.

We always knew this was a danger in what we were doing. Erotica publishing is a small world. We have tried not to get personal and have always hoped that the blatant and obvious nature of what we were saying (because, well, it IS sexist that the covers of erotic books for straight people only ever feature women) would protect us like a magical cloak of righteousness.

A sad day. And honestly – after a year of useful and progressive dialogue – a surprising one.


Written by mat

September 8, 2009 at 8:41 am

12 Responses

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  1. Wow. A complete and utter arse fest indeed.

    I have nothing profound to say about what happened, other than to simply express my disappointment that it took such a nasty turn. I know I’ve been a bit of a lurker around here these days, so I just wanted to pop in and let you know that I’m still staunchly Team ECW and that I’m proud to support the BICEPS campaign.

    I’m also quite confident that I am not the only erotica fan out here that feels the same way.

    Not sure it will do anything to soften the blow ladies, but I’m still behind you, 100%.


    September 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm

  2. Thank you!

    It’s great to hear your support on this. We’ve heard (privately) from other supportive people today and yes, I think many other writers will be stunned and saddened by what has happened.


    September 8, 2009 at 7:10 pm

  3. I’m truly stunned by that turn of events.

    Whatever comes, I’m proud to be among the “Extra Muscle” here at ECW, and continue to support your considered, and well stated goals.

    Keep up the good work, ladies.

    Craig Sorensen

    September 8, 2009 at 11:19 pm

  4. Thanks Craig! Much appreciated.


    September 9, 2009 at 1:30 pm

  5. My reading of Violet’s point is that she chose the book cover because it represents female desire to her. Okay, all well and good. But she then goes on to say that “people” buy things with images on them that represent something of themselves. There isn’t really a comparable example to erotic fiction for straight men as far as I know, but looking at men’s magazines, the vast majority feature partially-dressed women on their covers. So it seems this assumption that you need to identify personally with the subject of the image, rather than lust after them, only applies to women, which can only be a sexist assumption, unless their is evidence to suggest it.

    If I was VB, I would refer to reliable research evidence that clearly demonstrates that heterosexual women don’t respond to images of men designed for and by heterosexual women as much as they do erotic images of women like those used by Cleis. I’d be really interested to see that kind of evidence.


    September 10, 2009 at 8:46 pm

  6. I forgot to say, I hope y’all are not disheartened by this. I think you are doing an awesome job. Keep up the challenge.


    September 10, 2009 at 8:49 pm

  7. Suraya, Nexus Books are aimed primarily at straight men and are well known for cover images in which the reader can see something of himself (snort!)

    Nexus Books

    But no, not disheartened! Thanks for the support.


    September 11, 2009 at 7:02 am

  8. Incidentally, though many of Nexus writers on that list appear to be women they are, in fact, men writing under female pseuds.


    September 11, 2009 at 7:04 am

  9. Gosh, how do straight men tell that Nexus books are aimed at them?! They look exactly the same as just about every erotic book aimed at women! But that is perfectly appropriate for books aimed at straight men, and I like the images – they’re very interesting, full of context and character… all up, they’re very good erotic images.

    BTW, I’m going to write a letter of support to Xcite and send them some copies of Filament with your article in, and suggest them some photographers whose images they might consider using on future covers 🙂


    September 11, 2009 at 1:46 pm

  10. On one hand, Violet Blue has every right to say something to the effect of “I’ll use covers that reflect my tastes, thank you very much.”

    On the other hand, the fact that she personalizes this and threatens retaliation – just WOW.

    Then again, we are talking about somebody with an extremely litigious history here. There was her lawsuit against the porn star then-known-as Violet Blue (now Noname Jane). Not to mention other more petty lawsuits and squabbles around San Francisco.

    Violet Blue, if you’re reading this – maybe its about time you stopped this kind of litigious and retaliatory behavior. It reflects badly on you, and I think does a lot of damage to the sex-positive community (such as it is) as well.

    VB Watch

    September 14, 2009 at 2:01 am

  11. […] And why did Xcite initially question the predominance of female models on erotica covers? Because they read our blog and they listened, giving Erotica Cover Watch its first glorious victory earlier in the year! It’s wonderful to see Xcite are continuing to feature hot guys on their covers. I truly love these images! And wonderful, too, to have a publisher who takes note and responds so positively instead of, ah, you know … not. […]

  12. […] It’s amazingly exciting that we are getting to take our ideas to such a huge audience. And we could never have done it without the support of all cover watch’s avid and supportive blog readers. So thank you! Kristina’s latest piece even got a feature on Gawker Media blog Jezebel, so I guess they aren’t cross with us for what we said about Fleshbot. Thank god, we don’t want everyone to blacklist us.  […]

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