Erotica Cover Watch

Why only women on the covers of erotic books?

But, but, but…

with 4 comments

When we ask people our one simple little question – Why only women on the covers of erotic books? – we get all kinds of answers. Here are some of our favourite and most well-worn excuses used to justify this stupid sexism:

Author Mathilde Madden enjoys a glass of Hopeless

Oh, but I like it: Mathilde Madden enjoys a glass of Hopeless

The publishers/book buyers/bookshops/publishing industry won’t stand for men on the covers of erotic books
And obviously this can never change. Just like no injustice has ever been overcome ever.

Women like looking at women
Because straight women are just straight men with vaginas

You are just jealous of the sexy models
Because the whole problem with women only being allowed to be sex objects is actually all about personal insecurities. It’s actually as trivial as that!

But there are men on the covers of erotic romance books?
So we’re allowed to look at naked men but only if we’re going to settle down with them and get married at the end. No, but really, erotic romance books have done some nice bicep thrusting covers – and certainly proved the point that women do like looking at hot men and will buy books with hot men on the cover. (Here’s a fun one.) But the only reason they’re allowed is because men don’t read romance. If men might be a potential audience for the book (as in standard erotica) woman are elbowed out the way so hard my ears are ringing right now writing about it.

People think men on covers are for the gay market
Yes, because you only put men on the covers of gay books!

If women wanted men on the covers that’s what publishers would supply
Because global capitalism is just that simple

Women can identify with female cover models
What and these would be the same ones I’m seethingly jealous of? Really, I find it hard to identify with any woman who spends her Saturday nights lying naked on a sofa fondling her titties. I have more interesting things to do.

Men on covers would put off the lesbians
And please, won’t somebody think of the lesbians!

Women are more beautiful than men
…and that’s not my opinion, that’s fact

You are prudish, illiberal and anti-sex
Hahahaha! Stop it, our sides hurt. Anti-sex? Us? OMG, hahahaha!

We are reclaiming the male gaze
Huh?

And, dumbest of all: Oh, but I like it, I think she’s hot

Seriously? You like it? Well, get this: I (Kristina Lloyd) like the colour green, I like those sandals I bought for a tenner last summer, whisky no ice, hawthorn blossom in May, a man with a shaved head and my mum’s rhubarb crumble. But this isn’t about anyone’s personal preference. In fact, if anyone commenting on this blog attempts to use ‘oh but I like it’ as a line of defence, we will swoop down and award them A Big Glass of Hopeless.

A Hopeless is a cocktail which was invented for Mathilde in a cosy little bar on a night I was drinking margaritas. She loved it. It was basically a pudding in a glass, extravagantly trashy, the kind of cocktail she adores. I generally stick to margaritas: short, sharp and salty. We have very different tastes. But, you know what, we never argue about it. There is no point, see? Neither of us are ever going to change our minds.

In exploring the sexism in erotica covers, we’re not asking for anyone’s opinion on whether or not they like the lady. Individual preference is not, never will be, a valid counter-argument to a political point. This is not about anyone’s fondness for a particular peachy bottom. This is about the bigger picture. This is about challenging the deeply-entrenched gender bias in erotica-marketing which ignores women as consumers and prefers to serve them up as objects to be ogled.

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Written by mat

August 9, 2008 at 12:43 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Cool! My cover! And I have to tell you, that it is a cover that literally stops people at book signings and brings them over to talk to me. You can’t beat the pulling power of a lovely male torso-and this is a real guy-I checked LOL
    Love your insights and I have to admit I’ve never really thought about the inequality before-probably because from the erotic-romance end of the equation, all we get is naked men.
    Kate x

    Kate Pearce

    October 17, 2008 at 4:18 am

  2. […] Our biggest surprise when we kicked off this campaign was the strength of the backlash. We simply hadn’t anticipated it. We thought people would mainly go, ‘Gosh, you’re right, how unfair,’ then Mat and I would run out of things to say (stop laughing) and we’d get back to writing our novels. Sure, we expected a few chumps to pop up and go, ‘But women are, like, more beautiful than men, innit?’ and ‘Wimmins is not visual because they have breasts and no eyeballs.’ And of course they did (sort of). Prior to starting the blog, we did our best to answer the usual arguments against men on erotica covers by writing But, but, but… […]

  3. Strange as a straight male, I actually read the “erotic romance books” I have no objection to the males on the cover. I suppose, as an athlete ive always compared theyre physiques to my own. Actually quite nice to see good physiques. So many women are displayed everywhere in society. I Like women so much i wont complain about them too LOL.
    AND THIS IS WEIRD., When ever I read, even light reading, not so racy romance, the female writers describe in grpahic detail how a guy looks and how he looks naked. The writers even describe feeling aroused at certain good looking male hero bodies.
    If women arent visualy stimulated, are all the female writers just pretending to be in theryre storylines?

    I would like to think women and men visually are similar, from the romance books ive read it gives that impression. I think its strange in 2009 that women have a debate about whether they are visual or not. Surely every woman know if she is or not?

    Jason

    May 1, 2009 at 11:40 am

  4. “Really, I find it hard to identify with any woman who spends her Saturday nights lying naked on a sofa fondling her titties. I have more interesting things to do.”

    I don’t, but if I want to see a woman fondling her tits on a Saturday night, well, that’s what *mirrors* were invented for amirite?

    @Jason, society sends the message, pretty strongly, that men’s sexuality is about looking and women’s sexuality is about being looked at. Really, most people are a bit of both, and gender is pretty irrelevant to it. I think the women arguing that women aren’t visual are the ones who heavily lean towards being looked at, have heard all the societal messages, and try to project their own sexuality onto everyone else. This kind of gender stereotyping not only sucks for women who like to do the looking (like me), but men who want to be looked at.

    Meg

    October 19, 2009 at 12:36 am


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