Erotica Cover Watch

Why only women on the covers of erotic books?

Archive for the ‘marilyn jaye lewis’ Category

Erotica Cover Watch: Hot Women’s Erotica, ed Marilyn Jaye Lewis

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Hot Women’s Erotica, ed Marilyn Jaye Lewis, pub Blue Moon Books

Watched by Kristina Lloyd

What’s the one thing all women want in erotica? They want it hot and that’s what this book delivers.’

Um, then shouldn’t it be called Women’s Hot Erotica? So, you know, that all-important adjective – hot – is applied to the erotica rather than to the women.

If you’re uncertain about this, try using the structure on sentences of your own. How about ‘big men’s dicks‘? I think we can all agree that this refers to the penises of large men and tells us nothing about the size of those penises. ‘Men’s big dicks‘, however, means something entirely different: lots of happy women!

But, once again, let’s be generous for a moment. Let’s say ‘women’s erotica’ is such a commonly used phrase it practically functions as a noun, a single grammatical unit which ‘hot’ then modifies. You could just about justify the choice of title with this syntactical chicanery if it weren’t for one problem: the cover image. Because here we have a (hot) sexy woman dressed in red (hot) skimpies. There’s no two ways about it: ‘hot’ refers to the women. And since this book bills itself as ‘erotica for women, by women’, then hot is a description of its writers and readers.

This doubly pisses me off. As an author (although not one in this collection), I deeply resent the suggestion that my hotness, my sexual desirability is even relevant. Judge me by my work, my literary abilities, my skill at creating sexy fiction. Judge my writing. Leave me and my body out of it. Don’t demean me by rating my tits above my talent.

Now I’ve nothing against hot. It’s nice to enjoy looking good and to have that acknowledged and appreciated; and there are many different ways a person can do hot (and, to be honest, some straight men would do well to put a bit more effort in). Looking hot is not dependent on having legs to your armpits and lashings of mascara. We all have our styles. (And I think it’s safe to say when we’re talking about someone being hot, we’re talking about other people’s (primarily visual) perception of them; it’s different from that inner glow you might have of feeling sexy, irrespective of anyone else’s opinion.)

Is it hot in here or is it you?

Is it hot in here or is it you?

So, I am not anti-hot. However, let’s not turn hot into something bigger than it is. It’s fun. It’s lipstick and a good bra. It’s the way your hair looks so purty when it’s gunked up with come. It is nothing very much and, above all else, it is not, not, not female sexuality.

Hot Women’s Erotica, in title and cover image, implies that it is. And that’s the second reason I’m pissed off. Most erotica covers are guilty of equating female sexuality with being the object of male desire, although rarely do the titles make it so starkly obvious. But my sexuality is not about my desirability; it is not rooted in my physical appearance. It is active, not passive. It’s about me desiring, me lusting, me choosing, me looking and liking. In that sense, it’s much like male sexuality. The big difference is, male sexuality is constantly being offered the goodies to satisfy it while female sexuality is ignored. On erotica covers, my desire is corrupted and co-opted to such an extent that it actually becomes the goodies. Erotica – women’s erotica – which is supposedly talking to me, is actually talking right over my half-naked body and directly to men. It then has the brass neck to tell me I like it like this, that his desiring me is actually my desire.

In terms of the message of its cover, this book really ought to be called Men’s Hot Erotica.

We need more sexy guys on sexy books. As the publicity blurb for this anthology says, women want it hot. And that really ought to mean that sometimes we get to have the hot, not that we always are the hot.



Written by Kristina Lloyd

October 30, 2008 at 7:31 am