Erotica Cover Watch
Catherine Redfern // 10 January 2009
Erotica Cover Watch [NOT SAFE FOR WORK!] is a blog by two erotica authors who asked the question “why only women on the cover of erotic books, not men?”
As two erotica writers we’re very interested in how our product is packaged. And sometimes pretty annoyed about it. This is BICEPS, our bid to Banish Inequality on Covers in Erotica, Porn & Smut.
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.
It reminded me a little of the Lad Mags blog [NSFW] (“Lads mags would be moved to the top shelf if they featured men in similar poses.”); pointing out a silly double standard in a fun lighthearted way. I think this kind of blogging is a really effective way to make a point.
In Erotica Cover Watch’s round up of the past three months [NSFW], they document how their campaign has had some successes. Interestingly they also say:
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
Nonetheless, the arguments and – ouch! – the vitriol came. People said stuff like, ‘This is just a bunch of haterade‘. We were described as militant, ungrateful, sexist and desperate. We were called ‘hard-headed feminists’ ‘do gooders’ and, um, ‘lesbians‘ (I still haven’t figured that one out). We were taken to task for not reading the books whose covers we were analysing. We were accused of ‘bathing in heated pools of hypocrisy’, ‘doing a hit job’ on fellow writers, giving feminism a bad name, hurting people’s feelings and wanting to do damage to erotica publishing.
Yeeouch. All that for simply wanting to make the prevailing sexual culture just a teensy bit more equal. The mind boggles.