Every time I blunder into a discussion of covers in my field, I realize that the left has turned into puritans so slowly we barely noticed.
When I was young – yes, and Mastodon roamed the Earth – the left was all about “liberation.”
Of course, even then, if you paid close attention – or any attention, really – you’d see they idolized the Soviet Union and no one could really believe it was “free” when people were dying to get out.
But as the seventies progressed on their very strange way, I told myself they were just odd people who believed the lies published about the Soviet Union, and they wanted complete freedom to do whatever they wanted.
It might surprise the people who were born after the seventies to find out that the left really wanted no taboos at all. At least in Europe, if you attended a certain type of party, you might be importuned by adult males way before the age of consent. And when you refused you were told you had a problem and were repressing your sexuality or had “inhibitions.” (I developed an answer that was something like this “No, I don’t have any hang-ups about nudity. I just have no interest in seeing old men naked, thank you.” It usually made them go away.)
In fact, just about anything you didn’t want to do or try, you were told that you had hang-ups, and how much better you’d feel if you just gave them up and did whatever the person talking to you wanted.
If someone had told me back then that the left would in time become complete Puritans, I’d not have believed them.
But just look at them now.
When the cover for Darkship Thieves was settled on, the male editor who was attending the conference I was at did not show it to me because I am a woman, and he was afraid I’d be offended.
To be clear, the cover has zero sexual content. It shows a woman in a pose reminiscent of Botticelli’s Venus, mostly naked, with a sort of wrap around her that hides all the crucial points.
It is also quite obviously art, not porn. And it did wonders for the book sales.
I was reminded of this today when I blundered into a science fiction fan group online. Someone had posted a picture of an improbable space-babe with big boobs and a space suit that showed a little more cleavage than normal.
Liberal after liberal was throwing fits and talking about the objectification of women and how we should stop objectifying women.
Look guys, I’m the kind of woman who, if she reads romance (periodically, it’s not my main form of entertainment, but I read anything and everything) prefers “sweet” or “traditional” romance, because written sex does nothing for me (I’m not a voyeur) and who once dropped an Urban Fantasy series because of the obvious objectification of male characters who are there ONLY to be considered in a sexual context.
So I’m the first to admit that yeah, objectification exists and can get annoying. But mostly it got annoying – to me, personally – because it was a defect in storytelling. It was objectification not because the guys were talked about as sex objects, but because that’s all they were talked about/used as, and there was nothing else even remotely interesting about these characters.
And yet I’m here to tell you this whole “but that’s objectification” about cute and semi-dressed women on covers is stupid. Yeah, it’s stupid about males on romance covers too, not that any of these leftist types complain about that.
Covers on books are most and first of all advertisements. Yeah, sure, you shouldn’t have false advertisement. If my book had had a naked woman in a pornographic pose, with everything on display it would have been bad. Not because she was naked or some supposed insult to all women, but because there is… I think… one kiss in the whole book and nothing else even vaguely sexual. (Which considering its space opera, is fine.)
But as long as it’s not false advertising, and it’s not so explicit and offensive that people are afraid to read it in public, a cover showing a beautiful partly-clad woman (or man) is likely to fulfill its purpose: get the potential reader to pick up and peruse the book (I keep meaning to do an updated cover series. Soon, I promise.)
We are apes — another thing the left was very fond of reminding us of when I was a kid, but which they seem to have forgotten – and beautiful people clad or unclad call our eyes and help sell a product.
Is this somehow an insult to all women?
Is admitting that we’re creatures of flesh and blood and males like looking at unclad or semi-clad women somehow wrong? Why? It’s the truth.
Of course, things being the truth have never made any difference to leftist notions.
They have got all up in their Marxism and become convinced that the purpose of doing their jobs is not to sell books or movies or for that matter razors, but to educate a populace they despise.
In that sense, apparently, if they don’t put naked women on covers, or hetero romance in books (I had a book rejected once by a subsidiary of Harlequin that was interested in SF/F because the love interest in the book was “too masculine.” That imprint has since stopped existing) they think somehow they’ll make humanity over and paradise will arrive.
This is roughly equivalent to the imaginary Puritans (the real ones were a randy bunch) and how the left used to say such Puritans wouldn’t even tolerate mention of sex.
For a while now, I’ve been expecting the left to start wearing poke bonnets and naming their kids “Eschew Material Gain Jones” or “Thou Shalt Not Objectify Women Smith” or perhaps “Excoriate the Cishet White Male Harris.”
They have decided the entire purpose of life now and forever more is to proclaim the neo-Marxist gospel, and if they just succeed it will bring about an Earthly paradise.
The fact that 100 million humans have died in the service of that goal, and yet humans are still humans and perfect communism has — thank heavens — failed to materialize makes no impact with them.
They know what they know.
If they suppress every human instinct and everything that brings us enjoyment and joy they’ll succeed. If they just stop people making fun movies, reading fun books, looking at pretty art of naked people, they’ll win.
What they’ll win no one knows, not even them, themselves.
Mostly because what they actually manage to do is ruin flourishing fields and destroy all the fun people try to have.
This is because at the end of the day, what they actually want is power. In the seventies, it gave them power to shock the “squares” but as they’re now having trouble shocking anyone at all, they’ve taken the opposite tactic and are trying to bully us with how unenlightened we are because we like art with naked people. (Or fluffy books that are fun, or movies with an actual plot, or advertisements with a “social justice” message.) Because they imagine this will give them power.
Seems to work with a particularly pathetic kind of man who is always the first to scream “objectification.”
It’s time to stop this. No one is harmed by beautiful semi-clad women – or men – on a cover. In fact, fractionally speaking, the world might be a better place for the existence of something beautiful in it, even if it’s a paperback cover.
Answer their cries the same way I answer cries of “cultural appropriation” with “Yes, and isn’t it beautiful?”
Then smile sweetly and go find a cover that has a bimbo on it!