I wanted to take a moment of silence (during which, please, check out this man, or another more to your taste) in recognition of Erotica Cover Watch. They were a project that really made me aware how quickly and easily one can become blind to “naked women everywhere” syndrome. Their “about” post says it all:
Erotica publishers, editors, designers: we are watching you. And we want to ask you one tricky little question – why only women on the covers of erotica books?
Really, why do you think that only women’s bodies can be used to signify the erotic. On erotic books these days men are only displayed on covers that are for gay titles or erotic romance. (Even erotica aimed at womenstill features women on the covers.) So, what? Only men are allowed to look at men with pure lust? Women are only allowed to enjoy hot men when love enters the equation?
Men can be sex symbols too. For everyone – not just gay guys.
I picked this image in particular as Ryan there is in True Blood, which is a TV show known for it’s fantastic writing. KIDDING, it’s full of eye candy for every orientation, that’s why people love it, duh! And women have really gotten hot for other vampires, too.
So maybe women do respond to hot images of men. Who’d have thought?
As sweetiris says in this post:
“Publications, on their covers, cater visually to straight men, gay men, bisexual women, and lesbian women. The only orientation that is treated as though it is visually blind, is heterosexual women. Apparently, we can only be visually stimulated by looking at ourselves? No wonder why the female libido has been shown in studies, even in young women, to be on the decline. That is particularly the case here in America.
While women are being denied any opportunity to gaze at men, men are being drenched with erotic images of women, on a day to day basis. It is prevelant in ways never before seen in our media. And it is highly disproportionate. Women are being indoctrinated to what I see as an almost perverse loss of visual appreciation toward male erotic images.”
With my new job, seeing books all around me with many women on the cover (women who, by the way, do not often reflect much of a queer or even varied gaze- they are almost always white, slender but with rounded breasts, and femme), I realize how this is a multi-step project, and this is going to be more than a summer thing I do to keep busy.
“While some questioned whether women would even buy visual erotica, Filament’s readers soon put them straight. Not only were women buying it, they were asking for more explicit pictures.
That demand brought Filament smack up against the biggest problem in providing visual erotica for straight women: the pervasive nervousness about depictions of aroused men. Previous attempts to offer erotic imagery to women flopped when publications such as For Women and Playgirl offered only photography that many believed fell short of what women wanted from an adult mag.
Filament, responding to reader feedback, had planned to include a photo set of an aroused man in their second (September) issue. It’s not illegal to print images of erections but the Obscene Publications Act is notoriously vague. After taking legal advice, Filament intended to make a test case of sorts. Its printers, however, refused, citing potential objections from “the women’s/religious sectors”. As a new, independent publisher, Filament can’t yet afford more liberal-minded printers willing to tackle the taboo on tumescence.
It’s the second major hurdle for Filament, which has already been turned down by numerous UK distributors refusing to handle a women’s magazine with a man on the cover. When set against the plethora of men’s lifestyle and top-shelf magazines featuring scantily clad and open-legged women, the struggles faced by Filament highlight a deeply entrenched sexism: men can look at women but women cannot look at men.”
As a final couple of thoughts before I go to a much-deserved bed, the first from the last post at Erotica Cover Watch:
“We hope, with this campaign, we’ve raised awareness and set something in motion within the erotica publishing industry. Please help us to carry this forward. Please keep the energy of Erotica Cover Watch alive. Keep the links and Man Candies coming, complain about sexism, celebrate sexy men and support publishers who are trying to break the mould.”
And, of course, maymay, who summed up what I hope for here:
“I think Filament’s success, along with the response to sites like this one that acknowledge a female gaze, are stepping stones to more than just access to quality erotica for women, but also to a healthier and happier sexual self-expression for men.”
I salute you, Mat and Kristina, for saying something the “sex positive” community wasn’t ready to hear but needed to. May I carry the banner half as well in the erotic photography world.