Author Topic: Objectifying females and males on covers  (Read 2812 times)  

Offline markpauloleksiw

  • Status: Lewis Carroll
  • **
  • Posts: 182
  • Gender: Male
  • Canada
    • View Profile
    • Mark Paul Oleksiw's Website
Objectifying females and males on covers
« on: June 23, 2020, 10:58:22 am »
Something I have been meaning to bring up...

Isn't it about time that all authors stop objectifying males and females in the cover images?  I know it sells but it doesn't make it appropriate. I get it if it has something to do with the story but, it has really gotten out of hand.

I get it, it sells. It does not make it right.

Mark




KBoards.com

  • Advertisement
  • ***

    Online isaacsweeney

    • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
    • ****
    • Posts: 775
    • Gender: Male
    • Virginia
      • View Profile
      • Write Already
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #1 on: June 23, 2020, 11:04:57 am »
    #metoo

    Offline Crystal_

    • Status: Arthur C Clarke
    • *****
    • Posts: 2973
    • Gender: Female
    • Portland, OR
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #2 on: June 23, 2020, 11:11:46 am »
    I can't speak to other genres, but I have to say, in romance, covers have been trending away from objectifying shots for a few years.

    More and more "solo male" covers feature the model's face. In fact, headshots are super popular!

    Headless torsos are out.

    Faces and full-bodies are in.

    This isn't true in every niche, of course, and there are still many images cropped at the nose or neck, but if you check the top 100 you'll see what I mean. There are way more faces than there were a few years ago.

    I've never had an "abs" cover. I just don't like them. I don't really like covers with solo men on them, tbh. They bore me. I tend to use images of couples, because they're more emotionally resonant. I wouldn't consider any of those images objectifying.

    I do have a series with a solo lady on it. The first has her in a very O-face expression, so I wouldn't consider that objectifying--it is focused on her bliss, after all--but the later books in the trilogy are a bit more body crops. That is objectifying, and I won't claim it's not.

    But I will say, in the case of romance and erotica, sexuality is complicated. People want what they're told they should want. Women find crops of lingerie clad female bodies titillating because they've been told it's titillating for their entire lives.

    How much should authors challenge that... well, that is a bigger conversation. I've found most romance authors are not really open to this conversation. In general, (indie) publishing is guided by an amoral "if it sells, it sells" capitalism. People are happy to shirk responsibility and blame it all on the market.

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

    • Status: Jane Austen
    • ***
    • Posts: 295
    • Gender: Male
    • Leicestershire, UK
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #3 on: June 23, 2020, 11:14:05 am »
    I like the sentiment. But I suppose as ever it's the market that dictates these things. If removing the be-sixpacked hunk of man meat from the steamy romance cover, or the Lara Croft-alike from the front of an urban fantasy, causes the writer to lose sales, then the models are gonna remain in place until they stop working.

    Unfortunately, if people have to look at people, they'd rather look at pretty people. Hence why movies star Scarlet Johannson and Chris Pratt, not people that look like me.

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

    • Status: Jane Austen
    • ***
    • Posts: 295
    • Gender: Male
    • Leicestershire, UK
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #4 on: June 23, 2020, 11:15:09 am »
    People are happy to shirk responsibility and blame it all on the market.

    Exactly.

    Offline Shane Lochlann Black

    • Status: Arthur Conan Doyle
    • ****
    • Posts: 699
    • Lexicon Hollow
    • Write something funny by 4PM or you're fired.
      • View Profile
      • The Committee to Ban Shane Lochlann Black
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #5 on: June 23, 2020, 11:19:22 am »
    It is impossible to put a picture of any person on a book cover without objectifying them. By appearing on a book cover, they are objectified by definition.

    Offline Drakon

    • Status: Madeleine L'Engle
    • **
    • Posts: 80
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #6 on: June 23, 2020, 12:57:38 pm »
    So what kind of covers would you like to see?

    Based on what genre?


    Diana Drakulich

    Offline Crystal_

    • Status: Arthur C Clarke
    • *****
    • Posts: 2973
    • Gender: Female
    • Portland, OR
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #7 on: June 23, 2020, 01:25:41 pm »
    I'm going to take a contrary view: Do we really need yet one more thing to feel guilty about?

    Many romance genres are essentially about the sexual fantasies of women. And..."so what?" is the way I look at it. If shirtless guys with six-packs is what they want, I have no desire to play the finger-wagging killjoy. Why is it "wrong", exactly?

    I think you're straw manning a bit here.

    No one is asking you to feel guilty about enjoying images of sexy people.

    We don't have to feel guilty about putting sexy people on our covers. In fact, I'd argue, that if you DO feel guilty about it, you should probably stop. That guilt is telling you something.

    But we can consider the impact of our work. And we should. Because we are the final word on the cover, title, blurb, content of our books. That's the beauty of indie publishing.

    We make choices that reflect the market--what people buy, what other authors do, what people say they want even--but we are ultimately responsible for our choices. Even if they are "what sells."

    Take responsibility!

    There's plenty of room to discuss and consider that without condemning any one thing. Or "feeling guilty."

    Offline MorrowWriter

    • Status: Dr. Seuss
    • *
    • Posts: 48
    • Gender: Male
    • United Kingdom
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #8 on: June 23, 2020, 01:53:26 pm »
    Isn't the most recognisable romance cover a moody photo of a silver neck tie?  ;D

    Francis Morrow

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

    • Status: Jane Austen
    • ***
    • Posts: 295
    • Gender: Male
    • Leicestershire, UK
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #9 on: June 23, 2020, 02:00:20 pm »
    Isn't the most recognisable romance cover a moody photo of a silver neck tie?  ;D

    And the suited man is adjusting it with just a hint of tattoo showing beneath his sleeve to show that he's a bit of a bad boy?

    Offline vagabond.voyager

    • Status: Jane Austen
    • ***
    • Posts: 375
    • Gender: Male
    • Australia
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #10 on: June 23, 2020, 03:23:01 pm »
    Something I have been meaning to bring up...

    Isn't it about time that all authors stop objectifying males and females in the cover images?  I know it sells but it doesn't make it appropriate. I get it if it has something to do with the story but, it has really gotten out of hand.

    I get it, it sells. It does not make it right.

    Mark




    By "objectifying" I gather that you are referring to focusing on sexual appeal. I also find covers with shirtless men, or women in lingerie to be offputting. I have NEVER looked further when presented with such a cover. I feel that the author lacks imagination and is promoting erotica over plot and character. I do not object to an appealing image of a woman, a pretty face, etc., just as long as the focus is on her, not her sexual attributes.

    Online ShayneRutherford

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
    • *******
    • Posts: 5016
    • Toronto, Ontario
      • View Profile
      • My Website
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #11 on: June 23, 2020, 03:48:49 pm »
    I have NEVER looked further when presented with such a cover.

    I daresay you're not the target audience of such covers.
             

    Offline jb1111

    • Status: Scheherazade
    • *****
    • Posts: 1819
    • PNW US
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #12 on: June 23, 2020, 03:59:17 pm »
    OK, go ahead and put out a book with a droll design like they did in the 1920's, and see if it sells your romance, erotica, or whatever. Good luck.

    I think there are ways to put people on a cover without completely objectifying them, but if the book is about a 'hot couple' and includes sexuality, you're going to have a cover that indicates what is inside, and a picture of a still life vase and flower or something like that isn't going to cut it.

    Are there limits? Certainly. I think every author probably has some input as to how much 'heat' they want on their covers. Maybe some of them reduce the 'heat' level, and it may cost them some sales. It's a choice they have to make.

    Offline Moe D

    • Status: Lewis Carroll
    • **
    • Posts: 111
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #13 on: June 23, 2020, 04:55:40 pm »
    By "objectifying" I gather that you are referring to focusing on sexual appeal. I also find covers with shirtless men, or women in lingerie to be offputting. I have NEVER looked further when presented with such a cover. I feel that the author lacks imagination and is promoting erotica over plot and character. I do not object to an appealing image of a woman, a pretty face, etc., just as long as the focus is on her, not her sexual attributes.
    What sort of romance books do you read? What's on those covers?

    Offline Jena H

    • Status: Emily Dickinson
    • *******
    • Posts: 7933
    • North Carolina
    • Desperate character
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #14 on: June 23, 2020, 05:28:02 pm »
    Seems to me there's a line between "appealing to your audience" (or accurately conveying genre) and "objectifying humans."
    Jena

    Offline vagabond.voyager

    • Status: Jane Austen
    • ***
    • Posts: 375
    • Gender: Male
    • Australia
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #15 on: June 23, 2020, 06:20:08 pm »
    What sort of romance books do you read? What's on those covers?
    I do not read romance books. Romance is not the only genre using such covers. Many thriller, crime, mystery, and adventure genres also use them. Look through the top one hundred, or Kindle Unlimited on Amazon and see for yourself.

    Offline Moe D

    • Status: Lewis Carroll
    • **
    • Posts: 111
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #16 on: June 23, 2020, 07:28:36 pm »
    I do not read romance books.

    That's what I figured.

    Thanks.

    Offline Crystal_

    • Status: Arthur C Clarke
    • *****
    • Posts: 2973
    • Gender: Female
    • Portland, OR
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #17 on: June 23, 2020, 08:05:16 pm »
    I'm not sure everyone here knows what objectifying actually means.

    Offline markpauloleksiw

    • Status: Lewis Carroll
    • **
    • Posts: 182
    • Gender: Male
    • Canada
      • View Profile
      • Mark Paul Oleksiw's Website
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #18 on: June 23, 2020, 08:58:08 pm »
    The strange and sad response is to say...it is okay if it sells. I am astounded with the logic that because it helps sell...it is okay. Think about that for a minute.

    It is not only the romance genre anymore...it is creeping, pardon the expression, into the young adult genre as well.

    And the covers all kind of look alike now as well.

    Mark


    Offline Usedtoposthere

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
    • *******
    • Posts: 6194
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #19 on: June 23, 2020, 09:46:31 pm »
    I'm not sure everyone here knows what objectifying actually means.
    Ee-yup. I'm so confused ...

    Offline jb1111

    • Status: Scheherazade
    • *****
    • Posts: 1819
    • PNW US
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #20 on: June 23, 2020, 11:55:36 pm »
    The strange and sad response is to say...it is okay if it sells. I am astounded with the logic that because it helps sell...it is okay. Think about that for a minute.

    It is not only the romance genre anymore...it is creeping, pardon the expression, into the young adult genre as well.

    And the covers all kind of look alike now as well.

    Mark

    Point taken, but authors are generally in the business to sell books. I don't know how many times I've seen advice given to people here to look at the covers used in their genre, see what is popular, and do the same. It appears that readers are driving this vehicle more than authors and publishers.

    Offline SND

    • Status: Jane Austen
    • ***
    • Posts: 264
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #21 on: June 24, 2020, 03:28:07 am »
    The models themselves, the actual people being "objectified", don't seem to mind since they agreed to the photoshoot, signed off on the use of their image and hopefully got imbursed accordingly. If they don't mind, why should we?

    Is it damaging to the sisterhood or brotherhood in the wider general sense? I don't know. Maybe. But it's small potatoes, regardless.

    TL;DR
    I'm okay with it!  :)

    Offline Luna Alchemie

    • Status: Dr. Seuss
    • *
    • Posts: 9
      • View Profile
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #22 on: June 24, 2020, 04:24:37 pm »
    Romance readers are buying a fantasy. Maybe they want a hot, sexy fantasy. Is that wrong? Many think so. The cover is a shortcut to the content of the book.  Maybe they don't want a hot sexy read, maybe they want sweet, no sex at all. Those romances have their own cover clues. Romance readers have been kicked around for years and shamed for their preferences. If you read the books you would find characterization, courtship, and emotional depth tied into the hot scenes.

    Almost every movie you've ever seen had attractive leads, especially an attractive woman. Oh noes, people like sexy people, romance and sex.

    Online ShayneRutherford

    • Status: Edgar Allan Poe
    • *******
    • Posts: 5016
    • Toronto, Ontario
      • View Profile
      • My Website
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #23 on: June 24, 2020, 08:13:27 pm »
    The strange and sad response is to say...it is okay if it sells. I am astounded with the logic that because it helps sell...it is okay. Think about that for a minute.

    Wow. That horse is really tall.
             

    Offline MaxDaemon

    • Status: Jane Austen
    • ***
    • Posts: 363
      • View Profile
      • Electrik Ink
    Re: Objectifying females and males on covers
    « Reply #24 on: June 24, 2020, 10:29:10 pm »
    Wow. That horse is really tall.

    <heh>

    Humans run on food, sex and comfort. No matter how much veneer we slap over it, it comes down to those three things.

    The biggest difference between humans and animals is that animals don't have an incredible guilt complex from enjoying life.


    V.R. Tapscott | Electrik Ink

    KBoards.com

    • Advertisement
    • ***