[LMB] more on the PP cover

Gwynne Powell gwynnepowell at hotmail.com
Thu Sep 19 16:38:56 BST 2019

From: Beatrice Otter <beatrice_otter at zoho.com>

---- On Sun, 15 Sep 2019 02:48:28 -0700 Gwynne Powell <mailto:gwynnepowell at hotmail.com> wrote ----
I still think the youthful spirits behind Pen are acceptable: this shows
their spirits, it's how they saw themselves, it's their essence. I know that
my inner me, the image I see of myself deep down inside, isn't set at my
current age.
And the nudity makes it more intimate, after all Penric deals with them
on a very close and intimate level. With no deception, no concealment.
Plus the more active of the spirits do tend to be rather exuberant.

Beatrice Otter:
So, the core of how women (or even these specific women) see themselves is young and naked and on display?? Younger, possibly, but young AND NAKED AND ON DISPLAY?
The problem with discussing how women are portrayed in media is that people use Watsonian methods to address Doylistic problems.? If you work hard enough, you can find a Watsonian reason to explain away ANY exploitation, ANY objectification.? The reason that the women on the cover were portrayed as young and naked is because young naked women are more commercially exploitable than middle-aged or older women who are fully dressed.? The reason that female characters in fantasy books, games, and movies are so often portrayed with "armor" that covers barely more than a bikini is because young women in bikinis are more commercially exploitable than women in armor that actually is useful as armor.? You can come up with all kinds of in-universe justifications after the fact, but the truth is, any justification you come up with is just papering over the real reason.? Our culture, and SF/F in particular, commodifies and exploits women as sex objects.? That is the norm.
And, frankly, as disturbing as that is, I still find it better to acknowledge it for what it is than to try and come up with in-universe justifications for why it's really appropriate that the women (and only the women) are naked and on display.
Beatrice Otter

Gwynne: You have a right to your opinion. But I have a right to mine.
I'm sorry that this issue pushed your buttons but it's your problem.

And if you have a look at book covers in various genres of romance,
SF, and more, you'll see MASSIVE numbers of covers showing naked or
half-naked males, mostly just the torso, no face showing - could a cover
get any more dehumanising than that? And I really do mean massive
numbers, in various sub-genres - I wade through a lot of it every week.
(Not reading it all, no thank goodness. But I see the covers.)

So it's not just female flesh being used to sell books; believe me there's
a more than equal balance of males too. (And for some reason a lot of
them are blue - I haven't figured out why.)

So the tiny glimpses of women on that cover didn't bother me. And
we don't really see enough of them to know if they are totally naked -
maybe that's just our prejudice and expectations showing through.

More information about the Lois-Bujold mailing list