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Book covers and the objectification of gay men

The other day, my friend Leta Blake and I were discussing a few things we don’t like about the current state of the m/m romance/erotica publishing industry. One of which was the covers with all the manly-man ripped torso beefcake.

Then today my husband comes in the room and we’re talking about the book and he’s teasing me that my cover is OMGSOPORNY! And I was like, “Nonononono, wait, wait. You need to see what OTHER covers in this genre look like.” So I went over to Rainbow Book Reviews and showed him some of those ripped-torso covers, and as I did so, I realized something.

The men on those covers aren’t just ripped. They’re almost universally beheaded.

Not every cover is this way, of course, but enough are that it shows a deeply, deeply disturbing mindset in the genre.

One of the biggest complaints feminists very rightfully have toward advertising is the frequent portrayal of dismembered women. Armless or headless, only the torso, the part showing the sexy bits, is used. It’s believed to be another form of violence against women, or at least a means of portraying women that objectifies and dehumanizes them so that violence against them becomes more acceptable.

The majority of consumers in the m/m romance/erotica genre are women. What does it say about us, that we’re doing the same thing to gay men? Though we, women, are the consumers in this genre, are we looking at the physical representation of the characters with the internalized male gaze?

Suddenly, I’m very glad my book has the cover it does, and that I self-published rather that going through a publishing house for m/m romance and erotica, where I might not have had control over the cover art.

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Inertia available now!

INERTIA (Impulse, Book One) on SmashWords

INERTIA (Impulse, Book One) on Amazon

An Object At Rest

By the age of 23, down-to-earth Detroit handyman Derrick Chance had lost everyone he’d ever loved. Too worn-out and wounded to play the dating game, he wrote off the possibility of romance or even just sex. Living alone in the old house his grandparents had left him, with only his dog and a few close friends for companionship, he refused to consider himself lonely, or let himself wonder what he might be missing. He knew who he was and where he was headed. His life was comfortable, organized, predictable, and best of all, risk-free. He was content.

Until the day he installed some shelves for accountant Gavin Hayes. A contradictory combination of confidence and uncertainty, Gavin’s shameless flirtations drew him in with an intensity Derrick had never known he longed for.

As undeniable as the force of gravity, he abandoned ten years of self-imposed solitude and found himself falling rapidly for Gavin in defiance of all his usual slow and methodical ways.

But Gavin carried wounds of his own. Fresh from an emotionally abusive relationship that ended with a potentially dangerous betrayal, his future was far from certain. Derrick would have to decide if his rediscovered passion was worth taking the chance of another loss.

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July 19, 2012 · 4:59 am