Realms Of Fantasy cover art stinkfest

EDIT: site traffic is through the roof. Welcome all visitors, whether you come with an olive branch, or a revolver.

SECOND EDIT: for those interested, I have an additional essay up on this topic, discussing female body imagery, marketing, etc, in greater detail. Please read and comment.

THIRD EDIT: a third (and hopefully) final installment, in the ongoing epic drama that is ROF CoverFail. Specifically, I tackle the Omarosa aspect, which seems to have assumed a life all its own.

FOURTH EDIT: a tangential installment, dealing with Boobism and Beefcakism in the SF and F genres. Cheap exploitation? Adolescent sexual fantasy? Or a manifestation of a larger, deeper human need for characters and story to transcend the ordinary?

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So I came off my InterToob fast to find another genre controversy in full swing.

No shocker that a certain hyperactive genre/web personality is at the center of it. I’ve had disagreements with that individual before, and am not surprised to find that individual involved in this (latest) web imbroglio. IMHO this person is the Omarosa of SF and the less attention given to that individual, the better.

For those not in the know, the controversy can be best summed up like this: progressive females who are into SF and F are sick and tired of the boobs-and-butts treatment so often given women in SF and F; especially where art is concerned. The re-launch issue of Realms of Fantasy — under former Absolute Magnitude editor and publisher Warren Lapine, huzzah huzzah! — has a cover that features a (gasp) lady with boobs. This, after an (apparently) long history of ROF featuring other covers with other ladies who had — yes, gentle reader, horror of horrors — tits. And not just any tits. Big tits. Nice tits. Bare tits. The kind that make guys turn their heads from across the street!

Oh, the madness.

Someone phone Andrea Dworkin’s ghost. Clearly we’ve entered a new Dark Age for the portrayal of the feminine in the fantastical arts.

Seriously. I’m not saying that women aren’t perpetually objectified — as fuck objects — in our modern media. They are. Constantly. And if I were a progressive female — especially one with no hope whatsoever of having the kind of face or body that is so often portrayed on television, in movies, and in print — I’d probably be pissed off too. Being forever held to an unreachable standard while at the same time being reduced to a sex toy would probably irk me to no end.

Or maybe not. Most guys’ brains just run differently from womens’ brains. Remember the scene in American Pie where the kid celebrates the fact that the flute girl fucked him and ran? Like it was a victory for his manliness? That scene right there, more than anything else I’ve ever encountered in the last 20 years, perfectly illustrates my point. The majority of guys simply don’t approach the world in 100% the same manner as women. Nor is it reasonable to expect us to.

Consider the movie 300: fantastically cut and shaped men — mostly naked — engaging in fantastically glorious battle with spears, swords, and so forth. These guys were ripped to the sinew. They were an awesome sight — they were also the product of a local Utah gym and its trainer, but I’ll toot that horn another day. The point is, women everywhere went ga-ga for these guys. As in, turning to their husbands and boyfriends in the theaters and saying, “Why can’t you have abs and guns like that??”

The response of men everywhere? Did we stage protests and loudly denounce the objectification of our bodies? Did we bemoan the hopeless predicament of having our soft, flabby, beer-gut bodies being held to the unrealistic standard of King Leonidas and his Spartans?

Hell no. We got on the internet and surfed every body-building and fitness site we could find, wanting to know — from anyone who would tell us — how the cast of 300 had done it. How had they gotten so lean, so gorgeous, so impressively manly?

And while I won’t belabor the issue of fitness in a society that thinks walking down to the 7-Eleven to buy a pack of donuts is a strenuous workout — that’s a whole other Oprah, for my other blog — I will simply point out again that many of the women harping on the Realms Of Fantasy cover are simply never going to “get it” when it comes to men: how we think and perceive the world, how we look at everything, how we react, etc.

That’s not a bad or a good thing. It just is. And half the battle here is realizing that men and women are just always going to be alien in some respects. And that expecting all men to transform their brains into female brains, or expecting all women to transform their brains into male brains, is not only impossible, it’s counterproductive.

Returning to the cover controversy at hand….

It’s got (an apparently) naked lady with boobs. Mermaid boobs, if the starfish near her collarbone is any indicator. Boobs without nipples. Average sized. Not even Dolly Parton big. Just average. And pleasantly round. On a pleasantly fit body.

Now, it almost goes without saying that some women simply can’t handle the fact that anyone would actually be attracted to a pleasantly-fit woman with pleasantly-round breasts. I mean, that’s just the epitomy of awful. Men being attracted to pleasantly-fit women with pleasantly-round breasts? My God! What about all the dumpy fat women, shaped like pears and with cottage cheese down their thighs? What about them?! Who is making them feel beautiful and appreciated??

Clearly, the mermaid on the cover of ROF is an assault on the sensibilities of fat, homely, or otherwise visually-not-so-hot women everywhere. Clearly, something must be done.

And we’re off to the races.

You know what? I used to subscribe to ROF back in the day. I don’t remember too much about the covers. I will say I think the cover cited during this controversy is both a) tame and b) remarkably beautiful. Not only is the woman drawn tastefully and with zero sexualization that I can discern — yes, I know, for some progressive females it’s back to the 19th century; when any skin at all was an automatic act of exploitation — but this is the kind of cover that would make me stop at the Barnes & Noble and pick up a damned copy.

Which is — in my inexpert opinion — about the only gottdamned thing cover art on a glossy mag is supposed to frakking do: grab the attention of the customer and make them pick up the frakking magazine and maybe go buy the frakking thing.

Perhaps some people would be happier seeing a K.D. Lang clone on the ROF cover, replete with baggy coveralls and rubber farmhand boots. With spotted cows. Everyone loves spotted cows, right? Nice boobs, ugh. Who wants to see those?

Now before you go screaming off into a hissy fit, I’d be perfectly fine seeing ROF do covers with hunky naked mermen, too. I’ve got zero problem with that, would be happy seeing a 1-for-1 cover art ratio along these lines, and wouldn’t consider such cover art to in any way detract from the magazine. Or dissuade me from buying same. Hunky naked fantasy dudes on covers would in no way threaten my manhood, nor be perceived as an attack on my person. (See: 300)

Objectification? Again, the male mind. Most dudes would be thrilled to have women — all kinds of women — objectifying them.

And no, men have not had to deal with rape and abuse the way women have. And yes, I am aware that rape and abuse are tangential and critical to any argument of female objectification. But again, another Oprah.

My point is: what do people effing want on the effing ROF cover? More dragons?? Personally I’d take naked dudes with huge schlongs hanging out before I’d recommend that any fantasy magazine put another gottdamned dragon on the gottdamned cover. But dragons sell. People like dragons. Just like people like nicely-fit women with nicely-round boobs. These things move merchandise. And moving merchandise is the whole gottdamned point behind having a glossy full-color cover.

Otherwise, let’s just print the fucker on brown paper — with a brown paper cover — and hope the mag survives down with the obscure literary shit. So as not to offend anybody, right?

Come on. Ladies. Men. Really. Is this the best we can do? As with the — do I even dare say it? — RaceFail clusterfrak, the entire debate seems pointless and self-serving. People frothing themselves into a manufactured fury. Much ado about nothing. Of all the places to draw a line in the sand, and take a position about women — about sexualization, fuck objectification, abuse, whatever your crusade may be — doing it with ROF and a stinking piece of cover art.

Dumb does not describe it!

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71 thoughts on “Realms Of Fantasy cover art stinkfest

  1. Haha, I can’t say I disagree. I do like the dragon covers too, for what it’s worth–though I like them better when they do something new with it. For instance, the F&SF cover I got last week is super-cool with a mechanical dragon, and beneath it are tents and gatherings of an apparent nomadic people.

    One side-note: In 300 I didn’t object to the men being nearly naked and extremely ripped. But I DID object to the fact that they were charging into battle protected by nothing more than their tighty-whities (or reddies in this case I guess) against armored foes when already outrageously outnumbered. It doesn’t strike me as sexist, just extremely stupid! One mistake and you’re gutted.

  2. Brad, I think you’re being a little unkind to [name redacted — B]. She does a lot of great work in the field (She championed the Clarion West Write-A-Thon a while back, and she does a lot of work with Fantasy Magazine).

    She has a point. I disagree with her in this case because everyone puts women on the covers of their magazines (even Cosmo!), and Realms doesn’t need this negativity right after relaunch, but I don’t think it’s helpful to attack her personally. Let’s keep the argument about the issue and not descend into personal attacks.

  3. Dragons are a worn trope, Dave. But as you pointed out, there are still ways to paint and/or draw them in a new and/or original fashion. Just as there are still ways to write them in a new and/or original fashion. Though I myself am in no hurry to go down that road. Heavens no! (grin)

    I think the lack of armor in 300 didn’t bother me because 300 was clearly striving to be a mythic film. Yes, it’s based on actual events. But 300 isn’t trying to be Band of Brothers. Which is a masterful retelling of another group of warriors from another era, and remarkably true to life if what I’ve read is true. 300 goes the other way, steeping itself in an almost otherworldly, mythic feel. From the way it was shot to how the events were portrayed, 300 was clearly a larger-than-real-life film, just as many of the ancient stories are larger-than-real-life.

    But yes, one false move, and you’ve got a spear in your sternum. Which is a lesson not lost on modern militaries. Which is why the Army makes us wear an insane amount of body armor, even in the insane heat of Iraq’s summer months.

    I suspect the shirtless, nearly-nude aspect of the 300 in the movie is sort of a way underline how badass the Spartans and Greeks supposedly were. Armor? We don’t need no stinking armor! We will flex our pecs and your arrows will glance off them like rain! Unrealistic and silly, yes. But also evocative. Harkening to the Naked Warrior of Greek lore. Where a man’s raw strength and skill is enough to defeat his enemies.

  4. Dragons aren’t a worn trope to me, my friend, and I’m not sure they ever will be. Whenever I see a well-drawn dragon cover I still give a sigh of satisfaction.

    It’s sort of like video games–I understand how silly the concept of a video game is, I’m basically being rewarded with blinking lights for pushing buttons, like a rat in a cage. But oh, the blinking lights are oh so satisfying. 🙂

  5. Mythic = stupid?

    I honestly never saw the movie, because the Underwear Army just annoyed me in their stupidity. There’s sometimes a fine line between heroism and flat-out stupid decisions, and they are so far across that line they can’t even see it. 🙂

  6. Hi Jordan,

    My negative interactions with SF’s Omarosa go back to an exchange we had regarding the BSG reboot and Science Fiction Weekly’s letters pages a few years ago.

    I’ve not seen much since that convinces me she’s doing Great Works for the genre. This is an individual who seeks, manufactures and thrives on controversy, often calling into question the integrity and values of other people in the field. People who — in my estimation — have nothing to prove to someone who is, in all honesty, not too far out of the aspirant pool.

    Granted, we only see of her what she chooses to display on her blog(s) and around the internet. Face to face, she might be a perfectly peachy person and if ever I have the opportunity to sit down with her face to face I will be able to see if her real life persona in any way approaches her on-line “angry” persona.

    But I’m tired of seeing these genre-specific hissy fights erupt, and somehow she’s always at (or very near) the center of it. It smacks of attention-seeking and vainglory.

    But yes, you are correct. This isn’t about her. Which is why I reserved but a single paragraph for her at the start, and did not name her by name. Hope you don’t mind if I redacted your comment along those lines.

  7. Dave,

    I suppose it’s a matter of movie taste. I enjoy bold tales, told boldly. 300 fit that bill and really knocked my socks off. It was entirely unrealistic and in many ways silly, and I ate it up. Maybe when I see motion pictures these days I demand larger-than-life. Maybe it’s because we’re now flooded with entertainment that poses as “reality,” when what I really enjoy is the unreal: 300, LOTR, Star Trek, etc.

  8. I can understand the appeal. I was intrigued in the previews by the surreal lighting/effects. I loved Sin City for effects like those, though some of the scenes in that movie still make me a little sick thinking about them.

  9. Sin City is its own, whole discussion. Artistically, it was amazing. My wife had me buy her the special edition DVD, she liked it that much. Everyone and everything in that movie looked wonderful and skewed.

    And Rosario Dawson…. Oh my!

    Sin City also seems to have been at least partly responsible for rehabilitating Mickey Rourke’s career. He was awesome as Marv. Stole the show IMHO.

  10. And to further digress, Mickey Rourke was amazing in The Wrestler.
    I went to it expecting it to be mediocre, but I was bored. And it was just a great movie through and through.

  11. I too heard The Wrestler was excellent. I’ll have to see if the wife is up to watching it on PPV. Assuming she hasn’t already watched it on PPV. I also need to see The Watchmen. Having never read the original graphic novel, I am curious to see how the movie grabs me. Or not.

  12. Brad,

    I know you’re a person of integrity, so perhaps this shouldn’t be directed at you, but taking shot[s] at someone on your blog without using their name for fear of a Google Alert, or linking to them for the same reason feels really passive-aggressive. In my opinion, if you should either take down the post or repost it and link to [name redacted –B] blog.

  13. Jordan,

    I deliberately don’t use that person’s name here because I don’t want to be party to that person’s attention seeking. This person wants Google Alerts and links. That’s part of this person’s game plan: stir the pot, make a stink, get the attention. The more attention this person gets — and the more sycophants and hangers-on this person collects — the more authoratative and self-important this person seems to feel.

    I don’t want to blow that balloon (head) up with any more helium than it’s already being blown up with, frankly.

    And for the record, this individual dimed me out on her blog — by name — long before I was even blogging. She did it in an assumptive, condescending, and altogether unkind manner, and when I wrote her about it to complain, she pretended to be confused as to why I was upset. Then she proceeded to explain to me why she was right, I was wrong, and that it was my problem for being pissed. Not hers. Thus endeth the lesson.

    Ergo, she displayed many of the same behaviors she always lays off on the people whom she frequently chastises. (See: Bingoism)

    Again, this post isn’t really about her. I’ll consider redacting the second paragraph when I am less annoyed. But right now, I am highly annoyed. And I don’t feel I am out of bounds making a tame crticism of this person’s behavior. Frankly, I am surprised more people don’t take her to task.

    Maybe they’ve learned — and maybe I should too — that the best way to handle an Omarosa personality is to ignore the Omarosa personality.

  14. My negative interactions with SF’s Omarosa go back to an exchange we had regarding the BSG reboot and Science Fiction Weekly’s letters pages a few years ago.

    Uh, Brad? That was me. Completely different black woman writer in SFdom. There’s actually about a dozen of us now, all unrelated. If you’re going to bitch about one of us, could you at least try to keep us straight?

    (I actually think you’re also confusing the two of us with a third black female SF writer, but only she can verify that, so I’ll just note my own contribution to your apparent confusion.)

    Maybe it would help if you didn’t call us all “Omarosa”.

    I also think you’re (once again) mischaracterizing the nature of the discussion, as you did on John Scalzi’s blog re the SF Weekly BSG debate, and as you’ve repeatedly done re Racefail. However, this is your space and you’re free to be as clueless and confused as you want here. I don’t particularly care, as long as you keep the facts and people straight.

  15. NKJ,

    I think it’s important to note that I didn’t complain about the actual exchange that you and I had on the letters page itself.

    I said the exchange I had was regarding what was going on on the letters page. Specifically, how I got dimed out on that individual’s blog and had an e-mail exchange with that person regarding their blog entry. Not our exchange — you and I, specifically — on the letters page.

    Unfortunately the letters page for SFW is gone and I can’t link back to it now, otherwise it might make more sense to people who don’t know what either one of us is specifically talking about.

    And I reject your assertion that I called “you all” anything.

    In fact, since I’ve been very specific about not naming names and diming people out — because it was once done to me by the person in question and I had to find out about it later — I’m not sure where “you all” comes into play.

    And thanks for letting me know I’m clueless and confused. I think it’s safe to say that you and I are not necessarily going to agree on a heck of a lot in this on-line format. That was proven during our original exchange at SFW a few years ago.

    Your viewpoint is your viewpoint. Mine is mine. That you automatically see mine as the “clueless and confused” viewpoint says more about you than it does about me, I think.

    Will the real Omarosa in this debate please stand up?

    Traffic to the site has spiked. I can only speculate as to why.

    (tongue planted firmly in cheek)

  16. And if I were a progressive female — especially one with no hope whatsoever of having the kind of face or body that is so often portrayed on television, in movies, and in print — I’d probably be pissed off too. Being forever held to an unreachable standard while at the same time being reduced to a sex toy would probably irk me to no end.

    Um, dude?

    Some of us progressive female sorts either have or have had that sort of body. And we still get P.O.ed by the BS from self-justifying jerks who can’t wipe up the drool from their slack jaws.

    The majority of guys simply don’t approach the world in 100% the same manner as women. Nor is it reasonable to expect us to.

    Dude, I work with horses. I expect a stallion to behave and keep his mind on business if I’m working with or around one. Most performance stallions–whether in Western, English or racing disciplines–manage to keep their focus on work and stay mannerly around mares when they’re not given the specific cues to breed. Are you saying that the majority of men have less discipline than a stallion–a creature rumored to be difficult, challenging, and even more viral than those dweebs from 300?

    Y’all are supposed to have the larger big brain, y’know.

  17. Joyce,

    I’m not sure I’ve defended slack-jawed drooling. I re-scanned my original post and am hard-pressed to see where or how I’ve defended that practice.

    I do stand by my assertion that men and women operate differently. Not one lower or higher than the other. Just differently. On sex especially. I’ve seen this exhibited enough — by males and females of various political and socioeconomic persuasions — to be convinced that it’s not wrong to acknowledge that how men and women see the world, is never going to be completely the same. Not in the aggregate.

    Which is a whole other issue, beyond discipline and manners.

    If it’s men without manners — who ogle and grab and make suggestive comments, generally treating women like meat — then we might be in agreement. I’m not thrilled by such behavior and consider it an embarrassment, as a male.

  18. Surely talking about this is just adding flames to the fire of the person you don’t want to support. (No idea who this lady is)

    of course I don’t get into politic stuff and if i don’t like something, I just ignore it as opposed to giving it more air-time.

  19. Brad,

    I think it’s important to note that I didn’t complain about the actual exchange that you and I had on the letters page itself.

    Like you did at Whatever?

    It’s hard to tell, frankly, since you only mention the SF Weekly debate and not the actual discussion you have a problem with. I think it’s pretty clear you have a problem with both discussions, and both (or all, since there were several more in the comments on the post I linked) black women who took exception to your statements on race.

    And the fact that you’ve just overtly added me to the Omarosa franchise kind of proves my point.

    Your traffic has spiked because you’ve been Nick Mamatas’ed. His readers are coming over here to read your statements and then going back there to laugh at you. I’m not sure “Omarosa” really fits him; maybe you could find a Greek American male caricature to use in his case?

  20. John,

    It’s quite possible that I’ve dumped gasoline onto the coals of the fire.

    I suppose I feel somewhat defensive — of Warren Lapine — because I liked Absolute Magnitude a lot, and was a subscriber and submitted to him for a few years. I was excited when it was announced Warren was behind the rebirth of ROF and am positively floored that anyone could possibly find a way to complain about it.

    Maybe one day I’ll learn. In a room with more than three people in it, someone will always find a way to complain about something.

    And if you don’t know who the person is, good. That’s precisely as intended.

  21. NKJ,

    If you’re determined to feel personally slighted — when you were not specifically named and nowhere in my post did I specifically mention you at all — then I’m not going to be responsible for how you think or feel about it. To me it appears you’re working too hard to connect yourself to the Omarosa comment. Why?

    As for being dimed out by Nick, superb. His Live Journal troupe is free to laugh at me all they want in their domain. When is it any different with them on any other day? They’ll get bored with me soon and move on to some other hapless target.

  22. Wow, Nick hotlinked you, Brad. What a fucking idiot. He did that to me a few weeks back over the last dustup where they went after Gordon Van Gelder and Gardner Dozois.

    The hotlinking might work if everyone in the field felt the same way Nick did about everything.

    The bad news is (and I’ve pointed this out before) not everyone does see it the way Nick or others do. Such linking draws more than a few people who go, “Hmm, doesn’t seem like such a bad guy after all.”

    As for not naming names, it is the same policy I follow on my blog. I don’t see why someone behaving like a first class dipshit should get additional PR and name recognition at my expense on my own webspace. And if there was a fear of google linking then I suspect there would be no reference to the magazine in question or what the controversy was over.

    I think the most telling comment during the last dust up which I saw elsewhere was basically, “SFMurphy assumes that people care about what he has to say.”

    Well, umm, I’ve got a few readers that do care what I have to say. More to the point, they are potential customers. And I can safely say that they do not have much patience for this nonsense.

    Finally, as I’ve said elsewhere, I think the social justice side of the issue takes second place to generating controversy and carving up chunks of people’s reputations by accusing them of racism, sexism, any given phobia, etc.

    Anyway, I see the self appointed PC Nazi Brigade has arrived in force (funny, they don’t come to my blog and try this as they are usually blown out of the sky or simply deleted).

    Take care, Brad.

    Respects,
    Steven Francis Murphy
    North Kansas City, Missouri

  23. Wow – a supportive comment from “SF” Murphy? If there’s a high-water point for being not merely massively insensitive to the feelings of others but also adamant that your right to be so is enshrined in your very own white malehood, I guess you just reached it.

  24. Paul,

    It’s been my experience — on the internet anyway — that I don’t have any control over what people choose to be sensitive about. From my vantage point there is a lot of selective sensitivity displayed in debates of this nature.

    I also like to think that any points I make on this blog are my own. Their merit neither rises nor sinks based on who does — or does not — support them.

    I realize that in an era of blog flashmobbery, where raw numbers are all that’s necessary to “win” an argument, my way of viewing things is out of step with the trend.

    Ah well.

  25. Sure, people select their sensitivities – that seems logical. What baffles me is your subliminal assertion in response that your own sensitivities aren’t chosen. See where I’m going with this?

  26. SF Murphy,

    For me, that’s the really odd part about it. How certain groups of genre fans — and even some professionals — band together, pretend to seize the intellectual high ground, then begin wagging their fingers at the unwashed.

    In the case of this particular piece of cover art, a fairly familiar and associated group of individuals took it upon themselves to take Cohen, Lapine, et al, to task. The assumption being: all right-thinking people will be just as upset as we are over this artwork! Anyone who disagrees with how we feel about this artwork is just wrong, wrong, wrong!

    I find it not just a little ironic that people who so crusade under a progressive banner, basically adopt a mentality similar to that of conservative prudes who also object to artwork such as this, and for reasons that too often mirror those expressed by the progressives.

    Ergo, the artwork is not only bad, it’s morally wrong. It has offended the progressive sensibilities of certain people, therefore it is a moral affront.

  27. The Liberal Lynchmob have *chosen* to be offended by the cover art in question, but you’ve *not chosen* to be offended by their offence? Their defence of their position is somehow an affront, but your defence of the status quo shouldn’t be seen as such? Well, why?

    I guess I’m calling “tat tvam asi” on you, really; I’m a pluralist, I don’t believe that there are carved-in-stone rights and wrongs in these sorts of discussion, and that if there are, they’re surely not determined by my feelings. But as such it bugs me to see one side call the other for “taking the moral highground!!!1OMFGZ” and then proceeding to do exactly the same themselves…

    … in other words, if debating the consensus around to your own POV is the aim – if you’re after the swing voters – you might want to focus on avoiding the rhetorical traps that get set for you rather than doing a Light Brigade over a minefield. However, if you’re cheerleading to the Sunday morning bleachers and happy with that, good luck to you. It is your right as a free human to speak your mind and to do so to whom you choose, after all. 😉

  28. Good point, Paul. I have indeed made a choice, to give air to my annoyance at the reaction to the ROF cover art. Maybe it was a bad choice, because honestly, I wasn’t aiming to change any minds. This blog gets so little traffic and I mostly tend to use it as a repository for “out-loud thoughts” and don’t really expect anyone to be paying much attention. Much less swing the consensus.

    As for moral high ground, if I’ve carried on in such a fashion as to make it seem as if I myself am entitled to the highground — and nobody else — then yes, it would appear quite hypocritical on my part. Perhaps I should have slanted my original complaint along the lines of: there is no moral or intellectual high ground here, only points of view and opinions, and I’m annoyed that some people seem to think their POV is a priveleged or otherwise more valid POV.

    Again I risk setting a double standard because, without question, my general commentary is not generous towards the POV that the cover art is offensive, this offense is valid, and therefore the publishers of ROF should pay attention to that POV.

    Perhaps I could have simply written a single sentence:

    I think many of the people complaining about the ROF cover are full of shit.

    But I’m a verbose frak, and tend to mish-mash lots of cross-talk into these rants, and simply stating, “I think this position is full of shit,” without expounding upon why, seemed like a poor idea.

    Let me see if I can refine things a little further….

    1) I’m not saying anyone doesn’t have the right to dislike the ROF cover.
    2) I’m not saying anyone who doesn’t like the cover is expressing an invalid opinion, for them.
    3) I am saying that it’s one thing to express an opinion of personal taste, and quite another to then externalize that opinion and badger the producers of a product over it. Which is what’s been done.
    4) I’m a pretty knee-jerk defender of businesses and publications being able to run their business any way they damn well please, and to Hell with the complaints. As I said once elsewhere, the world is full of people who all think they know how to do someone else’s job better than it’s already being done. How would such people feel if someone came in and started telling them how to do their jobs? Unasked? Especially if the language used was of the snarky-dudgeon type so often seen on blogs in the genre?

    I wish people would just leave ROF and Lapine and Co. alone and let them run their magazine. People who feel ROF is doing a shitty job should go start their own magazine and run it the way they want to run it, instead of carping about how the people already running it are doing a bad job.

    Especially when Lapine and Co. have been in charge of the publication for barely any time at all. Jeez, if people need to bitch, at least let Lapine and Co. have a year or more to establish themselves.

    (shrug)

  29. This Realms cover, taken by itself, is not very offensive. The problem, as has been discussed elsewhere at length, is that the cover doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s merely the latest in a long series of Realms covers that objectify women. That the new art director approved more of the same is, at best, discouraging. That you thought the cover was fine because the mermaid was shapely rather sharply underscores the point.

    Your argument that all this is OK because 300 objectified men is frankly ridiculous. The film raised eyebrows precisely because scantily clad male figures are not the norm in popular culture. One film made you question your body image? Welcome to the world! Women have been dealing with this nonsense in every movie, every TV show, every magazine, for quite some time now. “We got on the internet and surfed every body-building and fitness site we could find, wanting to know — from anyone who would tell us — how the cast of 300 had done it.” As if no woman ever went to the gym or started a diet because she felt her body wasn’t up to the standard portrayed in the media!

    But really, what got my attention about your post was not your take on the cover, or your notion that T&A magazine covers are just fine because men and women think differently. That garden-variety, clueless sort of sexism barely pings my radar anymore, I’m sad to say.

    It’s the “Omarosa” thing that really gets me.

    For what, exactly, do you think [name redacted –B] needs to be taken to task? Because she doesn’t take racism and sexism quietly? I’ve been reading her blog a long time, and I’m not seeing the attention-seeking you are. There’s a pretty clear distinction between the posts in which she’s saying “Hey, look, someone’s being a racist/sexist moron,” and posts in which she’s drawing her readers’ attention to her own publications. Last time I checked, the latter sort of post was a perfectly acceptable form of self-promotion for writers. If it seems to you that she’s posting more of the former type, it’s because there’s an awful lot of racist and sexist behavior in fandom, and the perpetrators deserve to be called on it. I get the feeling that you’d be happier if [name redacted –B] just overlooked the frequent outbreaks of offensive behavior among her fellow SF professionals, and you know what? That’s not OK. I thank God she has the energy and courage to keep speaking up, because so few of us do.

    By refusing to refer to another human being by her proper name throughout this discussion, you have been outrageously disrespectful. I hardly know what to say to you except that you are wrong in every way possible, and by sinking to such a level you have undermined whatever validity your arguments might once have had.

  30. Stephanie,

    Actually, it was joining the Army in 2002 that made me question my body shape. Seeing 300 merely made me want to take it to the next level. As we say in the Army, PT is free. Two more words: Gym Jones.

    And if I’m such a “garden-variety, clueless sort of sexist” why the Hell are you bothering to post on my blog? If I were you I’d sail right past the damn thing and not give it a second thought.

    If I feel justified in applying the Omarosa label — and not feeding into this individual’s attention seeking — perhaps it’s because this individual seems to spend a lot of time manufacturing and feeding off of controversy. She also flings the racist/racism accusation without warrant, which I learned too well when she came after me on her blog, over a conversation she wasn’t even involved in to begin with. And that was years ago.

    I get it, really. This individual feels she has everything in the world to teach dumb old white guys about racial issues. That conceit on her part has been plainly obvious from the get-go.

    I’m just not sure she’s ever run into a white male who is a) not cowed by the racism slur and b) has been in an interracial marriage longer than she’s been an adult and c) will happily refute the racial Crying Wolf which has become her Modus Operandi.

    You say this person is doing the genre a service by not staying silent on issues of race, gender, etc.

    I say this person is gradually digging her own professional grave by zooming around the internet, looking for the next working professional to dime out on bogus accusations of racism, sexism, etc.

    How many more editors, authors, and aspirants must this person go after — without warrant, and without evidence — before she’s satisfied?

    If I were her I’d be more worried about how much longer my behavior and my baseless accusations will be allowed to continue, before the industry as a whole tires of me.

  31. Oh, and one more thing, Stephanie.

    The individual in question has never — so far as I can tell — ever felt any qualms about being disrespectful towards the people she’s dimed out. I know this from personal experience. Seems to me, this person considers herself to be both the judge and the jury. Bing, bang, boom. Done deal. Guilty as charged. Judge Dredd with a racial/gender axe to grind. No chance of parole. It’s silver bullet time.

    In order to get respect, you have to earn it first. That’s an Army concept, but it’s applicable here. Since the person in question has made a name for herself being rather disrespectful of various industry professionals (See: Judge Dredd) and seems to feel not a bit bad about it, why on Earth does she deserve something she won’t give others? Especially from someone like me, whom she attacked without warrant when I didn’t even know who she fucking was?

    Nope. No tears for Omarosa. Not on this blog.

  32. Stephanie, why should Brad empower this particular individual any further by using their name? Why should he generate PR for this individual by using their name on his site?

    It’s Brad’s blog. He can run it as he pleases.

    As for apologies, the Individual in question has a number of apologies they need to trot out, to Gardner Dozois and Gordon Van Gelder to start for shit they stirred with those two.

    Brad doesn’t need to apologize for anything and I damn sure won’t apologize for standing up and disagreeing with this individual.

    Paul, who are you and why should I give a shit?

    For the record, I don’t think this is really about offense at cover art. I think this is about one individual who was bored and decided to take Douglas Cohen to the woodshed for their personal amusement. This particular individual has a lengthy history of doing so, as well as chucking veiled and false accusations around like so many hand grenades.

    The Progressive Cause in question is merely a shield for piss poor behavior and as such, the individual should be called to task for it.

    As for what I am, I hear a lot of bullshit about my position in society, privilege and what not but I’ve got to admit that I do not get the fruits of any of this so call race and class based privilege. And before you go quoting the Knapsack, I have already read it.

    S. F. Murphy

  33. I also agree with Brad about respect.

    It is earned. Respect is not an entitlement.

    Besides, the individual in question really doesn’t want respect. They want fear and capitulation.

    Not going to happen.

    S. F. Murphy

  34. “If I were you I’d sail right past the damn thing and not give it a second thought.”

    Well, Brad, see above on how it’s not OK that you want people to sail right past bigotry among their peers, even if — especially if — the bigotry in question is yours.

    Nick’s post has well over a hundred comments, and yours has thirty-three (half of them your own responses) because most people did sail right past — so they could point and laugh at you from the sidelines. You’ve made such an ass of yourself, here and in other discussions, that very few people want to spend their time dealing with you directly.

    Me, I’m an incurable optimist. I believe that people can learn and grow, if their bad behavior is pointed out to them.

    “This individual feels she has everything in the world to teach dumb old white guys about racial issues.”

    Nothing you’ve said here proves her wrong.

    Most people, if they want to discuss someone without sending a lot of traffic to their blog, would simply name the person while omitting the link. You could have used a first name alone, or a last name (with or without a polite “Ms.”). You have really gone the extra mile here. Do you really not see why it’s offensive for a white guy to redact a black woman’s name and assign her one more to his liking?

    Brad, in your haste to defend your position in this discussion, you’ve missed the point on every level. You remarks read as though you’re taking them from the racism bingo card (see in particular “I’m not a racist,” “Looking to be offended,” and “There are black people in my family”) and the sexism bingo card (“You’re only jealous because you don’t look like that,” “But men are drawn unrealistically too,” “Men can’t help themselves! Why are you punishing us for our biology?””If you don’t like it, shut up and write your own,” and “My girlfriend never complains about this stuff.”) These cards exist because your arguments are not only wrong, they are unoriginally wrong.

    Stop. Take your hands off the keyboard. Read what people are writing to you. You are behaving in a bigoted manner. This does not make you a bigot unless you refuse to learn, mature, and change your behavior.

    Having Harlan Ellison weigh in on your side of a bigotry debate is not a point in your favor.

    “In order to get respect, you have to earn it first.”

    No, you don’t. It’s called civil rights.

  35. Stephanie,

    You’re using flashmob-think with your “Nick’s post has more responses than your post” argument. This isn’t a numbers game, though I realize that for many denizens of LiveJournal, numbers are king. As if having more people post comments supporting a given statement in any way makes that statement more valid? That’s what’s called an Ad Populum Fallacy.

    As for it being offensive to the individual in question — that I didn’t use her name — I’m past the point of giving a damn. This individual never, ever, ever cares if she is being offensive. Never. Not when she’s convinced that she’s right and her target is wrong. Which is what she thinks 110% of the time. Her pattern is pretty clear: guilty until proven innocent, and since she’s both judge and jury, very little besides total and absolute capitulation on the part of the target will ever return an innocent verdict. And then, it is returned with an asterisk.

    This person — whom I compare to Omarosa — gets away with playing the race/gender card because she moves in circles populated by white progressives and white progressives — for the most part — live in fear of being dimed out by a minority.

    Since I’ve been a past target, I don’t feel any particular need to do this individual any favors. Again, respect is earned. There is no “right” to respect. That’s a common misconception. Nobody has the right to not be offended. Nobody has the right to be loved, or treated kindly, or be held in esteem. Certainly not someone who seems to delight in pooring warm rhetorical piss on the heads of people around the SF & F genre, be they pros, editors, or aspirants.

    I agree with Murphy, the individual in question doesn’t seem to care about respect. Not from those whom she paints with her racist/sexist brush. She wants fear. Capitulation. Groveling.

    I dunno about anyone else, but I ‘aint much for groveling. Especially not on issues of race. I’m in a gottdamned interracial marriage. There isn’t any argument I can have with you — or with the person in question — I haven’t already had with my spouse. I’ve been in my marriage probably longer than the individual in question has been able to drive a car.

    So you can put away your bingo cards. These are rhetorical devices invented to invalidate arguments without ever having to address the substance of the arguments being made.

    But here’s where you really killed me:

    This does not make you a bigot unless you refuse to learn, mature, and change your behavior.

    Has it occurred to you that just because you don’t like someone’s opinion or behavior, this does not automatically mean they need — or want — to enter into a pourer/receptacle relationship with you?

    Who made you the arbiter of whether or not I have things to “learn” about race or gender?

  36. For the record, I don’t think this is really about offense at cover art. I think this is about one individual who was bored and decided to take Douglas Cohen to the woodshed for their personal amusement. This particular individual has a lengthy history of doing so, as well as chucking veiled and false accusations around like so many hand grenades. — SF Murphy

    For the record, I agree with the above statement 110%

    I’ve been the target of one of this person’s rhetorical hand grenades. I didn’t think it fun, being blog-fragged for things I said during a conversation that this person wasn’t even involved in.

    But again, that’s the Modus Operandi: she inserts herself into things that aren’t necessarily her business, pronounces judgement upon people, assumes she is the motherfucking arbiter of all things concerning race/gender, then blames the target if the target has the balls to come back up off the mat and tell her she’s wrong.

  37. I love the bingo card thing and privilege. It is basically a “When did you stop beating your wife” question. It argues that because one is white and male, they are socially programmed to be oppressive, racist, sexist and the like. Even if you are self aware and proactive, you’ll always have that monster in you and thus it is up to everyone else in the PoC community to remind you, guilt you, correct you and check you.

    They are the same people who say that only white people are racist (hmm, gaijin anyone?) and that it is all a power struggle. Lastly, they’ll say the best response for those of us who “can’t help it” is to simply shut up.

    Silence equals agreement, consent and more often than not, is taken as a sign of guilt.

    Thing is, I do not agree with the bingo card argument on any level. I do not agree that racism is ingrained at such a cellular psychological level that one can’t rise above it. Because I don’t agree and I EXPRESS my disagreement, rather than show me where I am wrong, we get Unpacking the Knapsack, a series of talking points and a load of BS about Bingo.

    Well, I’ll be honest. I really don’t care about one’s race. I judge based upon actions, merit and ability. I also judge on whether or not I respect an individual and the last time I checked, I still have a right to dislike a particular individual AND criticize that individual regardless of their ethnic background.

    I think it is called the First Amendment. The PC Nazis haven’t revoked it yet.

    S. F. Murphy

  38. Word, SFMurphy. Word.

    I think I said most of what I have to say about Critical Race Theory in this post.

    What saddens me is that the bingo card players sap the fun out of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Maybe it’s how I came into the genre, reading for excitement and pleasure. Lots of Star Trek fiction, military SF, and fantasy series like Thomas Covenant. I wasn’t into SF&F for the social relevancy. I was in it for the fun of going to new places and seeing big adventures featuring interesting people.

    Apparently, there is a subset of genre fans and workers who have taken SF&F all the way down the literary toilet, so that now everything and anything in SF&F must be “deconstructed” for its racial, ethnic, gender, and sexual relevancy and value.

    Lord, please save this genre from its followers!!

  39. Brad, I tell people that if I wanted a message, I’d read a history book.

    Why wait? I’m a historian, that is what I do for a living. Gee, maybe I want to get away from work for a bit. Heaven forbid I read fiction for . . . wait for it . . . ENTERTAINMENT!

    Respects,
    S. F. Murphy

  40. “Again, respect is earned. There is no “right” to respect. That’s a common misconception.”

    To me, this is so fundamentally wrongheaded that I can only conclude that you and I will never be able to have a useful conversation about anything, ever.

  41. Yes, I do think you’re right on this one point. I do think we’re not going to be having very many useful conversations.

    Call it a clash of cultural paradigms.

  42. Thank you Brad.

    This is probably the best post I’ve read on this issue and I agreed wholeheartedly with most of what you wrote.

    As a woman and an LGBT, I strongly believe that all of us must be ever-vigilant against racism, sexism, homophobia and any other form of institutional oppression. And these discussions need to be had and I stood tall among many when RaceFail went on because again, the cause itself is a worthy one. A lot of good came out of it, with a new publication and an LJ community where POCs can celebrate being speculative fiction fans without fear of being attacked by white bigots. So once again these are important issues.

    All of that said, I completely agree with you Brad and SFMurphy and others. This wank over this pic is not about women’s rights and the main people leading the charge are notorious reeking drama on the interwebs. What’s being veiled as women’s rights is nothing more than drama whores looking to stir the pot, self-entitled misandronists and LJ’s answer to Perez Hilton (and a poor one at that) looking to raise hell whether it be personal grudges, insecurities, or whatever hidden agenda.

    And let’s cut the bullshit. There was nothing wrong with that damn pic. It would be one thing if the mermaid’s anatomy was disproportionate with size DDD breasts and a J-LO ass on that tiny waist but she was aesthetically beautiful. The picture was tasteful and beautifully rendered

    The real reason most of these women are bitter and resentful is because they’re insecure about their own bodies and rather than working on improving themselves internally and learning to be happy with them, they instead decide to wank. Cause I promise you most of these broads would never have a body like the mermaid in question and that’s what irks them.

    Which would be fine but when they do it in the name of women’s rights, it illegitimizes real efforts against misogyny.

    It’s females like this who make it that much harder for strong women like me. They pull this shit, and then they wonder why men don’t respect them.

    And you’re right Brad, certain POCs like the Omarosa you’re referring to do play Step It and Fetch It and House Slave to the so called Progressive “Special White People” and remain in those circles because they know POCs would call them on their bullshit and would reiterate the same points you’re making.

    And losers like Mamatas, Tempest and others, that’s their schtick and I’m sure the same goes for Omarosa (whoever that is). They’re miserable human beings who have to bully and pick fights on the web in order to feel better about themselves. Too bad their careers as writers can’t do that for them.

    But it’s all good. They keep burying themselves each time they pull this shit and proving what jokes they truly are.

    In any event, thank you Brad for this thoughtful post.

  43. “I also agree with Brad about respect.

    It is earned. Respect is not an entitlement.”

    A very valid point of view.

    Your comments here certainly haven’t earned mine.

  44. Alundra,

    Thank you for taking the time to comment. Yours is an interesting perspective indeed.

    Actually, your comments sound a lot like those of my wife when I ran this whole thing by her last night.

    One thing she pointed out — and which you as LGBT might be able to expound upon — was that many women get upset over fermale body imagery for the same reason some men get upset over male body imagery: they are secretly attracted and are uncomfortable dealing with the ramifications of that attraction.

    She also confirmed what you stated: that envy is a large part of the issue, because many women suffer from body image and esteem problems that run so deep, they’re often not even aware of how this affects their reactions to things like the ROF cover.

    I don’t want to get into RaceFail too much here, because that’s its own other topic. And I am not sure I agree with you, as to the overall value of that particular imbroglio.

    I do agree 100% that worthy fights often get damaged when certain sparrers in the arena choose to cheapen the language and devalue the discussion by picking on ludicrously inconsequential things — like ROF — when there are far larger, far more important targets for this kind of effort.

    I personally appreciate any imagery that celebrates the beauty of the female body. Of course, what I call celebration others might call exploitation, or porn, or worse.

    Alundra, if you have a moment, could you look at my latest essay on this issue? I’d like to hear more of your thoughts.

  45. Stephany, you and many people have said, “This Realms cover, taken by itself, is not very offensive. The problem, as has been discussed elsewhere at length, is that the cover doesn’t exist in a vacuum. It’s merely the latest in a long series of Realms covers that objectify women.” Well, as has been ignored elsewhere at length, despite my constantly pointing it out. I wasn’t the publisher of any of those magazines. Check out http://www.wilderpublications.com. there’s almost 1,000 covers there that I did publish. Not one of them could remotely be seen as objectifying women. That’s ten times as much history and context as what you and others are pointing to. Why is it that no matter how often I point to my actual publishing history all anyone wants to do is talk about Sovereign Media’s history. Their history is not mine. Anyone who says that those 1,000 cover shouldn’t be taken into account here is being disingenuous. If I’m going to be damned, it should be for what I have published not for the history of a magazine that I have just purchased. I have no doubt that you, like many other’s already have, will simply give me some weak reason why my actual publishing history should be ignored. But the bottom line is I have fifteen years of publishing history that says I’m not the kind of publisher who exploits the images of women for sales. But no one wants to talk about that because then they can’t say, “well, this image isn’t that bad, but…” Taken in the context of my publishing history it isn’t anything at all. If this were an honest conversation someone on your side might actually say, “you know, now that I’ve looked into it Lapine’s 1,000+ covers really never did objectify women. If those covers aren’t enough for you googlet Absolute Magnitude or Dreams of Decadence. How many publishers could have published 20 issues of a vampire magazine without upsetting this segment of the audience, yet I managed it. Please someone explain to me why my actual publishing history isn’t relevant here.

  46. Warren, the only people I see criticizing you about anything are the same (general) group of people who have made unwarranted criticism of various genre professionals into a second career for themselves. It’s their night job.

    So far as I can discern this is a very small group — albeit very loud and with several megaphones at their disposal — and if they have one collective MO, it’s shoot first and ask questions later.

    You are guilty until proven… Guilty.

    Anyone who has read any of your publications for any period of time over the last 15 years knows that the charges of sexism are 100% organic horse shit.

    Alas, as soon as you defend yourself — and rightly so — the critics use it as further “proof” of your sexism.

    Damned if you do, damned if you do.

    It’s just like with McCarthysim and the Salem Witch Trials. You can’t win because the people who are coming after you have no interest in an honest discussion. They want your head in a noose. Because they concluded that you were guilty as charged looooooooooong before you ever got wind of the controversy in the first place.

  47. FYI for the ROF cover-haters,

    I’ve noticed that the MMORPG Evony uses a heck of a lot of cleavage in its banner advertisements.

    And handsome cleavage it is, aye.

    Therefore, you have your new target. Stand up, hook up, shuffle to the door…

  48. Could you have misunderstood the original objection to the cover any more than you did? There was no critique of the woman in the cover, she just expressed a preference for the male form, and a heterosexual woman, I share that preference wholeheartedly.

    I’m indifferent to the female form. I can appreciate it aesthetically, and pretty ones are nicer than ugly ones, but I would rather watch 300. And that’s what she was asking for, a little eye candy. Is that too much to ask? Is that so threatening to a man who probably has no hope of ever looking like the kind of men women would drool over?

  49. Anastasia, see below:

    I’d be perfectly fine seeing ROF do covers with hunky naked mermen, too. I’ve got zero problem with that, would be happy seeing a 1-for-1 cover art ratio along these lines, and wouldn’t consider such cover art to in any way detract from the magazine. Or dissuade me from buying same. Hunky naked fantasy dudes on covers would in no way threaten my manhood, nor be perceived as an attack on my person. (See: 300)

    That’s from the original text of the original blog entry.

    As for me never having a hope of looking like the kind of man women drool over, it’s true. I will never had Brad Pitt’s face, nor Harrison Ford’s face, nor the face of anyone famous in Hollywood. I have a typically large, round, pink-skinned Norwegian face.

    Suffice to say, with work, I’d like to see my body approach that of the actor who played Daxos.

    That’d make my wife mighty happy. Yes indeed.

    Army PT has gotten me halfway there. Now I need to amp up the workouts and cut down on the sugar eating.

  50. So… you acknowledge that the original “argument” was simply a request for more male eye candy on SF magazine covers, yet you decided to go on a diatribe against “homely women with cottage cheese thighs” anyway?

  51. Susanna,

    Nope, I’m not acknowledging that at all. Because the original “argument” was a tongue-in-cheek dig against both the ROF re-launch cover, and its art director, and its new publisher as well. This quickly ballooned into the (predictable) debate about objectification.

    And in any debate about objectification — especially when the controversial material in question is not all that controversial — the pink elephant in the room is always the same: women who are jealous and/or feel threatened by images of slim and/or fit and/or beautiful females.

    I’ve seen it too many times to not believe that some or maybe even most of the carping during BoobFail isn’t more of the same. Women who are uncomfortable with their own bodies and their own image, attacking images of other women that are deemed “pleasing” to males.

    If people want to dive into the depths of female body image psychology, we can go there. IMHO female body image psychology is very much at the root of the whole imbroglio.

    Homely women and cottage cheese thighs — by themselves — are not the problem, as much as the mentality which wants to try and put homeliness and cottage cheese up there on the same beauty shelf as pretty faces and smooth legs. I am sorry, that’s just not going to happen. Yet in any objectification debate there is always the, “I’m not good looking but I demand to be made to feel beautiful too,” contingent.

    Unrealistic, at best. Unhealthy, at worst. Mostly because this sort of mentality is seeking external validation and if your comfort with your own body relies too much on external validation, you’re sort of setting yourself up for heartache. I think it’s inevitable for all of us to seek some form of external validation — from our spouses and partners, most of all — but some people (cough, women, cough) often treat it as an either/or equation: I’m beautiful and she’s not, or she’s beautiful and I’m not.

  52. “Unrealistic, at best. Unhealthy, at worst.”

    To want to feel beautiful? Everyone places some value on external validation, including yourself, if your comments about PT are anything to go off of. I don’t believe it is unrealistic or unhealthy to want your partner to find you beautiful, simply human nature.

    As for the either/or equation – where in this debate have you seen that? I haven’t seen anyone complaining about the body composition of the mermaid. I’ve seen plenty of tongue in cheek posts wishing for more beefcake, but any post that has criticized the cover has taken more offense at the tragic font choices and unattractive layout.

  53. I don’t think it’s unrealistic or unhealthy to want your partner to find you attractive, either. What I do think is unrealistic is wanting the rest of the world — other people beyond your partner — to feel the same.

    And no, female body insecurity is never expressed simply. That’s part of the rub. Women who are insecure about their own bodies and criticize other women — or images of same — never acknowledge the obvious. It’s always a sideways criticism — font choices and cover layout — than anything so direct as, “This beautiful image of a beautiful woman bothers me because I don’t feel beautiful like her.”

    Obviously we’re putting people on The Couch for this analysis, and lots of people hate that. Again, I’ve seen the female body image insecurity thing too often to not strongly suspect that at least some of the rancor over BoobFail is not driven by female body image insecurity.

    Women who are 100% secure in their bodies tend to appreciate or at least not feel like they have to criticize other women or images of same.

    Women who are NOT secure in their bodies always find something to complain about. It’s an identifiable pattern. Most women who do it don’t even know they’re doing it, because female body image issues operate at such a drastically deep level, they’re not aware of what’s going on. They only experience the emotion, which leads to a negative reaction.

    And again, insecurity all by itself is not wrong either. I only think it’s wrong if insecurity becomes externalized and made the problem of other people.

    Ergo, I am insecure about issue X, therefore it is your job — external — to make me feel secure about issue X.

  54. I am not sure how you think a request for more male nudity equals female body issues. You’re analyzing a large group of people without having any idea of their actual motivation. You come across as saying that any woman with a problem actually is just letting out her body issues on an undeserving world, which is some hardcore bullshit. You may not want to acknowledge the very real problems of misogyny and racism in SF/F, but they do exist. As a woman who is secure in her own body, I was not offended by the cover art, but rather the reaction from people like yourself and Harlan Ellison who insist that I cannot possibly be offended for a legitimate reason, it must be because I am a crazy unreasonable woman with body issues. What will you do next? Ask me if it’s my time of the month?

    The more that you argue around the issue and throw up straw men, the less seriously people will take your opinions. I appreciate that you have been polite in your discussion with me, but I can’t continue to debate with someone who refuses to acknowledge the actual issue at hand.

  55. Susanna,

    We’re now touching on several issues at once:

    1 – Race and racism within SF and F.
    2 – Misogyny and female portrayal within SF and F.
    3 – Female body imagery et al.

    Each of these would require their own conversation. In fact, I have a thread dedicated specifically to body image here.

    As to my saying that any woman with a problem [with the ROF cover] is merely letting out her own body insecurity, I’ve discussed this with several women I’d call secure in their bodies, and they agree that this debate smacks too much of insecure women projecting. Maybe not all of the women in the debate — you yourself claim to be otherwise and I’ll accept that at face value — but enough that it’s reasonable to bring it up.

    I knew going into it that this was going to be controversial. Women and body image issues is a minefield topic and there isn’t any “clean” way to discuss it without people getting upset. Not if we’re going to discuss it honestly.

    For me, I’m not arguing “around” the issue, I am going straight at the Big Issue in the debate — the pink elephant — that nobody else harping on the ROF cover and the history of ROF covers seemed willing to address.

    In fact, it seems rather like people are flat out denying that there is ANY chance that some of the females who are complaining are, in fact, venting their body image issues.

    If you’re willing to meet me halfway and concede that there are women in this debate who are simply externalizing their own body insecurity, I am absolutely willing to acknowledge that not all women in this debate are doing it. Fair enough?

  56. Let me being by saying that bringing up racism was derivative of me, and it is a completely separate topic from the one we were discussing. My apologies.

    It may be reasonable to bring up body issues as a facet of this controversy, but I believe it is unreasonable to make it the focal point, and dismisses any and all other objections that men AND women have had to the magazine cover and what it signifies. You call body image the elephant in the room. I believe that it is merely one part of the larger argument. The initial comments made by [Name redacted –B] did not even mention body shape, she merely stated she’d like to see some male asses on the cover of the magazine, and many of the posts I’ve read since then are supporting that. It is disingenuous to ignore that and focus solely on the women that you are so sure are projecting their body issues onto the debate.

    I am willing to agree that there may be some women who have done so- I personally have not read any posts that come across that way, do you happen to have any links?

  57. No need to apologize. I happen to think matters of race in SF and F are worth discussing. Just not in this thread, per se.

    As noted above, I thought the original comment by the named individual was tongue-in-cheek at best, not-so-subtly digging at worst, and I didn’t think it could be taken at face value.

    Moreover, the pile-on commentary that followed the named individual’s post seemed to support my suspicion that there was more happening with the ROF cover than women simply wanting some beefcake to go with their fishboobs.

    I can provide many links if you’d like, but I think I can summarize them by stating that there is a subset of readers and writers who are seemingly Boob Fatigued. Ergo, because science fiction and fantasy — in print, in art, in film, etc. — have so often (too often?) used breasts as a theme, or motif, or a selling point, there were a lot of people mocking the ROF cover as a way to mock Boobism in the genre as a whole. They mocked the use of boobs, and they mocked people who find boobs attractive as being adolescent or even pre-adolescent.

    This all struck me as odd because the ROF cover doesn’t feature a woman with boobs I’d even consider overly prominent. These are not Dolly Parton boobs, so the mermaid’s biggest sin seems to be that she is neither explicitly clothed nor explicitly naked, and her nippleless chest is exposed prominently as a result.

    Me? I’m a boob man. Not gonna lie about that. So I took personal issue with some of the pile-on comments that derided people who do like boobs, or who might find SF and F with Boobism in them to be more interesting than, say, SF and F with no Boobism at all.

    I’m also an equal opportunity kind of guy, in that I don’t blame women for wanting beefcake in their SF and F, either. For my money, that just makes sense, and for those women who really were simply complaining about the lack of beefcake — or stating they simply wanted more beefcake — I think that’s perfectly valid.

    So maybe there are two murky camps on this: the camp which is opposed to Boobism, or which is at least tired of Boobism in the genre, and the camp which doesn’t care about Boobism as much as it cares about seeing an increase in Beefcakism?

    For the Beefcakists, I say, more power to you. Not long ago I was complaining to a writer friend that it’s a shame more genre magazine covers didn’t go for Boobism and Beefcakism both: hot space babes and space hunks, the kind of stuff that might catch the eye of a weary consumer pondering the gargantuan monolith of magazines at their local Big Brick book store.

    Are Boobism and Beefcakism “beneath” F and SF? I suspect, again, there are some people in this debate who believe that, yes, they are.

    Me? I’m not one of them. I think the human body, when portrayed heroically, beautifully, with emphasis on the fit feminine and the fit masculine, is a wonderful thing. I wish our culture as a whole placed more emphasis on the fit feminine and the fit masculine. Because right now we’ve got a lot of warped imagery — Kate Moss as the ideal woman? Paul Blart as the ideal man? — which either forgives poor health and flab, or goes too far in the other direction and pedestalizes too-skinny as the equivalent of beautiful.

  58. I wish you had said this earlier on, because I think more people can agree with, or at least understand this point of view, whereas the earlier body image arguments turned a lot of people against you.

    I do think that part of the fighting stems from those who are tired of breasts being used to sell SciFi, and those who like their cheesecake and beefcake. Me, I fall somewhere in between. I am kind of tired of Boobism, but I don’t think that liking breasts makes you immature. I like breasts, I think they are fantastic! I just wish they weren’t used to sell every. Single. Thing. if you know what I mean. In that sense, I am Boob Fatigued. But, if we must have boobs boobs everywhere, I am definitely in the camp that wants an equal amount of beefcake.

    I just saw that you’ve posted another essay on this topic, so I’m off to read that.

  59. I probably could have been a lot more diplomatic and less combative with the original post. That’s very true. The only thing I can say is that, for various reasons, I just didn’t feel like being diplomatic.

    Ah well, what’s done is done.

    Maybe some will read my expanded thoughts on all of this and conclude I’m not the prick they thought I was?

    Again, I knew going into it I was playing with fire. Had to expect I’d be burned.

    And yes, I just put up the new essay. I am curious to read your thoughts, if any.

  60. Brad, there was not much diplomacy from the original source of the tornado in a teacup if memory serves correctly.

    I fail to see why tact and diplomacy should be deployed when the original generator of the controversy did not bother to do so themselves.

    Respects,
    S. F. Murphy
    On the Outer Marches

  61. SFM,

    That’s pretty much how I feel about it. Omarosa never thinks twice about being rude, snide, petty, or otherwise undiplomatic whenever she targets someone.

    You get what you give. Only reason she doesn’t get it more is because she’s good at using the race card and the gender card. These are very effective shields and clubs for her.

  62. Brad,

    What never seems to occur to professionals participating in these exchanges is that in public discourse that so often descends within the 1st paragraph, readers are put off by the poster’s words and judges their “opponent” and that person’s words separately. At least I do.

    Disagreeing with She Whose Name Has Been Redacted? Why not? But renaming a person of colour with that of an infamous and widely disliked “celebrity” to reframe your argument is ridiculous and petty. Presuming that finding a cover featuring nekkidfantasy(fish)taillady #2498053 is not boring and trite (nice painting though) but a somehow a universal rebuke to one’s own unattractiveness–and there is only one way to be attractive…seems a rather fancy way of calling people who seen this cover in other endless permutations and find it old hat simply envious. I’m sorry, on the internet they are of course JELLUS HATERZ. If you disagree, please go right ahead. Even if I cared either way about this magazine or the cover, the amount of personal attacks popping up in the defensive responses make me as a reader disinclined to pick up your work. Make an argument about the cover, not the personalities and lives of those who took issue with it.

    If you’ll excuse me, I must go and marvel at the antics of a certain Mr. DeFillipo.

  63. P.S.

    Myself, I could not in good conscience spend my money on work from a person who genuinely believes in the existence and usefulness of a race card or gender card.

  64. If you’ll excuse me, I must go and marvel at the antics of a certain Mr. DeFillipo.

    Paul’s comments in that (again, manufactured) imbroglio were some of the few comments that actually contained common sense. Predictably, Paul was savaged for his effort. Common sense? In an on-line discussion about racism and sexism? Can’t have that! Off with his head!

  65. If you feel that it is common sense to assert that a volume of the best writing in a genre must of course be as without female and racial minority authors as a field of a specific crop (potatoes) ought to be from other plants, I disagree.

    If that’s not what he meant to say, fine. But it is indeed what he said.

    That is not common sense to me, that is a clear case of someone leaping to defend something blindly with out looking at the context or even what they are upholding as right and good.

  66. Pingback: Am I “fatphobic” and “misogynist?” « Sub-Odeon’s Thoughts

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