Friday, September 09, 2011

Do the pictures of naked men really work?

Well, maybe not completely naked, but mostly, and I'm referring to a lot of romance writer blogs and websites where they post pics of half naked men, as inspiration for heroes and as well, inspiration for the day.

And hey, I am not against seeing a fit half-naked men, but sometimes I worry that those pics aren't doing anything to dispel the myths about romance.

I still know a ton of people who dismiss romance novels as porn for women, who think of them as nothing but silly and poorly written. Which, as anyone who reads this blog, knows is completely untrue. Like any genre, there are great and not so great books, but the ambassadors of romance have to be the authors and if we spend more time discussing a hot bod, rather than craft and story on our blogs and websites, how can we expect to be taken seriously?

I want to mention JR Ward, and Courtney Milan and Sherry Thomas to strangers and not have them look at me as if I'm an addle brained twit for reading romance. Because these books are great examples of craft, and character and a lot of "serious" authors could learn a lot from romance writers. Which is why I sometimes worry, do romance authors treat their own work with the respect it deserves?

What we put on the internet is basically out there for the world, and I don't want it to be serious all the time, but it cannot be taken back and when I look at those pics, I wince, because I think of a reader that has never read a romance and is investigating an author thinking whether the might pick up their book and would they after seeing that?

I'm not sure, but I do hope they pick up the romance, because if they do, they'll probably be a romance reader for life.


Eileen said...

Here's the problem, though. I think they do work. I see way lots and lots of women oohing and aahing over those covers and those photos.

Unfortunately, they make me a little uncomfortable. Really, what would we say if a bunch of male authors put a half naked headless (have you noticed how often it's just the dude's torso with no head?) woman on their book covers? We'd be screaming sexism.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, not sure when romance became all about the hero - maybe once Fabio was on the covers - lol! And naked men on covers? Not for me. Give me Don Draper - I find an attractive man with brains a whole lot sexier, but, then that's me...

Anonymous said...

Eileen, it makes me uncomfortable as well. My one introduction to the Romantic Times conference did the same thing, with the male cover models being ogled.

And Kathy, give me a picture of a man in a terrific suit any day of the week.

Eileen said...

OMG!! Sinead, I thought I was alone. I was so grossed out by that whole cover model contest thing. I was horrified at how people were behaving. Blecchh.

Plus I'm so sick of the snarky Fabio-related remarks people make to me.

Stephanie Doyle said...

I like to keep my oggling private. Like when I'm watching Eric naked in True Blood. :)

I don't need covers at ALL but that's me. They mean even less to me now that I have my Kindle.

That said sometimes I think women do those things to empower them. Sort of - men have been looking at Playboy bunnies for years - now it's our turn to openly exert our sexuality and say what we like.

We're expected to be tall, thin with long hair and big boobs. Many even go so far to open their bodies and shove plastic bags of water inside them to make that happen.

Why can't we say we want our men to have muscles and a sixpack.

At least I hope it's more the empowering and thing and not the icky thing.

As for me the thing about Eric isn't his body. It's his character. Alcide's hot - for me... meh. So might think Bill handsome - me not so much. It's Eric's strength not his bare butt that rocks my world.

Eileen said...

I get the owning one's sexuality thing, but I want us to be better. Yes, men have objectified us for centuries. Does that make it right for us to objectify them?

I think your point about who you find attractive on True Blood is very telling. You're not attracted to them as objects. You're attracted by a much more layered and nuanced set of criteria.

I am not immune to a cute butt, a bodacious set of abs or even a nicely proportioned package. It's . . . titillating. I just want to ascend to a higher level where it's about more than titillation.

Maybe if we put a pair of glasses on his package so it looked smarter . . .

Maureen McGowan said...

I was trying to decide what to say, because like Sinead I think romance authors are often their own worst enemies if they want the genre to be taken more seriously. Then I read the glasses on the package idea and can't stop laughing. I'm on a moving streetcar. People are looking at me funny.

Eileen said...

Nothing funnier than a penis with glasses.

Anonymous said...


Molly O'Keefe said...

This is barely related - but I totally agree that romance authors can be thier own worst enemy. And there is nothing funnier than Eileen typing the words penis with glasses.

But in keeping with Steph's lusting after Eric (haven't seen any true blood, I'm going to be so far behind) we went to the opening match of the rugby world cup - and don't tell my husband, but I'm mostly meh, about this. It's his zen happy place so I'm happy to see him so totally happy - that said, the opener is the All Blacks vs. Tonga. It's exciting stuff, brutal and skilled. very fun. And then argueably the hottest man I have ever seen in my life Sonny Bill Williams - google him, right now - gets his shirt ripped and has to change shirts on the field. The crowd went ape shit.

Bare chest plays. Bare chest will always play.

Griffin Asher said...

I don't really like the naked men on covers. Sexy and tasteful is ok, but some of the covers I've seen are really bad.

Probably why I like to buy my romance novels from Amazon instead of facing down the check out clerk.

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