Science fiction and fantasy novels routinely portray scantily clad woman on their covers - a device that draws the heterosexual male eye but may turn away women readers. Lynsea Garrison finds one fantasy author aiming to zap gender stereotypes.Turn away women readers? Let's look at the book that Hines is aiming to zap. It is called ALIEN DIPLOMACY and was written by Gini Koch, which appears to be the pen name of Jeanne Cook. It is described as follows:
Jim Hines straddles the remnants of a defeated alien species (a table), and clasps a pistol (a toy gun) as he triumphantly raises a cyborg's head (a toaster). Sometimes he fights battles alongside his romantic interest (a large teddy bear).
But no matter the mission, Hines shows some flesh. Just because he is waging a war, it does not mean he cannot be alluring at the same time, right?
Hines, a fantasy author, is posing like some of the female characters on science fiction and fantasy book covers he says objectify women.
Being newlyweds and new parents is challenging enough. But Jeff and Kitty Martini are also giving up their roles as super-being exterminators and Commanders in Centaurion Division while mastering the political landscape as the new heads of Centaurion's Diplomatic Corps. Enter a shadowy assassination plot and a new set of anti-alien conspirators, and nothing will ever be the same...
A "science fiction" novel about being newlyweds and new parents? Does this sound like something intended to appeal to men of any age in any way? ALIEN DIPLOMACY has 22 reviews; the reviewers' names include Shawna, Vicki, Dana, Kelly Books-n-Kisses, Miss Marion, Bvrly, Julie, Dana, Nikki, Kristin, Kitty, and Annie. There was not a single identifiably male name.
In other words, these idiot gamma males are nobly attempt to white knight for women and defend them from a female-produced product which is not only designed to appeal to women, but is successful in doing so! While the artists are men, they are knowingly creating these ridiculous covers to appeal to women. As the artist who designed the excellent cover for my own A THRONE OF BONES wrote, he enjoyed working on it because it is the sort of cover that is designed to appeal to men rather than women. And there isn't a sexy pose to be found on it.
It is women who most like to look at pictures of women, as anyone who has ever seen a woman's magazine or seen a woman scrolling through Pinterest will know. Given that this absurdly misguided activism combines science fiction, white knighting, and hapless socio-sexual cluelessness, it will probably surprise no one that SFWA President, Chief Rabbit of the Rabbit People, and proud gamma John Scalzi didn't hesitate to get involved.
The book whose objectification of women he is protesting is THE TASTE OF NIGHT, by Vicki Pettersson. It is described thusly:
"Equal parts Light and Shadow, Joanna Archer must fulfill a destiny she never wanted. Once a photographer and heiress to a casino fortune, she is now dedicated to the cause of good . . . but susceptible to the seductions of evil."
Sounds like something aimed at men, doesn't it.... THE TASTE OF NIGHT has 47 reviews, by Jenna, Rita, Angela, Courtney, Phyllis, Jessica, Patience, Rhona, Kelley, Kelly, Shalonda, Chica, Karissa, Michelle, Debra, and Susan, among others. While 6 of the 47 reviews were by identifiably male names, they tended to be disproportionately represented among the lowest rankings given to the book.
This self-sabotage is what gammas doing what gammas always do. And their complete inability to understand female socio-sexuality is why their attempts to curry female favor through acts of service inevitably backfire. If you want women to be attracted to you, just watch what they do. Then do something, anything, else.