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Covers = Important. Sexism = Bad.

Sorry I’ve been gone for so long. I need to get back into the swing of writing posts. However, I couldn’t not tell you about this. So enjoy!

The BBC has just put up possibly the most comprehensive and insightful article I think I’ve ever seen on their site – and that’s quite an achievement. It just happens to be about Feminism, Sexism and Sci-Fi/Fantasy novels. All of my favourite things!

Essentially, the article is about those ridiculously sexualised pictures on the covers of fantasy novels. (And Sci-Fi, although to my knowledge all modern Sci-Fi novels seem to have covers like this and this; landscapes and space-ships/vehicles with very few people, sexualised or otherwise, even present. A conversation for another day…)

And it mentions all the things that I would want to mention. Primarily, it talks about Jim Hines and Hawkeye. Now, though I find it very interesting that, in a post about feminism, the first person the writer strives to talk about is what some middle aged white bloke is doing, I suppose that is our purpose as allies. Sigh.

For the uninititated, Jim Hines is a fantasy writer with a lot of free time and good ideas; and the Hawkeye Initiative is a great idea by an artist with a lot of free time. And they both seem to have come up with the same idea at least semi-independently. Which is: Parody the Living Fuck out of Sexist covers.

Sexist covers like this.

And this.

And this.

The whole point is that if neither Jim Hines nor Hawkeye can look attractive or even comfortable imitating your cover, then there’s something wrong with it.

This is, of course, the perfect blend of “making laugh at an issue” and “making you aware of an issue” – the best way to get your point across. The point being that these covers are pointless and make us nerds look like complete assholes and sexually ignorant perverts. I’ve never bought a comic on the grounds of “PWITTY COVER WIV LADIEZ”*, and even I’d be embarassed about reading a book like that on the train.

Meanwhile, Tracy Hurley talks about why she thinks this happens, and I get to find out about her “Prismatic Art Collection”, a directory of artists who draw characters who are not just skinny white girls in bikinis and muscly white men with swords.

Since I am a lanky, weedy guy, I can’t really associate with muscley folks like Conan, and if my being catered to means that there are also more people drawing… you know, the entire rest of the gamut of skin tones, body shapes and levels of attractiveness that aren’t white, skinny and inhumanly attractive, then even better!

Rant over; you should go read the article, to congratulate and support the BBC for, like usual, taking the right stand on an issue, and making people aware of… well, the stuff in the article that you should be going to read.


Here are links to Jim Hines’ blog, where he regularly posts such pictures, and the tumblr of “The Hawkeye Initiative” are on the respective words back there.

And while you’re at it, check out Escher Girls, which is a site all about how these pictures are not just sexist, but bad art. Have fun!

(Thanks also to Pippa, aka Along This Line, who is awesome, and who linked me.)

* The closest I’ve perhaps come is “Empowered”, and I’d feel very embarassed reading that on the train.