My Dear Friends: You Will Not Be Able to Unsee the Unspeakable Terror That is the Jim C Hines/John Scalzi Cover Pose-Off

All I can say to you of it is:

PREPARE YOURSELF.

Are you prepared? Are you?

Then follow this link and see me and Jim attempt this pose:

BUT I WARN YOU: Whatever you think it will be? It is so much more than that.

I have done all I can to gird you. It is now in your hands. And eyeballs. And brains.

Edit, 10:53 am: There’s a poll over there in which you can vote for who does this cover best. I’m not saying you have to vote for me, but if you do, I’m giving five cents a vote to the Aicardi Syndrome Foundation, the organization Jim is fundraising for, up to $500. Yes, I am totally buying your vote! Don’t worry, it’s allowed. Bwa ha ha hah ha!

190 thoughts on “My Dear Friends: You Will Not Be Able to Unsee the Unspeakable Terror That is the Jim C Hines/John Scalzi Cover Pose-Off

  1. Oh my god that is beautiful.

    Not in the “I want your body” kind of way, but in how clearly it demonstrates how unnatural those poses are. Seeing the two of you in that pose reminds me of an outrigger canoe, and not in a flattering way.

  2. I really appreciate the attempt; but I have to admit that the both of you can’t compete with original girl/humanrobot/broken doll. I mean, unlike her, you weren’t apparently willing to break you ankles to get the pose necessary to sell. Nor break the pelvis bone. Because that’s what it takes to be a sexy woman, I’ve learned.

    In seriousness, I’m glad Hines put focus on the Aicardi Syndrome. And he clearly has some good friends to back him up.

  3. Well, that was certainly… something. It’s nice that you finally have a respectable shot to use as the author photo for The Human Division physical release :-).

  4. I meant to say, “and how much,” not “to whom.”

    I blame neurons misfiring in my brain as a result of seeing that photo.

  5. ::claps:: Good hustle! Good hustle! You can really tell you came to play, and it’s obvious you were in it to win it. But — it looks like you’re gonna lose by a head tilt. :-(

  6. Oh dear. Ohhhhhh dear.

    Once i got over the initial shock and horror, I had to give it to Jim :( for limb placement and pose replication. But nice wig!

  7. I think the not-shaving really makes this work. Maybe my Dudes-In-Sexy-What!?-Costumes Halloween Bar Crawl might work. Thanks John.

  8. Holy crap! Even prepared, I broke into hysterical laughter. I feel that you did better on the costuming and props. Jim was slightly better on the pose (torture) angles. I’m not sure how people bend that way.

  9. I just busted into laughter in my office and had to explain why…my co-workers really think I am a weirdo now. Points to Jim for the more correct pose, but the wig rocks! I will make a donation after payday.

  10. Mr. Hines looks surprisingly good; that worries me.

    You on the other hand…

    You should seriously think of yoga or some other form of exercise that encourages flexibility.

    Cheers
    Andrew

  11. OKAY. That was not what I wanted to see at 0700 hrs. But what’s done is done. I’ll just need more coffee is all. Or maybe a shot of whiskey, then coffee. Or maybe just the whiskey. Anyway, I voted for Hines. He captured the pose far better. And, crucially, he had less HAIR overall. And I mean over all. John, the wig was a nice touch but next time: shave. Everything and everywhere. Also, work on those side splits so you can straighten out that leg better.

    Okay … where’s that whiskey.

  12. Hines wins!

    Technical: Your right shoulder is tucked up to your ear, so your shoulders aren’t square, and your right leg is canted out, not in.
    Artistic: Also, Jim shaved his legs–he’s got great gams, btw. Your wig is a nice touch, but it’s not the same as the cover.

    Obviously, Hines is the more experienced model, but you show great potential.
    /critique

    Great fun!

  13. Oh yeah, remember that scene in Jaws when Dreyfuss’s character prepares to examine what’s left of the skinny dipping girl from the night before? He pulls off the cover and immediately starts hyperventilating? Yeah, dude, it was like that. Blow me down.

  14. Yeah, I’m going to have to agree with mintwitch @10:24. You put in a good effort and you do get points for the wig, but your angles are slightly off, most notably bending your right elbow and not having the crossbow directly follow the line of your arm. Hines, of course, has a lot more experience, but he also demonstrated greater dedication to the cause by shaving his legs. I look forward to epic pose with Stross, Rothfuss, et al.

  15. Whoa. One of the first things to see this morning was this. WHERE did you find the LBD, and nicely defined muscles in the legs, dude. Have you put your hip back where it’s supposed to go yet?

  16. Hines wins by a hair (or lack thereof)
    I knew I shoulda bought stock in pharmaceutical companies that make ibuprofen. Now I have to clean the coffee spew off my stack of final exams.
    How did the right knee feel after all that?

  17. Can’t breath, laughing too hard. OH MY! You know John, not many people could pull that look off, but you look smashing. You may want to consider waxing before the next photo. After all, the cover models for the originals waxed, it’s only fair for you to do so.

  18. I’m not really sure this is proving Jim’s original point that these poses are ridiculous, implausible or impractical. I mean, he almost nailed the pose – one minor deduction for not quite having his left foot turned quite right. Yeah, he doesn’t look as sexy as the woman because he’s a middle aged balding man. But that doesn’t mean that the woman on the cover couldn’t or wouldn’t reasonably assume that pose in the process of kicking the ass of whatever it is that she’s kicking the ass of. I’m not saying she WOULD assume that pose, but 2 middle aged guys successfully assuming said pose only goes to prove that it’s possible that a nimble 20 something coed MIGHT do it.

  19. So wrong in so many wonderful ways. Jim may have better form, but your dedication to authenticity (weird stare, blond wig, dress) has my vote sir. I hear they have a pill that erases short term memory, maybe you should reconsider your stance on advertisting, just this once?

  20. I’m disturbed that you both have access to a crossbow. Are they commonly owned by authors? Doesn’t this make publishers nervous?

  21. David – there’s more to it than just whether or not the poses are possible. I was able to get pretty close, but I also had pains and cramps that lasted through Monday. Other things I hope the poses point out is how pointlessly sexualized they tend to be, and in most cases, the impracticalness of actually fighting or doing anything from those poses. I could get into it, but I’d have a really hard time aiming a crossbow while maintaining my balance, and actually fighting? Forget it.

  22. Mr. Hines (srs mad props, btw!), yes it is a ridiculous pose, but slightly less ridiculous with female hips. Still crazy! Not denying that at all! But perhaps a teeny bit less painful with female pelvic structure (and yoga classes).

  23. I’m trying to imagine the reaction of someone who visited your site for the first time today, and clicked the link.

  24. I can totally assume that pose – it’s not particularly extreme or challenging if you’re reasonably flexible. I *can’t*, however, imagine the circumstances that would cause me to assume that pose while attempting to aim a cross bow with one hand, if I had any intention of hitting anything. Much less wearing those shoes and a dress!

    And John got my vote, despite the misdirected head tilt. The wig simply nailed it.

  25. You, sir, are a MUCH braver man than I.

    Now I must clean the coffee off the monitor and bleach my eyes — thoroughly!!!

  26. As George Takei might say, “Oh, My!”
    Two pictures that fit the category of Things Man Was Not Meant To Know. And an appropriate Shakespeare quote for them. I am proud to be a regular reader of Whatever.

    This picture of you needs to be kept on file at Tor, so in case you ever produce the promised sequel to The Android’s Dream, it can be used as the author photo.

  27. @David Stigant: The thesis of these photos (and others by Hines) isn’t that the pose in question is impossible, but that it’s ridiculous, and only considered acceptable when a “nimble 20-something coed” is doing it because rrrrrowr hummina hummina aaaaooooogah amirite guys?

    Which is proven (Rule 34 notwithstanding) by the gentlemen’s assuming of that pose.

  28. Oh, dear god…

    The wig. I just…

    Jim wins on form. But you get extra credit for the wig.

    Also, Jim’s outstretched leg looks shopped to me.

  29. >> David – there’s more to it than just whether or not the poses are possible. I was able to get pretty close, but I also had pains and cramps that lasted through Monday. Other things I hope the poses point out is how pointlessly sexualized they tend to be, and in most cases, the impracticalness of actually fighting or doing anything from those poses. I could get into it, but I’d have a really hard time aiming a crossbow while maintaining my balance, and actually fighting? Forget it.

    Look, I agree with you about the poses being sexualized (I’m not sure I can get to “pointlessly” – the point of the cover is to sell the book, after all… is it working?). But you and John assuming the pose (as amusing as that is to everybody else, me included) doesn’t make that point. Nor does the fact that you had pains and cramps on Monday (sweet young thing in the original photo might not, and even if she does, what does THAT prove? Boxers have plenty of pain the day AFTER a bout… doesn’t mean they didn’t float like a butterfly and sting like a bee). The only way to prove that they are impractical for the purposes of fighting is to, I don’t know, actually do some fighting from those poses.

  30. David: I would submit that, in your quest for pedantry, you may be missing the bigger picture here. But, in the words of the great Satchmo: There are some folks, if they don’t know, you can’t tell ‘em.

  31. Awesome. Awesome. Though I have to give it to Jim Hines for body mimicry, you, Mr. Scalzi, do get a nod for the cheerleader wig and unshorn leg look. Well played, everyone. Well played.

  32. I came in expecting to vote “Scalzi,” but Hines clearly has the experience edge. His arm and head angles are completely on–point. Scalzi made up ground with the wig and dress, but on pure “pose” points, I give a strong edge to the defending champion.

  33. >> David: I would submit that, in your quest for pedantry, you may be missing the bigger picture here. But, in the words of the great Satchmo: There are some folks, if they don’t know, you can’t tell ‘em.

    Again, I emphasize that I AGREE that the poses are stupid, impractical, and sexualized. I don’t need convincing of this fact. But if the point of this exercise is to convince people who have a different opinion that the poses are stupid and impractical then I have my doubts as to the efficacy of this approach. Call me a pedant if you like, but I think that’s a trait I share with a large portion of your potential audience. I’m just playing Devil’s Advocate. And goading these fine gentlemen into upping their game… I expect to see videos rather than still pictures next time.

  34. ZOMG!!111!! AS has been discovered previously, what has been seen cannot be unseen. I give you points for artistic interpretation, and the wig, but Mr. Hines has the edge for fidelity of reproduction. Where do we send the Costco-sized bottles of Advil?

    I’m afraid to ask: Did you borrow the dress from Krissy, and did you fully disclose what its intended use was?

  35. I can’t remember the last time I laughed that hard at something I saw on the internet. Holy god. John, that look on your face is priceless.

  36. Woah. That was… jarring.

    I spent a good minute comparing the sincere and technical first pose–all shaved legs and earnestness — then scrolled down expecting more of the same and OH MY FUCKING GOD SASQUATCH BARBIE!!!

  37. Curiously, the pose is (leaving off the crossbow) more or less equivalent to movements 16 and 17 of “24 Form Tai Chi.”

    My instructor has been doing those movements since she was a child, and so is quite apt at them.

    I, on the other hand, am probably a bit more out of shape than John :-).

    What is further curious/interesting/FRIGHTENING is that the Tai Chi form of this has the martial meaning of crouching down so that you then Rise Up to strike the opponent from underneath… In the crotch!!! So it’s practically much scarier than the image presented. (Doesn’t matter how petite she is, if she’s attacking your crotch from underneath, trust me, it’s SCARY!)

    Nice wig, by the way!

  38. The only way to prove that they are impractical for the purposes of fighting is to, I don’t know, actually do some fighting from those poses.

    David:

    I am female, a martial artist, a shooter, and as flexible as a decade of ballet training can make a person.

    While I have not, personally, shot a crossbow from this position, I have shot longbows, pistols, and high-powered rifles.

    There is no rational reason that anyone would assume a pose like this to shoot anything. The thing that really makes it not work is the extended left leg, which is stretched too far out to provide stability. If that crossbow has any kind of recoil she’s going to fall over backwards (though the set of her shoulders ameliorates that to an extent). The turned-down ankle is a particular point of weakness; I nearly sprained mine just looking at it. Having her knee bent and her ankle straight would be a far stronger and more stable stance. Also, look at her left hand and the way her fingertips are almost bent back. Ouch.

    She’s also in a terrible position if she misses whatever she’s aiming at and has to get up and run. In the time it’ll take her to get that left leg under her and stand up, an attacker could easily close.

  39. I don’t think your back was twisted correctly and your head was tilted in the wrong direction. Nice effort, but I think I have to give the points to the master (whether Hines is happy about this being his legacy is another question).

    Plus… those legs. What you you???? Half gorilla? What’s the other half? More gorilla?

  40. David, this is impractical for fighting. Should one need to get down low to shoot their crossbow, crouching down with both knees facing more or less forward is much more balanced and easier to get into and then spring back out of than this position. Also, cute heels are always a disadvantage in a fight.

  41. Impressive modelling.

    David, keep in mind that one point of these posts is to emphasise that no male is ever put in these positions for covers regardless of practicality or attainability.

  42. There is no rational reason that anyone would assume a pose like this to shoot anything. The thing that really makes it not work is the extended left leg, which is stretched too far out to provide stability

    I can almost imagine her scrambling for a dropped crossbow and ending up in a pose almost like that but why the leg? Perhaps there is a large hole in the floor. Perhaps the villain has turned the cave (chamber? room?) into an electrified version of twister. “Left foot red– or death”.

    As amusing as it was to see John in the wig and LBD, I have to vote for Jim on the strict grounds of pose reproduction.

  43. A further thought that you someone like welltemperedwriter might be able to speak to: I’m also a fortysomething guy, significantly more athletic than the authors, and I can get into that pose – but to do it I have to actually set out to get into that pose. I can’t see a way that it flows as a natural consequence of a real fighting action – no “here” that you can get there from. It’s contrived.

  44. While I am happy to point and laugh for charity, iwhat is the bigger point? Novels have had poses that were impractical and/or sexualized for a long time. Is the objective to get art directors and artists to stop creating such covers?

    Several commentators have pointed out that urban fantasy harbors some of the biggest offenders in the area of impractical, sexy, cover pictures featuring women. The same commentators also note that most urban fantasy readers are women. I assume these covers are selling books to women. Is there actually a problem to be solved?

  45. Sorry, John, Jim wins. You are indeed scarier, but that wasn’t the pose.

    Snake Creeps Down (the Taiji pose being distorted here) is exited (in this case) to the model’s left without bringing the feet together. The left foot should have been flat on the floor, then you shift your weight so that you are over the left foot (without rising) and then rise using only the left leg, holding the upper right leg parallel to the floor, into the position called Golden Cock Stands on One Leg (left).

    You do (in this direction) a one-legged squat down on your right leg, extending your left leg away. Shift your weight to the left leg, then rise from the one-legged left squat you’re now in. It’s like doing side splits, only not down onto the floor.

    Youtube — http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=anOEIz0e4xI

  46. Much like how I often need to watch a sitcom after watching an episode of “American Horror Story,” I did indeed use the “Cute Overload” chaser that was offered. Also, I do have to concur with those who said that wasn’t quite the pose –but my main tip is to suggest you tilt your head in the opposite direction. I assumed you positioned your legs as close as they would allow you to position them for the pose, and maybe they just don’t “go” that way? ;-) Still, I think you captured the spirit of the pose –and I also think I just saw way more of you than I ever wanted to see… 0.o

  47. >> There is no rational reason that anyone would assume a pose like this to shoot anything. (blah blah blah) stability! (blah blah blah) recoil!

    Agreed (again, I’m not the one who needs convincing)… But my point is that John and Jim assuming said position doesn’t make this case. In fact, if anything, it lends credence to the idea that it might just be possible to shoot a crossbow from that position. John and Jim assuming this position, shooting their crossbows and then falling ass over teakettle would make your point brilliantly.

    Also several posters pointed out that this position is similar to a Tai Chi position that is exitable. I can’t speak to this as I’m not a martial artist.

    >>I can almost imagine her scrambling for a dropped crossbow and ending up in a pose almost like that but why the leg?

    What if her left ankle was tethered to something, and she needed to shoot around a wall? She might not have a choice in position.

    >> David, keep in mind that one point of these posts is to emphasise that no male is ever put in these positions for covers regardless of practicality or attainability.

    Agreed, but what if that’s because middle aged men can’t practically assume those positions rather than it being impractical for young women? What if the very things that make her sexually attractive (athletic build, for example) also make her fighting style practical?

    >> Also, cute heels are always a disadvantage in a fight.

    One can’t always avoid a fight just because one is on the way to Prom.

  48. Someday, when the Alzheimer’s takes over, I’m sure this is the memory I’ll be left with. And, I’ll have to accept that, in some cosmic sense, that is the fate I deserve.

  49. David, several female martial artists have expressed to you the impracticality of these postures. Why do you not believe them?

    Why are you insisting on increasingly elaborate scenarios, none of which are in evidence in the original images, to attempt to justify the images?

    Why are you making increasingly creepy allusions to the sexiness of the models as some sort of justification?

    Why are you playing “Devil’s Advocate” at all, given that the goal here is to draw attention to an issue of concern in the SFF community, and raise some money for charity to boot, no to elect a pope?

  50. Sorry, Scalzi, I had to vote for Hines. He went the extra mile, and his pose is spot on!

    I will now pour bleach into my eyes.

  51. Mike: “Is the objective to get art directors and artists to stop creating such covers? Several commentators have pointed out that urban fantasy harbors some of the biggest offenders in the area of impractical, sexy, cover pictures featuring women. The same commentators also note that most urban fantasy readers are women. I assume these covers are selling books to women. Is there actually a problem to be solved?”

    Yes and no. We can appreciate the covers as art even though they are not realistic. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t talk about them and satirize them in terms of how society deals with women versus men. The art tradition comes from comics and I’m personally of the view that comics can continue it as they exaggerate everything as an artistic style that has become signature and thus cultural of their medium (though that doesn’t mean all comics have to do it.) But book covers and comics aren’t the same thing, doing the same purpose, and the extreme poses of female figures to present sexual poses displaying breasts, butts, and legs on these covers is getting a bit ridiculous for advertising art. The “sexy” covers don’t sell more than “unsexy” covers and they don’t sell to women, nor are they designed for women. They are designed to attract more male readers, though there’s no particular evidence that they actually do this. (They don’t usually much worry about attracting female readers unless it’s a story that is specifically considered “women’s” fiction and thus usually lesser fiction.) Booksellers can be more comfortable with safe and traditional, and these covers are pulp/comics traditional. Nudging art departments to more creative, less torture the women covers by talking about how these covers are more silly than sexy (cause they are,) couldn’t hurt. And the efforts by guys like Hines and Scalzi to just have the discussion are generally appreciated by women since we have these images of women in these cheesecake poses flashed at us everywhere. Maybe we’ll end up with guys on covers posed in torturous poses instead. That might be an interesting new art form. It’s not that we want the covers banned, but this pose off certainly places them in perspective and gives folk something to think about as well as laugh at.

  52. To those wondering what the big deal is, there’s nothing wrong with having ‘sexy’ book covers. We just want more realistic and practical poses. The same model holding the crossbow standing straight up or even bent on one knee would still convey that ‘beautiful yet dangerous’ aura that the artist is presumably going for without looking ridiculous.

  53. >> Why are you playing “Devil’s Advocate” at all, given that the goal here is to draw attention to an issue of concern in the SFF community, and raise some money for charity to boot, no to elect a pope?

    First off, I’m not telling them to stop. In fact, I want to see more because the whole thing makes me laugh. But not because I think it effectively argues that women shouldn’t be posed sexily rather than practically in order to sell books (even though I AGREE with that point)

    Again, my original point is that Jim and John showing that they can do the poses won’t convince people that the poses are impractical (which is a necessary component of the argument here). If the point of this exercise is to raise awareness of the problem of posing women in sexy rather than practical poses, it’s failing (or at least I believe it’s failing) because the people who take this as proof that the situation is bad are the people who already accept the premise in the first place and need no convincing. Were I the kind of person who didn’t think this posing is a big deal, my response to these pictures would be something along the lines of “See, even two non-conventionally-attractive middle age men can hold that pose. It’s not inconceivable that a young woman with athletic build could hold it and possibly even fight from that pose (and thus, posing the woman in that way is not necessarily pandering to male fantasies)”

    >> Why are you making increasingly creepy allusions to the sexiness of the models as some sort of justification?

    I don’t think my allusions are becoming increasingly creepy. I mentioned that her ankle looks like its tethered to something. Restraining an attractive woman could certainly take on some creepy sexual overtones, but it doesn’t have to be sexually motivated, so I think maybe you’re reading something into my statement that’s not there. I also mentioned that her athletic build makes her sexually attractive. I don’t think that’s creepy. We all agreed that the woman is attractive. I was just alluding to what makes her so, and it’s relevant because the issue under discussion is the practicality of the pose – something that being athletic has a bearing on. I didn’t mention other aspects of her appearance (dress, heels, breasts, hair, face) in order to justify her pose. I made a practical observation that she might be able to pull this pose off (ie use it practically rather than alluringly) in ways that out of shape middle aged men can not.

    >> several female martial artists have expressed to you the impracticality of these postures. Why do you not believe them?

    And several others have claimed the opposite. But I DO believe them… in fact, I was convinced that the pose was impractical before either gentleman took his picture. That isn’t and never has been my point. My point is that pictures of men holding the pose DON’T prove that the pose is impractical. One way to prove that the pose is impractical would be a demonstration that firing a crossbow from that position would result in tumbling over backwards (which is the FMA’s point). It would also (at least in my opinion) add to the humor of the pictures. A win-win if you will.

    To Sum Up (ie TL/DR):
    I didn’t come here to argue that the pose was practical. I came here to argue that the pictures don’t prove otherwise.

  54. OK, I didn’t use the fancy criteria or meticulously compare the poses. If I had, I might have voted for Jim, who got closer than John, though to really replicate it would involve crippling oneself. (I’m really hoping the woman in the original is a drawing, and not one based on a photograph.)

    But I voted for the one that made me laugh out loud. Jim’s got a smile, but John’s got a laugh. Partly it’s the genderfuck, but the expression on John’s face is priceless.

  55. A few thoughts:

    1) My first thought when I looked at John’s pose was “Good gravy, that’s a lot of hair!” Seriously, you have more hair on your left leg than I have on my entire body. This is not information that I ever needed to know, by the way.
    2) When we were shown the covers to vote on, I didn’t think that one looked all that difficult. A minute ago, I tried it. I didn’t do it well, and I still ended up stretching muscles in my leg that I didn’t even know I had. Ouch. I salute you gentlemen for being willing to hold that pose long enough to have your photo taken.
    3) There’s no enough brain bleach in the world to get those images out of my head. Ever.

  56. David, your point seems to be that these pictures wouldn’t convince anyone who wasn’t already convinced that these poses are impractical to fight from and that we would need video evidence to prove that. But your suggestion of getting a funny video wouldn’t prove that point either.

    Let’s say that we got a video of Scalzi trying to fire a crossbow from that pose and falling on his butt. Wouldn’t someone just say then that the video doesn’t prove anything and we would need a film of a young female martial artist attempting this to prove its impracticality? At this point, we’ve gotten so far afield from the original purpose of this that it becomes absurd. If the poses are not self-evidently impractical to a person then yeah, there’s probably no convincing that person. But as an action designed to elicit discussion, I think the picture works quite well.

  57. >> Let’s say that we got a video of Scalzi trying to fire a crossbow from that pose and falling on his butt. Wouldn’t someone just say then that the video doesn’t prove anything and we would need a film of a young female martial artist attempting this to prove its impracticality?

    They might, but at least they’d be on the defensive. Such a video WOULD demonstrate the core problem with the pose – ie the infirm balance coupled with recoil = bad idea. So now the onus is on the non-believer to provide evidence that, while a middle aged man can’t pull that shot off, a young, athletic woman could. These pictures actually argue FOR the opposition by not getting to the crux of the problem.

  58. Jim wins on accuracy of pose reproduction, and on dedication for shaving. I think Scalzi knew that, and that’s why he decided to go with the wig and crazed expression.

    Mrs-es. Hines and Scalzi are also to be commended.

  59. Maybe we’ll end up with guys on covers posed in torturous poses instead. That might be an interesting new art form.

    Jim’s forray into this realm seems to suggest that this already happens to a degree, though the men’s poses are considerably less torturous. Fantasy covers featuring men also tend to be ridiculous. The weapons tend to be far too big and heavy, and the poses tend to be way overextended, and off balance for fighting.

    If you sexualize men’s poses for the purpose of selling books you don’t end up with cheesecake poses. If you produce book covers with men in bomber nose art poses; will any prospective buyer, male or female see that as sexy?

  60. Not going to look. It’s right before Christmas. Maybe in 2013, if the UN doesn’t take it down.

  61. There’s only one R in ‘tortuous’ (it means extremely twisty, not “as if being tortured,” though the relationship is obvious). This surprises most people, like the fact that there’s no N in ‘restaurateur’ (which surprised me when someone pointed it out).

  62. David, this was your statement that I was addressing:

    But that doesn’t mean that the woman on the cover couldn’t or wouldn’t reasonably assume that pose in the process of kicking the ass of whatever it is that she’s kicking the ass of. I’m not saying she WOULD assume that pose, but 2 middle aged guys successfully assuming said pose only goes to prove that it’s possible that a nimble 20 something coed MIGHT do it.

    I…really don’t see how that follows, actually. Are you saying that fantasy cover artists really and truly think these poses might be realistic? If so, they must’ve flunked their life drawing classes.

    The point here is that poses like these are ridiculous for anyone, male or female. But audiences are so used to seeing the women specifically drawn this way that having men try to replicate them just highlights how incredibly ridiculous they are. See also: the Hawkeye Project.

    Htom (I think), interesting point about the tai chi. My own tai chi experience was one semester of college close to twenty years ago, so I don’t think we ever assayed anything that ambitious (I think I got as far as completing the Yang short form, and don’t even remember that now). The weight-shifting move you describe to come out of that stance is about the only way I can imagine doing it that wouldn’t dislocate a hip…

  63. Gahhh! I’m blind!!!
    Wait…Stross Rothfuss, and Kowal?
    Gahhh! I can see again!

    Okay, for technical skill, I agree with Xopher, Jim’s pose is pro. But I voted for the wig and unsettling smirk, I did. John Scalzi for America’s next top genderbent† cover model!

    † Bent in other ways too. *wiggles unibrow‡*

    ‡ Just kidding, I pluck.

  64. Man, haven’t any of y’all seen a hairy Italian dude before? Srsly.

    /is also a hairy Italian dude.

  65. I’m wondering if the “sexy men” alternative to the “sexy women” covers sells any better, mostly because either sort of cover would make me reluctant to buy a physical copy of a book. If I was very interested in the title, I’d get an electronic copy instead. If there wasn’t one or if I was just browsing for something new to read in a store, I’d move on to another title.

    But perhaps there’s a demand for cheesecake covers by female readers that I hadn’t been aware of prior to this?

  66. I’m going to have to vote twice (there are no rules against stuffing the ballot box) Because while Jim nailed the pose (and thereby won the pose-off on technical merit) You, John, won my vote for Cracktasticly Funny Costuming as well as Showing Your Inner Maniac To His Best Advantage.

  67. John, your expression is priceless! I had to vote for you. And I agree that it’s funnier with hairy legs, a la the noble Klinger.

  68. eselle28:

    But perhaps there’s a demand for cheesecake covers by female readers that I hadn’t been aware of prior to this?

    Do they still sell cheesy romance novels in drugstores? I remember seeing some whoppers back in the day (mostly featuring Fabio, who later went on to write romance novels apparently–so sayeth Wikipedia at least), but I haven’t really looked recently. What I recall mostly was that the poses weren’t quite as wacky, but the physiques portrayed were…improbable, shall we say. The guys I train with are fit, but none of them have necks as wide as their heads.

  69. I, at least, don’t think any of the poses are “sexy”. Some of them are martial. (I suppose some could be both, but that’s neither here nor there.) In most real martial arts, you are in constant motion (the image for Queen of Wands being an excellent example, capturing her motion. Yoga has static poses; taiji has positions you move through, sometimes marking the position by sinking a fraction in the continuation to the next position. In class, and when doing forms practice, you move very slowly (for several reasons) but you are static only if you’re being corrected.

    You sink to lower your center of gravity, and to become a smaller target. This makes it harder for your opponent to do things to you. You would not sink into Snake Creeps Down as an ideal posture for firing a weapon … but you might well do so to shoot under an obstacle, leaning forward so the recoil will push you upright, or because your next move has to be to the left, or you want to take yourself under something coming at you in one of the higher planes of attack, or to confuse your opponent … live by the book, die by the book. Be unpredictable.

    It’s a cover illustration. Since when do those have much of anything to do with the contents of the book? How many covers have we complained about that the cover shows something that is just not in the book at all, none (to makeup an example) of the characters is a red head, not one! The GEM are smooth skinned, not scaled! Jill is taller than Joe, it says so! … I really do not see what is exploitative about it. The hard cover wrapper of Bernard Cornwall’s Agincourt shows a suit of armour — with a engorged nipple.

  70. I, at least, don’t think any of the poses are “sexy”. Some of them are martial… I really do not see what is exploitative about it.

    Well, that doesn’t seem to be the general consensus. As Hines pointed out in his original post:

    To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with being sexual. I can totally see Snow from the princess books flaunting her stuff, for example. But posing like these characters drives home exactly what’s being emphasized and what’s not.

    My sense is that most of these covers are supposed to convey strong, sexy heroines, but these are not poses that suggest strength. You can’t fight from these stances. I could barely even walk.

    FWIW my female friends who have taken yoga and/or martial arts unanimously agree that poses like this are entirely ornamental and very rarely functional.

  71. Oh, and here’s another post from Hines on the subject of how men are portrayed versus women:

    Men on book covers are indeed posed shirtless in ways that show off their musculature. However…
    Male poses do not generally emphasize sexuality at the expense of all other considerations.
    Male poses do emphasize the character’s power and strength in a way many (most?) female cover poses don’t.
    When posed with a woman, the man will usually be in the dominant, more powerful posture.
    Male poses do not generally require a visit to the chiropractor afterward.
    See also ocelott’s post comparing male and female poses. She comes to pretty much the same conclusions as I did.
    So are men objectified and sexualized on book covers? Sometimes, sure … but not in the same way, and not, I think, to the same extent. I’ll admit that going through these poses made me feel like I should spend the rest of the day doing push-ups and sit-ups. But overall, to suggest that the posing of men on covers is anywhere near as problematic as the posing of women seems, well, ignorant and wrong.

  72. We can sit here all day and all night arguing over who has the better pose. Frankly, I think this should be decided by the model used for the original cover. That serves several purposes. One, it will give her better exposure than what she received with this cover. Two, hey, she’s the original and she can decide better than anyone whether John’s or Jim’s pose replication matches her own. Three, she’ll provide yet another voice on whether she believes this is a practical set-up for firing a crossbow in anger.
    Now pardon me while I go find a rusty spork with which to gouge out the optical centers of my brain, and hopefully my memory.

  73. I thought these shots were great — was very impressed by both entries. Had a difficult time voting. I thought the pose looked torturous (related to torture, torturelicious, ankle-torturing, etc.) but not particularly tortuous (not very twisty or repetitively turn-y or bendy).

  74. For the record, I spent 10 years training in the martial arts (jujitsu). These poses are ridiculous contortions of MA stances, AT BEST (most have nothing whatsoever to do with MAs), and completely impractical for legitimate combat. So, apologists, find another counter argument. :)

  75. Reblogged this on novelly derivative and commented:
    Writers are the voice of collective subconscious, the embodiment of the vox populi if you will. As such they should be treated with the utmost respect. So when you click through to this link (because it will make your life better), and see two full-grown men posing like a the heroine of an urban fantasy novel, make sure you ridicule them RESPECTFULLY.

  76. So . . . for how long did you hold that pose? Because I want to see you both get into your poses and demonstrate who can hold them longest. Jim admits that he kept falling over between shots.

  77. welltemperedwriter:

    There are still a few of those, but I think it’s mostly to appeal to older fans who have been reading books with that sort of artwork for years and might be confused at drastic changes. Most romances I see these days actually seem to have rather plain covers that often don’t have people on them and rely more on color and some sort of symbolic imagery. It certainly makes them easier to read on the bus or keep on a bookshelf with other genres of fiction.

  78. David Stigant: “I came here to argue that the pictures don’t prove otherwise.”

    The point of the pose off wasn’t whether the poses are practical or not (although they aren’t.) It was that women figures are regularly shown in ridiculous, stretchy poses that emphasize their butts, breasts and legs, usually with a lot of flesh showing, and men are, even with their shirts off, not posed in ridiculous stretchy poses. It’s a basic bias to do it to female figures because women’s bodies are always evaluated as sexual objects, while men’s bodies may or may not be. Which is what Hines and Scalzi are making fun of, for charity. These poses aren’t tai chi or yoga or martial arts poses. They’re porn photo poses, occasionally with weapons for a nice S&M kick. The other two poses that Scalzi had to choose from for this pose off were a woman standing with weapons (back arched unnaturally to display breasts and buttocks,) and a woman kneeling with a weapon (positioned awkwardly to show off breasts, hips and spread legs.) We voted for this one because it was the physically hardest and most unnatural of the three, and therefore would be the funniest having them do. So let’s not pretend this is about martial arts techniques and stretching abilities. These book covers are art, it is an art form, but because it is an art form, we can also critique it, discuss its cultural meanings re women as sex objects and make fun of it by having middle aged guys replicate it for charity.

    Mike: “If you produce book covers with men in bomber nose art poses; will any prospective buyer, male or female see that as sexy?”

    I didn’t say that they’d be sexy; I said it would be an interesting art form, and it would. Scalzi and Hines’ photos are an art form and an interesting one. It would be interesting to see them do things like were done for the Hawkeye Initiative for book covers as an art approach. But that doesn’t actually preclude such pictures from also being sexy. Jim actually looked darn cute and Scalzi did manage to rock the wig.

    htom: “I really do not see what is exploitative about it.”

    Yes, it’s very normal to see a female body bent into a pretzel for advertising photos, book covers, etc. 24 hours a day. That doesn’t mean that it isn’t exploitative and that we can’t make fun of it and discuss the obsession in our culture with putting women in porn poses that twist their bodies like pretzels as an image to sell things. It’s an art form but it’s also a cultural bias and as such we can talk about it, critique it and satirize it, which is another art form.

    Gary: “Frankly, I think this should be decided by the model used for the original cover. ”

    There wasn’t necessarily a model used to do the picture. In fact, it’s highly likely that there was no actual person doing the original pose. There’s this thing called computer graphics, you see, with designed models whole or in parts built of code which can be manipulated and stock photo which can be manipulated, and which can be combined with painting, and it’s a lot cheaper than models.

  79. Kat — I suppose it’s really one of those “normal is what I see every day” things. I see people doing Snake Creeps Down (and most of them do it better than I do) most days and I practice doing it daily; I suspect that you (and the others) mostly don’t. I see a representation of a martial art (as done by someone learning it), you see whatever you see. Probably part of why I don’t see it as sexy — and it’s not this particular image, there are a lot of them, I agree, and I don’t seem to see any of them as “sexy”, which (having just looked at about a hundred book covers, none of which I’d classify as sexy, although they have the female form) seems to need to invoke a “come here and …” which these don’t. I thought that maybe the Anne Aguirre or Devon Monk covers, but no, pensive or puzzled or determined, not “sexy”. Perhaps a bad sample of covers on my part.

    John — probably time to change to intermittent heating, if you’re not better.

  80. I have yet to click through to Hines’ blog (well, I have, but I have yet to look– I have been told I have some rum waiting for me first), but I have to say, I think the cover of this book has been misunderstood. CLEARLY the woman on the cover had a chair pulled out from under her while she was sitting, holding out a crossbow, and she is (impressively quickly! I might add) regaining her balance while a disembodied, giant Barbie leg nuzzles at her ankles. Really, the question is not her pose but why a levitating leg was written into the story.

  81. David Stigant: ‘possible’ =/= ‘practical’. What Jim Hines and John Scalzi have shown here is that, while it is almost possible for them to contort themselves into replicating such a needlessly tortuous pose, it is also distinctly impractical to do so.

  82. Oh, man. I am crying with laughter. Is it weird that I now want to write a sexy hero who for some story reason at some point has to get into a blonde wig and thigh-slit black dress? Yeah, probably. (And what’s wrong with hairy? My beloved is hairy. Hairy men are cuddly. Though possibly not when wearing lbds and carrying crossbows).

  83. Speaking as someone who has lived rough in the Congo, worked on the West Bank, and nearly drowned in a manure pit in Illinois… this pose-off may be the single most frightening thing I’ve ever encountered.

  84. Sorry, but if you want to compete you need to ape the posture a little more closely. For instance, your right foot is outside of the line from hip to ground. Your hips are facing forward instead of rotated to face to your left (part of why you have your CG too far to the left) and as a result your left leg is sloped too steeply down.

    Hines doesn’t have your figure, but he does have the pose down.

    Best wishes for the next match.

  85. I suppose it’s really one of those “normal is what I see every day” things. I see people doing Snake Creeps Down (and most of them do it better than I do) most days and I practice doing it daily; I suspect that you (and the others) mostly don’t. I see a representation of a martial art (as done by someone learning it), you see whatever you see.

    Most of the Snake Creeps Down poses don’t look like the one in this post, and none of them involve wearing slit dresses and high heels. There is also no mention of it as a pose that enhances the use of a crossbow as it is being portrayed in the cover.

    Probably part of why I don’t see it as sexy — and it’s not this particular image, there are a lot of them, I agree, and I don’t seem to see any of them as “sexy”, which (having just looked at about a hundred book covers, none of which I’d classify as sexy, although they have the female form) seems to need to invoke a “come here and …” which these don’t. I thought that maybe the Anne Aguirre or Devon Monk covers, but no, pensive or puzzled or determined, not “sexy”. Perhaps a bad sample of covers on my part.

    I’m going to chalk this up as a personal thing, because if you’d read the several posts that Hines has out up on this subject, only a small portion are related to martial arts poses, and he makes the point several times that men and women are treated differently in their portrayals on book covers. He also points out that women find the poses to be about as difficult to portray or maintain as it is for him, and that they’re usually not in the service of being workable offensive or defensive positions.

  86. Cory:

    How about when they’re not supposed to be ninja?

    The fact that you have to go all the way to “ninja” to find men posing in a manner that book covers commonly picture women should be instructive.

    Also, it doesn’t appear as if your examples are book covers.

  87. Are we getting into another Flying Snowman situation? We can accept she’s fighting the forces of Light or Dark in Las Vegas with a crossbow*, but have problems with a sexist cover pose and a poor choice of battledress?

    * Unless she’s fighting rakshasa, I can’t think of why she’d want a crossbow.

  88. MANOSPHERE, DAY 22:

    OH MY GOD THEY MADE ME POSE WITH THE CROSSBOW I CAN’T I CAN’T I CAN’T

    …just a little callback for ya. And kudos to you and Jim for being willing to go that far out of your comfort zones. Not to mention ours.

  89. htom: “normal is what I see every day”

    You see men and women doing martial arts poses every day, but on SFF book covers, you only see women doing those poses, not the men. And further, you see women doing poses like that, without the crossbow, in ads to sell handbags and perfume every day as well. The point of the pose is not the martial art — that’s the prop — it’s to show off the woman’s leg, spread legs and breasts in what is deemed a sexy warrior pose, this one very much in the comics style. As numerous people here have explained, there’s no reason for the woman to be in that position in trying to effectively use a crossbow. The point of the picture is to show off the body, not the weapon, in the same way that having a woman in a bikini shoot a machine gun makes her breasts jiggle. You may not find that sexy. Studies have shown that having scantily clad models in beer and liquor commercials don’t actually sell more beer and liquor. But we have a cultural tradition (and it is art,) of portraying women that way. And the pose off plays with the cultural view that we have and which we see every day.

    Jack Lint: “have problems with a sexist cover pose and a poor choice of battledress?”

    Nice deflection! It’s not exactly having problems with it, but if we do, maybe you want to look at why you and some others have such a problem with us having a problem with or even talking about and making fun of sexist cover poses? I’ve got old Vertigo titles and others in my comics collection that have depictions of naked men and women having sex in them. With blood dripping off them even. While they are flying improbably. Compared to those, the book covers are relatively tame. And again, they’re art. And again, we’re certainly used to women being posed in ways that show off their body parts to be sexy and sexy dangerous. Marketing people are obsessed with it. But the cover poses they are putting women into for book covers and comic covers are getting increasingly weird and silly (although it may be leveling off now.) It’s an interesting trend in art, but it’s also a trend that we can satirize, point out and talk about in terms of the history of the fetishing of the female form.

    As for the particular book, the heroine is a casino heiress, htom, not a martial artist. But she also learns in the series that she is a superhero of the “Light” in a magic system based on the Zodiac. She’s Joanna Archer, and she’s The Archer, representing Sagittarius. Get it, Jack? Archer, magical crossbow, fighting shadow magic creatures. As the archer, it’s illogical for her to be in that stance to use the crossbow. But Petterson gets those kinds of covers, like a lot of authors with female protagonists do. And it’s fun but it’s also funny. And when you have the guys replicating it, it’s even funnier.

  90. Kat, if you’ll notice my first comment on this post, you’ll see it’s a simple WWHD? which is a reference to the Hawkeye Initiative. So it’s not that I’m not saying it’s a silly, sexist pose. What I am saying is that it’s silly to discuss whether it’s a realistic position to be in when we can accept magic crossbows and Las Vegas to be a battleground for Light and Dark when we all know Dark has controlled Las Vegas since the 40s.

    (Frankly, if she’s an archer she’d be better off with a magic long bow, but that’s another matter.)

    As for bad covers, find me one author without some publishing muscle who hasn’t had a least one stupid cover. Sexist covers are just an extra special niche of stupid covers.

  91. I would just like to say that John Scalzi and Jim Hines are my two favorite people on the internetz for doing this. I haven’t laughed like that in aaaaaages. Thank you, good sirs, for providing the lolz and for doing so to raise awareness for a charity. <3

  92. As for bad covers, find me one author without some publishing muscle who hasn’t had a least one stupid cover. Sexist covers are just an extra special niche of stupid covers.

    That’s an even sillier comment. Women characters get these sexist covers far, far far more than once or twice. Why should people put up with continual stupidity like that.

  93. @Jack Lint
    I could go to my bookshelf right now and grab a dozen books, and suspend disbelief for werewolves, magic weapons, secret history, mad science, wish-fulfillment characters, and being able to find a dress that fits off the rack and has a pocket. Out of those dozen books, way too many of them would have silly, sexist cover art. That’s why this is important to discuss — because no matter what the fun subject matter is, the packaging is dishearteningly similar. It isn’t a problem with this book, it’s a problem with the trend.

  94. Kat Goodwin:
    >>
    The point of the pose off wasn’t whether the poses are practical or not (although they aren’t.) It was that women figures are regularly shown in ridiculous, stretchy poses that emphasize their butts, breasts and legs, usually with a lot of flesh showing, and men are, even with their shirts off, not posed in ridiculous stretchy poses.
    <> I…really don’t see how that follows, actually. Are you saying that fantasy cover artists really and truly think these poses might be realistic? If so, they must’ve flunked their life drawing classes.
    <<

    See, I would have said that two days ago as well. That left leg just looks impossible. But having seen these photos (demonstrating that it's NOT), I guess it's you and I who flunked our life drawing classes, not the cover artist.

  95. Hmmm, my last post got eaten:

    Kat Goodwin:
    The point of the pose off wasn’t whether the poses are practical or not (although they aren’t.) It was that women figures are regularly shown in ridiculous, stretchy poses that emphasize their butts, breasts and legs, usually with a lot of flesh showing, and men are, even with their shirts off, not posed in ridiculous stretchy poses.

    Yes, but in order to make that point, the pose in question has to be impractical. You can’t complain that women are objectified just because they appear on novel covers. Your complaint has two parts:
    1. Women are posed in sexually suggestive poses that
    2. have absolutely no purpose other than to be sexually suggestive.

    If the pose is practical, you can’t say that she’s in that pose ONLY to be sexually suggestive. If the pose is practical then she might be in that pose because she has to be in order to kick ass, not because the people watching her kick ass will be turned on.

    The second point has (at least) two aspects to it:
    2a. Is it POSSIBLE to assume that pose?
    2b. Is it PRACTICAL to use that pose (eg, could you reasonable fire a weapon or otherwise engage in combat?)

    Now:
    1. Is the woman in question in a sexy/sexually suggestive pose? As a straight male, I am fully qualified to say YES (though, obviously there’s room for discussion, YMMV).

    2. Is the pose impractical, and therefore exists only to titillate? YES (show your work)
    2a. Two days ago I was pretty convinced that no normal person could POSSIBLY assume that pose, rendering 2b moot, but:
    2b. Even if you did assume that pose, you wouldn’t be able to fire the crossbow without falling over from the recoil.

    Did I come to the answer to the second question only after looking at two middle aged men reproduce the pose? NO! In fact, quite the opposite. I’m less convinced that the pose is impractical AFTER seeing two middle aged men successfully assume the pose because the photos have now changed my answer to 2a:
    2a. Well, I guess you could POSSIBLY assume that pose, but
    2b. I still don’t think you reasonably would be able to fire the crossbow.

    The problem is that now, I need to see 2b to be convinced… there seem to be differences of opinion about the recoil question, so an empirical test is needed.*

    * Not for me, mind you, I’m still firmly in the impractical camp on this one. My point (as ever) is that the photos don’t make your point about the objectification of women, they weaken your position.

    welltemperedwriter:
    I…really don’t see how that follows, actually. Are you saying that fantasy cover artists really and truly think these poses might be realistic? If so, they must’ve flunked their life drawing classes.

    See, I would have said that two days ago as well. That left leg just looks impossible. But having seen these photos (demonstrating that it’s NOT), I guess it’s you and I who flunked our life drawing classes, not the cover artist.

  96. I, at least, don’t think any of the poses are “sexy”. Some of them are martial.

    You and I are doing way different martial arts then, dude.

  97. Jack Lint: “What I am saying is that it’s silly to discuss whether it’s a realistic position to be in when we can accept magic crossbows and Las Vegas to be a battleground for Light and Dark when we all know Dark has controlled Las Vegas since the 40s.”

    What you’re saying is that you feel it’s silly to discuss fantasy book cover art. I, however, don’t think it’s silly to discuss styles and trends of art, and the cultural aspects of that art. That’s kind of what art is for. More to the point, these sorts of poses of women, again, are used, minus the weapons, for other things like non-fantasy selling of clothes, cosmetics, cars, liquor, etc. and are used on SF covers, mystery covers and many non-fantasy novels. So the fact that it is a fantasy novel is largely non-important for what’s actually being looked at, excepting that it’s very common for fantasy novels to have this sort of cover. What’s really interesting about these cover treatments is that they reflect the development and success of having female protagonists in SFF, including especially in hard-boiled suspense fantasy, but grudgingly, under the belief that you have to sexualize it in hopes of getting men to read a book about a female protagonist and use an image that signals erotic material in the book, regardless of the actual erotic content in the book. In a large sense, we’re seeing a transitional stage going on of social beliefs about how women should be allowed to participate. But that’s a little too sociological an aspect of the pose off — let’s just go back to declaring it all so silly to make fun of sexist poses when it’s a fantasy story. Jim, John, you wasted your time, you silly boys! Pretzel poses for women is just part of the fantasy! :)

    (I’m hoping it’s okay if I do two posts here, as Stigant gave me a big one to respond to.)

  98. See, I would have said that two days ago as well. That left leg just looks impossible. But having seen these photos (demonstrating that it’s NOT), I guess it’s you and I who flunked our life drawing classes, not the cover artist.

    “Physically possible to achieve” does not, in my book, equal “realistic”. Which really is sort of the point here: while someone can physically do this, as we’ve seen, there’s no practical reason they’d want to when there are much better, more useful postures to adopt for the purpose of shooting a weapon. The point is that the pose looks ridiculous, and I think John and Jim demonstrated that pretty handily. YMMV.

    In conclusion, I find your definition of “practical” to be deeply weird and, well, impractical.

  99. Yes, but in order to make that point, the pose in question has to be impractical. You can’t complain that women are objectified just because they appear on novel covers. Your complaint has two parts:
    1. Women are posed in sexually suggestive poses that
    2. have absolutely no purpose other than to be sexually suggestive.

    Um, no. Absolutely no purpose? Not a single person has said that. The point is that women are posed in sexually suggestive poses which are a) impractical (and painful!), and b) are NOT seen in men posed on covers. Ever. When was the last time you saw a man on cover art nearly breaking his back to give you a butt-and-breasts view? If you see a sexually suggestive man on a cover, he’s almost always standing flat-footed and square.

    The cover art pose may have other purposes as well: to show off a costume mentioned in the book, for instance, which is why your absolute “no other purpose” is silly. But stop and look at “sexy man” and “sexy woman” covers, and you’ll see a major difference in the way they’re posed. Nobody’s complaining that women are objectified BECAUSE they appear on book covers. We’re complaining that so very many of the book covers that show women protagonists have made the choice to objectify them.

  100. >> while someone can physically do this, as we’ve seen, there’s no practical reason they’d want to when there are much better, more useful postures to adopt for the purpose of shooting a weapon.

    Well, I guess ultimately, what I’m saying is that we haven’t SEEN that there’s no practical reason for the pose. What we’ve SEEN is that the pose is possible. Which doesn’t say one way or the other whether it’s practical. We’ve TALKED an awful lot about the practicality. But people had talked an awful lot about the impossibility/impracticality of the poses before Jim started his project, and none of that seems to have convinced anybody (who wasn’t already convinced) that these poses are silly. Hence the photo project. A picture is worth a thousand words. Unfortunately, none of those words support our argument.. The only difference now, after the photo project, is that we KNOW the poses are possible (whereas before, a lot of us doubted that). We continue to doubt that the poses are practical, but that’s just more talk. Does the photo project make the situation better for “our side”? I don’t think it does. (mind you, I don’t think it does any real harm to “our side” either).

  101. >> The point is that women are posed in sexually suggestive poses which are a) impractical (and painful!), and b) are NOT seen in men posed on covers.

    I think b is a red herring. If men WERE posed like the women on covers, would we not be arguing that NOBODY should be objectified in that way?

    So, to A. – the pose has to be impractical, like I said. If the woman is standing flatfooted and she’s still sexually alluring, you can’t complain, right? She’s fighting, not seducing. So the crux of the situation is that the pose has to be impractical. Because if that non-male pose happens to be practical, then you can’t complain about the woman being depicted in it. She’s working rather than seducing. If you DO complain about a pose that’s practical, its because YOU’RE reading too much into the intent of the artist/model, not because the woman is being objectified.

    So, do the photo’s show that the pose is practical or impractical? No, but they DO show that it’s possible which in turn suggests that it might be practical whereas before, we didn’t think it was practical because we didn’t even think it was possible.

  102. Hmm, both guys did a better job at achieving that awkward leg position than I thought they would. I think Jim’s picture got slightly closer to the leg-is-detached-from-the-body effect of the original–though his hips are directly underneath his body, as opposed to being on the opposite side of the body, as in the original. Of course, the original was physically impossible, so what Jim did is probably as close as an unmutilated human can come. On the other hand, John’s picture was way scarier, and John wasn’t responsible for the photographer using a slightly rotated angle, so I can’t fault him for that.

    I honestly can’t decide. Both pics are great, in a shuddery, make-me-wish-for-eye-bleach sort of way. Kudos. :)

  103. And now that I’ve read some of the other comments, I’m amazed at the number of people who seem to think these pictures prove that the original was possible. You obviously haven’t looked very closely at the top of the leg, where it attaches to her body. Neither of the photos achieved that effect, because it would require a second joint in the mid-thigh, and an extra 15 cm or so of leg on that side!

    The grotesque (and much more obvious) twisting of the leg has been proved possible, I admit, but that’s not the part I really doubted.

  104. David Stigant: “Yes, but in order to make that point, the pose in question has to be impractical.”

    No, you don’t. In order to deal with the argument that you’re making up, you would. But to discuss this style of art, which is what we’re actually doing, the pose does not have to be entirely impractical. It usually is, though.

    “You can’t complain that women are objectified just because they appear on novel covers.”

    Lucky then that I never made such a complaint, nor did Jim and John. We talked about women being posed in a particular way, frequently on the book covers, and that men are not posed in those ways, and that the positions are usually unnatural, overemphasized and odd to emphasize physical features of the woman to attract men sexually with the image. It’s called hypersexualization. It’s a group of different styles of art that have little to do with practicality of book plot as their goal.

    “1. Women are posed in sexually suggestive poses”

    No, there are many sexually suggestive poses women can be posed in and men too. It’s not simply sexual suggestion, which is fairly easy to do. It’s specific kinds of poses that female figures are put into that men are not on these covers, a style that involves hyperextension, pretzel positions, odd angles, and use of color and light to emphasize female body parts. So you’re making an argument that no one is actually making here.

    “2. have absolutely no purpose other than to be sexually suggestive.”

    The style is meant to be a hyper sexual image, yes. The woman having a crossbow can have another purpose relative to the book’s plot. The particular position picked to put her in with the crossbow does not. You are desperately running around trying to come up with a purpose for that particular position besides the hypersexualized art style, but you don’t seem to have one yet except that if it is possible for a human body to get into an approximation of the pose, then we must prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that there can be no practical purpose for the pose ever or we cannot declare the cover to be a hyper-sexualized image of women frequently chosen with the goal to lure male eyes to the image. Which we don’t actually have to do when we’re discussing a type of art that is highly sexualized, exaggerates and emphasizes female sex characteristics and uses odd body poses for females but not males that is used repeatedly on SFF covers, as well as for other things such as comics.

    The hyper styles are a common tradition which any art student can explain to you how they are drawn to emphasize breasts and butts. The poses are not always acrobatic. It can be a woman standing but in an awkward unnatural way with head back, back arched, from the half-side view to emphasize both butt and breasts at the same time. One of the pose off choices was such a pose. Women don’t stand like that in real life (and it will hurt your back,) but in the hyper-sexualized art styles they do, in order to emphasize female sex characteristics. Men are not posed in those ways, in crouching awkwardly with the crossbow, on these covers. The selection to put women in those poses on book covers, frequently, and not the men, is a choice to present a hyper-sexualized image of a female to attract male eyes. Which for this one just happens to include a crossbow. It could also be a knife or no weapons, as the one leg spread out crouch has been used in quite a number of SFF covers for women.

    What you’re trying to argue is that maybe the cover artist is not using pulp and comic styles and is actually a martial artist expert, and the cover artist read the whole book and found this one scene where the exact position was described, or knows crossbow martial arts poses so well that he or she decided to put the woman in that frequently artist-chosen but martial artist snickered over pose to emphasize the ballet of martial arts and not her crotch, although men never get put in that pose even when using a crossbow. And as long as that is the faintest of possibilities for this one cover, we can’t talk about and satirize the dozens of hyper-sexualized pretzel poses and back archings of females on these book covers as being purely about sexualization. Which is bull hockey.

    The photos of the guys do an excellent job of showing that the particular pose works great to show off a woman’s crotch, legs and breasts in a hyper exaggerated way — right before the woman can’t get up and is killed — but doesn’t do so with men, so the women figures get put in those poses to show off those things while the men don’t, because what would be the point. Just because you can get into a pose and fire a weapon in it doesn’t mean it’s a great choice for a book cover. The choice is made to emphasize the women’s sexual body parts and it is not made with male figures thereby. It’s a style, it’s art, it’s objectifying art in a hyper extended way, and it’s interesting to look at the cultural aspects of that.

    But I tell you what, you go ahead and make a video of yourself doing the pose, firing the crossbow from it and showing how practical it is. Put it up on YouTube, I’m sure we’d all like to see it. But it doesn’t change the hundreds of book covers with women in hypersexualized, unnatural and pretzel positions that emphasize their body parts to attract the guys.

  105. C}} The point is that women are posed in sexually suggestive poses which are a) impractical (and painful!), and b) are NOT seen in men posed on covers. {{

    I think b is a red herring. If men WERE posed like the women on covers, would we not be arguing that NOBODY should be objectified in that way?

    Dingdingding! We have a winner. You’re now saying that if men were posed like the women on covers, we’d all agree that they were being objectified in a way they should not be. “we would be arguing”, not “you would be arguing”. Thus you’re conceding that women posed like that on covers are already, right now, being objectified in a way they should not be.

    So if you agree with that, why are you arguing against it?

  106. To clarify, I was pointing out that David said “we would be arguing that”, which includes himself in the ones making the argument. The obvious conclusion from David’s words is that he has no problem with women being shown in weird, back-breaking and/or anatomically difficult/impossible poses so as to objectify them; only with men being shown in weird, back-breaking and/or anatomically difficult/impossible poses so as to objectify them.

  107. >> Lucky then that I never made such a complaint, nor did Jim and John. We talked about women being posed in a particular way, frequently on the book covers, and that men are not posed in those ways, and that the positions are usually unnatural, overemphasized and odd to emphasize physical features of the woman to attract men sexually with the image. It’s called hypersexualization. It’s a group of different styles of art that have little to do with practicality of book plot as their goal.

    The hyper styles are a common tradition which any art student can explain to you how they are drawn to emphasize breasts and butts. The poses are not always acrobatic. It can be a woman standing but in an awkward unnatural way with head back, back arched, from the half-side view to emphasize both butt and breasts at the same time. One of the pose off choices was such a pose. Women don’t stand like that in real life (and it will hurt your back,) but in the hyper-sexualized art styles they do, in order to emphasize female sex characteristics. Men are not posed in those ways, in crouching awkwardly with the crossbow, on these covers. The selection to put women in those poses on book covers, frequently, and not the men, is a choice to present a hyper-sexualized image of a female to attract male eyes.

    etc

    You may say that’s not a complaint. But it sounds like one to me. I may be guilty of reading something into it. But if you aren’t upset about the objectification of women in these pictures, why, exactly are you so upset that I seem to be suggesting that these poses ARE practical? (I’m not suggesting that, by the way).

    >> What you’re trying to argue is that maybe the cover artist is not using pulp and comic styles and is actually a martial artist expert

    I am not, have not, and will not ever argue that. I am, have been, and continue to argue that the male photos do not contradict this assertion. The assertion is demonstrably false for other reasons, just not the satirical photos.

    >> And as long as that is the faintest of possibilities for this one cover, we can’t talk about and satirize the dozens of hyper-sexualized pretzel poses and back archings of females on these book covers as being purely about sexualization. Which is bull hockey.

    I haven’t ever said that, or even implied that. You don’t need my permission, but please, talk all you want about hypersexualization, objectification etc. Make all the satirical pictures you like. They won’t help you make your point (but they will make me laugh, though not because they are fighting hypersexualizationa and objectification of women). But, by all means make them. Raise lots of money for charities.

    >> The photos of the guys do an excellent job of showing that the particular pose works great to show off a woman’s crotch, legs and breasts in a hyper exaggerated way — right before the woman can’t get up and is killed — but doesn’t do so with men, so the women figures get put in those poses to show off those things while the men don’t, because what would be the point.

    But if there’s a physiological reason (there ISN’T – I’m not saying there is) that women can achieve and use these poses when men can’t, then your argument doesn’t hold water. But again, I don’t think the satirical photos contradict the existence of this physiological difference, and therefor don’t score any points against hypersexualization (though YOU of course are not trying to score those points, all evidence to the contrary).

    >> But I tell you what, you go ahead and make a video of yourself doing the pose, firing the crossbow from it and showing how practical it is. Put it up on YouTube, I’m sure we’d all like to see it.

    I don’t own a crossbow, nor do I have the cultural cache. But as I noted above, I expect such a video would in fact show how impractical the pose is, not how practical it is. Whereas the photos under discussion do the opposite.

  108. >> Thus you’re conceding that women posed like that on covers are already, right now, being objectified in a way they should not be.
    So if you agree with that, why are you arguing against it?

    I’m not, nor have I been.

    Here, I’ll shout it from the mountain top:
    WOMEN ARE UNNECESSARILY SEXUALIZED AND OBJECTIFIED FOR THE PURPOSES OF SELLING SFF BOOKS, AND WE SHOULD DO EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER TO END THIS VILE VILE PRACTICE!

    But, in my opinion, for the reasons I’ve stated, the satirical photos posted, though amusing for other reasons, do nothing towards that end.

  109. >> To clarify, I was pointing out that David said “we would be arguing that”, which includes himself in the ones making the argument.

    I would be making the argument that neither men nor women should be put into poses to sell books. I also agree with, though I’m not actively arguing (for or against) the proposition that women shouldn’t be put into these poses (regardless of whether men are put in the poses).

    What I’m arguing is that if you want to prove that women shouldn’t be put into those poses (under whatever conditions), then these satirical photos are lending credence to the other side of the argument. (Which is NOT the side I’m on).

  110. For someone who agrees, in upper-case yet, that women are being unnecessarily sexualized and objectified on book covers, you sure did spend an awful lot of effort, words, and posts making excuses for a cover pose which, to the rest of us, looked, what’s the phrase? Ah yes: unnecessarily sexualized and objectified. To the extent of trying to suggest that we prove to you that there was “no rational reason for the pose”. Because, apparently, if there was some, however weak, rational reason for a pose, that removes all possible hint of sexualization and objectivisation from it.
    And as for your claim that these poses, and Jim’s prior poses, “do nothing towards [the] end” of fighting objectivisation? They’ve certainly raised my awareness of the problem, and I would be vastly surprised if they hadn’t raised others’. Perhaps even including art departments of publishers.

  111. I’m not a biologist, but I’m pretty sure that exposed left leg doesn’t actually attach anywhere, except maybe to her left knee that’s still under her dress.

    It looks like its just floating. Follow the thigh bone and it doesn’t end at her hip socket, it ends at her left knee.

    So, no, the pose doesn’t look realistic. It looks like someone in the cover department got a cover image of a woman in a black dress, and the person said to themselves, ya know what this needs? A bare leg. I can probably do that with photoshop. And now the poor woman has a multi-articulated leg.

    Oh well.

  112. David Stigant: “But if you aren’t upset about the objectification of women in these pictures, why, exactly are you so upset that I seem to be suggesting that these poses ARE practical? (I’m not suggesting that, by the way).”

    This is fun. Why would I be upset about something you’re not actually doing?

    “I am, have been, and continue to argue that the male photos do not contradict this assertion. The assertion is demonstrably false for other reasons, just not the satirical photos.”

    The only one who actually thinks the possibility of the assertion is important to the subject of discussion seems to be you. Again, hypersexualized art styles and physiologically impossible poses are not synonyms, though you keep insisting they are. Many of the hypersexualized poses are not physiologically impossible, but they are still hypersexualized with exaggerated female sex characteristics. You don’t have to have one to have the other, nor did anyone ever assert that it was required except for you and you seem to be arguing with yourself. But let’s go with it for the one pose: do the photos fail to prove that the pose is physiologically impossible? No, they don’t, because neither Jim nor John actually replicated the pose on the cover. (Jim got fairly close.) The pose on the cover, as numerous people in martial arts, art and art modeling have explained here and on Jim’s blog, is not physiologically possible unless a person has an extra hip joint. Similar crouching with one leg outstretched poses are physiologically possible, but there is no practical reason in evidence for choosing them for women only on the covers, as well as the ones where the body is constructed in a way that human bodies actually aren’t, as in the pose off pose. So, while it’s not really relevant to the discussion at all, your assertion about the photos is still false.

    “They won’t help you make your point (but they will make me laugh, though not because they are fighting hypersexualizationa and objectification of women). But, by all means make them. Raise lots of money for charities.”

    Since you don’t seem to understand what points I’m making, I’m not really concerned about your judgement on how well I’m making my points. What Jim and John are doing here is generating a discussion about how women are portrayed on book covers relative to men in frequently hypersexualized poses. Which you agree are hypersexualized poses. At the same time, you seem to be arguing that they aren’t and we can’t call them that. Perhaps you need to work it out with yourself.

    “But if there’s a physiological reason (there ISN’T – I’m not saying there is)”

    So you’re obsessed with something that you think is an impossibility?

    “But again, I don’t think the satirical photos contradict the existence of this physiological difference,”

    That’s not what is being satirized. But again, since that particular pose is not possible for any human to actually replicate exactly unless they had non-human special machine parts, the photos definitely serve as examples that it’s physiologically not going to work. But once again, it’s not the point of the satire. And you seem to keep saying that we must look to be sure that no evidence exists for any hypersexual pose to be of some use to a woman to attempt in an action plot in a book and thus used in a cover or we cannot say that any pose of women on covers is hypersexualized. Which is again bull hockey.

    “and therefor don’t score any points against hypersexualization”

    Again, your insistence that hypersexualization has to do with physiological possibility of poses for all women is logically incorrect. Also, you seem to be obsessed with “scoring points.” This is about discussion and awareness of how women are culturally portrayed in a particular area of art, and relative to men. In that process, Jim and John’s photos are highly effective, as already discussed.

    “Here, I’ll shout it from the mountain top:
    WOMEN ARE UNNECESSARILY SEXUALIZED AND OBJECTIFIED FOR THE PURPOSES OF SELLING SFF BOOKS, AND WE SHOULD DO EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER TO END THIS VILE VILE PRACTICE!”

    Well now you’re just trying to paint people as hysterical, extremist activists out to burn cover artists. If you do believe that women are unnecessarily sexualized and objectified for the purposes of selling SFF books, why are you trying to argue people away from talking about it? Again, you seem to be arguing with yourself. It’s not, for me, a vile practice. It’s a style of art. But it’s a stylization that is unnecessary to sell books and that reflects our cultural views and biases about the portrayal of women and men (and characters of the same.) Women can be put in action poses that may be sexy but aren’t hypersexualized and spine-twisting, as men are. But the choice is made in style to portray the women that way and so that’s something to talk about, satirize, and examine in contrast, which is what the photos do.

    “the satirical photos posted, though amusing for other reasons, do nothing towards that end.”

    The photos raise awareness and provoke discussion for many people, so they seem to be doing exactly what satire does.

    “I would be making the argument that neither men nor women should be put into poses to sell books”

    Interesting. So you’re against the tradition of using human figures at all on book covers? Only graphic objects and designs?

    “What I’m arguing is that if you want to prove that women shouldn’t be put into those poses (under whatever conditions), then these satirical photos are lending credence to the other side of the argument. ”

    I’m not on the shouldn’t side precisely (I think it would be fun to have the men in the poses on covers as an art form and I don’t think the hypersexualized styles are vile,) but I have to say you’ve made no clear argument for why the photos prove women should be put into hypersexualized poses that emphasize their butts, breasts, legs and crotches on book covers and in greater numbers than they already are. The photos provide a humorous contrast of female hypersexualized images that provokes discussion on the subject.

  113. Actually, Cory’s post about the ninjas isn’t a bad counter-example, since most of the books I’m aware of that feature female protagonists in those poses are frequently (note: books that I’m aware of, and frequently doesn’t mean “all the time”) ninja-like characters who fight evil and monsters and spies etc. with exceptional training/mystical skills. Variations on Buffy. So yes, there are men who spend a lot of time hyperextending in various poses to look cool, and yes some of those hyperextended poses are similar to examples that criticized, and intended to be exaggerated poses of physical prowess/control rather than “to show off the goods,” as it were.

    HOWEVER.

    You will note that the pictures of real ninjas don’t have them wearing high heels/strappy shoes and a little black dress. I suspect if you suggested to a ninja “hey, you should wear a little black number and heels to show off your calves” it wouldn’t go over well. I suspect if a ninja *tried* any of those poses in heels or in shoes that weren’t adequately fastened to the feet, ankles would break like dry twigs.

    Also, you’d probably never see a ninja do this, which is a variation of one of Hines’ earlier themes I believe. (Link is to a picture of Red Sonja, for those who don’t want to click). You will also never see Conan do that pose, and Red Sonja isn’t a ninja archetype. She’s “Conan, but a woman.”

  114. John: I got ninjas because I put “ninja” in the search. It was the only reliable way of making this pose come up for either men or women. I tried a search for “book cover dramatic pose” (and a few other things) and got a few maybes (all men) but none came really close. And yes, I was aware that the pics I posted weren’t covers, but I really don’t think it matters. You could use those images for a book if you wanted, but they wouldn’t become any more magically sexual. And this was a drawing before it was a book cover, if you put a print on your wall for some reason, it wouldn’t become less sexualized. But since you asked, here are some covers:

    http://www.barringtonstoke.co.uk/images/T/327921.jpg
    http://www.hallofbooks.com/shop_image/product/121299.jpg
    http://d1466nnw0ex81e.cloudfront.net/n_iv/600/969701.jpg
    (this is a comic book based on the movie)

    Also, I’m going to repost something I linked earlier and quote from it, because I think it is interesting and relevant. Keep in mind it is not a response to this post, it was written a few years ago:
    http://blog.americanpeyote.com/2009/05/17/urban-ninja-dramatic-pose-tutorial/

    “The dramatic pose has evolved and reached a pinnacle of artistic expression in comic books and graphic novels. In these static mediums you have to communicate the dramatic action in just a few static frames, but give the reader a sense of danger and adrenaline. So what can a photographer learn from comics books? Many things my children; color palette, posing, attention to detail. Recently a number of graphic novels have found their way to the silver screen, among these latest attempts, Watchmen and 300 have been the best adaptations, which really capture the drama of a graphic novel in the fluid movement of a feature film. [snip]

    [picture of Leonidas from 300 movie, with lines drawn on it]

    So what do we see? We see King Leonidas of Sparta at the pinnacle of recoil, (bottom image) about to bring down a wicked spear-death on some poor Persian bastard who got send to the front-lines. Look at the lines of the body and the weapon. The line of the legs from the ground to the connection to the spear is very angular, nearly 90 degrees. Look at Stelios (top image), recoiled in a defensive position just after killing the representative of Xerxes. The line of the legs to the spear are very hard (although more difficult to see here) and prominent. Look at the geometric position of Rorschach (shown below) when he’s crouched on what’s left of the Comedian’s window. Actually, the lines are very similar to the Kanji for the Shibuya train station in Tokyo. Coincidence? Yes, of course. There is no magic formula to the Universe. There is no hard rule, but some loose patterns do seem to possibly exist.

    [picture of Rorschach from watchmen movie, with lines drawn on it]

    I interpret it this way, harder angles generally tend to communicate a sense of strength and power. If you look at a the lines of two people having sex, the lines of the bodies are all interconnected and chaotic, because that is the point of extreme vulnerability. Think of the lines of a nude image, one meant to express sensuality. The lines of the body in a traditional nude will be very subtle. What do we see from Art history? Lets consider the connection between humanity and God (or whatever the interpretation is) from Michaelangelo. God stretches out in a subtle way towards Man (feel free to interpret as Wo(man) as well). The lines are relaxed and not very hard. You get more a sense of calm (of course the lighting has an effect as well), which is far different from 300 and Watchmen. Even if a Katana were thrown into the mix between Adam and the Creator, it wouldn’t come across as a dramatic expression of rage. I’m not an Art historian or an illustrator, I’m a Doctor of Science, and these are just the patterns my mind has picked up on.

    [picture of Adam touching God from Sistine Chapel, with lines drawn on it]

    So, if you’re interested in creating a hard-dramatic image, consider the pose first. It will help define the overall tone and drama of the image. From the pose flows the intention of the subject, to love or kill, and if you form a good basis here, the resulting image will better communicate the drama and emotions you originally intended. Or, you could just put a gun in a picture and the result will likely be a generic, uninteresting image of a gun and some person.”

    Cory again. If you apply this analysis to the cover shown here, it is definitely in the realm of hard dramatic lines, not soft subtle lines. The line of her leg makes an almost 90 degree angle with her arm, and her cross bow makes another one. While I’m not sure that his analysis is entirely correct (I’m reluctant to say that different angles have universal effects, in all contexts), the fact that this pose looks so badass when you put a guy wearing sensible clothes in it makes me think it was chosen because it is dramatic and actiony, not because it is sexual. There are, of course, other things about the cover that sexualize the image.

  115. Cory:

    “And yes, I was aware that the pics I posted weren’t covers, but I really don’t think it matters.”

    Inasmuch as Jim’s entire original point with his picture series was to highlight the ridiculous unlikeliness (among other things) of women’s poses on fantasy and science fiction book covers, yes, in fact, it actually matters; indeed, it’s the actual point. If you’re going to use these pictures to make an argument, or to deny the argument someone else has made, then blithely dismissing the central aspect of these pictures is not a very good way to do it. This is especially the case because the fact of what book covers are used for is significant; that you don’t believe it is, and/or don’t know enough about the publishing industry to understand why it is significant, undermines your position.

    And yet again, you’re trying to counter a wide range of women (in various roles) contorted on book covers by offering the single counter-example of ninjas, a highly specific and contingent example. This argument is rather less persuasive than you appear to think. Also: Offering Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles as an example of the male form in these poses? Dude. Just because the Turtles are guys doesn’t mean that’s a good example (their maleness overshadowed by the fact they are turtles).

  116. If you want something approaching sexualized cover images of men, go to romance novels.

    For example.

    The man is tied up to the mast of a ship and is shirtless, a fairly submissive situation. But even then, the woman has a leg exposed and isn’t wearing any footwear.

    this example has the man shirtless and put on display in front, and the woman is fully clothed and mostly hidden behind the man. The woman seems to be more in control than the man in that one as well. She is grabbing his shirt. He has his hand brushed against her leg.

    The thing is, I don’t think the cover at the top of this thread is all that sexualized. Her leg appears to be inserted to add some sexiness, but her pose isn’t very sexual. If you want a sexualized image, you need the stock standard quantum torso twist, which shows a woman as simultaneously a pair of boobs and a piece of ass. Like this:

    http://www.igeektrooper.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/theavengersconcept1.jp

    When the same pose is shown with men, it looks like this:

    http://img.gawkerassets.com/img/17m1f6r0j7ag5jpg/xlarge.jpg.

    What this triggers is the “speedo” reaction. Women wear bikinis. Men wear board shorts. Bikinis sexualize the woman. Board shorts cover up the package and the ass, and de-emphasize the sexual part of the man, and maybe allows the focus to be on his chest, face, strength, arms, whatever.

    Get an image of a man in a speedo, and for some men it triggers a sexualization of that man-in-a-speedo which would otherwise be reserved for how they sexualize a woman, and cognitive dissonance occurs.

    The standard quantum-torso-twist is the same thing. It highlights the sexual parts of a woman, her ass and her boobs, But put a man in that same position, and it becomes a sexualization of the man’s body, and the same cognitive dissonance occurs as with seeing a man in a speedo.

    The cover at the top of this thread isn’t that sexual. A man in that position wouldn’t be all that unrealistic to see on a cover. A man in that pose doesn’t invoke the same cognitive dissonance that a man in a quantum torso twist pose would invoke. What creates most of the cognitive dissonance in looking at Scalzi in this pose is his hairy ass legs. But that’s because there’s something about body hair that has a negative attached to it. The male fitness magazine Men’s Health, hasn’t featured a hairy-chested model on its cover since 1995. I haven’t researched what it is about hairy men that is a turnoff, but it is. And that’s mostly what people are reacting to here about Scalzi in this pose off.

    You could find the most “legitimate” cover image of a woman in a dress, put Scalzi in that same pose and same dress, and the body hair would trigger pretty much the same reaction. That, and the fact that it would be a man-in-drag image, would account for almost all the cognitive dissonance of people looking at it.

    I haven’t looked around much, but a more interesting cover would have a man in armor and a woman in a bikini, both of them with weapons. Then switch the roles, put a woman in the same armor, and then get an androgynous, hairless, buff male to put on a speedo, assume whatever hip-thrusting pose the woman on the cover was using, and let the sexualization begin. The cognitive dissonance that people would feel would be the way they’re sexualizing the male body the way they would have sexualized the woman’s body, rather than the shock value of a hairy guy in drag.

  117. Dude, I love the “buying the vote” angle–you should totally make that offer in the comments over on “his” site!

  118. I’m just going to leave this fun, relevant link over here, because I don’t think it’s been brought up: EscherGirls

    And a quote that made me think recently (I have no idea who said it):”Roughly 90% of the time, ‘just playing Devil’s Advocate’ means ‘your serious issue is my delightfully abstract intellectual exercise.’ ”

    And, frankly, I love every single thing about this pose off.

  119. The exaggerated repulsion some of the commenters here are feigning is a bit strange to me, but has actually proved the point of the exercise. Putting ostensibly heterosexual, good-looking men in ridiculously sexual, uncomfortable poses makes them look silly and clownish to a lot of men, who have to protest very loudly about how deeply turned off they are; putting similarly good-looking (and much younger) women in the same scenario is Hawt and Normal.

    (Also, David: your original comment and the holes you dug thereafter to justify it are all for naught if you’re going to continue using antiquated terms like “coed.”)

  120. I like the Escher Girls site, that’s nice. Although playing with comics, games and manga images is kind of like shooting fish in a barrel. I also got exposed to a book cover for one of Bujold’s Miles novels that reminded me of this conversation. I think it might be a good one for a pose off re D.S.’s obsession with physical ability, as I think the woman draped on the chair is possibly a corpse and thus able to be in that position: http://aidanmoher.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Captain-Vorpatrils-Alliance-by-Lois-McMaster-Bujold.jpeg (Image file borrowed from Aidan Moher’s Dribble of Ink blog where the hypersexualization was discussed. I’ve no clue who the artist is.)

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