Friday, March 20, 2009

From Bodice-Ripper to Man-Titty

When we think of pin-ups we normally think of a poster, calendar or even the nose art of an old bomber. But pin ups clearly bleed into other areas such as advertising, fine arts, fashion... and romance novel covers.

Romance novels are about romantic attraction, and that includes an appreciation of each other's physical assets. But I note an interest shift in just what assets are typically on display. Pulp romances were long referred to as "bodice-rippers" for a reason. A typical romance cover focused on the female form--often the cleavage area. If a male figure was present they were often positioned behind the female and in such as way as to pull or tear the clothing away from the general booby area.

This raises, for me, a fairly obvious question. If the great majority of readers are female way did romance covers emphasise female flesh? The two main explanations would seem to be 1) the art and marketing was produced by men and so represents a male point of view, or 2) the female reader is more interested in how they look to men, than how men look. Alternatively it could be a different form of option two. If the reader is going to take on the point of view of the heroine, in many ways see what the heroine is like is more important than seeing the love interest. However exactly why most important thing to know about the protagonist is their breast size, I do not know.

In any case, browsing the shelves these days shows that there has been something of a reversal. The great majority of cover now show just the man, and large expanses of what is now called, glibly enough, man-titty. Maybe it is the shift in publishing so that the majority of editors and executives are women--or perhaps simply the increasing female freedom to ogle.

In either case, I am not complaining.

6 comments:

Heather in Beautiful BC said...

Haha - the times they are a changin'!

I can NOT imagine getting on a plane and pulling out the man-titty book - LOL - imagine the comments ;)

Tuscan Capo said...

I sure wouldn't mind seeing the trend go retro.

BarbaraRae said...

Very Interesting. I like the role reversal. I just haven't seen many women running for the same man-titty book...Well, not since Fabio!

Diane Scott said...

LOL at Heather! It's been a long while since I was into romance novels and since I frequent libraries more than bookstores, I have not seen this trend.

Sadie said...

That's an interesting point! I hadn't really noticed until reading this because I'm not really into romance novels, but I remember seeing the covers of the books my grandma used to read and they always showed women, and now I always see men on the covers. I guess it also has something to do with the fact it's more "acceptable" to show men in that vulnerable state.

Tanya said...

As Tuscan Capo commented: retro... i do see that as a market in the future. Good call!

Heather in Beautiful BC- What would be even more hilarious would be reading the novel upside down on the plane. lol

Great blog post here... i am gonna follow it.

-spy