It started with a tweet asking me to do this pose.
Then Charlie Jane Anders offered to pay $5 toward my chiropractor fees if I did it.
Charlie Finlay pledged $5 for the implants I’d need to pull it off.
Tehani Wessely said she’d chip in as well.
I felt like such a fool! All these years, I’ve been going to work like a sucker, when I could have been posing for profit!
And then I thought about it a bit more, wondering how many people would actually pay money to see me do painful cover poses.
Or better yet, how many people would contribute to a worthy cause for such a show?
So now I’m seriously considering holding the First Annual Cover Pose Fundraiser. There are several good causes I’m thinking about right now. I’d pick one and ask people to donate. The more money we raise, the more poses I do. Maybe one additional cover for every $100 up to a thousand dollars. Then maybe every $200. I don’t have all the details worked out yet.
But wait, you cry. Which covers would you do? Therein lies the best part, my friends. I’d let the biggest donors each pick one. Thus encouraging even more generosity toward Good Causes. (Depending on the number of covers I ended up with, I’d probably do a few random drawings from the donors as well so that everyone has a shot at picking covers.)
My biggest concern is the tone of the whole thing. Offering to do ridiculous poses, even to raise money for a good cause, could come off as rather distasteful depending on the cause. On the other hand, I think I could probably frame and present it in such a way that it wouldn’t seem belittling to the cause in question, if that makes sense.
What do you think?
Codex Born Progress:
October 4, 2012 @ 10:33 am
I think it’s an awesome idea, especially if it’s to benefit those who are most harmed by objectification of women in geek spaces.
Not that other organizations aren’t also deserving. If you’re raising money for Heifer International, or America Reads, or another worthy cause like that, I’m happy to kick some of my charitable giving budget towards mockery and good deeds. But if your raising funds to help combat the ugly atmosphere from which those covers are born and to which they contribute (like for example if you’re funding a scholarship to send a woman of color to Clarion, or kicking money to the Ada Initiative to help them promote conference anti-harassment policies), then the money’s coming out of my entertainment budget, and you’re probably getting all of it.
October 4, 2012 @ 10:34 am
ohmergerd I just used your when I meant you’re. I’m so ashamed.
Jim C. Hines
October 4, 2012 @ 10:36 am
GO SIT IN TIME OUT AND THINK ABOUT WHAT YOU’VE DONE!!!
Christopher L. Bennett
October 4, 2012 @ 10:46 am
For the record, though the heroine of Only Superhuman has plenty of cybernetic implants, her curves are all-natural. Artist Raymond Swanland closely followed my own design sketch for Emerald Blair, whose physique I modeled on tennis star Serena Williams in her prime, since I wanted her to be curvacously muscular in a realistic, functional way, like a working athlete rather than a bodybuilder or a cartoon character. And her pose, while certainly strenuous, seems to be within plausible anatomical limits for a toned and flexible athlete in mid-maneuver.
Still, if my book about heroes helps inspire a fundraiser for charity, however indirectly, then that’s something I can be proud of and wholeheartedly approve. And the attention for my book doesn’t hurt either.
October 4, 2012 @ 11:10 am
I like EquityNow for this approach, but on a more personal note? JDRF, all the way. And then Children of the Night. Yeah.
You’re so good. No, really.
October 4, 2012 @ 3:25 pm
And her pose, while certainly strenuous, seems to be within plausible anatomical limits for a toned and flexible athlete in mid-maneuver.
I’m not as toned or athletic as Emerald is, but I didn’t have any trouble holding that pose (while standing on one foot). But it was a whole lot easier to look where I was aiming my nerf gun if I leaned forward, rather than back, as Emerald is doing. So why is she leaning back like that? Is it because of the direction of motion? Her hair seems to suggest she’s moving away from the direction she’s firing. If that’s so, it doesn’t make sense for her to be thrusting her chest out like that.
Except that it’s sexy, and super-heroines must always be sexy, before they can be anything else. If the Green Blaze was a guy, he’d be leaning forward, to get his shoulder out of the way of sighting along his gun, and because leaning forward looks more powerful.
That said, I actually like the cover. It’s a striking graphic that teases enough about the story to make me want to know more, and it’s at least plausible that she’s in that position because of physics, and not because she’s intentionally presenting her chest to a viewer she doesn’t even know is there. The cover designer did a magnificent job of taking the painting and turning it into an eye-catching cover. I love the bold diagonal background for the text.
I also like superheroes, and I like that you’re being a good sport about folks calling out your book’s cover. So I’ll probably buy the ebook whenever I next top up my e-reader.
October 4, 2012 @ 5:14 pm
I could get behind this, I could. 🙂 I’m so far out of the loop on good charities, though.
Also, will there be restrictions on the poses you’ll try? Because otherwise, there’s that Catwoman pose that was going around the web…
Christopher L. Bennett
October 4, 2012 @ 5:16 pm
Thanks for the reply. I’m glad you like the cover, and I hope you like the book.
It’s true that the cover exaggerates her a bit, as I point out on the original blog post; her light-armor uniform wouldn’t be that flimsy, and her hair isn’t that long and would probably be tied back if she had the opportunity. But it’s in character for Emerald to be presented somewhat sexually; the fact that she sees, and uses, her sexuality as a source of power rather than a detriment to it is part of her character and ties into the book’s thematic exploration of the ethics and limitations of power. But there are certainly other female Troubleshooters who don’t present themselves as sexually as Emry does, and who come in different body types as well.
As for her pose, I interpret it as a freeze-frame taken during a twisty maneuver to try to get into a better firing position after jumping away from whatever’s blowing up and/or chasing her, while simultaneously trying to reach toward that cable thing so she can break her fall.
October 4, 2012 @ 7:45 pm
the fact that she sees, and uses, her sexuality as a source of power rather than a detriment to it is part of her character
This is, sadly, such a common excuse for cheesecaking female superheroes that it’s on the feminist comics-reader BINGO card. The problem isn’t that any one female superhero “sees her sexuality as a source of power.” It’s that they all do. And they all do because sexiness is part of the female superhero trope, and it’s part of the trope because the superhero genre was created by and for men and boys. The characters we create don’t have agency–they are what we make them. Emry didn’t choose to dress that way; you chose to write her as choosing to dress that way.
Which in itself does not mean that she’s badly-written or that you’re a bad person. There are real women who choose to wear sports bras as tops when they’re working out, after all, so it’s not like that’s an implausible choice. But it *is* implausible that it’s the only choice superheroines ever seem to make (also implausible: women with DD-cups who fight crime in just a thin layer of spandex and nothing resembling a bra. Ten points for giving Ms. Blair a top that looks like it actually provides decent support. And pants! You get twenty points for the pants, and an extra ten for the practical boots instead of sky-high heels).
As far as the freeze-frame twisty maneuver, yeah, given her pose I can actually buy that, which is why the cover doesn’t really seem that cheesecakey to me (though, yeah, glad to hear that her pants in the book are actually armor and wouldn’t rip that way).
I look forward to reading the book and seeing a superhero universe where superheroines come with a range of body types and sartorial choices. As an athlete myself (parkour), it’s really nice to see characters who, like me, are strong, athletic, and capable of doing cool superhero stuff (ok I’m not that last one, but… parkour) while still falling outside the ‘superheroine body type’ we see with Superwoman, Supergirl, Batwoman, Catwoman, All Female X-Men Ever (seriously I think the X-Mansion has a communal bra drawer), Power Girl, Captain Marvel, Wonder Woman, Hawk Girl, Starfire, and…pretty much every superheroine that’s ever appeared on the cover of a comic book (except for Big Barda, bless her).
Christopher L. Bennett
October 4, 2012 @ 8:45 pm
Well, I hope you’ll judge the book and the character on their own merits rather than on the basis of what other writers have done. I’ll admit that I’m a heterosexual man and am therefore motivated to write about sexy women; but I’m also a man who’s had many close female friends I admired and valued as equals and generally felt closer to and identified with more than I have with other men. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the former per se; it’s when the latter is absent that you have a problem. My goal was to create a character and a story that could appeal to both men and women, and if I’ve failed to achieve that balance, then I’ll need to do better in the future.
And for what it’s worth, I think that women enjoy reading about sexy women too — if those women are sexual in a way that’s about their own happiness and satisfaction rather than just putting on a performance for men. And I think emotionally mature male readers can enjoy the same thing. I don’t believe in dichotomies or us-vs.-them mentalities. There’s got to be a way to handle a character’s sexuality in a manner that works for male and female readers at the same time. Just because most comic books these days fail to achieve that doesn’t mean nobody can.
Jim C. Hines
October 4, 2012 @ 9:12 pm
::Shudder:: The Catwoman Pose might be a bonus if we hit some ridiculous number like $10,000.
October 4, 2012 @ 9:36 pm
If add a charity that supports abused women I am TOTALLY in.
October 4, 2012 @ 9:40 pm
If YOU add…
October 5, 2012 @ 8:39 am
well, I certainly plan to judge the book on its own merits, but given the way you’ve discussed it with me here, I’m going in inclined to think well of it.
I wouldn’t say I have an ‘us vs them’ mentality. It’s just that I have been a female comics fan for a while, and when you hear the same excuses for the same gross behavior over and over again, it starts to wear your down (there really is a bingo card). This conversation about women in comics has actually been interesting instead of tiresome, however, and the things you’ve said about how you’ve approached Emerald and superheroines have made me more, rather than less, interested in reading your book.
Plus, she’s wearing pants and flats, so even if you hadn’t jumped in on this conversation at all, I’d still be inclined to read the book. Because pants (people who think feminist comics readers are impossible to please have never tried putting their heroine in sensible shoes).
And for what it’s worth, I think that women enjoy reading about sexy women too — if those women are sexual in a way that’s about their own happiness and satisfaction rather than just putting on a performance for men.
You’re right, of course. Superheroes are pretty sexy themselves, after all. No one’s fooled by those butt-hugging tights. The difference is, they usually get to be sexy as subjects rather than as objects. And I could just hug you for making that distinction instead of scoring BINGO on tired excuses for objectification.
I probably won’t be able to read the book the week it comes out, because my reading queue is arranged a particular way for blogging purposes. But I’m looking forward to it.
And big thanks to Jim for letting us wander a bit far from the actual topic of his post.
October 5, 2012 @ 1:29 pm
would any be left over for charity after your medical expenses though? Broken backs can get pricey, I hear.
Kirkus Reviews: ONLY SUPERHUMAN “worthy” « Christopher L. Bennett: Written Worlds
October 5, 2012 @ 6:07 pm
October 5, 2012 @ 7:44 pm
Oh man, you have no idea what you’ve done here. This thing is going to balloon enormously. Soon there will be other author and actor models doing it in conjunction with you (after the inaugural run,) and a supplementary art competition, and awards and….lots of money for charity. Because there’s a reason your pose pictures went viral — it’s a brilliant form of criticism, it’s funny, and it celebrates SFFH and comics while critiquing it to get better. It’s good spirit. It might even make publishers and comics’ art departments think for two seconds that sexy can be done without violating female anatomy or basic logic on a regular basis.
But seriously, to save your back, I would suggest that you don’t let John Scalzi, Whil Wheaton, Neil Gaiman or Patrick Rothfuss get wind of this.
Annalee: “But it *is* implausible that it’s the only choice superheroines ever seem to make (also implausible: women with DD-cups who fight crime in just a thin layer of spandex and nothing resembling a bra. Ten points for giving Ms. Blair a top that looks like it actually provides decent support. And pants! You get twenty points for the pants, and an extra ten for the practical boots instead of sky-high heels).”
Remind me not to read your comments when I am drinking tea anymore. Where did I put the napkins after I stop laughing?
October 26, 2012 @ 8:05 pm
I vote all the yeses and will absolutely contribute if you do it!