Women in Cover Art

It’s been several years since I did the cover art pose thing, and seeing a friend’s next cover on Twitter got me thinking that there have been some pretty awesome covers coming out lately, covers that don’t contort women into a sexual object at the cost of her strength and agency. (And in many cases, her spine.)

Let’s start with the cover art Diana Rowland recently revealed for her next book, Vengeance of the Demon. The art is by Dan dos Santos.

Vengeance of the Demon

I love this. Partly because I’m a sucker for babies. Partly because of the contrast between the cute baby and the utterly bad-ass protagonist. Partly because she looks both dangerous and competent. I have no doubt she could shift the kid to one arm, draw her weapon, and start blowing bad guys away. I could do without the shoulder strap falling loose, but overall, I really like this one.

Or check out the cover for Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear. The artist is Cynthia Sheppard.

Karen Memory

We have a bit more sexualization here, but it’s appropriate for the story. The protagonist works in a brothel. This is how she would likely dress, and equally importantly, her sexuality doesn’t detract from her strength. It’s an accurate advertisement for the story, in which Karen stands tall and does whatever it takes to protect the folks she cares about.

Here are some others that jumped out at me (in a good way) for the way they portray women.

Hero Breach Zone Shadowshaper The Winter Long Uncanny The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

There are still plenty of covers that do the ridiculous contortions + impractical wardrobe + out-of-character oversexualization and so on. As I was browsing through new and recent releases, I came across a number of covers that made me cringe, covers in which women seemed to exist first and foremost as objects and decoration, added specifically to appeal to the straight male gaze.

Personally, I prefer to see women as characters. As people, not things. And while there’s a long way to go, I’d like to believe we’re starting to see a shift in that direction. I hope publishers, authors, writers, booksellers, and readers will continue to encourage that shift.

What other covers have you seen lately that you’d say are Doing It Right?