I had my first experience with censorship last week – lucky me! Astonishingly, it wasn’t about the content of my writing (as an author of erotica for sophisticated readers, I tend towards the kind of story that your average hot grandma would appreciate! Then again, maybe that’s not true; each lady has her tastes, after all, and I don’t want to throw anyone’s granny into my basket! In any case, nothing to concern those who seek to limit the really kinky stuff; got to write what I like and what I fantasize about, and in truth, I’m more of a vanilla sundae kind of lady). No, it was related to my cover art.
Now I consider myself to be a rather sophisticated person when it comes to art. Vain, I know, but I do love the classical stuff: plump nude Venuses reclining on silken coverlets, virile Greek soldiers posing without a stitch of armor on, and the like. More modern work appeals to me, too; particularly the stunningly sensual sculptures of Rodin (don’t know him? You should! Check some of it out here, at the Musee Rodin). While I hardly lump myself in with such exceptional artists, it suffices to say that I am an admirer of the human body, male and female, in all its beauty and diversity. To me, a naked person can be sexually exciting, of course – especially when it happens to be of the male and muscular type – but mostly, it’s just art.
Leading me to the censorship. I designed a cover I really liked for my latest published work, The Girl with the Golden Eye. If you read the story, you’ll understand the context for it, but basically she is naked, in profile, with one breast visible. And, being a breast, it includes a nipple. Now here’s what bothers me: men and women both have nipples; it’s one of the many delightful body parts we have in common. Men’s and women’s nipples both vary in size, shape, and color, and both can be either soft or hard, depending on the temperature and/or level of arousal. However, men’s nipples – whatever their state of the moment – have been designated by the powers-that-be to be an acceptable body part for public display (which, I learned, includes erotica covers). Whereas women’s nipples – though they are in every way the same as a man’s – are Big Bad Sexually Explicit territory. Why? Why should a woman’s nipples be considered “inappropriate,” when a man’s aren’t? Do we really get more turned on by a nice pair of female breasts than a hard, toned, deliciously muscular male chest (with just a sprinkling of hair, for my taste, and that beautiful line of muscle leading down… but now I’m getting distracted).?
In a more personal vein, I’ve made one cover showing a naked man with everything on display – only protected from indecency by a strategically places champagne bottle – and censorship didn’t make a peep. Now, with an artistic female nude in profile, they’re freaking out – because of her nipple.
I mulled it over, and as much as it bothers me, I’ve caved in to societal pressure and redesigned the cover to be more acceptable to the majority of easily excited viewers. However, this grates on me, as an artist and as a woman. Until our bodies are seen as normal, correct, and neither more nor less erotic than a man’s, we have a long way yet to go.
And because my blog is not censored by the authorities (at least, not yet!) I will take a stand here to show you my two mostly-nude covers, side by side. What do you think? Which one is really more suggestive? To you, dear readers, to decide: