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Big-Tittied Chainmail Lady (surprisingly, NSFW!)

For those of you who don’t know what the SFWA Bulletin is, it’s a newsletter for members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. We’ve had to work pretty hard over the years to have our work taken seriously, since many people are still dismissive of “spaceships and unicorns.” SFWA is a bit like a writers union, or a trade guild, or some other professional organization that you expect not to use an anatomically incorrect pinup on the cover of their professional publication.

I got this in my mailbox yesterday morning.

SFWA Bulletin's "big-tittied chainmail lady" cover

It’s a pinup. Softcore pornography. And by an artist who has apparently never seen a woman in so few clothes. Whether or not they need life drawing classes, though, I don’t think this belongs on the cover of our professional trade organization newsletter. Shouldn’t I be able to read our newsletter in the break room at my dayjob without getting weird looks from my boss?

Brooke Bolander put it best with a couple hilarious tweets:

Brooke Bolander's response to a sexist SFWA Bulletin cover

When I look at that cover, this is pretty much what I see:

My interpretation of the sexist SFWA Bulletin cover, starring Bettie Page!

But you know what, maybe I’m wrong. Maybe we do want sweaty nerdporn on our professional publication’s cover. There is a significant portion of members who probably appreciated it, alone, by themselves, in the bathroom, and who am I to deny them this joy in where their dues went?

In that case, however, I want equal representation, kiddos. I pay my dues, too. Here’s an example of the kind of cover I want to see. I mean, you can like, give them green skin so they’re “aliens” or maybe add some yellow eyes and fangs so they’re “vampires.” I’m not going to be picky about how you justify its science-fictional value.

But I know I’m not the only one who would be more interested in seeing this svelte cupcake dressed up like a time traveler or a warrior or some shit, so get on that, okay?*

My mockup of a turnabout-is-fair-play pinup for the SFWA Bulletin cover!

If you’re a subscriber to the SFWA Bulletin, I think you should write a letter suggesting the sexual pandering go both ways. In case you already put your copy into the paper shredder so your friends wouldn’t see it, their e-mail at sfwa.org is “bulletin,” and their  mailing address is PO Box 3238, Enfield, CT 06083-3238.

 

* If you can get Aidan Turner to pose for it, I’ll take the photos myself, which will cut down on the art costs. Win-win!

25 Comments

  1. Alyc wrote:

    Yum. I just want to… hang him up on my wall and rub his belly for luck.

    Mine is the face of the objectifying gaze.

    Tuesday, January 15, 2013 at 14:52 | Permalink
  2. Mary wrote:

    Especially in light of the Jim Hynes/John Scalzi (hysterical) reproductions of women’s poses from SFF book covers, you’d think they’d just KNOW better! FYI, if this is the way they’re going, I too want see your proposed cover.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 06:25 | Permalink
  3. Hmmm….I did do a quizzical double take at the Bulletin cover. What I thought was “retro” since that could have been on any Fantasy mag in the 50′s.

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 22:34 | Permalink
  4. PussInBoots wrote:

    My Bettie Page cover is retro, too! But you’re right, we could just have the twink vampire cupcake wearing tiny metal underwear in a retro fashion. I don’t think the henna-haired silicone queen should have to slay all the trolls alone!

    Wednesday, January 16, 2013 at 23:31 | Permalink
  5. Maya wrote:

    Looks a bit like some Julie Bell artwork only not quite as erotic. Hardly anything to be prudish about I’d have thought

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 03:16 | Permalink
  6. PussInBoots wrote:

    @ Maya

    Well, there are two problems: pinups are inappropriate for professional publications, and women are always the ones being exploited. So if you have a different idea of professional than I do, then let’s address #2 by getting Julie Bell to paint us a hot dude for the next cover.

    In fact, why pay for a painting? Someone on Twitter suggested that Jim Hines and John Scalzi re-enact THIS cover. That’s not only fantastic, but also much cheaper!

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 05:24 | Permalink
  7. Stina wrote:

    Yes. EXACTLY. I would like pin-up number 3 please. I vote for equal-opportunity sleeze. :)

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 06:39 | Permalink
  8. Mike wrote:

    You SciFI nerds need to suck it up. This is the type of mag us guitar nerds had to carry around through the 80s and 90s
    http://farm5.staticflickr.com/4014/4538314997_985dbfbbc8_z.jpg

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 09:41 | Permalink
  9. PussInBoots wrote:

    @ Mike

    HAHAHA! That’s pretty embarrassing. Still, if “guitar nerds” means “people who use guitars,” as the cover implies, then the “SciFi nerd” equivalent is Fantasy & Science Fiction or Asimov’s, not the Bulletin. I bet “guitar makers” never carried around a guild newsletter with that hairspray nightmare on front. ;)

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 09:48 | Permalink
  10. Eva wrote:

    @ Maya

    Why does any objection to this cover have to be “prudish”? I personally get really tired of all the women in improbable armor (seriously, how is that metal bikini good fighting gear?) on the covers of my SF/fantasy/comics. It just says to me that women are only important as eye candy for the (presumably) male reader.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 10:08 | Permalink
  11. Fred Davis wrote:

    She appears to be farting Bud Spearhawk’s article “What do the dues pay for?” and is trying to subtly waft it away with her off hand.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:26 | Permalink
  12. PussInBoots wrote:

    Fred just won at the Internet. If he looks under his seat, he’ll find the keys to a 1983 Nissan Stanza that doesn’t run (look, I’m not Oprah. It was all I could afford).

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 11:58 | Permalink
  13. XtinaS wrote:

    Mike, I literally stopped chewing my food when that image loaded.

    Thursday, January 17, 2013 at 21:52 | Permalink
  14. Danielle Gembala wrote:

    I’m a new member to SFWA, so this was my first Bullrtin. When I picked it up, my 3 year old son said, ‘That woman feeds a lot of babies, her breasts are ginormous! Bear is her baby. He’s tired, too much milk.’.

    Coupled with the ‘Literary Lades’ dialog between two males – Mike Resnik and Barry Malzberg – that mentions the physical attractiveness of each editor of note in such loving detail. About Bea Mahaffey – ‘She was competent, unpretentious, and beauty pagrant gorgrous…’. Seriously? I think I got a membership to Esquire or GQ by mistske!

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 09:04 | Permalink
  15. Danielle Gembala wrote:

    Excuse the mispellings, my smartphone keyboard is possessed.

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 09:06 | Permalink
  16. Jonathan wrote:

    You guys are missing the real point here. You’re a writers guild, full fledged members of the publishing industry, and your newsletter layout is using shitty fonts and a logo from the 60s. Forget the pretty pictures, it’s time to update y’all’s image to the new millenium.

    And softcore porn on the cover isn’t doing you any favors either.

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 09:09 | Permalink
  17. Kathryn wrote:

    Why has *no-one* seemingly picked up on the fact that the cover is actually of Red Sonja, a character adapted from Robert E. Howard’s Red Sonya?

    She’s been depicted in a chainmail bikini for all of her life (bar the Red Sonja: Blue one-shot comic and the upcoming Red Sonja: Unchained, both written by none other than P.V. Brett), and she’s an iconic – albeit poorly dressed and over-sexualised – fantasy character.

    Yes, it’s a bit nerd-porny. Yes, it’s a bit tasteless considering current fantasy trends. Yes, it really does belong in the 1970s with Frazetta’s art. But, really, I think it’s rather important to note that “she” is a fully-fledged character, and one who has stood the test of time.

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:09 | Permalink
  18. PussInBoots wrote:

    @ Kathryn

    Bettie Page has stood the test of time, too, and she’s a beloved piece of retro kitch among several subcultures. She doesn’t belong on our professional newsletter’s cover though, even if someone photoshops a couple extra eyes on her so she can be a SPIDER LADY!

    I think that’s why no one is talking about her identity–it’s inconsequential. It’s not like we would be less offended if it wasn’t Red Sonja and was just some other anatomically distorted chainmail bikini model, right?

    Also, let’s not forget that I’m still totally in favor of losing the battle on “no pinups” and just going for equality. Someone paint us a Red Simon with a ridiculously bulging chainmail codpiece! As long as there are just as many men being objectified, I’ll grudgingly get behind it.

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:42 | Permalink
  19. Wolf Baginski wrote:

    OK, so somebody wanted something recalling the early days for the 200th Edition, and that certainly looks like a certain sort of mid-Sixties cover.

    I reckon it’s the wrong sort of mid-Sixties cover, but what do I know?

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 11:45 | Permalink
  20. Steve Taylor wrote:

    I’m more startled by the sheer *badness* of the picture than any other concerns. Your Betty Page cover, on the other hand, looks awesome, if incongruous. Same goes for the hot guy.

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 14:05 | Permalink
  21. Kathryn wrote:

    @PUSSINBOOTS

    But I don’t think it is inconsequential. She’s a well-known character in fantasy fiction, she’s still got a comic series at Dynamite which has had numerous cross-overs and so on. Irrespective of her costume, she’s a celebrity in fantasy. That is why it’s a relevant point. She’s a character born out of the writings of an American SFF author.

    I don’t think it’s entirely appropriate for a cover of this kind of newsletter, but *no* image of Red Sonja ever would be. It’s a lapse of judgement, certainly.

    But I really don’t think reducing it to “Big Tittied Chainmail Lady” really works. It’s not a generic, sexist picture. It’s Red Sonja. That – roughly – is what she looks like. It’s a defining look, one that still stands out, and it has undeniably contributed to her success (and, as such, to the success of US publishers, authors and artists – amongst others). It’s also clearly a nod to the work of artists like Frazetta, who defined the look and tone of fantasy for many years, just as the pulp publications had done beforehand.

    I don’t agree with Red Sonja’s costume, nor her portrayals, but she is somewhat relevant to the subject genre of the magazine.

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 16:18 | Permalink
  22. nu wrote:

    Hate to break this to you, Kathryn, but she’s only an icon to comics fans and writers. A lot of fantasy writers wouldn’t know her and thus would just see a woman objectified, tits and ass used to sell something for the umpteenth time. At best, the editors ignored half their audience. But none of that matters because there are a thousand better portrayals of women in fantasy than this. We don’t need to clutch at those “icons” anymore. We can do better.

    Friday, January 18, 2013 at 21:05 | Permalink
  23. Kathryn wrote:

    NU;

    Yes, we can do better. I hope that we will do better.

    But I see it like this. The argument is against reducing women – in images – to their parts, i.e. they’re just breasts to be drooled over and so on. That is something I completely agree with. It’s something that happens all too often (and too little with males/male characters), and with too little taste or respect. However, I feel this article (and some other discussions about it) do just that to this image. It’s Red Sonja. She’s a character. A badly dressed one with questionable aspects, but she’s a character nonetheless. This article doesn’t mention her name once, and it seems they too have reduced her to her parts for this argument.

    Yes, she wears a chain bikini. Yes, she has a large chest. Yes, she has ridiculous amounts of bright red hair. But that’s *what* Red Sonja is.

    Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 02:14 | Permalink
  24. PussInBoots wrote:

    @ Kathryn

    That’s probably because to me, she’s not a character. The first I heard it was anyone specific was when my boyfriend pointed it out.

    So all I saw (and the same for anyone else who doesn’t know who she is) is exactly what you described: a pair of ridiculous breasts put there for the amusement of a presumed audience of entitled heterosexual males. As far as I’m concerned, any one of the pinups I see could have a name and a history, but it’s not present in the image that’s being shown to the world, so it might as well not exist. I’m not the one erasing the identity of a female character–the people who crafted her to be indistinguishable from softcore pornography are the ones who stole it from her in the first place.

    Saturday, January 19, 2013 at 02:25 | Permalink
  25. Zone wrote:

    This is retro also. Doesn’t make it right.

    Saturday, April 6, 2013 at 09:09 | Permalink

2 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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    [...] Big-Tittied Chainmail Lady (NSFW) This would be the cover of the new issue of the SFWA Bulletin. Which also apparently features an article about lady writers that, in addition for evaluating them based on their skills as writers also evaluates them on their hotness. [...]

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