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12 January 2012 @ 01:22 pm
Men's Versus Women's Poses  
And here it is! The very long and image-heavy post nobody asked for, but that's what you get today. But look, it took me forever to put together and hurt my back and I did it all for you, so you should at least humour me and glance over it, right? Right.

As mentioned yesterday, I took some inspiration from Jim C Hines's Striking A Pose blog entry and figured I'd do some experimentation on my own. And hey, while I was at it, why not take things one step further and contrast the female poses with some male poses?

So I wrapped my bad knee and grabbed my husband, some props, and a camera, and we spent the evening doing a rather ridiculous photoshoot. That man has an incredible depth of patience and not only took the photos, but helped me refine my poses to make them a little more accurate. He also made the foam swords I used (although not the lightsaber).

The cat was involved, too, mostly because she wanted to be the centre of attention. Since, y'know, she's a cat.Collapse )
starcat_jewelstarcat_jewel on January 13th, 2012 07:35 pm (UTC)
Re: At Grave's End
What jumped out at me about that cover is that it looks like someone else's leg sticking out of her back. Note that in your pose, the upright leg is tilted forward just a bit, and the knee is noticeably lower than your shoulder. On the cover, the leg is absolutely vertical, the angle you'd get if she were lying flat on her back, and the knee is higher than her shoulder. That's beyond simple sexist posing and getting into Rob-Liefeld-bad-anatomy territory.
Anna_ocelott_ on January 13th, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
Re: At Grave's End
The husband actually commented that my version of that pose looked more natural than the original, and I think you're right, I think it's the angle of the leg that makes the difference there. (Well, that and the fact that I haven't been photoshopped to death.) I suspect she might be wearing a slightly higher heel than I am, but it's most definitely not a natural pose no matter how you I to justify it. I would not be surprised if they used a model for the basis but pieced her together from several different shots; that might account for the odd leg position.
(Deleted comment)
Anna_ocelott_ on January 13th, 2012 07:55 pm (UTC)
Science must march on, back cramps or no back cramps!
Shannonaurillia on January 13th, 2012 10:00 pm (UTC)
So much fun, Anna! And so well done, what a perfect way to highlight just how non-kick-arse the women's poses really are. I think the cover of Moon Called really spells that out - like you said: a pin-up. We really haven't changed, have we?
pingback_botpingback_bot on January 14th, 2012 12:44 am (UTC)
Computers, magical girls and anarchy
User alias_sqbr referenced to your post from Computers, magical girls and anarchy saying: [...] really aimed at people with CS majors, but what I saw looked like fun. Men's Versus Women's Poses [...]
Rachelstarbeam1 on January 14th, 2012 02:29 am (UTC)
I'm actually curious now to look up the different artists to see if there's any variation in other works that they've done. I know Chris McGrath-artist for the Dresden Files, Alloy of Law, Street Magic-is very consistent in his work, and for the most part, he uses natural poses. One thing interesting-he has one illustration of a male doing a pose similar to At Grave's End, though it's not as awkward and more natural. And Daniel Dos Santos, who does the Mercy Thompson covers, doesn't tend to do a lot of unnatural poses, either. Although there are a few on his gallery that don't look quite right.

*Side note not related but interesting to Dresden fans-if you ever wanted to know what Harry looks like without the hat, just look at the Alloy of Law cover-Chris used the same model for both. And going through his gallery, it looks like he often uses the same models.
Anna_ocelott_ on January 14th, 2012 03:19 am (UTC)
I'm a bit of a McGrath fangirl myself, and I'll admit to having picked up more than one novel almost entirely because of his artwork. It helps that he's better than most about leaving clothes on the women and yes, depicting them in positions that are humanly possible.
murasaki_1966murasaki_1966 on January 14th, 2012 05:41 am (UTC)
Thank you, that is a fantastic post about a subject that need addressing. My I link to it on my LJ?
Anna_ocelott_ on January 14th, 2012 05:56 am (UTC)
Yes, absolutely!
Josenchantedskies on January 14th, 2012 07:31 am (UTC)
I went to the link first and could not stop laughing. Then I came back to look at what you did. And I do have to say that it looks like you pulled them off way better than he did.

But I get your point, and I hope you are not in pain any longer.
Anna_ocelott_ on January 14th, 2012 07:38 am (UTC)
Well, I'm sure having a woman's hips that twist and tilt in different ways from a man's helps, as does the dancing background. The husband helped a lot in refining the poses, too, adjusting my arms and head positions and things like that.

I was pretty stiff the next day, but it was worth it.
(no subject) - enchantedskies on January 14th, 2012 07:45 am (UTC) (Expand)
bookherdbookherd on January 14th, 2012 08:21 am (UTC)
Loved, loved, loved this post! Thanks for putting your spine on the line for this project.

I am confused about what is intended by the phrase "Unless they're going for a very specific demographic, marketing assumes we're all cisgendered..." in the final paragraph. Can you clarify?
Anna: rainbow eye_ocelott_ on January 14th, 2012 04:12 pm (UTC)
As a general rule, marketing uses sexy women to sell to men (look at beer commercials) and vice versa. LGBTQ folks are very rarely taken into account, and that's usually when they're directly the target demographic, which is rare.
(Anonymous) on January 14th, 2012 04:56 pm (UTC)
Love this blog and the effort you and your hubby took to bring it us. Looks to me like you have a hero at home.

(Anonymous) on January 14th, 2012 08:04 pm (UTC)
I think you look sexier in the guys poses
Honestly, looking over these, the ones where you try to imitate the ridiculous women's poses are just awkward. You look a lot sexier in the guys poses. And I think it's for all the reasons you described (in the guy's poses there's mystery, strength, using your imagination to figure out the character, etc).
Anna_ocelott_ on January 14th, 2012 10:01 pm (UTC)
Re: I think you look sexier in the guys poses
I agree. For the most part, the male poses are much more flattering.
Kathryn A: Fantasykerravonsen on January 14th, 2012 11:29 pm (UTC)
Thank you for going to the effort of doing this.
bookfanaticbookfanatic on January 15th, 2012 04:36 am (UTC)
Thanks for this! It's very interesting.
(Deleted comment)
Anna_ocelott_ on January 15th, 2012 09:19 pm (UTC)
Some of these poses were painful just to hold for the two or three minutes it took my husband to snap a few shots! I don't think I'd have been able to walk the next day if we'd tried for anything like twenty minutes.
(Deleted comment)
Anna_ocelott_ on January 15th, 2012 09:28 pm (UTC)
Oh, that's a great cover!
Jim C. Hinesjimhines on January 15th, 2012 06:10 pm (UTC)
I've said this elsewhere, but for the record, I love this, and I think you captured and demonstrated a lot of things I wasn't able to with my post. Awesome!

Also, if we're ever at a convention or event together, I would like to propose a joint photoshoot!
Larksdreamlarksdream on January 15th, 2012 06:41 pm (UTC)
If you two do a charity calendar I will totally buy it. :-D

Edited at 2012-01-15 06:42 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - _ocelott_ on January 15th, 2012 10:05 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Rich Layersrichlayers on January 15th, 2012 06:25 pm (UTC)
First of all, this is an amazing post. I'm really impressed that you took the time to interpret both genders and I love your thoughtful comments on how the poses feel.


"What puzzles me most about this is that studies show the vast majority of people who read novels with female protagonists are, in fact, female. Unless they're going for a very specific demographic, marketing assumes we're all cisgendered, so why are we using the cover art to objectify characters we're supposed to identify with?"

As this has been bouncing around the internet, that's exactly what I keep wondering. Is our sense of femininity so confused that we can't even market to women without it being all SEX SEX SEX APPEAL?

For me personally, some of the ridiculous poses and scant cladding make the books entirely UNappealing -- even though I know authors rarely have a lot of say in what their covers look like, and don't judge a book by its cover, and bla bla bla... but how am I supposed to identify with this 100 lb hyper-contortionist? WHAT ARE THEY TRYING TO TELL ME HERE?! -- never mind that, but what are they trying to SELL me here???

Anyway, thanks again for taking the time to look into this in some depth. I'm really glad to have found your post. (through Jim Hines's link.)
Anna_ocelott_ on January 15th, 2012 09:33 pm (UTC)
In a comment up-thread, someone told me that the majority of book buyers in bookstores (ie: the people who decide which books end up on the shelves) are men, and the covers are meant to appeal to them. Which in some ways makes sense, but then I have to wonder who decided the contortions are more attractive than the more reasonable poses. When I initially loaded all the pictures on the computer after the husband was done snapping, I was amazed at how much more flattering the male poses were on me than the female poses.
smokingpigeonsmokingpigeon on January 15th, 2012 09:55 pm (UTC)
It's not about the characters, and it's not us saying it
"So what are we saying about our female characters?"

What the covers are saying is, The art director is probably gay and gets all his ideas about women from cheep porn and Dolce & Gabbana ads.
Monocle Lewinskysaramwrap on January 17th, 2012 05:18 am (UTC)
I also posted this on Jim's blog...

After I read the original post, I went hunting for an older interview with Don Dos Santos, the artist behind the Mercy Thompson covers. Here it is on Tor, including some interview questions with the model he’s used for the covers. I felt like this quote pretty much captured how this process works (emphasis is mine):

“And yet, despite that attention to detail, even the prettiest of models still needs to be idealized even further. Mixing different photos, stretching limbs into impossible positions, emphasizing features, and changing hair styles is pretty much a given in every piece for me.”

You've recreated the exact cover that the article is showing, and they've got one of Don's original photos of his model at the top of the article.
R.M. HendershotPocketCoyote on January 17th, 2012 08:53 am (UTC)
I loved this blog so much, I attempted to draw it ...
Disclaimer: I am not an artist. Not even if you squint.

That said, Ocelott, I loved your take on male vs. female poses so much that I hope you'll forgive me a little experiment. I write a web serial about urban superheroes and had to start drawing my own illustrations a while back when my artist needed to back out. After I saw your blog, I pulled out my female lead and sketched her into three poses from your photos to see if I could replicate your results in a slightly more comic-booky style.

You are dead right. The poses are relatively easy to draw, even for me, and the results completely kick ass, even when I draw them.

Thank you for an excellent lesson! I hope you enjoy the sketches; they're at the end of this blog entry: http://themasksblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/urban-fantasy-masks-style.html
Air Unzbuzzler: Lavonaherbailiwick on January 17th, 2012 10:57 am (UTC)
This was amazing. Thank you for doing this.

I loved the fact you tried to find the equivalents for the covers. You did a great job.
pingback_botpingback_bot on January 17th, 2012 04:00 pm (UTC)
Linky linky
User aliettedb referenced to your post from Linky linky saying: [...] than men, it’s true that none of those poses look exactly comfortable for men). genreviews [...]
pingback_botpingback_bot on January 20th, 2012 02:02 am (UTC)
No title
User meganbmoore referenced to your post from No title saying: [...] to the Jim C. Hines fantasy cover poses that compares male and female cover model pose equivalents. [...]
Becky: sexybeckyzoole on January 20th, 2012 06:15 am (UTC)
I am so glad you did this.
pingback_botpingback_bot on January 21st, 2012 06:48 am (UTC)
Earth's Day- 21/1/12
User gothicsparrow referenced to your post from Earth's Day- 21/1/12 saying: [...] _ocelott_ poses like women and men on urban fantasy covers, difference is striking [...]
pingback_botpingback_bot on January 22nd, 2012 03:02 pm (UTC)
User sabrina_il referenced to your post from linkspam saying: [...] people posing as book cover characters: a woman assumes men's and women's poses from book covers [...]