This is the cover for Nick Cave's latest book, The Death of Bunny Munro and its a charmer! That is the disembodied crotch of a female ( adult I hope) and oh, has it got under my skin. I work at a bookshop which will buy an absolute truckload of these ( cos they're oh-so-cool) and I will have to sell them whilst biting back a feminist diatribe about the appropriateness of using this image to sell a book.
I really hoped we were moving away form objectifying women's bodies, naive I know. But I though, yeah, the book industry is a progressive one, we just don't see misogynistic imagery like this anymore.
And here it is, on the cover of a book that will sell truckloads regardless of the image on its front.
So, I've been trying to pinpoint the exact problems with this cover and I've defined it down to these.
1- That it is the image of a disembodied vagina. Passive and confronting. It taps into the distillation of the female body to a series of penetrable parts.
And if that is all a woman is, why would she get any equal rights or be treated with respect or expect that she might treated as more than an object.
2- That an image of the female genitalia is both shocking and taboo. Cave, obviously, has been associated with the kind of rock'n'roll subversity that this image hopes to tap into. The crotch shot is meant to titillate and confront the Australian literati.
Oh well, women's sexual self esteem will have to wait until white, middle-class men have finished using the vagina as an image that is both dirty and forbidden!
3- Text Publishing have just championed Bill Henson over the allegations that his work is pornographic and now use this image to sell a book. Sure, Text, this is art too!
It screams to me "Oh we need a stunt to distract people from how crap this book actually is!"
( I know as soon as I publish these I will come up with better ways of expressing the problems but this is the jist.)
Oo, I love a good rant! I joined in the discussion on the Meanjin website too, here's the link if you're interested.
And now, Tanty-pants are removed. I promise my next post will be entirely frivolous. Am now going to find cookies.