Salwa Al Neimi’s erotic novel ‘The Proof of the Honey’ was removed from the iTunes store because of its cover which features part of a woman’s naked back and bottom, said the publisher, Europa Editions, in a statement on its Facebook page on 9 November 2012. The book has already been banned in some Arab countries because of its content, but where it was not banned it became an instant bestseller.
‘The Proof of the Honey’ tells of the erotic adventures of a Syrian intellectual in Paris and discusses the role of sex in modern Arabic society. allegedly the book was not removed from iTunes because of its content, but because of its supposedly pornographic cover.
However, while the backside of the naked woman portrayed on Al Neimi’s novel is censored, Europa Editions points out that Apple does not seem to have a problem with naked women portrayed in the classic nudes by Renoir, Botticelli and Man Ray. Nor does Apple seem to have a problem with other erotic novels with very sexualized images of more or less naked women on their cover.
Apple also recently censored the title of Naomi Wolf’s new book ‘Vagina’, a book investigating the social as well as sexual meanings of the vagina. Apple’s “new” title of the book “V****a” did not please the author, nor her readers. Wolf accused Apple of corporate censorship and the Daily Telegraph called the title “an insult to its female customers”.
“Is Apple worried that people are going to discover that ‘lady parts’ have a name?”, asked one reader in a review on Apple’s online store. The censored title was even more disturbing after the discovery that Apple in other book titles had chosen not to censor words such as “penis”.
Not only the title, but also the word “vagina” in the books description on iTunes was censored. The Guardian clarifies the irony of the censored word quoting the book’s description:
So, according to Apple, Wolf’s book is “an astonishing new work that radically changes how we think about, talk about and understand the v****a”. The author, writes Apple, “looks back in history and show[s] us how the v****a was considered sacred for centuries until it began to be cast as a threat,” and asks why “even now in an increasingly sexualised world, it is thought of as slightly shameful.”
Other sites, such as Amazon, chose to display the correct title of the book.
Today, Wolf’s book is available on iTunes store with correct title. And so is Eve Ensler’s play ‘The Vagina Monologues’ – one of many other books with a title that has previously been censored by Apple.
Not a place for naked hippies
Another Apple controversy evolves around the Danish author Peter Øvig Knudsen’s two books about the Danish hippie movement in the 1970’s. The original books featured several pictures of naked hippies. At first, Apple rejected the two volume set. Then they approved Knudsen’s self-censored version where he and the publisher Gyldendal had chosen to cover the hippies private parts with apples. But four days later the books were withdrawn from Apples online bookstore.
Read more about this case here.
After the book was removed from iTunes virtual bookshelf, Knudsen urged the Danish Minister of Culture to ensure that Danish culture does not get filtered and censored by the corporate policies of foreign companies. Danish members of the EU parliament has also complained to the European Commission.
Europa Editions’ Facebook page – 9 november 2012:
Europa Editions’ statement
Huffington Post – 16 November 2012:
Apple Bans ‘Erotic’ Book Cover From iTunes
The Guardian – 16 November 2012:
Erotic novel removed from iTunes store due to cover, says publisher
Hippie – 13 November 2012:
Copenhagen Post – 6 november 2012:
Calls to combat corporate censorship as Apple bans book
The Guardian – 13 September 2012:
Vagina by Naomi Wolf covered up by Apple iTunes