Bookish Questions – Do you believe in gendered books?

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Do you believe in gendered books? That is to say, are some books for girls and others for boys?

This question came up after a recent discussion with my friend Eric (over at The Educated Bachelor).  We were talking about some audio books he was currently listening to – the Rangers Apprentice series by John Flanagan.  And he started off by telling me two things about the books.

  1. It’s more of a series for boys.
  2. They’re really for teens.

Not in those words exactly, but it got me thinking.  Why do we categorize certain books as books for boys, or books for girls?  And why is it that a book with a male protagonist is OK for a girl to read, but a book about a girl is less socially acceptable for a boy to read.

Granted, there are exception to this rule.  The Hunger Games series is a great example.  Boys would love to read about a battle to the death right?  So let’s make sure we don’t stick the girl on the cover of those books. It might keep them from picking it up.

There are lots of posts online that talk about gendered reading, and many lists out there telling you what books a woman should read, or a man for that matter.  Now, I’ll never tell you that those lists don’t have some great books on them. I just think that (tastes aside) any book that’s good enough for me, should be good enough for anyone else.

Of course, I’ve never been one for binary gender roles. I think that’s why I had such an aversion to pink as a child. Pink was a girls color, and I didn’t want to be defined by that.  And while I’ve gotten over my hatred of pink, I don’t think I’ll ever be OK with someone telling me that something isn’t for me, solely because I’m a girl.

You’ll notice that this conversation also brought up age as a categorization of books. I have thoughts on that too, but I think we might leave those for next week.

1 thought on “Bookish Questions – Do you believe in gendered books?”

  1. Oh wow–this reminds me of my highschool years, when they were trying to “ungender” toys, hobbies etc. I remember in Child Development class, reading Lois Gould’s short story “A Child Called X”. (It’s available on some of the US university websites.) The “Women’s Liberation” movement was all the go, and girly-girls were o-u-t spells OUT in the media.

    I too got sick of “pink for girls, blue for boys”, particularly as my sister was blonde, and my hair was mouse brown, so like Laura Ingalls I got stuck with pink whatever (sweater, ribbons etc) while my sister got blue–which was the colour I liked! When I moved to Spain 34 yrs ago, things were very, very gender-specific, so whenever I knitted baby things for friends I always went with pale green or pale yellow, to get away from the whole pink/blue controversy. Mind, in those days women tended to dress babies in white, of all crazy things! Yes they look sweet–for about five minutes, until they spit up or drool or crawl over to the planter and dig in.

    In my ignorance, I thought that the result of all of that would be that we would focus on people on what you-the-person like, or can do, or want to do/achieve. Apparently not so much. There’s still a lot of divide (much of it media-created) and more hostility about it than I hoped to see at my time of life.

    Can’t we just be people, together?

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