Who Are You? Gender Bias – #KidLitWomen

A thought provoking post, well worth a read, and a comment!

Jilanne Hoffmann

In 2015, I sat in a darkened auditorium in a hotel in Los Angeles, wanting to throw up. I had word poisoning.

What was the source? The messenger’s message.

In that dark room, Shannon Hale, a keynote speaker at the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Conference, was turning the spotlight on gender bias. She recounted stories of school visits, featuring her Princess Academy books, where boys either openly booed the idea of princesses or had been excluded from her assemblies because teachers or school admin believed “boys wouldn’t be interested in her books.”

While I hadn’t said those exact words, I was standing at the top of the slippery slope that takes one there. I had been volunteering in our school’s library and was guilty of saying: “This book has boy written all over it” or “Girls will really like this book.” Possibly more than once.


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8 Replies to “Who Are You? Gender Bias – #KidLitWomen”

  1. Good points. I grew up reading a wide variety of books, and many of them were books which I later realized were at the time aimed at boys. By their marketing schemes, I mean. What the authors intended may have been a different story. The only book I’ve read which was apparently “meant for men” which I feel a sort of sexual alienation from is “Moby Dick,” which I really think perhaps a woman who sails and fishes might appreciate, but I don’t feel it really has much to offer other women. Despite the thematics, of course, which many insist are supposed to reach to humanity in general and the general topics of good, evil, obsession, etc. Anyway, are there any books for you which you feel the same way about, from the opposite sexual point of view?


    1. Moby Dick, now that’s a book I couldn’t get on with but really wanted to, one day I will finish it. For me books like Wuthering Heights and Pride and Prejudice took me ages to read and whilst the former was middling, I am glad I was encouraged to read P&P. I think the book that give the most sexual alienation is The Handmaid’s Tale. As I understand it, it was written in response to the Taliban and their treatment of women. I may be missing something in the book, I read half of it and was unmoved by the passivity of the main character. I preferred other dystopian fictions to this one and I think the lack of attention feminism in general gives to those under this sort of tyranny also bothers me and pushes me away from attempting this again, and in general engaging with third wave feminism, as I understand it.


  2. I read all types of books when I was a kid, but rarely did I get into what would be classed “girls” books. Even now, I rarely read what you’d call “chick lit.” All that matters when you read a book is whether or not you enjoy it. For example, my son-in-law enjoys reading Georgette Heyer. Pigeonholing books is ridiculous.


    1. Exactly, as unique individuals we know what we like and where to find it. Children should be encouraged to read widely and enquire about what they read. Then they need to get into blogging and follow us!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Very interesting article by Shannon Hale, and equally interesting post by Jilanne Hoffmann. Like Lyn, I read widely as a child and teenager and have never been interested in so-called ‘chicklit’ (ugh! what a horrible word). I encouraged both my daughters to read all sorts of books and to play with what many would regard as ‘boy’s toys’ – lego, cars, construction toys etc. – as well as ‘girl’s toys’. Strangely, this was easier to do in the 80’s – 90’s with my elder daughter than it was in the Noughties with my younger daughter. When my elder daughter was little there seemed to be lots of gender-neutral books and toys about (though I wouldn’t have used that phrase then!). By the time I was helping my younger daughter chose books and toys the gap had widened and I was looking at rows of blue and green and grey books for boys and pink and red and purple books for girls. There was also the problem then of trying to get boys interested in reading and trying to encourage them to do better at school.


    1. I wonder how much the generational gap affects the book market. If cover designers were brought up with the traditional colour coding then it makes sense they would do that, although it would be good if we could move away from that. Reading and experiencing a wide range of things and literature will only benefit individuals in the end so the kids book market (in particular) is probably hamstringing itself by keeping to those colour practises.

      Liked by 1 person

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