Books, Feminism

These are the books for girls and that are the ones for guys

Recently on my trip to a nearby bookstore I happened to visit the kids section, there I found two types of box sets available, one for girls and other for boys.

Not surprisingly, one was in bright barbie-pink in color and the other was in light blue. No points for guessing which was for which set!

Also, look at this photo:

Its pretty clear on the cover itself which is a book for girl and which one is for boys!

I would like to add that as a GIRL, I enjoyed reading CARZ almost as much as I enjoyed reading about Ariel.

No wonder people grow up thinking girls and boys are different and should never be treated as equals!

I went for a closer look and to my horror, I had read quite wrong books in my childhood, no wonder sometimes I think quite “boyish” thoughts! 😉

The girl books were Cinderella, Thumbelina, Snow White Etc (I remember brother reading these books when he was young, thankfully he turned out quite all right…phew!)

The boys books consisted of Jack And The Beanstalk, Carz, Superman etc.

When we were young, dad would bring books and we would BOTH read it.

The poor little simpletons that we were, we thought it was about the morals that you get at the end of the story and enjoying the process.

No one ever told us that some books were to be read and were written for the other gender.

And to this date, I thought books, of all things, were gender neutral!

Researching on Net, I found, author Maureen Johnson conducted a very interesting experiment of sorts she called in ‘Coverflip’

Some of Maureen’s words that I came across I would love to include are:

When I hear people talk about “trashy” books, 95% of the time, they are talking about books written by women. When I see or hear the terms “light,” “fluffy,” “breezy,” or “beach read”… 95% of the time, they are talking about books written by women.

Have I heard people pass comparable judgments on books written by men? Yes and no. You tend not to hear “light,” “fluffy,” “breezy,” or “beach read.” It tends to be more straightforward–that they liked it, didn’t like it, hadn’t read it, might read it. There are fewer assumptions made. Somehow, we have put books into gender categories.

Another one:

When we’re kids, we learn what good books and bad books are because someone tells us. They tell us in classes, though the selection of the books that are considered worthy of study. When I was growing up, to have a semester, or even a year, of literature classes featuring all male authors was simply taking English class. Taking a semester-long (I never saw a year’s worth) class featuring only female writers was the highly specialized stuff of the Women’s Studies department, or a high-level elective in the English department, one that often counted toward core classes in the social sciences. (Because it wasn’t just literature — it was a specialized demographic.) I never took one.

And, another one:

So, we’re thinking about boys and girls and what they read. The assumption, as I understand it, is that females are flexible and accepting creatures who can read absolutely anything. We’re like acrobats. We can tie our legs over our heads. Bring it on. There is nothing we cannot handle.

Boys, on the other hand, are much more delicately balanced. To ask them to read “girl” stories (whatever those might be) will cause the whole venture to fall apart. They are finely tuned, like Formula One cars, which require preheated fluids and warmed tires in order to operate — as opposed to girls, who are like pickup trucks or big, family-style SUVs. We can go anywhere, through anything, on any old literary fuel you put in us.

Largely because we have little choice in the matter.

And here is why and what Coverflip is all about:

And the simple fact of the matter is, if you are a female author, you are much more likely to get the package that suggests the book is of a lower perceived quality. Because it’s “girly,” which is somehow inherently different and easier on the palate. A man and a woman can write books about the same subject matter, at the same level of quality, and that woman is simple more likely to get the soft-sell cover with the warm glow and the feeling of smooth jazz blowing off of it. If we sell more — and we often don’t — it is simply because we produce candy, and who doesn’t like candy? We’re the high fructose corn syrup of literature, even when our products are the same. It’s okay to sell the girls as long as we have some men to provide protein.

Maybe this idea that there are “girl books” and “boy books” and “chick lit” and “whatever is the guy equivalent of chick lit”* gives credit to absolutely no one, especially not the boys who will happily read stories by women, about women. As a lover of books and someone who supports readers and writers of both sexes, I would love a world in which books are freed from some of these constraints. Maybe we should do boys the favor we girls received — a reading diet featuring books by and about the opposite sex. Clearly, it must work.

One way we can do that quite easily is by looking at the covers. We’re told not to judge books by them, but… EVERYBODY DOES. That is what they are for. They are the packages that get your attention, that give you messages about what to expect.

Which is why yesterday, I proposed a little experiment on Twitter. I asked people to take a well-known book, then to imagine the author of that book was of the opposite gender, or was genderqueer, and imagine what that cover might look like. Because we have these expectations in our heads already.

You can view the coverflip slideshow here and do note how much difference it makes!


7 thoughts on “These are the books for girls and that are the ones for guys”

  1. You may also be interested in the documentary Wonder Women, as it discusses the many other issues causing gender disparity in media (particularly television and films).
    Those princess/carz books are just sad. It’s like the Barbie/Hotwheels dichotomy at McDonald’s. I always insisted they gave me a hotwheels and would throw a full-on, five-year-old Susan B. if they didn’t. I was appalled by the new bookstore that moved into my local Borders’ place, as their children’s tales section featured Tales for Boys (dragons, pirates, knights) and Tales for Girls (princesses everywhere). How is it in this day and age we still pigeon-hole children like that? There have been lady knights and lady pirates in popular fiction for decades! Ugh.


    1. I would try to find this documentary for sure!
      As a child it was my dream to become a pirate and explore the dark seas, somehow it seemed more interesting than dressing in pink and waiting for the prince charming…but these publishers would have me think otherwise!


      1. Agreed! Such a better option than sitting in one’s room and doing nothing!

        And thanks for the link, checking it out NOW!


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