Friday, 26 July 2013

I’m Going Out On A Limb Here, But I’d Say It’s ‘Good Stories’…

What makes readers pick up young adult fiction?
Well, depends who you listen to - some people say it's all about the identity politics...
The promise of a strong story, characters with emotional depth and intelligent writing.
Oh! Hurrah! No identity politics he...

Oh...
And yet a shelf of YA books might still suggest a world in which boys and girls make their reading choices based upon their gender.
*sighs* OK. Hit me!
Almost from birth, readers are coralled into the pink and blue worlds of sparkle for girls and adventure for boys. But, as American YA author Libba Bray points out, books have no gender – titles for young adults, she argues, should have gender neutral covers.
Meaning...what?
I can’t complain about the design of my Pellinor books. The UK/ Australian editions especially are excellent examples of neutral design, presenting them as straight epic adventure. But Black Spring, a feminist Gothic fantasy set in a misogynistic, vendetta-centred society, is undeniably aimed at girls: however beautiful the covers are, they have definite leanings towards pinkness.
After the discussion on gendered covers, I found myself wondering if there are boys who might enjoy the story, but will be put off by the cover. I didn't  after all, write it only for girls. I wrote it for readers.
In space, there clearly should be NO PINK, as well as no-one to hear you scream!
The gendering of book covers runs parallel to the explosive issue of ethnic minority protagonists being replaced with white characters on book covers.
Huh!? That's a new one on me...
The real question is why do we push young readers into the boy/girl binary? If, to return to Libba Bray, every great book is about connection, empathy and understanding the other, why be so limiting?
Maybe there's not really a problem. Maybe...it's just your perception?

9 comments:

Bucko The Moose said...

No one deliberately reduces their target audience by half, just because of a prejudice. Products are aimed at people who will want to buy them.

Just like perfume is for women and after shave is for men (and Harriet Harman), The Hardy Boys are for lads and Nancy Drew is for girls.

And that's the way they like it.

Demetrius said...

On another subject entirely did you see the latest New Addington story in SE News? A very nasty burglary.

Ian Hills said...

So it's OK to write a "a feminist Gothic fantasy set in a misogynistic, vendetta-centred society", is it?

If my daughter was still at school and was required to read this gender-hatred inducing poison, I'd pay the teacher a visit.

When suspiciously short-haired spinsters try to convert children to their own depraved tastes, it's time for some knuckle-duster action.

Twenty_Rothmans said...

When I was a youngster, I liked reading books about killing Germans and - er - killing Japanese.

I matured a bit though, and then I did not mind a bit of pink in my books. Quite a lot, actually.

Brainless bimbos with lots of pink bits.

Now, in my dotage, I just get the brainless Kate Wilson, squeezing out the mop used at a peepshow and calling it journalism.

She thinks she's been let down, being born a mere woman. But nobody's ever bought me a drink and stared at my tits.

I'd get them out for a bottle of fizz.

Tatty said...

"The real question is why do we push young readers into the boy/girl binary? .... why be so limiting?"

Um I dunno...mabye, cos nature is ?

I mean, rarely in nature and (mostly due to a human fuck-up of some kind) is a child born that is not physically distinctive as either a "boy" or a "girl".

Everything else boy/girl related - in how they live, think, act, dress, eat, drink, fuck etc - is a construction of a billion different personal and societal perceptions.

Nature didn't "bless" me with the ability to share or relate to this one.

Ho hum.

Greencoat said...

'...the explosive issue of ethnic minority protagonists being replaced with white characters...'

I think you'll find, love, that it's actually the precise opposite, as in:

"Sambo, Sambo, wherefore art thou?"

Now run along and makes us a nice cuppa tea.

John Pickworth said...

"When I was a youngster, I liked reading books about killing Germans and - er - killing Japanese."

Me too.

Biggles. Commando and other war magazines. Loved them. Stories like Swallows & Amazons... great, if you didn't mind skipping over the bits with the silly girls in the story. A case of more Dick but less Titty! ;-)

JuliaM said...

"No one deliberately reduces their target audience by half, just because of a prejudice."

Progressives do! They then whine for 'the State' to make up the difference...

"On another subject entirely did you see the latest New Addington story in SE News? A very nasty burglary."

This one?

Sadly typical for that wretched hive of scum and villainy, II fear...

"Um I dunno...mabye, cos nature is ?"

Bingo!

"A case of more Dick but less Titty! ;-)"

LOL!

Bucko The Moose said...

Julia - I didn't see it, thanks for the link. It's ok the police saying they will do their best to catch the criminals, but as long as homeowners are defenceless, the police will always be playing catch up