I wanted to do something a little different for this week’s Femme Friday, and instead of picking a female character to talk about, I decided instead to raise the issue of gendered reading, and gendered books.
Every time the issue of books for young children comes up, one of the key discussions is about how books are geared towards girls, or boys. Of course there are the exceptions to the rules (Harry Potter being one that sticks out in my mind), but the majority of books are highly gendered.
One example that was brought to my attention about a month ago, was the issue of a lack of books for boys going through puberty. Sure there are the usual books, about the changes boys will experience, however it mostly deals with the physical. There are no books on the emotional feelings, or how a boy should feel while going through puberty. Nothing to assure these young men that what they’re experiencing, is in fact, normal. It’s highly distressing.
On the flip side of that argument, there is a wide range of books for girls going through puberty. Everything from dealing with friendship troubles, and new emotions, to sexuality and menstruation. Females have a wider range of books to choose from, and parents are more likely to discuss puberty with their daughters, as opposed to their sons (for similar issues mentioned in the previous paragraph).
But it’s not just books for children and teens. Books for adults are also gendered. Literature that women will pick up, that’s geared to them, will often portray something light and fun, or have attractive characters on the front covers. Any colours used will be bright and vivid, capturing the attention of their target audience. Novels ‘for men’ more often have darker colours, and grittier backgrounds on the covers.
Strangely enough, this methodology manages to sell high volumes worth of books. From a hardcover, to a release in paperback (Or if a book gets the Hollywood treatment – a movie-tie in edition cover) the cover often changes to capture a new audience.
Book Riot has a good article regarding the issue of gender in books, and feel free to hit the comments to continue this discussion! Thanks for sticking around through a different version of Femme Friday 🙂