Masculine/Feminine Literature | Discussion Sunday
Discussion Sunday is our meme used to have an open discussion about anything books. It’s not necessarily every week, just whenever we have a topic we’d like to talk about. If you’d like to join us on your own blog, please credit us and send us the link so we can discuss your topic with you! -Taylor
This week I’d like to talk about something that’s been on my mind for a very long time.
About a year ago, I was in Barnes and Noble with my sister when a mother with a young child came into the YA aisle. The kid was around 10 years old and the mother was in search of a book or two for an older daughter who wasn’t with them. When the kid showed the mother The Maze Runner and said that it looked like a good book, the mother glanced at the cover and said, “No, that book is for boys.” I was stunned. Both that someone would think The Maze Runner is just for boys and that someone would think a book that The Maze Runner is genderized. My sister and I are baffled to this day about why that women thought something like that.
So today, I really want to talk about why some books are genderized and why it’s such a big deal.
What about a book makes it a book for boys? What makes a book “girly”? Is it action/adventure books meant for males just as movies are? Why do people assume girls don’t want to read about superheros and things exploding? Personally, I love books (and movies) like that. What about The Maze Runner said “for boys” to that women in Barnes and Noble? If a book is written from a guy’s perspective, does that make it a masculine book? Granted, I think if a book is written in a guy’s perspective, it’s probably more appealing because it’s more relatable. If a guy walked up to me and asked me for a book recommendation, I’m much for likely to say Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson over The Selection by Kiera Cass purely because Steelheart is written from a guy’s perspective. Not because The Selection is “chick lit”.
If books are masculine or feminine depending on what perspective it’s written in, what category does duel perspective fall into? All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven is written in both a guy and girl’s perspective and yet I’ve seen people refer to it as “chick lit”. Is contemporary in general “chick lit”? Is it the pastel colored cover that screams “I’m for girls”?
I personally think books should just remain books. I don’t believe there are books for girls or books for guys. I feel like this kind of sexism is almost exclusive to New Adult, Young Adult, and Middle Grade books. I have not once seen anyone refer to Game of Thrones in any kind of genderized manner. But books like The Maze Runner and The Selection are subjected to being categorized by gender all the time. YA books tend to be marketed toward genders instead of readers.
I know this post is mostly rhetorical questions but the whole subject of books being for a specific gender baffles me. It also bothers me to no end.
What are your thoughts on masculine/feminine literature? What books do you feel are marketed toward a specific gender? Does it bother you? Do you think there’s any need for it? Comment below with any and all thoughts on this subject. I would love to hear your thoughts and opinions, whether you agree or disagree with me.
iloveheartlandx8 years ago
I’ve never really got the whole boy/girl book thing either, I read what I enjoy and some of my favourite book series would probably be considered “boy books”, do I care? Nope. I think gendering books is stupid, girls are just as likely to want to read something like The Maze Runner as guys and there may be some books marketed towards girls that appeal to guys. It’s really a non-issue for me who a book was marketed towards and I completely agree, books are books, they shouldn’t be said to be for a specific gender.
Josephine8 years ago
I hate when books are labelled this way! A book does not cater towards a certain gender, most of the time and there is no reason to say action and adventure books are for males. I a/ personally a huge fan for action and adventure more than contemporary and romance novels. And men should not feel the need to categorise contemporaries as books for females. I really don’t like this idea and I’m glad you brought it up!
aloofbooks8 years ago
I completely agree with this! Perfect discussion, Taylor. <3
Myrthe8 years ago
Obviously there are the adult chick lit/guy lit book: those doctor romance novels and the pew-kick-kill, fighting books (which are also contemporaries, as they are usually set in this day and age). Just to point out that adult books are definitely genderized as well.
I don’t think they should be, though. There are so many people that like different things that categorizing books might only make it more difficult for them to buy what they like because they don’t want to be seen as either male of female when they’re not. Plus, in these things agender, and third gender people (and probably more) are always left out. Are they not supposed to read any books?
The world is a strange place.
I’m really happy you posted this; I’m working on a series of posts about books & feminism (especially the portrayal of ‘strong’ women) and I was a little scared to post that, so I’m glad there’s more people that think in a similar manner.
rita8 years ago
I love your post!
I hate it when society tells you or your children what is right for girls or boys. In my opinion, everyone should be able to read the books that they like. Over the years on social media I have encountered a lot of girls who preferred books with more action and could not stand romance novels and also the other way around, where boys were also reading romance-y novels like The Selection, The Delirium trilogy or also Nicholas Sparks novels.
Personally, I don’t care what books a girl or a boy reads. I like reading books with action in them and fantasy and I also like swoon-worthy romance. Why does everything have to be labeled and people are looked down at for liking something that is “not suitable for their gender”?!
But I’m glad that I’m not the only one who sees books for just what they are without labeling them :)
Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity8 years ago
This is a really interesting topic because I’ve never really thought about it before. It’s true, when there is a male protagonist, or a book is written from a male perspective, it is more likely to be perceived as a male book, which is silly. I remember when I was about 8 my nan had bought the first 2 Harry Potter books for my brother to read, she had not bought me a book. I know that this was a lot to do with the fact she was continually trying to encourage to read more, I never needed that encouragement. He was 12 and so he was very much against reading anything which could be perceived as girly. Harry Potter was the perfect series for him, but it is strange that she had not chosen those books for me as well.
I know that it is easy to categorise some books mentally, there are a lot of contemporary YA books that drive away a male audience with the pastel and ‘girly’ looking covers, but so many are books anyone can read. I mentally categorise all romantic books as feminine simply because I don’t think of guys being interested in romance, women are the target market, yet I know a guy I work with who is loving Fifty Shades of Grey, so even that is not strictly true.
I think that’s what it is really, the publishing industry knows their target market for books, they know that in the YA genre there are more female readers, but that i simply because in general there are more female readers. They target their books and that often makes people perceive them in a certain way. It’s strange when you really think about it. Anyway, I’ve written a small essay so I’ll stop now, but thank you for the really interesting discussion.
Taylor8 years ago
I agree completely! You have so many great points!
Taylor8 years ago
Taylor8 years ago
I would LOVE to read your posts on books and feminism! I like that’s such an important subject and I could talk (rant) about it for hours.
Taylor8 years ago
Thank you so much!
Taylor8 years ago
DoingDewey8 years ago
I hate the whole gendered reading thing! I think it’s insane to assume that people will have specific interests just because they’re of a particular gender. I also think that directing people to read books with main characters who match their gender defeats the purpose of reading in a way, since I think one of the most valuable parts of reading is getting perspectives that are different from your own.