I just read an article by Robin Stevens in The Guardian in which she talks about being invited to speak at a school, but only to the female students. She explains that because her series of books star two girls as main characters, people always assume that her books are written exclusively for girls.
‘About isn’t the same as for – we should never limit readers to books featuring characters identical to themselves.’
I found myself agreeing with most of what she said in the article. No child should be prevented from showing interest in books or media because the protagonist doesn’t share their gender or viewpoint. I mean, I was completely absorbed in watching Orange Is The New Black and that had an almost entirely female cast. I enjoyed it because it was well written and had interesting characters – the aspect of gender never even entered my head.
Anyway, then I came to the last few paragraphs in the article and immediately rolled my eyes as the argument quickly tilted in to the usual feminist ideology. The author of the article declared that boys are the problem and need to be educated to see girls differently.
‘If boys don’t read about or watch girls being heroes, they won’t believe such things are possible.’
No mention of girls not being interested in boyish subjects and themes, or any desire to change their perception of boys. Just a one-sided argument declaring that boys are wrong for not sharing the same interests as girls. Am I the only one that sees a double-standard? I could even argue, in this age where western women are essentially invulnerable from any forms of criticism and often have to take no responsibility for their own actions, that if any gender needed their perception changing for the good of the other, it’s the girls’ and not the boys’.
But at the end of the day, no one should be forcing their agenda on to children. Kids should be allowed to be interested in whatever it is they want to be interested in, regardless of their gender. Let them read what they like and stop trying to change who they are because of your own perceptions.
© 2016, Gavin Zanker. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
Photo by Johanna Loock licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic.