To those who might chalk this off as feather-ruffling, as an unecessary debate about “entertainment media” (as some categorize YA books), consider the bigger implications here: if teen (and younger) boys are taught to dismiss and ignore female driven stories, they will continue to dismiss and ignore females for their entire lives. Like so many movies, television shows, videogames, and products (AXE, anyone?) directed at and marketed for boys, it’s part of the sick cultural message that girls and women are frivolous, are not worth rooting for, cannot be strong (or cannot, at the very least, kick any evil villain ass without tight leather pants and serious cleavage), cannot be complex and complicated, do not have or deserve an equal voice. And this is the problem with accepting that there are simply boy books and girl books, and the problem with accepting that marketing (read: MONEY) can and should drive this trend.
I’m not advocating coverless books, but… imagine? How would the marketing and interpretation of stories change? How would the “target market” change? Would generically covered books attract more readers of different genders?
Some food for thought (midnight snack, for you east coasters)! I have lots of thoughts on this and they’re not all coming out clearly, but I thank everyone who’s participated in the discussion.
See rainey’s post below.
But no, it’s not really okay (explanation at the bottom, after the original post from Dan Krokos):
I wrote a big…
I saw this discussion much earlier in the day and wanted to reblog it with some commentary. The discussion is about ‘boy books’ in YA (books with male protagonists) vs. ‘girl books,’ and, in a nutshell, the OP suggests that most YA books are written with female protagonists and boys don’t want to read ‘girl books,’ and that’s one of the reasons why girls read more than boys. They suggest that YA writers need to write more male protagonists in order to encourage more boys to read.
When I studied children’s lit in my master’s program, our mentors discussed this very issue with us. In short, they encouraged us to write male protagonists because the general rule of thumb is that while girls will read books with male or female protagonists, boys are more likely to only be interested in books that center around boys. If a cover of a book prominently features a female, many boys will not even pick it up to find out what it’s about. So, by writing a male protagonist, you will automatically give yourself a wider audience.
The problem isn’t that there’s a dearth of male protagonists in YA. The problem is that young boys are taught to dismiss and ignore female driven stories. They’re taught not to see those stories as human stories, but as ‘girl stories,’ and therefore lesser, uninteresting, an affront to their developing masculinity. Diversity in YA protagonists is important. We need male and female voices. We need PoC voices and LBTG voices. But we also need our young readers to read those diverse voices and not just gravitate toward the ones that sound the most like them. That’s happening with our girls. It’s not happening with our boys. That’s the real problem here.