Don't blog while annoyed, don't blog while annoyed....crap. Too late. Woke up this morning to find references to this article in my twitter stream.
It's yet another article about how boys don't read and nobody quite knows how to encourage them to read.
So here's what annoyed me. My twitter stream is full of women pooh-poohing this-- either saying that this isn't really a problem, or there shouldn't be articles about it, or that we really should be talking about the WNBA instead. (?)
Please try and imagine for me this scenario with the genders reversed. An article appears about how girls may be deficient in some crucial academic area. And a bunch of men take to the internets to proclaim that they're sick of hearing about this, and it's not really a problem, and why can't we talk about sports instead.
Yeah, that would go over well.
So, a couple of things. Yes, the books we read as English majors in college tend to skew more male-written and male-oriented. And this bias definitely trickles down into the high school curriculum, though, in both cases, far less now than it used to.
I'd suggest this is because the gatekeepers of the academic curriculm have typically been male.
But this article isn't talking about the academic curriculum. It's talking about reading in general. And guess who the gatekeepers of children's and YA fiction are? Yep. As I've noted before, they are overwhelmingly women. And as I may or may not have noted before and don't feel like looking up right now, they are overwhelmingly white women.
It has been presented to me as an article of faith that diversity is important because people bring their unconscious biases and prejudices to whatever they do, and a variety of voices help ensure that a variety of interests are served.
So is it possible, O women of twitter, that a field that is overwhelmingly dominated by white women might possibly, just maybe, be producing works that are, on the whole, friendlier to that group than to other groups? Might editors and librarians and authors be bringing their own subconscious biases to their work, or are white women somehow immune to this phenomenon?
The oppression of women is real and continues in numerous areas of endeavour. In children's publishing, though,women cannot rage against the machine. Women are the machine. And when faced with a charge that the machine they control may not be serving everyone equally, several, at least this morning, are rising up to angrily put the charge down.
Again, please imagine this with genders reversed. I'll bet people would start throwing the word privilege around pretty quickly.
UPDATE: Please see my comment below (way below--it's number 18 or 19 or something) for my further thoughts on this entry and the minor (but major on the scale of this blog) fuss I caused with it.
Also, an unscientific poll of the women in my house yielded the following result: "You have a kind of valid point, but you said it in such a douchey way that of course you ended up alienating people." Perhaps I should make better use of my in-house editorial staff...
Please see also my follow-up post, "On Being an Asshole."