Summer reading and gender stereotypes

In Library Journal, Stacy Alesi takes issue with the magazine’s “Men’s Summer Fiction” and “Women’s Summer Fiction” book roundups. In essence, the Men’s list is all thrills and action, written by male authors; the Women’s list is all girlfriends and tears, written by female authors.

Staci — Florida librarian extraordinaire and BookBitch — takes exception:

In close to two decades of dealing with the reading public, the only thing I’ve learned about what men and women read is not to assume anything. So why does LJ feel the need to continue to pigeonhole readers?

I decided to go to the source on this one: authors. Do they write for gender? Do they want their books to be categorized that way?

I’m one of the authors she spoke to. My answer, if you’re in any doubt, is no.

Thriller author Meg Gardiner (The Nightmare Thief) captured my feelings exactly: “[I’m] really surprised that they’d concoct two lists playing so deeply to stereotypes. They might as well have stamped each list with ‘Warning: contains cooties.’”

Staci also talked to David Morell, Tess Gerritsen, Joseph Finder, and S.J. Rozan, who says:

“First- and second-wave feminism have come and gone, and emotion-forward or lighthearted stories are still ‘women’s’ while action is ‘men’s?’ I despair. No, I don’t write to gender. I don’t read that way, either. And with the exception of those men who don’t read women, I don’t think readers generally do, either. Though I must say, I bet one reason some of those men won’t read women is because they see lists like this.”

The whole thing’s worth a read.

Fiction BackTalk: Summer Reading Sans Gender Stereotypes

4 responses to “Summer reading and gender stereotypes

  1. But, but but, I likes me some girly girl cooties 😉 .
    Well I think it’s pretty ridiculous, even if, as it turned out, I wasn’t actually quite in touch with my feminine side for all those years…turns out I was just a common everyday masher and just couldn’t keep my hands off meself 🙂 .
    Hear hear for Librarian Stacey, libraries being the stoic institutions they tend to be, for the most part in my experience anyway, that anyone that’s willing to upset an old worn out applecart, do a little shakin’ up to get some of the more stubborn cobwebs out, is worthy of much high praise, at least in my library book.
    Big kudos & huge props is what I’m sayin’, let’s welcome in the 21st century to Dewey and friends already!

  2. I love your sense of humor, Meg. hahahahaoheohaeaoha!

    And the people who post here bring their quirky humor with them too. Except for Pat. He’s just craaaazeeee. 😉

    I don’t trust anyone who doesn’t have a sense of humor.

  3. Great quote, Meg. But I’m not the least surprised to see that such lists continue. I’d bet that the majority of men, if polled, would say they prefer male writers. It’s just so inbred in our society. Women write fluff, men write tough. After all, look how fluffy Jo and Evan are!

  4. For what it’s worth, Meg, I thought you were far more butch than me way back when we knew each other in high school.

    Wait, that came out wrong.

    May I think about this question and get back to you?

    By the way, on a semi-serious note (not easy for me), in my play reading, I have recently explored and become a HUGE fan of Lillian Hellman. I recently directed a staged reading of her “The Little Foxes,” and you’d be hard-pressed to put a “for girls only” tag on that, or any of her work.

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