OMG A BLOG POST! Don't get too excited... I'm probably going to drop off the map again for the rest of the month ;) But my online pal Johnny Dale asked me about my feelings on a certain issue, so I wrote a post on Tumblr about it. I'm shamelessly reposting it here.
So there have been a few articles lately (and a few articles in the
past… there are always articles about this) about how ladies are ~*DOMINATING*~
YA literature. I kind of hate that word in this context? It implies
force and superiority to me. IDK. I’m not going to link the articles
here because I am too lazy to go look them up, but they were in the
Atlantic and on Salon if you care to check them out.
In reality: yes, female persons are seeing a good deal (lol almost
typed “god deal”) of success in children’s and young adult literature.
Authors, publishers, and agents that represent these categories are, by
and large, female. Several of the latest worldwide book franchise
sensations have been ladies. This is all true. It is not a secret.
Here’s where I always get hung up: this is an arena in which stories
about the female experience flourish and girls aged 12-18 are the
primary readership. The reasons for this are many and all highly
debatable, but there is no denying that THIS IS FACTS. Why, then, are
people apparently so very surprised that the authors/publishers/agents
seeing success in this arena are… ladies?
I also become very concerned that the knee-jerk response to YA being
largely comprised of female stories (though far from all… I’ll get to
that in a minute) is to somehow pin the lack of male readership on all
these ladies and their girly-girlness. Bros and Lady-Bros: the reason
there is a decline in the reading habits of boys in their teens, or that
they skip from kidlit to VERY SERIOUS ADULT DUDEBOOKS, is not because
of ladies and girl stories.
The reason YA is so popular to read and write among women and girls is because there was a hole in the market, and that hole has been filled.
Girls and women needed stories about their youthful experience. They
were desperate for them. And when they got them, they rejoiced with
There is not a hole in the market for dudebooks, sry2say. They exist,
and have existed for always. They are the books you have to read in
school, the books hailed as classics and highest of highbrow
literaryness. They are the genre staples.
Everyone has made the arguments about why exactly it is that boys
stop reading and/or expressly refuse to pick up stories about girls, so I
won’t tell you what you’ve already heard.
What I *will* tell you is that despite this supposed ~*DOMINANCE*~ of
ladies in YA, when it comes to awards and “Best Of” lists, the dudes
are very well represented. The Printz award, which is the highest honor a
YA book can receive, has been split almost dead 50-50 between men and
women. That “Top 100” list that recently came out? Forty percent male.
One of the most hailed “serious” YA authors who writes highbrow literary YA? John Green.
So, sure, when it comes to uber-popular series that make the authors
millions, we have a handful of successful lady authors. When it comes to
“serious” work? The dudes keep their own just fine. Which should tell
you something — in an arena that women supposedly rule, where the bulk
of books are written by ladies, the awards and accolades are still
almost evenly split between the sexes. Make of that what you will.
* Note that I am being facetious when I say “serious.” I don’t much
care for implying that genre fiction is inherently less serious than
literary. And this is not a slight on Mr. Green. He does good work. So
do many other authors who are written off.
I don’t entirely have the energy to argue, once again, that I’m not
saying that boys “don’t deserve” YA books or that I’m in favor of big
mean combat-boot stomping ladies telling all the men and boys to GTFO of
our YA playground. Suffice to say that is not even remotely my
argument, and if you’re reading that into this post, you’re projecting.
What I *am* saying is that I don’t quite grasp all this handwringing
over women supposedly squatting over YA like crotchety dragons unwilling
to share their gold. There is no lack of male representation in YA,
despite all the flailing to the contrary. There really isn’t. Just
because there are MORE ladies doesn’t mean that we’re shutting out the
boys/men. It just means that there are. more. ladies. in this.
I mean, the fact that it is such a GIGANTIC DEAL that women are
seeing more monetary success in ONE AREA of ONE PROFESSION and that this
fact needs to be dissected repeatedly because it’s very important to figure out where all the dudes are? Continues to not surprise me, actually.
(I’d love to see more people ask where all the minority
author/character representation is, actually. Current YA is VERY VERY
STRAIGHT AND WHITE.)
And stuff. I’m happy to answer questions or further clarify my thoughts. My comments are always open, and my only rule is "don't be a jerk."