I’m frankly baffled by the pronouncement by Katy Guest, literary editor for the UK Independent newspaper, that The Independent on Sunday will no longer promote any books that are “marketed to exclude either sex.” Go, read what she says: We’re Done with Gender Specific Books.
She is concerned that boys like “adventure books with thin action-based plots” and that girls like “boring princesses”, and while I concur that there are fewer well written children’s books and teen fiction, I think that Ms. Guest is revealing that, as is perhaps unsurprising for a “literary editor” that she’s actually just a snob.
My 10yo daughter doesn’t want to read about boys having boyish adventures, she wants to read about girls. If those girls are doing adventurous things, that’s great, but her idea of what’s adventurous might be going to a party where she doesn’t know anyone or having to babysit an annoying little sister (see the Dork Diaries, her current obsession). My son, 14, prefers those (and imagine I have a sneering lilt to this phrase) “thin action-based plots” and reads plenty of murder mysteries.
Do those investigators go to parties where they don’t know anyone? Do they babysit little sisters who are brats? No. They question homeless people and get into fist fights with bad guys. And that’s just how my son — and I — like it.
I can’t express strongly enough how appalled I am by Katy Guest’s decision and by the fact that a reasonably reputable British publication is standing behind her, not coming down with a “Katy, Katy, your job is to help people find good reads, not change the world.” and a suggestion that if she does want to have her gender-neutral protest that perhaps she should be painting placards, not making the publication a laughingstock.
Or, way, way better. Why isn’t Ms. Guest writing better books for children, books where girls get to enjoy thin action-based plots intertwined with UNboring princesses and, presumably, more depth.
And for the record, us guys really do often like to relax by visiting Mars while gals seem to be quite predisposed to find Venus more comfortable and satisfying. Or is that too gender specific for you, Katy?