So I have a lot of feelings every single time I hear that people are “angry” or “annoyed” or whatever that they can’t find ONE SINGLE YA BOOK IN THE ENTIRE YA SECTION FOR BOYS TO READ and YOUNG MEN ARE FAILING BECAUSE GIRLS ARE TAKING OVER LITERATURE and HOW CAN BOYS POSSIBLY BE EXPECTED TO WANT TO TOUCH WHINY GIRLY CRAP WITH A TEN FOOT POLE?????
I have a few thoughts.
1) If you cannot find at least a handful of books in the YA section that might appeal to a teenage boy, you aren’t looking very hard. Maybe peruse this list of 140 titles that would appeal to teenage boys. Also, that list is from last year and similar books are being released every month.
2) LOLOLOLOLOL okay yeah young boys have absolutely nothing to read, you’re right. It’s not like you can walk into any library or bookstore and find that the majority of the books in it are about white men.
3) I resent the implication that a book with a female protagonist OR romantic element, no matter how slight, is a “girl book” unless it’s by some guy who gets really upset when anyone calls him a romance author because HIS BOOKS ARE NOT ROMANCES THEY ARE ~SERIOUS LITERATURE~ because the two are mutually exclusive. I also resent that we continue to encourage our boys to distance themselves vehemently and often violently from anything that could be considered even slightly non-masculine.
There is this thing people say: “My son/brother/I had nothing in the YA section to read! They/I had to go STRAIGHT FROM KID’S BOOKS TO LORD OF THE RINGS/WHEEL OF TIME/ENDER’S GAME/CATCHER IN THE RYE/ETC.!”
Wow. I mean, do you understand what a tragedy it is that these poor boys don’t even get to stop in the YA section and they are forced to go immediately to the thousands and thousands and thousands of fantasy and science fiction and ~real literature~ books that are about young white men coming of age and having adventures? Greatest tragedy of our generation, honestly.
I mean doesn’t anyone find it a little… odd? That the fantasy and sci-fi shelves are bursting with young 16-25 year old men who are doing lots of different things (including kissing/sexing ladies OH MY GOD ROMANCE???!!!!?!?!!?), and then the YA section is hanging out over here with lots of stories with VERY SIMILAR CONTENT (Kristin Cashore! Tamora Pierce! Beth Revis!), but everyone looks at those books and goes “Ugh, girl books, there’s no possible way a young man or even a smart girl could be into those?”
TAMORA PIERCE LITERALLY WRITES ABOUT KNIGHTS AND MAGIC AND FANTASY CREATURES AND WAR AND SASSY ANIMAL SIDEKICKS. She just writes about them from a *girl’s* perspective. Which means boys are physically incapable of reading it, I guess?
I just can’t wrap my brain around the fact that people do not get the irony in what they’re saying. They don’t even realize as the words are rolling off their tongue that YA is so female-centric because coming-of-age stories for young men have already been staples in the “real books” section for decades. Because being a young straight white man is universal, see, while being a girl is something that’s impossible to care about unless you’re both a girl and stupid. (COOL GIRLS read the boy stuff, duh!)
And even then, even then, there’s still plenty of boy-centric YA, too. Because there is no boy-free space, you guys. That’s the thing about privilege — you’re so used to being allowed in every space and have everyone accept you as the default that when you can’t immediately find something that’s obviously “for you,” you claim that it’s excluding you and that you must be included. You don’t even see that you can literally sidestep into another area that is catered exactly to you.
Honestly, to a point, this is not even the fault of young men. It is the fault of a society that continues to tell them that they’re the most important of all. Boys don’t start out believing that they can’t relate to girls, or that romance is sappy and beneath them. They’re not born with the idea that sex is a game or they’re “naturally” better at certain things. We feed them that. And we continue to feed it to them every time we huff about there being no “boy stuff” in YA, which is a flat-out, complete and total lie.
Of course, at a certain point they can reason on their own, and then it’s on them whether they’re willing to learn some empathy, just as it’s on any other privileged class.
There is so much more to this, like the fact that patriarchy often drips from those so-called “girl books,” even though they’re “for girls.” That publishers literally can’t afford to be idealists and they have to take society and money into consideration, and how much that sucks.
I have said this before, and I doubt I’ll stop saying it: if young men aren’t reading, it is not because of women and their stupid girl books. There are other elements at work here, because there has never and will never be a “lack” of books written by dudes for dudes. Please try again.
In the meantime, I might segue into the way we pish-posh “romance” and sex if it’s written by women, but that’s another post.