Literary Criticism and Gender

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So, I’m pretty sure I was supposed to post a review yesterday, but I just plum forgot.

Anyhoo…this article came across my radar this morning in which a male literary critic discusses gender bias in the critiquing biz. I found it very intriguing, and I wonder why I never thought of it before. Clearly, the writer felt similarly befuddled.

The article is available here, and the conclusion he comes to is this:

“…the solution to this unjust system has to be both to encourage more female critics and to assign more female authors to both male and female critics…”

This leads me to ponder on the gender bias in reading in general. Now, I personally read both male and female writers, and I think my reviews on this site reflect that. But, I’ve noticed that many people gender their reading, and many more people, ahem PARENTS, tend to gender reading for their children. How many of you women out there were only ever presented with “girly” type material — tutus, parties, princesses, pink, etc., but were never introduced to things like questing, danger, science, or mystery?

Excuse my French, but what the crap is that!? Why would no one have ever offered me some Fred Gipson (Old Yeller) or William H. Armstrong (Sounder) when I was a kid. I mean, I ❤ ❤ ❤ dogs. Why would no one have suggested those to me? Because I’m female? Frankly, that’s stupid.

And this totally goes the other way as well. Boys are given suggestions like Gipson and Armstrong as well as William Golding (Lord of the Flies) and Gary Paulsen (Hatchet & Dogsong). But rarely are they encouraged to read something like Judy Blume or Jane Austen. Heaven forbid they enjoy reading something about ballet and tutus! The world might slip off its axis or something.

Now, I know I’m generalizing and speaking hyperbolically, and there are certainly exceptions to the statements I made above. But I would be generally interested to hear from anyone who can deny that there is still a gender bias when it comes to reading and/or picking out books for children. Seriously, shoot me a message, I would love to have that conversation.

Just doing a quick Google search I can see that discussion of gender bias, balance, and discrimination has been going on at least since 2011 (probably before I just didn’t find that in my quick search), and it continues to this day. Why, for the love of everything, in the twenty-first century, are we still gendering books. Why do we gender anything for that matter? Shouldn’t enjoyment be the focus? Like, if you really like floral patterns, you should be able to read a book about floral patterns regardless of gender. And if you really like sports, you should be able to read a book about sports regardless of gender. Duh!

So, why am I ranting about this? Well, it’s been on my mind for a long time, and the article I read this morning just triggered something in my soap-box sensors. But also, gendering books to begin with, leads to the kind of gender bias in reviewing and critiquing that the article talks about. Am I missing out on books because I’m a woman? When I submit reviews to journals or magazines, do they consider my gender as compared to the author’s gender? Does that cause me to lose out?

It has to stop. The gender disparity in the entire literary world, just needs to stop.

I’m thinking about doing a year where I only accept and review female writers. What do you all think? Is that a great idea? Or does that contribute even more to the gender divide?

As always my lovelies, happy reading.

2 thoughts on “Literary Criticism and Gender

  1. I think you should read whatever you want regardless of gender, race, trends, whatever. It’s your precious time, and you should decide how to use it. As for the gender bias, I experienced it as a kid at school, but not much at home. And as lover of fairy tales, I had gender and genderless hero/heroines, which is one of the coolest things about fairy tales!
    Great post 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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