Category: Diversity

The Independent stops reviewing gender-specific kids’ books

In an editorial published yesterday, The Independent on Sunday’s literary editor Katy Guest outlined the manifold problems – artistic, societal and commercial – inherent in publishing children’s books aimed explicitly at one gender over another. You know the kind of thing: How to be a Glittery Pink Fairy Who Also Cooks and Is a Great Mother, or 100 Great Stories About Footballing Soldiers With Blue Wallpaper. Having reeled off the many exasperating qualities of instilling that kind of binary divide from a young age and concluded that ‘What we are doing by pigeon-holing children is badly letting them down’, Guest then expressed her happiness at being in a position to be able to do something about it:

I promise now that the newspaper and this website will not be reviewing any book which is explicitly aimed at just girls, or just boys. Nor will The Independent’s books section. And nor will the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk. Any Girls’ Book of Boring Princesses that crosses my desk will go straight into the recycling pile along with every Great Big Book of Snot for Boys. If you are a publisher with enough faith in your new book that you think it will appeal to all children, we’ll be very happy to hear from you. But the next Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen will not come in glittery pink covers. So we’d thank you not to send us such books at all.

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Finding Feminism: A Woman In Publishing

or

If I Was A Car, I Would Run You Down

Four years ago, I would have probably said we don’t need feminism anymore. I would have said we’re doing ok as a culture and don’t sweat the small stuff like discrepancies in wage, promotion opportunities, and people yelling ‘nice tits’ when you’re walking down the street in the middle of the day. I would have said this stuff will disappear with time, or possibly denied they even happened. Of course, this was before I knew page three existed (because, no, it’s not normal and where I grew up it wasn’t a thing), before Robin Thicke, and before last week’s news that two of the biggest jobs in publishing, previously held by women, are going to men.

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Gender has no place in media coverage of book awards

The shortlist for one of the most coveted awards in science fiction was announced last week – the Arthur C. Clarke award for 2013 has an incredible line up of SF names, or, if you read The Guardian, is a great testament to male domination of the science fiction genre. Alison Flood’s opening sentence ‘reinforcing science fiction’s image as a boys club’ (sorry Angela Carter, Mira Grant, Connie Wilis, Margaret Atwood – seems your memberships are perhaps not as authentic as we all believed), leaves us little doubt that the following coverage will be everything other than informative.

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Should We Publish New Adult Fiction for LGBT Readers?

This is a guest post from Margaret Eckel, who is Prizes & Awards Officer at Booktrust. You can find her on Linkedin and Twitter. If you’re keeping track of trends in young adult publishing then it has been pretty hard to miss the rise of the ‘steamies.’  There was an article in The Independent.  And The Telegraph.  And The New York Times. The steamy, or ‘new adult’ novel, is similar to a young adult book in length, subject matter and emotional impact, but a steamy contains more detailed sex scenes than a typical YA title.

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Chick lit officially bad for you, claims study

Defenders of lost causes, prepare to fortify the frontlines: Anyone who has previously had cause to deride ‘chick lit’ – whether out of genuine frustration with the genre’s shortcomings or simply out of the same kind of dismissive, unthinking misogyny implied by the term itself – will now be able to dress up their antipathy as sanctimonious concern for female readers, because science. A study carried out by Melissa J. Kaminski and Robert G. Magee of Virginia Tech university entitled “Does this book make me look fat? The effect of protagonist body weight and body esteem on female readers’ body esteem” suggests that novels featuring characters who obsess over their weight lead to similar concerns in the women who read them. And if a fairly lightweight piece of fluff can do that, just imagine what might happen to those unfortunates looking for an easy read for the beach who end up suckered in by that new Bell Jar cover.

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Book Burning Back in Fashion with 50 Shades Libricide

Book Burning! Join your neighbours for some 50 Shades hating!There aren’t many people I know who have come away from reading 50 Shades of Grey feeling they have experienced a well-written, deeply thoughtful piece of literature. In fact, I’d go so far as to wager there hasn’t been a single reaction to the book that has praised its ability to deal with serious relationship issues in a considered and useful manner. Most reviews I have read of the thing from various bloggers and critics think it’s trite bullshit. Apparently, though, it’s such incredibly popular trite bullshit that a women’s rights group in the UK have taken it upon themselves to tell us we must under no circumstances read it, as the idea that a young, naive woman can have a relationship with an older, controlling man is ‘dangerous‘. To ensure we aren’t exposed to any unseemly ideas, they will be holding 50 Shades of Grey bonfire on November 5th.

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Mills & Boon empower women everywhere with digital erotica relaunch

In our latest instalment of ‘Fifty Shades of Grey, A-Hur-Hur-Hur’: venerable pensioner stimulators Mills & Boon have relaunched 12 backlist short stories on their digital-only erotica line Spice, under the banner ‘12 shades of surrender‘. Just in case you didn’t quite get what they’re going for there, the title of the campaign is backed by the copy ‘Want more than Fifty Shades? Mills & Boon have the answer with 12 shades of surrender!’ Subtle. Also, shoddy maths (12 < 50, Mills & Boon).

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In Brightest Gay: DC Comics outs Green Lantern

Green Lantern It’s a jarring moment when you first realise there aren’t any gay superheroes in the mainstream (i.e. an Avenger or some kind of -man with an animal or the word ‘super’ at the start of his name. There’s a couple of X-Men, and there were a couple of secondary characters implied to be such in Watchmen, but don’t get me started on whether or not Alan Moore’s nut jobs even count as superheroes). It’s a bit like realising that Obama is the first sitting US President to make public his support for legalising gay marriage: this doesn’t feel like a conversation we should still be having this far into the 21st century.

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