Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Women Dominating YA Part 2! Now with a conversation from Twitter!

So part 2 of the 'Are Women Dominating YA" conversation is up on the Stacked Books blog. 

There was also a great twitter conversation between authors E. Lockhart, Maureen Johnson, John Green, Maggie Stiefvater, and librarian 'Teen Librarian Toolbox' about what this blog post means and what the bigger picture of gender on the NYT list means.

It should be known that I follow E. MJ and John Green on twitter so I was sort of reading this as it unfolded but the link provides an inclusive view of the whole conversation. I adore these authors and I think that they are so smart, and MJ in particular has taken on gender in YA before with her cover flip article.  Also, here's the awesome slideshow of cover flipped books. 

The twitter conversation brings up some great points. First of all, is the biggest problem here with the NYT best seller list? Or is it with gender in YA (and the idea of females dominating YA). MJ clearly believes gender is the problem, although agrees that the NYT best seller is rife with issues as well.

I think that perhaps the NYT issue is a big deal, but as MJ points out it is more concerning for writers themselves, not the public as a whole. I mean I can see the issues with judging ALL of the YA books out there by placing them on one list that only has 15 spots, but the issue of gender in YA is so much bigger than one problematic list.

John Green also makes a good point by saying that the NYT bestseller list probably shows more clearly which YA books adults are buying. Rather than what YA books teenagers are buying. Although, full disclaimer I am an adult buying lots of YA books and I certainly don't think that there is anything wrong with adults reading YA. But it is interesting, where is the list that tells us which YA books teens are really reading?

John also states that he believes that list of which YA books teens are buying would be largely by female authors and perhaps this is true. I don't know where such a list exists, and yes there are a lot of female YA authors so this could be very possible. But I don't think that is the main point in this blog post and discussion. I think that the main point is that regardless of the fact that there are MANY female YA authors who write lots of amazing books, the NYT YA bestseller list is disproportionately full of books written by male authors. So, male YA authors are still the ones getting the 'acclaim' for their books, even if male YA authors are technically in the minority.

Kelly over at Stacked Books also brings up some problematic tweets from the twitter conversation between the authors and a librarian:

"1. Green's comment that we need to accept this is happening and "begin a conversation about why."

There is no "beginning" this conversation. It has been on going for a long, long time. But it's interesting that the moment a male steps in to the gender conversation, it's a beginning. Just because someone decides to enter a conversation, doesn't mean it's the beginning of a conversation."


"And so I revert to the question I keep wondering about: how much does a revered male's voice help a female's career? When a man who is seen as someone with power and authority within a field -- be it the YA world, the librarianship world, the teaching world, the publishing world, the corporate world, and so on and so on -- why is it his word is what can make (or break) a woman's chances in that same field? What is it that allows him continued authority and respect? And hell, he doesn't necessarily even need to be revered. It's likely having a male voice is enough to help a lady out in many, many places."

As Kelly states, this is not about John Green specifically. I adore John Green. This is about a sexist marketplace and a sexist world, where because a critically acclaimed male author writes a review or blurb for a female author the book may be better received or sell more copies. This just happens to be a good example of what the widespread sexism in our world means in the YA lit world.

I'll leave you with this quote from the second stacked books article,

"It is clear there is an issue to discuss here, and I am so glad it's bring discussed.

But it should also be clear that in discussing this issue, there are even messier, sometimes more problematic, knots to untangle." 

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