Hello everybody and a good Sunday to all!
Quite a few things to talk about this week…
The winner of a signed ARC of Another Little Piece is:
The winner of a copy of RISE OF THE CORPSES + a copy of QUEEN OF THE DEAD is:
The winner of a copy of Strangers in the Land is:
The winner of a copy of Days of Blood and Starlight is:
Congratulations to the winners! You know the drill – send us an email (contact AT thebooksmugglers DOT com) with your snail mail address, and we’ll get your winnings out to you as soon as possible.
Gender, Sexism, YA and your weekly dose of Wtfuckery:
It’s been an interesting couple of weeks with regards to gender discussion both in Real Life and online.
A few weeks ago I attended a panel on “Gender Differences: Nature x Nurture” as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas. The speakers were Simon Baron-Cohen, Laura Nelson, Deborah Cameron, and Jo-Anne Dillabough. Each speaker gave a 20 minute presentation and then there was time for some debate and Q&A with the public. I will just link to The Other Ana’s recap of the event (she is now my neighbour – I KNOW – and we went to the event together) because she talks about what went on and engages with the ideas presented in a much better way than I could possibly do. But in a nutshell: Baron-Cohen’s arguments leaned heavily towards the “nature” side and gender essentialism whilst all the other speakers (who were all AWESOME, by the way) went for a broader approach and not only put Baron-Cohen’s flawed arguments in historical context but proceeded to provide better arguments for the “nurture” theory.
I think I fell in love with Deborah Cameron, who basically demolished Baron-Cohen’s arguments in a smart and engaging way. From The Other Ana’s post:
She started by addressing the claim that feminists deny the reality of gender differences: she said that in all of her life she’s never heard a feminist claim, for example, that the ability to become pregnant is socially constructed, or deny that this biological difference affects people’s lives. However, the meaning we attribute to these differences is socially constructed, and what feminists like herself question is its inevitability.
The thing is (and this is the point I’d like to make in this post), at the end of the panel, even though Baron-Cohen’s arguments were clearly, extremely flawed as evidenced by the other three panelists’ research, most of the audience seemed to engage with him and him alone and most of the questions asked were directed at him. He was also the only author whose book was available to be sold and signed. It was very disheartening to see this problematic bias toward male privilege in such obvious display.
Which is why posts like last week’s YA Fiction and the End of Boys by Sarah Mesle that appeared on the Los Angeles Review of Books, in which the author bemoans the lack of proper “male roles” for boys in current YA literature, make me see red. Not only because it demonstrates an absolute lack of knowledge about current YA but also because it reinforces the idea that there is such a thing as a homogeneous “manhood”. That post is in other words Essentialism 101 and the most frustrating thing? The author goes as far as to acknowledge that “manhood” is a construct but that we should still treat it as though it’s not anyway because of…reasons.
And then, as though this wasn’t enough, one day after the aforementioned post showed up online, an YA author wrote a piece about Top 10 Tropes in YA and the second item in the list is and I quote:
2. The protagonist is female. Let’s face it, the majority of lead characters in YA are girls. This is one trope I actively seek the opposite. I love guy POV books.
I wish I was kidding.
It is heartbreaking, infuriating and frustrating to see the female gender called a trope, which basically just equates being female with being “a common or overused theme or device: cliché”.
And ok, yes. Of course we are all tired about this crap and I really do wish we could just ignore, hand-wave and not tweet or talk about these ridiculous articles because they do happen all the time and it is frustrating, repetitive and tiresome to go on and on about the same things over and over again. BUT it is because this keeps happening, because this discussion is still alive and people keep writing about girls and gender differences like this, because this just mirrors what our society thinks about girls and boys and their supposedly innate differences which always puts girls on a different (often lower) level that WE MUST KEEP TALKING ABOUT IT.
This Week on The Book Smugglers:
On Monday, Thea reviews Philip Pullman’s Fairy Tales From the Brothers Grimm and we will have a copy of the book to giveaway.
On Tuesday, we have a guest post (and giveaway) from David Colby on the inspirations and influences for his LGBT SciFi book Debris Dreams.
On Wednesday, Ana reviews MG novel The Kneebone Boy by Ellen Potter, followed by Thea’s review of the highly anticipated Flame of Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier (SQUEE!).
Then on Thursday, Thea is back with a review of classic novel The Ordinary Princess by M.M. Kaye.
Finally on Friday, we end the week with a joint review of Steampunk-Fantasy MG The Peculiar by Stefan Bachmann. Over at Kirkus, Ana reviews Insignia by S. J. Kincaid. PLUS, to celebrate the newly designed repacked Earthsea books, we have a giveaway of the entire series – some of our favorite books ever.
And that’s it from us today! It’s bye for now and as usual we remain…
~ Your Friendly Neighborhood Book Smugglers