Is it a good idea to label certain YA books as written “for girls” and others as written “for boys”?

In today’s society we appropriately view prejudice and discrimination with distaste.

However, instead of simply saying that prejudice is wrong we ought to analyze and pinpoint which of our actions result in its continued existence.

Unnecessary labeling often results in prejudice and in eventual discrimination between the “groups” that have been separated by these labels.

I am not, of course, referring to the labeling of jars of jam or the labeling of clothing that needs to be separated by size and brand. Those types of labels are perfectly acceptable  :  )

To be specific, I’m referring to the labeling of certain books as being written specifically for boys and others as just for girls.

In the past, I labeled my own work as “Chick Lit” and now, the more I think about it, the more inaccurate “Chick Lit” sounds. 

Here’s why:

When we label certain genres of music, art, literature, and even clothing styles as specifically for one group of individuals who share a single trait in common, we unnecessarily separate part of the population into a group.

Groups of people, when separated, struggle to cover the uncomfortable feeling of being “different” by doing their best to identify with the group with which they have been categorized. Identifying with the group they’ve been placed with may, to some individuals, involve making the group that has been labeled as their polar opposite a target.

This is where severe prejudice and discrimination turn into a real problem, even a threat!

We become so busy separating ourselves into groups and focusing on what makes each group different that we forget the overwhelming amount of things we ALL have in common.

In a way, we forget what makes us, at our core, human.

Take, for example, men and women.

Obviously, men and women are physically different.

Does that mean men are from Mars and women are from Venus?

Nah, I’m pretty sure we’re all from Earth.

But, let’s just pretend that men and women are two different types of creatures from different planets.

Would it be a bad idea for me, as a woman, to make an effort to learn more about this alien race known as “man” for the purpose of empathizing with them, and understanding their perspective on life?

No, that wouldn't be a bad idea, it would be a great one!

Understanding and empathy usually lead to greater knowledge and greater peace between two, seemingly different, people.

I’ve always said I wish every guy had to be a woman for at least a month (and vice versa).

I don’t mean "be a woman" by dressing in drag for a month, but I mean I wish every guy could really, physically become a woman for at least a month only for the purpose of helping him to understand two very important things:

(1) men and women are not as different as society claims we are and
(2) Cramping is soooo NOT FUN!

When we take the opportunity to see the world through another person's eyes, we realize how much we have in common and in realizing that we’re cut from the same cloth (or part of the same “group”) we can’t help but treat them with more respect.

This is why I no longer want to use the term “Chick Lit”.

Is it really so necessary to create labels that point men towards certain books and women towards others?

If knowledge is for everyone, then books should be for everyone.

A man should be able to pick up a novel that is written by a female author, all about a female character without worrying that something is wrong with him for wanting to read it.

There’s nothing wrong with being curious about another human being’s perspective.

In fact, this type of curiosity, coupled with the ability to show empathy is part of what makes being human such a beautiful experience.

So, if I came across a big surly guy sitting in the park reading “The Diary of Bridge Jones” by Helen Fielding or “Behaving Like Adults” by (the awesome!) Anna Maxted, that would make me so happy!

In conclusion, from now on I’m not going to call my crazy little stories “Chick Lit”, I think I’ll just call them “Human Lit” : )

 What do you think?

 


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