Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Boy Books / Girl Books

There are pleanty of girls in this world that read "Harry Potter" but not all that many boys who would admit that they read "Gossip Girl". The break down of girl books and boy books is something that parents and teachers like to deny, but it still exists. I read a lot of girl books. Most of the YA that I read is clearly geared towards teenage girls, and most of the adult books that I read would be classified as womans fiction or chick lit. This of course makes me wonder, what are all the boys reading? Steven King? Science Fiction? Comics?

I recently picked up the book "Ordinary Ghosts" by Eireann Corrigan primarily because it was a YA novel with a boy protagonist and I honestly couldn't remember the last time I read a boy book. In many ways it was very similar to the YA novels written for girls that I read. It's about a 16 year old boy whose mom just died and his brother ran away from home - a typically happy teen adventure. But here is the huge difference. In girl books, the girls spend endless hours talking to their friends. Feelings are over shared - how else would the story move forward? But in "Ordinary Ghosts" the troubled teen regularely refers to his best friend as a duche bag and keeps all of his emotions locked tight inside.

Are girls and boys really that different? Or are writers simply enforcing steriotypes? I've always been a tom boy. I don't think there has ever been a time in my life when I had significantly more female friends than male. As a teen I didn't call my male friends duche bags, but maybe they were only willing to stay up half the night talking about their feelings with me cause I was a girl. Oh wait we weren't discussing our feelings, I was beating them at video games. Shoot.

Thinking about gender rolls in childrens literature also makes me think about gender rolls in our society in general. I am a female engineer, which isn't all that common. A few years ago I actually worked at a company where I was the only female engineer in the entire office. There are two big factors that have enabled me to become a female engineer.

First, I'm dyslexic, which means while I am a smart person who is good at math and science - I have always sucked at reading. Many smart girls are encouraged to go to law school where they can read and talk a lot. Or to become doctors where they can heal people. Only the smart girls who don't know how to read are encouraged to go hang out with the geeky boys and take things apart.

Second, I'm a tom boy. I have always had female friends. But I've always had male friends too. In elementry school when I was the only girl invited to a boys birthday party it didn't bother me. I enjoyed climbing trees with the boys as a kid and beating them at video games as a teen. So when I got to college and realized I was the only girl in my mechanics of meterials class, I didn't freak out. I expect a lot of smart girls walk into engineering classes full of geeky boys and then say, hey maybe I should just be a doctor instead.

Now that I have read a boy book that basically encouraged boys to repress all their feelings, I'm wondering what type of reverse descrimination boys are being faced with. Given todays economy, nursing is the most stable job market. There will always be sick people and you can't outsorce medical care. So it makes sence for more boys to go into nursing than manufacturing. But nurses actually talk to their patience, while factory workers get to play with giant mechines and they don't have to talk to anyone. Maybe that is why there are now more wemon working in the US then men.

Joke of the Day
A beautiful blond walks into a casino and bets $20,000 on one roll at the craps table. She then tells the men running the table that she always feels more comfortable betting naked. She strips off all her clothes and rolls the dice. As soon as the dice lands on the table she screams with delight and starts jumping up and down, hugging the men opperating the table. She then picks up her winnings and her clothes and walks away. After she leaves one of the men says to the other, "So what did she roll?"
"I thought you were watching the table," the other man replies.

1 comment:

CKHB said...

I once read that, as a society, we have more or less proven than a woman can do any job that a man can do, and that the next task is to prove that a man can do any job a woman can do (and not be devalued by it). Nurse, elementary school teacher, secretarial work...

LOVE the joke.