Let books be books

22:17, Mar 27 2014

Because of the huge response to last week's blog post, I've decided to write a clarification.

It seems that some Stuff readers last week thought my post meant that I would stop boys or girls from reading books, simply because they have main characters that's not of the appropriate gender. No, this is not true. I'm opposed to gender marketing of books - a very different and in actual fact, opposing, issue.

If anyone of the naysayers had looked up the "Let Books Be Books" or "Let Toys Be Toys" campaigns that I mentioned, they would very quickly realise this.

It also amused me to no end to have people calling me the "thought police" and "too PC". Let's examine this: "thought police" is a reference to George Orwell's 1984, a novel about totalitarian governments.

My blog post sought to make people think about the choices we make in life and for our children - and whether the beliefs they display now about gender is a reflection of biology or culture. So...I was actually doing the opposite of thought policing, I was inviting people to get out of their comfort zones and think for themselves. 

As for being "too PC", I was expressing an opinion obviously outside of mainstream popular culture. If I was actually being "too PC", I would be writing blog entries calling for pink-and-blue covers for books, and "what's wrong with boys playing with trucks and girls who want to be fairy princesses".


There is nothing inherently wrong with girls who want to read books about garden fairies and boys who want to read books about guns and swords. Just as there's nothing wrong if they want to do the reverse.

But it was obvious from the responses given that many readers disagreed with me. And so we're left with the question of: why do people think this way? Who said in the first place that boys should love sword and gun fighting and girls should love playing with dolls and toy ovens?

I don't think it's as simple as "biology".  As a society, we do many things daily that is in opposition to what biology and genes would have us do. Monogamy is arguably against human biology - and the female of many species are actually more prone to having multiple partners than the male, to ensure their offspring inherits the strongest DNA. That's the cold, biological fact of it. WAIT - before anyone jumps in, I'm not going there with a discussion around romantic relationships, this is a blog about books and reading...let's keep it that way.

Fortunately, we don't live in a society that's entirely governed by biology. Most of us have also been blessed with a rational mind through which we can think and reason, a mind that also creates beautiful art, architecture and literature that we all enjoy on a daily basis.

So to recap, kids can damn well read books about any subject under the sun, by any gender of author. I fully encourage children to explore all subjects of books to their heart's content - whether the main character is a fairytale princess or a dragon prince or an ugly frog. I'm opposed to the type of pink-and-blue marketing used to sell certain types of books to one gender or another, because what we feed our minds with at that age has a strong influence on us, whether or not we like it, even as adults. I would say the comments section last week reflects this.


And now, let's close the chapter and begin afresh again next week. Or I'll send the damn three little pigs to huff and puff and blow your house of cards down.


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