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AIBU to believe that this is a self-perpetuating cycle?

(63 Posts)
KaseyM Thu 04-Jul-13 13:08:12

Went to DS's school - received a booklist for over the summer which is split according to year and gender...

Looking at the books for DS's year group I see that the books "recommended by girls" have a mixture of girl AND boy protagonists whilst the boys' books are all about ... well.. boys.

Glancing around, the kids were dutifully reading from the list ascribed to their gender and I know that DS will likely be too embarrassed to pick one from the girls' side (although his favourite is on there) as they have hand in a review.

All this in mind:

AIBU to think this just perpetuates the cycle of girls reading about/watching boys but not vice-versa?

AIBU to think the school shouldn't have done this?

& AIBU to choose for DS myself - 1 about a boy, 1 about a girl and 1 about both?

I realise that's a lot of AIBUs!!

CoalDustWoman Thu 04-Jul-13 22:42:45

And still, we get people arguing about nature not nurture.

Society is fucked. We are going backwards at a great rate of knots. We seem to be in a bizarre situation where the laws are such that sexual discrimination is outlawed, but the outward forces towards gender determinism in childhood is greater than before the laws came in. I was a pup in the 70s - it seemed to be better for kids then, didn't it?

I despair. What the fuck happened? Why did "books for girls" and "books for boys" even get thought of as a concept in 2013. How limiting! Please raise it. We want our following generations to be well-rounded, don't we?

KaseyM Thu 04-Jul-13 22:43:08

Well it's a new school (transition day) so don't want to be awkward but I might have word with teach in September saying "DS was really worried that he'd done a book from the girls' list. He thought it wasn't allowed. Surely you didn't mean that. " kind of thing.

Honestly it is such a backward arsey status quo thing to do, especially after they'd given us this baloney about challenging ourselves and going outside our comfort zone.

What's wrong with people??!!!

KaseyM Thu 04-Jul-13 22:48:42

"but the outward forces towards gender determinism in childhood is greater than before the laws came in"

Loving that coaldust!!! The timing is so coincidental don't you think? Just when women were getting laws to give them a chance we get this big fat thumb of biological determinism squashing us down again.

Feels like a conspiracy sometimes. confused

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Crikeyblimey Thu 04-Jul-13 22:50:28

Ds brought a letter home from school the other day about an author visit to school and the option to buy a signed copy of the book.

The letter refers to this visit being for year 5 boys. I asked him why only the boys and he said "the girls have had their visit".

The author is female but writes books for "boys" with male protagonists.

I am so cross about this blatant segregation sad. Why couldn't both boys and girls attend both book readings?

I was going to just leave it but I think, after reading this thread, that an email is needed.

Grrrrr sad

CoalDustWoman Thu 04-Jul-13 23:24:07


This isn't even a straigh down the line feminist issue, ffs. (Unless being a feminst means being someone who believes in something other than strict gender-roles. Or is that a rad fem in backlash terminology. I think that's for another thread.) It's about people. And not boxing them in. This harms all of us.

It's fucked up. Big Style. This is something that the MRAs should be on board with too.

fuzzpig Thu 04-Jul-13 23:29:56

I would be extremely pissed off if we got a book list divided by gender. What bollocks. YANBU.

I can't imagine my DCs' school doing that though. So far they've seemed pretty hot on stamping out any sexist talk by discussing views as a class ("boys can't wear pink" etc)

I would quite like a t-shirt with "down with bat-arsed wankery" on it.

ithaka Thu 04-Jul-13 23:31:06

We had a newsletter from the Primary School asking Dads to come in and help with landscaping the playground. I went in and complained - especially since one of the mums is a landscape architect who has done a lot of work for the school voluntarily - what a slap in the face for her. I don't mind being THAT mum.

The HT was unpleasant & defensive to my face, but to be fair did apologise in the next newsletter.

fuzzpig Thu 04-Jul-13 23:31:31

OMG crikey just read your post about author visit! Am lost for words shock well apart from to say yes, write that email!

CoalDustWoman Thu 04-Jul-13 23:47:44

What is wrong with people? How hard is it to s

And folks ask - why do women not want to do the "hard" jobs? And say there's no barriers. So, there's no barrier put up when Dad's are asked re landscaping when there's an expert on hand, who happens to be a woman? What of a bunch of blokes turn up and so does she, as someone with a skill in this area? What kind of reception will she get?

Questions, questions, questions.

CoalDustWoman Thu 04-Jul-13 23:55:38


How hard is it to say "parents"? Or divide books into "adventure" or "animals" or whatever? What is it that makes the gender divide so easy? And the traits of each gender so easy to divide in stereotype?

It baffles me. I share my interests, book-wise, with 4 people in the main. My mum, my dad, my brother, my mum and a female friend. It's a veritable Venn diagram. My Mum is quite stereotpical in her book choices i.e. they are of the exclusive female genre. The others are more wide-spread. But the non female-aimed books are largely seen as "male" books. Because they are not female-orientated. It's quite fascinating. I am about to have a holiday with my folks. They have masses of time on their hands, so I am going to challenge my Dad to read some women-orientated books. Any suggestions?

nooka Fri 05-Jul-13 00:13:46

My children (boy and girl) mostly read the same books. ds is as happy to read about girls as boys, although he did complain recently that one of the books me and dd really liked and were suggesting for him had the blurb on that back about a girl wanting to do something and not being allowed and why couldn't we find something a bit different. It was a bit sad because it was a quite small part of the book, which was excellent. He obviously feels it's time to read books about guys breaking the gender barrier instead smile

I'd be very peeved at the school. We have a 'Battle of the Books' thing here, which is age group only (they have to read set books and answer questions on them).

UptoapointLordCopper Fri 05-Jul-13 08:01:20

I blame it on all those pseudo-scientific male-brain/female-brain nonsense. Perfectly reasonable people say "ah but boys and girls are different" and proceed to entrench the gender stereotypes. How can they not be different if we do this to them!? It drives me potty-mouth potty.

Buffy - like your reading list!

Lavenderloves Fri 05-Jul-13 08:09:33

I have one girl and a boy, i try to keep the princess type books to a minimum. ( they rarely have good stories)

Good stories are much better imho and they both enjoy them together.

Phineyj Fri 05-Jul-13 11:48:41

How about one of Marina Lewycka's books for your Dad, Coaldust? (not sure if I've spelt her surname right).

Phineyj Fri 05-Jul-13 11:49:25

Crikey I did spell it right! Go me!

MyHumpsMyLovelyBabyBumps Fri 05-Jul-13 14:44:30

yanbu isn't it more effort to make 2 lists confused

LeBFG Fri 05-Jul-13 14:57:13

From teaching in the UK about 8 years ago I remember there was a lot of crap about learning styles (brain based pseudoscience) and hip right-on-ness about being 'inclusive'. So, engaging black boys in reading and getting asian girls in sport etc by playing to their interests. This naturally led on to the girl/boy inclusiveness....leading, naturally enough, to this style of gender-based reading lists. Very few people were standing up at the time to say: let's challenge the children. Girls might on average want pink princess stories but exposing them to other stuff they might discover they in fact prefer adventure stories. This is reminiscent of how schools were wedded to the chocolate and coke machines (which they were making bucks out of) and refused to stock healthier stuff because it never sold. Course, now they only stock healthy stuff and, lo, the kids buy and eat it hmm. Schools are crap.

LeBFG Fri 05-Jul-13 14:58:36

Sorry, I meant to say (the point , doh) that this is an example of tragic overthinking not underthinking.

fuzzpig Fri 05-Jul-13 15:52:56

OP out of interest can you give some examples of what books are on the list? I might look out for them at work (library) and see who borrows them.

We don't shelve things by gender BTW. We do have a spinner thing where we put the series like beast quest etc.

Am I imagining it or is this vast tide of huge series a relatively new thing? I remember my DSD, now 15, going through a phase of reading all the rainbow fairies books when they were quite new. I don't remember there being much like that when I was younger apart from Animal Ark (yawn) and goosebumps (yay! grin). Now there are loads of these series. Some aren't even written by one single author, I was quite shocked when I found out about writer bank things.

Anyway, I think these books do so well as there is the argument that any reading even if it is 'trash' is better than none. Which is true. But I also agree with the view I read recently that actually racing through series like RF/BQ etc is really more like 'consumption' than reading and that maybe it is better to slow down and read fewer books but better quality... but then who's to say what is quality anyway? Maybe some of the older books we now think of as children's classics were once thought of as trash too? I don't know.

Sorry, I'm rambling now blush. DD just turned 6 and isn't reading chapter books herself yet, and I've only read her a few but I like the fact that due to my job I get to choose at the moment! We've read 2 Jill Tomlinsons, George's Marvellous Medicine and are now partway through Paddington. Coming up next, The Worst Witch grin DD has occasionally brought home a RF book from the school library but seems to have just flicked through and admired the covers/character names (eg her friends' names), she's not really bothered about hearing the stories. Whereas she gets very excited when I bring home a chapter book I've chosen for our evenings together. I don't suppose that will last forever though.

TolliverGroat Fri 05-Jul-13 16:33:06

There were things like the Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew and the Three Investigators, fuzzpig, unless you're much older than I am. I used to love the Hardy Boys.

KRITIQ Fri 05-Jul-13 17:50:07

Coal Dust, you are right. At the risk of sounding like the old fart that I am, there genuinely wasn't this compulsory heteronormative gender conformity business with books, toys and games back in the 70's.

From about 3rd grade onwards (age 8) we read books as a class - both boys and girls. I remember reading ones with girl protagonists (e.g. Blue Willow, Island of the Blue Dolphin, all the Laura Ingalls Wilder ones, Charlotte's Web, etc. and some with boys like Tom Sawyer, Old Yeller and My Side of the Mountain. They were pretty crap with regard to cultural diversity, which was a failing (but not surprising in such a homogeneous, rural community in the US,) but I honestly don't recall any pressure on either boys or girls to read "only" books targeting their gender.

However, at Uni, I did a post grad literature course one year when I had a few hours spare in the timetable, which was taught by an author of children's books that were popular in the 50's and 60's. She suggested that if you want commercial success in writing for children, make the main character male, as girls will read about both genders but boys are less likely to. I remember feeling pretty outraged by that idea and started reflecting on the predominance of male characters in everything from cartoons to children's books. But honestly, it was nothing like it is now.

Just wonder where it is all leading, this indoctrination (for that is what it is.)

fuzzpig Fri 05-Jul-13 21:51:39

Ah yes didn't think of them (I'm 26 BTW grin) were they huge series? I guess I thought of them as proper stories as mysteries have to have a plot of some description. Rather than the endless 'Alexandra the Royal Baby Fairy' etc hmm

Mind you I have always been what would be described as a 'tomboy' so maybe I just automatically assume negative things about such books. I just cannot bring myself to think of RF etc as 'proper books' is that bad?! <snob> blush

fuzzpig Fri 05-Jul-13 21:53:59

And yes, indoctrination indeed. That is what it feels like. As though it is just a matter of time before DD falls into the trap of "I must only read pink sparkly books". confused

TolliverGroat Fri 05-Jul-13 23:09:35

If you ever have to read one of Darcey Bussell's sodding magic fairy bbc allerina books you would beg to be allowed to read a RF book instead (probably. I've never actually read a RF book, but they can't possibly be worse than DB).

There were 58 Hardy Boys books (though they've written more now), 64 Nancy Drews (ditto) and 43 Three Investigators titles. In comparison there are 72 Beast Quest books available today.

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