Jul 13, 2013


Yesterday I saw a list on Mashable of the 15 Young-Adult Books Every Adult Should Read.

I've read a bunch of these and they are, indeed, very good. But as I scrolled through the list, I found myself thinking, "These are all about boys. Hmm." It wasn't until I got to the tenth book on the list (I repeat, the tenth) that I came to one with a female protagonist. As it turns out, only three out of the 15 books featured female main characters. Three. Which is exactly 20%.

YA is often dismissed as drivel for teenage girls. Twilight has a lot to do with that, as it's the only YA book a lot of people have heard of. So you get articles like this by well-intentioned writers who are really just trying to get people interested in YA, but it's at the expense of all things girl-related. Look, YA is about boys too! Come on, won't you give it a shot now that you won't accidentally read about makeup/kissing/shopping?

Everybody loves a good coming-of-age story, right? How come all the famous coming-of-age, naval-gazing, important ones are about boys? What is it about a young woman's journey into adulthood that gets it dismissed as something that only applies to members of her own gender? The male experience is universal and valued, while the female one is specialized, a niche. 

And I know all this already, I really do. It's not news that women's experiences are not valued the same as men's. But you know, I really think we have something good here in YA. We've got a ton of female writers, a ton of amazing female protagonists, some supremely kickass books, and it feels good. But then somebody makes a list like this and it reminds me that I'm still living in a world where I'm the inferior sex. And maybe I'm just being an overly sensitive woman, but it feels like a kick in the teeth.

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