Gender and Equality

This post is less tightly tied into my dissertation ideas, but is too big not to mention – the amazing news that the United States Supreme Court has finally legalised gay marriage at a national level! To me, this news goes to show even more that our gender should not and does not dictate our interests and our passions. And if the most powerful government in the world can make a change to bring about gender equality, I can’t help but feel that we all can make a difference to improve equality in our own ways. That includes publishers, booksellers, and indeed book buyers – is it really okay to tell a little boy that his interests should be blue, dinosaurs and spaceships rather than pink ballet dancers and pretty flowers? The Let Books be Books campaign has made fantastic headway in the last year, asking publishers to take of the ‘for girls’ and ‘for boys’ labels. But is this enough? The decision made by the US court this week was not a quick or simple process, yet perseverance and determination have paid off to result in joyful implications for many US citizens and inspire celebrations all over the world, regardless of gender or sexuality. A few years ago, this change would have seemed impossible. So this makes me think that change for children’s books, and the attitudes approaching gender, can be possible too.

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One thought on “Gender and Equality

  1. Hello Lorna, my perspective on this is as an aspiring children’s author. I was inspired to write a story (‘The Gorilla Babysitter’) about fathers and fatherhood after the death of my own dad. That sounds very male, and the two main characters (a lion and a gorilla) are indeed male. But I was very clear when I started that I didn’t want to aim it only at boys. I just wanted to write a funny story that all kids could enjoy. (Why exclude half my potential audience?)

    Despite their male-ness (one goes hunting, the other builds machines), both the male leads have *compassion* at heart, and I think that’s what makes them equally appealing to both boys and girls.

    I had complete control over the artwork too, and although it’s bright and colourful, there’s intentionally no pink and no blue (apart from the sky)!

    Judging by the feedback I’ve received, it seems to be going down very well with both genders, so it’s ‘mission accomplished’ in that sense. From this modest sample, my conclusion is that the gender of the characters seems a lot less important (in cross-gender appeal) than the way they behave in a story.

    If you’d like to read more, please see the book’s website here: http://www.gkwood.co.uk/p/the-gorilla-babysitter.html or the Amazon page here http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1508779759.

    Good luck with your research!

    G.K. Wood.

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