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squeaky pram
09-12-2012, 08:28 PM
The MCs of a novel idea I've been kicking around for a while are teenage girls (at least for a large portion of the book). On a number of occassions I've been told by men that the book should be aimed at YA, specifically teenage girls, because they, these men, would never be interested in books about teenage girls.

My question is this: Has anyone else run into this attitude? I know personal taste is personal taste, but there always seems to be something in this attitude that says, "This is natural... teenage girls are not an appropriate topic in adult books... it's self-evident". I'm always blown away by the absolutism in these responses.

Thoughts?

p.s., I'm not lumping all men together, or all books about teenage girls together for that matter. Which, actually, is part of my point.

Cyia
09-12-2012, 08:39 PM
Grown man reading about teen girls is going to equate to Lolita to many, if not most, people.

Phaeal
09-12-2012, 08:53 PM
I don't buy the premise, but so what if you only got women, young and old, to read the book? Big market there.

Some YA is obviously aimed at the YA crowd, but a lot of it crosses over to adult audiences. Including a certain little-known series about a teen-age girl called The Hunger Games. I know plenty of boys and men who have read this one. The mayhem (and relatively little emphasis on romance) probably account for this. On the other hand, my impression is that the Twilight series has a predominantly female audience. Why? Here the emphasis IS on romance and romantic angst.

In other words, more than the gender and age of the MCs will determine your audience.

Also, it's rarely wise to listen to absolutists. ;)

suki
09-12-2012, 09:03 PM
It depends on the book.

Margaret Atwood's phenomenal Cat's Eye is a novel that (IMO) is better suited to the adult market (which is how it was published, though long before YA was as popular as a market), whereas a multitude of books with similar themes/characters would be better suited to the YA market based on the voice and prose.


Write your book. Then look for an agent/publisher.

Be prepared for some (many?) to tell you teenage MCs are better marketed as YA.

But if the prose and voice are better suited for an adult market, then the right agent or editor will see that.

Having said all of that, you should also be prepared that agents and editors might also think it is more marketable as YA. And there's nothing wrong with that, right? ;)

But for now, just write the book. :)

~suki

CaroGirl
09-12-2012, 09:08 PM
Write your book. Then look for an agent/publisher.

Be prepared for some (many?) to tell you teenage MCs are better marketed as YA.


This is what happened to me. I had a story to tell that just happened to have a teenage girl as the main character. I wrote it without thinking about marketing categories but, as soon I started querying it, I got feedback galore, from agents and editors alike, that I should try to sell it as a YA novel. And that's how it sold and was marketed.

That said, I know for a fact men have bought and read the book. Although I don't know if any men outside my family and social circle have read it. I suspect not. But not every book is for every reader. Most have an "audience."

SomethingOrOther
09-12-2012, 09:11 PM
Anybody who categorically dismisses a set of books on this basis is more likely than not an unmitigated ninnyhammer.

Also, I dislike the phrasing "book about X." It's just so dull, reductive, and meaningless. Any book'll obviously be about much, much, much more than X. (Except my recent novel, Madeline, which consists solely of the word Madeline repeated 85,000 times. ) If these people stopped thinking about books as being about X, and instead saw them as books featuring X but being about lots and lots of things, maybe they'd stop being such nincompoops. But probably not, sadly. Probably not.

dangerousbill
09-12-2012, 09:31 PM
On a number of occassions I've been told by men that the book should be aimed at YA, specifically teenage girls, because they, these men, would never be interested in books about teenage girls.


True. No adults, anywhere, bought or read 'Hunger Games'.

CaroGirl
09-12-2012, 09:32 PM
True. No adults, anywhere, bought or read 'Hunger Games'.

Um. Sarcasm? ;)

squeaky pram
09-12-2012, 09:53 PM
Lots of quick responses!

Just to clarify: I'm not looking for advice on my particular book (but thanks to those who've given some... it never goes awry!), but a more general conversation about a lack of respect, or perhaps, to be fair, a failure to see the potential. As in: 'Boys, Men, and Women can be written about in a serious, adult manner, but not girls'. This is the message I keep getting from people. Just wanted to know if anyone else has come across this.

Also, just to clarify context: I write "literary" fiction, and these conversations have taken place with people who read a lot of this type of fiction and also know that it is what I write. When I get this reaction from them, the first book I mention for comparison is Atwood's Catseye (that suki mentions above). Then the response is a sudden backtrack... a 'Yes, well, of course, yes, it could work that way"... and then we have an actual discussion.

What I'm curious about is why the initial "serious fiction can't be about girls" kneejerk from people who should know better? There is something interesting to explore in this, I think. Something larger than markets, etc.

Xelebes
09-12-2012, 09:58 PM
(Except my recent novel, Madeline, which consists solely of the word Madeline repeated 85,000 times. )

My book Moist was considered gripping by those who read it.

suki
09-12-2012, 10:02 PM
Squeaky Pram, thanks for clarifying that you were looking to open discussion, more than looking for advice.

I think this is an offshoot of the (sadly) common discussion that comes up here and elsewhere about why fiction about men is called fiction, or even mainstream fiction, but if it's written by a woman, about a woman, it often gets labled women's fiction.

Unfortunately there is still this issue that things (books/movies/etc) about boys/men are often seen as universal, while the same medium about girls/women are seen as other or of limited interest.

It is still a sad commentary on our culture.

~suki

squeaky pram
09-12-2012, 10:05 PM
Also, it's rarely wise to listen to absolutists. ;)

You said it! I don't listen to them, but I do puzzle over why they are the way they are.

Also, I think there is something in what you say about the expectation of "romance"... perhaps that's partly where the kneejerk lies?



Having said all of that, you should also be prepared that agents and editors might also think it is more marketable as YA. And there's nothing wrong with that, right? ;)

Suki, thanks for pointing this out. Yes, I don't mean to degrade YA with this conversation. In fact, I'd love to write a YA novel some day and have huge respect for anyone who can do it well. It's just that this specific idea was not meant to be so (as you mentioned, more like Catseye).



If these people stopped thinking about books as being about X, and instead saw them as books featuring X but being about lots and lots of things, maybe they'd stop being such nincompoops.

Agreed!

squeaky pram
09-12-2012, 10:06 PM
My book Moist was considered gripping by those who read it.

Oh dear... ;)

KTC
09-12-2012, 10:11 PM
This is what happened to me. I had a story to tell that just happened to have a teenage girl as the main character. I wrote it without thinking about marketing categories but, as soon I started querying it, I got feedback galore, from agents and editors alike, that I should try to sell it as a YA novel. And that's how it sold and was marketed.

That said, I know for a fact men have bought and read the book. Although I don't know if any men outside my family and social circle have read it. I suspect not. But not every book is for every reader. Most have an "audience."

I LOVED your book. But I read YA regularly that is about girls. I'm not much into gender. People are people. I look for a good story. You NAILED Voiceless!

To the OP--Write the story. That's your job. If it's good, it will find its market. I try not to think about who will be reading my books. It's not up to me to decide.

squeaky pram
09-12-2012, 10:11 PM
Squeaky Pram, thanks for clarifying that you were looking to open discussion, more than looking for advice.

I think this is an offshoot of the (sadly) common discussion that comes up here and elsewhere about why fiction about men is called fiction, or even mainstream fiction, but if it's written by a woman, about a woman, it often gets labled women's fiction.

Unfortunately there is still this issue that things (books/movies/etc) about boys/men are often seen as universal, while the same medium about girls/women are seen as other or of limited interest.

It is still a sad commentary on our culture.

~suki

Suki, I completely agree. Men are the "default" in our culture. This is part of what's behind the girl issue but the girl issue also goes one step further. The men from whom I've heard this would never say a piece of literary fiction couldn't or shouldn't be about women, but somehow teenage girls fall into this different category. Male coming of age? Good subject. Girls? Not serious.

KTC
09-12-2012, 10:15 PM
Lots of quick responses!

Just to clarify: I'm not looking for advice on my particular book (but thanks to those who've given some... it never goes awry!), but a more general conversation about a lack of respect, or perhaps, to be fair, a failure to see the potential. As in: 'Boys, Men, and Women can be written about in a serious, adult manner, but not girls'. This is the message I keep getting from people. Just wanted to know if anyone else has come across this.

Also, just to clarify context: I write "literary" fiction, and these conversations have taken place with people who read a lot of this type of fiction and also know that it is what I write. When I get this reaction from them, the first book I mention for comparison is Atwood's Catseye (that suki mentions above). Then the response is a sudden backtrack... a 'Yes, well, of course, yes, it could work that way"... and then we have an actual discussion.

What I'm curious about is why the initial "serious fiction can't be about girls" kneejerk from people who should know better? There is something interesting to explore in this, I think. Something larger than markets, etc.

I, for one, have never experienced this knee-jerk. Neither was I aware of its existence. Sad to think this happens. I read and write literary too (as well as YA). I'd be just as willing to read a literary novel from a girl's POV as I would from a boy's POV. I never once ran into this with my 9yo boy main character in my NON-YA novel. Seems like another case of -ism here for the girls. Why do we fight to be equal and then tear that down at every opportunity by utterances such as the ones you experienced about this? It boggles.

KTC
09-12-2012, 10:17 PM
Male coming of age? Good subject. Girls? Not serious.

So change it. Write it. Finish it.

CaroGirl
09-12-2012, 10:18 PM
I LOVED your book. But I read YA regularly that is about girls. I'm not much into gender. People are people. I look for a good story. You NAILED Voiceless!

Aw, thank you!! :D

Another literary story that is not marketed as YA but has a teen MC, is A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, another Canadian author. This novel was sort of what I was thinking about when I was both writing and querying my novel. I'd also consider myself a "literary" writer (whatever that means, exactly) but the publishing gods dictated that my book was YA. Which was absolutely fine with me, in fact. It found its audience, and better a published YA novel than an unpublished literary novel languishing in a trunk somewhere.

KTC
09-12-2012, 10:21 PM
Aw, thank you!! :D

Another literary story that is not marketed as YA but has a teen MC, is A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, another Canadian author. This novel was sort of what I was thinking about when I was both writing and querying my novel. I'd also consider myself a "literary" writer (whatever that means, exactly) but the publishing gods dictated that my book was YA. Which was absolutely fine with me, in fact. It found its audience, and better a published YA novel than an unpublished literary novel languishing in a trunk somewhere.

I should have thought of A Complicated Kindness right away when I read the thread. Great example. You know what I did when I finished that book...went back to page one and started reading it through again. I L*O*V*E*D it!

squeaky pram
09-12-2012, 10:23 PM
So change it. Write it. Finish it.

Well said, KTC. The sad thing is that many have written it, the aforementioned Atwood among many others. Examples abound (not as many as male-c-o-a, but they do exist), and yet the kneejerk folks have to be reminded of this. The kneejerk is just there. It ignores the evidence, as if it didn't exist. This, I think, is because it comes from a much more deeply embedded cultural conditioning.

LJD
09-12-2012, 10:24 PM
Another literary story that is not marketed as YA but has a teen MC, is A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews, another Canadian author.

I was just about to suggest this one, but you beat me to it.

CaroGirl
09-12-2012, 10:26 PM
And I'll add to the discussion that I also think it's sad that any novel is devalued simply because of its genre, characters, premise or marketing category. A good book is a good book, regardless. There are great romance and YA novels and abysmal literary novels.

But I do wonder if the numbers bear out this premise. What's the highest-earning category of fiction? Romance. Who's buying it (in general)? Women. Just because there's an impression that it's of less value or more frivolous, the money speaks for itself. And the trends in YA show that more and more it's a category with bite and staying power. Kids are buying it, and so are adults, men and women.

CaroGirl
09-12-2012, 10:28 PM
I should have thought of A Complicated Kindness right away when I read the thread. Great example. You know what I did when I finished that book...went back to page one and started reading it through again. I L*O*V*E*D it!


I was just about to suggest this one, but you beat me to it.

It's one of my favourite novels, and she's one of my favourite authors! Glad to see I'm not alone.

KTC
09-12-2012, 10:34 PM
There is a book coming out in Canada at the end of the month-- Living Underground by Ruth E. Walker. I have read it. One of the two main characters, Sheila, is a wonderful and powerful character. She appears both as a young teen and an adult. Her stint as a teen...this girl is more than powerful enough to lift the weight of this novel into the stratosphere. I should have thought of this example too. This book is not yet a household name in Canada...but I assure you it will be. And Sheila will be much talked about as an endearing and powerful GIRL character. I finished it on the weekend and I'm beginning to think it might be one of the best most powerful books I ever read. I'm SO glad I didn't stop myself halfway and say, "wait a gd minute! this is a teenaged girl...she can't pull this off...she's too fluffy...I mean, she's a teenaged girl! What is she doing in this literary work? Does not belong."

Here's to rising above knee-jerking---with both genders and genres. Geeesh! The things we would miss if we had that kind of tunnel vision!

kuwisdelu
09-12-2012, 10:39 PM
Grown man reading about teen girls is going to equate to Lolita to many, if not most, people.

Wait what??

KTC
09-12-2012, 10:44 PM
Wait what??

OMG How did I miss that post. I concur...

wait what??

SomethingOrOther
09-12-2012, 10:47 PM
Yeah that made me fall out of my chair. And I wasn't even sitting on one!

squeaky pram
09-12-2012, 10:49 PM
Wait what??


OMG How did I miss that post. I concur...

wait what??

I saw it, but couldn't find any words. I think you and kuwisdelu have chosen yours well.

backslashbaby
09-12-2012, 10:56 PM
Oh it's all just such sexism it makes me ill. Adult men are only allowed to think of teenage girls in sexual ways, because teenage girls are the epitome of young, bubbly, nubile things. That's all there is to them, naturally. And naturally that's all there is to men. Blech.

It really is about as sexist as it gets, I think. And that probably does have to do with the fact that teenage girls are just post-puberty. The sex-object role is at its highest then, I suppose. Of course they'll be dismissed for anything serious, you know? It's very ingrained and very disturbing.

kuwisdelu
09-12-2012, 11:17 PM
Oh it's all just such sexism it makes me ill. Adult men are only allowed to think of teenage girls in sexual ways, because teenage girls are the epitome of young, bubbly, nubile things. That's all there is to them, naturally. And naturally that's all there is to men. Blech.

Maybe I'm just not perverted enough — which is ridiculous because I'm utterly depraved — but that was the furthest thing from my mind. I would think most people who look down on men reading novels about teenage girls would think of the men as being too girly and unmanly, rather than thinking of them as ephebophiles.

SomethingOrOther
09-12-2012, 11:25 PM
I like being open about my many girly, unmanly interests around others and pretending it's the most natural thing ever, because I look athletic and well-muscled enough that no one could pejoratively accuse me of being girly (I'd take it as a compliment, though), and in a small way it makes me feel invulnerable.

squeaky pram
09-12-2012, 11:28 PM
I like being open about my many girly, unmanly interests around others and pretending it's the most natural thing ever, because I look athletic and well-muscled enough that no one could pejoratively accuse me of being girly (I'd take it as a compliment, though), and in a small way it makes me feel invulnerable.

Hence the adorable napping chihuahuas avatar! :tongue Love it!

ETA: Looking more closely at your avatar: just how many puppies are there?!

SomethingOrOther
09-12-2012, 11:36 PM
Two corgi puppies and one stuffed-teddy-bear cub, I think. There might be a third puppy in the background.

And these are the last four songs I listened to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpQzNqa_RAg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnJ0-wgjgHk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWyk72YAMUI&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0X_FmPnKwE

In other words, screw people who impose stupid gender roles on artistic taste. And a very unpleasant form of screwing. I hope they all get duped into paying a few dollars too much for something.

squeaky pram
09-12-2012, 11:48 PM
Corgis... even better!



In other words, screw people who impose stupid gender roles on artistic taste.

Yup. Well said.

And you bring up a good point with music, actually. I see the same attitude (and, actually, much more widely spread) in the way that music by or marketed to teenage girls gets denigrated.

KTC
09-13-2012, 01:57 AM
Two corgi puppies and one stuffed-teddy-bear cub, I think. There might be a third puppy in the background.

And these are the last four songs I listened to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dpQzNqa_RAg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cnJ0-wgjgHk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EWyk72YAMUI&feature=related
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A0X_FmPnKwE

In other words, screw people who impose stupid gender roles on artistic taste. And a very unpleasant form of screwing. I hope they all get duped into paying a few dollars too much for something.

bless you

Kevin, who has an MP3 player filled with Donna Summer, Divine, AC/DC, Bob Dylan, Bauhaus, Siouxsie Sioux, Bach, Kiss, Japan, Devo, Lady Gaga, JohnLennon, Neil Young, Tool, Nina Simone, Diana Ross, Musical numbers and any other ole thing he craves...

IceCreamEmpress
09-13-2012, 06:53 AM
Humans like to read books about other humans facing human problems (and dogs facing dog problems, elephants facing elephant problems, interstellar beings facing interstellar being problems, etc.)

Anyone who assumed a man would read a book about young women only for sexual titillation would be revealing a lot more about how they viewed young women than about how the hypothetical male reader viewed young women.

All the men I know and love have read The Diary of Anne Frank and found it powerfully moving, for example. The Saskiad by Brian Hall was critically acclaimed, as was Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder.

KTC
09-13-2012, 06:59 AM
Humans like to read books about other humans facing human problems (and dogs facing dog problems, elephants facing elephant problems, interstellar beings facing interstellar being problems, etc.)

Anyone who assumed a man would read a book about young women only for sexual titillation would be revealing a lot more about how they viewed young women than about how the hypothetical male reader viewed young women.

All the men I know and love have read The Diary of Anne Frank and found it powerfully moving, for example. The Saskiad by Brian Hall was critically acclaimed, as was Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder.

The Saskiad was beautiful. LOVED it!

seun
09-13-2012, 12:18 PM
Grown man reading about teen girls is going to equate to Lolita to many, if not most, people.

That's a bit of a low opinion on people, isn't it?

As for me, I'm a man and I'll happily read a story about teenage girls if that story and those characters interest me.

Give me a good story. The last thing I worry about is gender or age.

sciencewarrior
09-13-2012, 05:12 PM
Just because there's an impression that it's of less value or more frivolous, the money speaks for itself. And the trends in YA show that more and more it's a category with bite and staying power. Kids are buying it, and so are adults, men and women.

I think this is a very good point. From a marketing standpoint, it makes a lot more sense releasing a book with a teenage girl MC as YA, unless the tone or the subject are completely inappropriate. If guys decide to pick it up after reading the synopsis, the YA label won't stop them.

Buffysquirrel
09-13-2012, 06:32 PM
Where this prejudice really comes into play is in reviews in the major outlets. Books by women are less likely to be reviewed than books by men, but the books at the bottom of the pile--ie the least likely to be reviewed--are by women with female protagonists. Not sure the teen part makes a noticeable difference at that point.

squeaky pram
09-13-2012, 07:07 PM
Where this prejudice really comes into play is in reviews in the major outlets. Books by women are less likely to be reviewed than books by men, but the books at the bottom of the pile--ie the least likely to be reviewed--are by women with female protagonists. Not sure the teen part makes a noticeable difference at that point.

This is so true, Buffysquirrel.

Amadan
09-13-2012, 07:33 PM
Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin. One of my favorite SF novels, a coming-of-age story about a teenage girl. It was published in 1968; today it would probably be published as YA, but it won a Nebula and was nominated for a Hugo.

ishtar'sgate
09-13-2012, 08:46 PM
On a number of occassions I've been told by men that the book should be aimed at YA, specifically teenage girls, because they, these men, would never be interested in books about teenage girls.



In general, knowing the males in my life, men simply aren't all that interested in the life of a teenage girl. It isn't sexist, it's personal interest. I'm not interested in car magazines or westerns or novels where battle scenes and war figure heavily in the story. In general, more men than women would be.

I wouldn't sweat it though. Few writers manage to capture the interest of all readers.

CaroGirl
09-13-2012, 09:17 PM
Few No writers manage to capture the interest of all readers.

Fixed it for you.

squeaky pram
09-13-2012, 10:15 PM
In general, knowing the males in my life, men simply aren't all that interested in the life of a teenage girl. It isn't sexist, it's personal interest. I'm not interested in car magazines or westerns or novels where battle scenes and war figure heavily in the story. In general, more men than women would be.

I wouldn't sweat it though. Few writers manage to capture the interest of all readers.

Hi ishtar'gate. I'm not sweating it. In fact, I'll be surprised if there is a large audience of any kind for my writing! That's not the issue. I'm just interested in the broader cultural implications of this, if any. It's the cultural critic in me wanting to hear what other people think.

You make a good point about personal taste that can be gender-based. Can be. It's certainly not absolute or essential. But, yes, taste does come into play. What's interesting in my example is that these people changed their minds about their interest in stories about girls as soon as I invoked the name of a culturally-sanctioned "good" book by a "serious" author. It's like a light went on in their heads suddenly. I find that interesting.

ETA: It's great how people are posting book recommendations! I've not heard of all of these.

ishtar'sgate
09-13-2012, 11:55 PM
Fixed it for you.
Thank you.:D

Mr. Breadcrumb
09-14-2012, 01:26 AM
Another one: Jo Walton's Among Others just won the Hugo.

I think some of this has to do not so much with what the reaction to an actual book would be, but with the question which focuses on the narrow teenage girl aspect. "A book about a teenage girl aimed at adults" doesn't give a lot to go on, so people are going to insert their prejudices. I suspect many more people would express interest in "A book about a girl in XYZ situation doing ABC."

I suspect people don't immediately think "teenage girl book" when they think of Anne Frank. Or "little girl book" when they think of To Kill a Mockingbird. They think about the particulars of those books and the themes they deal with which are not peculiar to the age and sex of the protagonists.

Saying "a book about a teenage girl" may, rightly or wrongly, imply to people that the age and sex of the protagonist is the singular thing about the book and so the book they imagine isn't the one you are imagining.

That said, there certainly is an annoying sexism in the assumption. Probably most people on hearing that a protagonist is a teenage boy wouldn't assume that was all there was to it because boys are supposed to get into scrapes and have adventure and ambition, but girls are supposed to, I don't know, look pretty and think about boys? But you can only change the world one book at a time, so...

kuwisdelu
09-14-2012, 01:32 AM
I wouldn't mind reading a book about a teenage boy who looks pretty and thinks about boys.

squeaky pram
09-14-2012, 01:53 AM
That said, there certainly is an annoying sexism in the assumption. Probably most people on hearing that a protagonist is a teenage boy wouldn't assume that was all there was to it because boys are supposed to get into scrapes and have adventure and ambition, but girls are supposed to, I don't know, look pretty and think about boys?

Hi Mr. Breadcrumb. Yes, I think this is the point exactly! I should add that in my example I did tell people what the book would be about beyond just saying 'teenage girls'. But regardless, you've hit it on the head.

So... one book at a time...

fadeaccompli
09-14-2012, 04:43 AM
In general, knowing the males in my life, men simply aren't all that interested in the life of a teenage girl. It isn't sexist, it's personal interest. I'm not interested in car magazines or westerns or novels where battle scenes and war figure heavily in the story. In general, more men than women would be.

Conversely, knowing the males in my life, men simply aren't all that interested in westerns, car magazines, or novels where battle scenes and war figure heavily in the story. (Quick! Guess who in this household reads GRR Martin, and who has the enormous Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey collections!) While there are certainly culturally influenced trends, no one gender is a monolith.

Unless there's someone out there with a unique gender, in which case that person is. (Shine on, you crazy diamond!) But, y'know. In general.

Fuchsia Groan
09-15-2012, 11:44 PM
I just interviewed emily danforth, author of The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which was written as a literary coming of age novel and sold as YA. Stylistically and thematically, it's very literary, and yes, the title character is a teenage girl. The author told me that she's heard from fortysomething men who are enthusiastic readers, but said they never would have picked up the book if it hadn't been reviewed on NPR.

Maybe reading about a teen girl is more OK if she's a lesbian? I'm not entirely kidding, because I've spoken to guys who seem to think any book about a teen girl with a heterosexual love angle will be a retread of Twilight.

I can understand that they might not want to read pages and pages of rapturous description of the MC's love interest. (I don't, either, but such romantic gushing isn't totally unknown in books with male protagonists, I feel compelled to mention. It was bigger in the 18th century, but it's not unknown today.) Anyway, that is only one possibility.

ETA: One of the first canonical English novels, Richardson's Pamela, is about a teen girl and her issues with a hot (but, sadly, kind of rapey) guy. If you modernized the language and class issues, it would fit right into modern YA. And people of both sexes and all ages loved it. Moll Flanders is part female coming of age story, too.

Rhoda Nightingale
09-16-2012, 03:09 AM
Conversely, knowing the males in my life, men simply aren't all that interested in westerns, car magazines, or novels where battle scenes and war figure heavily in the story. (Quick! Guess who in this household reads GRR Martin, and who has the enormous Tamora Pierce and Mercedes Lackey collections!) While there are certainly culturally influenced trends, no one gender is a monolith.

Unless there's someone out there with a unique gender, in which case that person is. (Shine on, you crazy diamond!) But, y'know. In general.
This is a good point. I don't think I know a single, real life person, male or female, who reads Westerns. My stepdad sure watches a lot of them, but reading, it's usually history or gnostic theology--ancient, non-fiction-related stuff. When it's fiction, it's the Classics taught out of high school textbooks--Hemingway, Faulkner, Tolstoy, all those guys.

My brother used to just read philosophy and memoir; now, he's into YA in a big way. I think his girlfriend got him into it, but he loves The Hunger Games and Harry Potter now.

My dad reads EVERYTHING--biographies, new agey metaphysical stuff, old sci-fi pulp novels, thrillers, and whatever I give him for his birthday/Father's Day/Christmas.

None of them read car magazines.

kuwisdelu
09-16-2012, 04:10 AM
I read a Western once. It was a short story. For class. Does that count?

I only like traditional Westerns when cowboys are the villains.

buz
09-16-2012, 04:32 AM
Wow. A lot of you people have a lot of enlightened folks around you :D

I don't know any guys IRL (who still identify as guys) who would openly admit to liking a book about girls.

But then, I don't know many guys, or people who read.

My big anti-sexist triumph with the male people in my life was getting Dad to drink a Bahama Mama once. It took an unbelievable amount of arm-twisting. He said it was "fruity lady stuff" so we SHOVED IT DOWN HIS THROAT

(not that much arm-twisting. He liked it, actually.)

Most of the guys I've come across around the area I live in are, outwardly, very CARS GUNS BOOBS WEIGHTLIFTING WHISKEY TRACTORS WAR MOVIES AND GOD HELP YOU IF YOU LIKE ANYTHING FOR CHILDREN OR WOMEN YOU PUSS

But I wonder how many of them really feel that way...

Someone upthread (I think it was Squeaky Pram him/herself?) said "Men are seen as the default in our society and women are the other"? Or something to that effect? In which case, I think you did answer your own question quite brilliantly :D (unless I'm wrong and can't remember who said it because I'm a woman and I'm too busy thinking about shoes and tulle and how to destroy other people's lives using only rumors and backhanded compliments). I do think that's changing, slowly, but the concept is still there. While women being "like men" has gotten a lot more acceptable over the past...I dunno, let's say hundred years or so, for the hell of it...society is still struggling to cope with the idea that it's okay for men to be "like women." (And of course, "like men" and "like women" aren't really well-defined terms, but most of us have these concepts hammered into us such that we have an idea of what it means...you know what I mean. Pink flowers and blue monster trucks. That shit.)

So, to the haters, a man who reads a book about teenage girls must identify with a teenage girl, which is unacceptable to those who believe in this whole "it's not okay for men to be women" thing, I think.

Unless he has a daughter, which changes things a bit, I hear. :D (It's okay to try to identify with girls for the sake of your child.)

Anyway. I think this thing exists, of not taking girls and women seriously as serious people with serious thoughts. There are a lot of people who don't feel that way, obviously (all the wonderful people on the thread, for example), which is good, but there are some who do, which is dumb. I do think it's changing for the better, though. Just slowly. And probably, those who are reading enthusiasts are a bit more into seeing the world through different eyes. ;)

eyeblink
09-16-2012, 11:18 AM
Another literary novel about teenage girls - not published as YA but read in high schools and apparently banned by some of them - is Joyce Carol Oates's Foxfire. It's just been filmed for the second time.

JCO has written four novels which were intended as YA and published as such, with a fifth on its way later this year.

CaroGirl
09-16-2012, 04:43 PM
This is a good point. I don't think I know a single, real life person, male or female, who reads Westerns.

You MUST read The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. Now. Hands down the best novel I read last year, despite being *gasp* a western.

Amadan
09-16-2012, 06:02 PM
You MUST read The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt. Now. Hands down the best novel I read last year, despite being *gasp* a western.


Yo, how can you mention Westerns in a thread about reading about girls without mentioning True Grit?

Maddie Ross is awesome.

MoLoLu
09-17-2012, 07:08 PM
I hereby admit I will read any book about teenage girls passed to me if it's well written. (footnote: I tend not to look for books on my own and, when I do, they're almost always sci-fi)

I'm particularly fond of anything subculture related. Romance and/or sex won't necessarily turn me off but I'm not drawn to it either, in any genre. I'm far more interested in well formed characters with interesting relationships. A decent plot doesn't hurt either, preferably one where said girl actually, well, does something. The teenaged girls I knew before they stopped being teens either gamed, youtubed, drew, read, chatted, studied, went out, watched TV, did drugs, partied, drank, had sex or otherwhise while their time away with the same stuff I'd expect most teenagers do. Their tastes haven't changed much into the twenties either. Then again, to put this in perspective, I might not be the stereotype of a 'grown up male', considering my bedroom is at risk of being overrun stuffed animals.

Concerning the male stigma when it comes to books about teenage girls, I'd definitely say it exists. Our society tends to be sexist in both directions, even when we're trying not to be. But I'm also seeing a change in younger generations, at least where I live. The gender gap, while still existant, appears to be closing. Girlfriends aren't just 'things to look pretty' anymore but 'best friends who can do more fun stuff'. And having girl friends (without the relationship, affair or otherwise sexual attraction bit) isn't anywhere near as strange as it used to be. Never thought about it before because it's the world I grew up in but the whole idea must be very off-putting for older generations.

p.s.


Most of the guys I've come across around the area I live in are, outwardly, very CARS GUNS BOOBS WEIGHTLIFTING WHISKEY TRACTORS WAR MOVIES AND GOD HELP YOU IF YOU LIKE ANYTHING FOR CHILDREN OR WOMEN YOU PUSSIf you strike cars, weightlifting, tractors and the anti-female prejudice, you've got my personality down to a T. Honestly, there's got to be a market for men who like guns, alcohol and fluffy, childish things. Admittedly, the tastes don't mesh very well and are best enjoyed separately.