Saturday, 14 May 2011

Saturday Matterday

Yesterday Blogger shut down so I wasn't able to post Friday's Wonder Ponder on time, so today I'm using the one and only Sora as the mascot for this 'supposed to be Friday' post. Have no fear, Calvin & Hobbes will be back next week.

The stupendous, fantastic, brilliant blogger Barbara Kloss awarded me with the Blogger on Fire award. This marks another accolade in my very short blogging career and I, for one, couldn't be happier.

The best part about receiving this award, is that I get to nominate others for it as well.

And the Academy Award for Blog on Fire goes to...

Jo Schaffer


S.B. Niccum

Lisa Potts

Roland Yeomans

Michael Di Gesu

Kelly Hashway

Now off to the Vanity Fair after party with the lot of ya! Go on, SHOO!

On to the matter at hand...

There was an article in the UK's Guardian about the gender imbalance in children's literature. In it, they stated that male characters far outnumber females.

"From The Very Hungry Caterpillar to the Cat in the Hat, Peter Rabbit to Babar, children's books are dominated by male central characters, new research has found, with the gender disparity sending children a message that 'women and girls occupy a less important role in society than men or boys.'"

Um...Okay. I don't think any author writes simply to deplore women, or subliminally hint they're worthless, but okay. First of all, they are missing the point. In writing, and almost all things where you have to sell a product, there IS such a thing called a target market. Concurrently, this demographic also has what is called, what was it again?...Oh yes, likes and dislikes. It is a well known fact that boys are picky readers -- it takes a lot to hook them --, and it is also noted that they don't fancy books with girl MCs, where as females really don't care. Why would you sell (and this is just a roundabout example) lipstick to a demographic that has shown no interest in the product at all? It's a complete waste of money, and I'm sorry if this eludes them, but publishing is, after all, a business.

"Looking at almost 6,000 children's books published between 1900 and 2000, the study, led by Janice McCabe, a professor of sociology at Florida State University, found that males are central characters in 57% of children's books published each year, with just 31% having female central characters. Male animals are central characters in 23% of books per year, the study found, while female animals star in only 7.5%."

I admit, there are a lot more male characters in novels than there are females. I have no solid reason for this, especially since most guys hate reading. However, the YA (not MG) market is practically brimming with female leads, more so than males. You can't walk into the YA section of Barnes & Noble and find 1) a decent YA book for dudes 2) the absence of women perusing the shelves.

I think I can say, without restraint, that women are in no way, shape or form, considered less than awesome by society; nor will the absence of a female lead in a book attribute to a detriment.


Andrew Leon said...

There's a very simple reason why males dominate: historically, more authors have been male. That has only recently been changing.

I don't think it's that girls "don't care" if the MC is male or female, it's just that they had no choice. Now that more women are writing than men and more girls are reading than boys, we are seeing a decided shift in the MCs because they are appealing to the market.

T.D. McFrost said...

Excellent point!

I absolutely agree.

Barbara Kloss said...

Hey, thanks for the compliments :D

Those stats you posted are very interesting!

I, for one, love the increase in female leads. Not that I had any issue with male MCs or male authors (LOTR is still one of my top five novels of all time), but with the increase in female authors (that Sir Leon pointed out), there are more stories that are character-driven. Females authors tend to write more about the relationships whereas male authors focus more on the plot. I like having the opportunity to read both, and have also incorporated both into my writing.

But I also see your point, particularly with YA, it ALL seems to be women writers and women MCs (myself included). I feel that books like Harry Potter really opened the scope of reading to the MG audience, and maybe YA needs something like that?

Great post, as always!

Michael Offutt said...

Balance in all things is something to strive for in my opinion. I hate it when one genre gets dominated on one side or the other.

Jo Schaffer said...

Congrats on the award and thanks for passing it on to me! (=

I'm all about woman power and all but, I think that there are plenty of books with female protags and have been for awhile. Think Nancy Drew-- and there are even more now. To the point that in the YA genre there is supposedly now a greater call for male MCs because the girls are taking over! (=

Tracey Neithercott said...

I wonder whether the results were skewed. I'm sure there was a high percentage of male characters in the early 1900s (probably upwards of 95 percent) but I think that's evened out a bit now. Could the high numbers from the earlier dates have skewed the averages?

I find that there are more female leads in YA than male. I wonder if they counted YA since it wasn't a category until recently. If YA in the past was counted as adult, then that's another reason the results may be off.

Interesting, though. Thanks for highlighting it.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations on the award!

I also see the shift, with more females being represented in fiction.

Tabitha said...

Oooo, that blog award is *awesome*!!! I am coveting as I type. :)

On to the other topic...

That's just silly. Maybe there are more male characters in books for younger kids, but, at that age, they don't care! They just want a good story. My eight year old son gets the biggest kick out of Junie B. Jones, and he doesn't care that she's a girl.

As they get older, they'll start to care, like in YA. And, there, the market is flooded with stuff for girls.

Michael Di Gesu said...

Hi, T. D.

Sorry I've been so absent lately, but traveling back to Chicago and getting settled back into life took a bit of time

Thanks SO much for the award, I really appreciate it.

I enjoyed your post. It is an interesting point. So maybe my M/G novel which has a female MC, might be a novelty? I hope so.

Have a great weekend ....

Anonymous said...

*waves* New here, came by via Jo Schaffer.

Just wanted to congratulate you on the blog award. *whispers* And don't worry your secret identity is safe with me! ;)

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