|Enjoy a random picture of my dogs.|
I've got what, like 19 more days in the month, so I think in my next YouTube video, I'll rant about what I think makes a YA novel YA, but right now I'm more interested in the definitions of masculinity and femininity.
I've written before about my own experiences growing up as a reader. How I was intimidated into hiding my love of reading, and how I felt growing up that any of my scholastic or intellectual achievements were always held in lower regard than any that my brothers might have achieved in the realms of athletics. Those experiences shaped me. They made me believe that there was something inherently less masculine about being smart, about reading. About pursuits of the mind. To fit in, I pretended not to care about school, hid my books, and generally tried to conform as best I could.
But what kills me is that there is no correlation between intelligence and masculinity. Having a Y chromosome doesn't make a guy less fit to write books than a woman with double XXs. Nor does it make him less fit to be a reader. There are hordes of romantic poets littered through history who used language to get laid. Some of the poets writing in the carpe diem genre were straight up pimps...long curly wigs and all.
The problem is that somewhere along the way we began to shun the idea that men could be smart and masculine unless they used their intelligence in the pursuit of power, wealth, or women. The idea that anyone is born hard-wired to hate reading is ridiculous. These are societal views forced upon youth by misguided adults who have royally screwed up notions of what masculinity really means.
It's as dumb as trying to assign gender to colors. Pink is a girl color and blue a boy color? Really? That's so blatantly stupid. Colors don't have gender, and until we impress upon children OUR biases, children don't have a preference either.
Now, I know there are biological tendencies. Boys will always be more aggressive. They will always think differently than girls. I'm not trying to say that there are no differences between the genders. But those differences aren't the reason people think there are more women writing YA than men. Those differences aren't the reason we believe there are more girls than boys reading YA.
The reason is us. I'm pretty sure if we got the hell out of their way and let them form their own opinions, the kids would grow up just fine.
And that's what I believe...until they find that ever-elusive "hates reading" gene.