Tag: sexism

This Author’s Story of Dealing With Sexism Will Surprise You

You seem so nice.

This is something people often say to bestselling thriller writer Lisa Unger upon meeting her. It seems strange that people should be surprised, considering her books are no more violent than the usual psychological thriller. They’re not gory, they’re not showy. So why do some feel so baffled that she is writing violence that is none too different to that of her male counterparts?

You already know the answer, as does Lisa Unger. In fact, when asked about why she writes about violence against women in her books, she responded, “I’ll stop writing about it when it stops happening.”

 

'In The Blood' Cover
Image Via Our Book Reviews Online

Lisa Unger has made a name for herself as a prolific author, with her most famous novel being In the Blood, a book which Kirkus Reviews called a “scary winner from an accomplished pro”, and which went on to be a Goodreads Choice Awards Nominee for Best Mystery & Thriller 2014, and winner of the Silver Falchion Award for Best Novel in the Crime Thriller category.

Despite this, Ms. Unger has had her own encounters with sexism constantly.

 

Lisa Unger and Karin Slaughter at ThrillerFest
Lisa Unger and Karis Slaughter at Thrillerfest 2019 |  Image Courtesy of Shawn Douglas Cunningham

 

At ThrillerFest XIV, Unger shared a personal story with moderator Karin Slaughter and the audience, regarding an incident that took place while Unger worked an event with author James Hall.

A little background: James Hall is an American author and professor from Florida. Author of eighteen novels, four books of poetry, a collection of short stories, and a collection of essays, James Hall is not only a successful writer, but a good man. The same could not be said about a particular fan of his, however.

At a book signing with James Hall, Ms. Unger was working as a moderator when a male member of the audience dismissed her, saying “I don’t read books by women”.

A year later, Ms. Unger was at her own signing at the same bookstore when she spied a man in the audience staring her down. They made eye contact, and he seemed to look right through her.

Staring at you

Image Via Quora

Ms. Unger noticed that the man had a large bag at his side…

 

A bag on the floor

Image Via Amtrack

When the show was over, the man was still there, still staring at her. His eyes were fixed on her.

Creepy much? Ms. Unger, who was understandably disturbed by the man’s presence, said she felt particularly uncomfortable because “women feel vulnerable in a way men do not”.

You are creepy as shit
Image Via Imgur

As the event came to an end, the man’s eyes stayed fixed on her. While everyone else shuffled out, he remained.

You can image the fear when Unger felt when she found herself alone with this man. The man rose, picking up his bag and approached her.

It was then that the man revealed that he was the audience member from the year before and, since then, had read all her books. The bag was full of each and every book she had every written. 

Now a fan of hers, he asked her to sign them. 

 

brown haired woman wearing white tank top raising her two hands over the rainbow HD wallpaper

Image Via Wallpaper Flare

 

 

Featured Image Via Crimereads

Annie E. Casey photos at Dunbar Elementary School, The Center For Working Families, Inc., and the Early Learning and Literacy Resource Center in Atlanta, GA Wednesday, October 10, 2012. Photos by JASON E. MICZEK - www.miczekphoto.com

The ‘Picture Book Bias:’ In Children’s Books, Girls & Minorities Aren’t Speaking

If picture books are meant to give voice to the experiences of young children, then why aren’t girls and racial minorities speaking? Using data from the top 100 bestselling children’s picture books, researchers have noted a growing gender and racial disparity in terms of which characters speak in children’s books.

Over half of children’s books feature a predominantly male cast; comparably, less than a fifth such books feature a predominantly female cast. It’s evident that male characters are literally dominating the conversation: not only does the gender gap exist in picture books, but it’s also growing. The Guardian reports that “speaking roles for male characters rose by 19%,” and at the same time, “one in five bestsellers did not feature any females at all.”

Only five of the top 100 books feature a BAME (Black, Asian, & Minority Ethnic) character in a prominent role. Of those five, three titles’ spots rely on the same character: Lanky Len, a mixed-race “nasty burglar” who hardly represents the sort of relatable character that nonwhite children can connect to. Statistics regarding BAME characters in less central roles are just as grim: 70% of such characters never speak at all. Across all 100 titles, only eleven BAME characters have speaking roles. And among these eleven, only seven have names. Of course, we’re discussing the umbrella of ethnic minority identities—on this list, there’s only one black male protagonist. Off the list, the disparity isn’t any better. Of all the 9,000+ children’s books published in 2017, only 1% featured a BAME protagonist… while 96% featured no BAME characters, speaking or silent.

 

 

(Right) Lanky Len, one of the few BAME children's characters of 2018
(Right) Lanky Len, one of the few BAME children’s characters of 2018 | Image Via What The Ladybird Heard

 

 

When it comes to picture books featuring LGBT+ families and disabled characters, it’s the same story. None of the 100 bestsellers featured same-sex parents. Only one title included a disabled character—but that character doesn’t speak or play any major role in the plot. We may be talking about fiction, but these statistics are unrealistic. Predominantly white, male stories for children deny the experiences of many readers, but they also don’t reflect the mathematic facts concerning the gender and racial breakdown of English children. Around 33% of English schoolchildren are from minority backgrounds; 48% are female. Our stories should reflect the varied experiences of the children they aim to depict.

What causes this disparity? Among the 100 books studied, not one author or illustrator is BAME. This lack of diversity extends beyond the list: only 2% of all children’s book illustrators in the UK, not just the bestsellers, are people of color. The lack of diversity in publishing is a capitalistic Ouroboros: because few children’s picture books feature diverse characters, publishers come to believe these books won’t earn large sums of money. At the same time, these books rarely earn money for their publishers because they are rarely published. But while the exact cause of this phenomenon may be unclear, the results aren’t—girls, minorities, and disabled children don’t see themselves in stories that are supposed to be for them. It’s also possible that these sorts of disparities in children’s media could reinforce disparity and bias as the children grow into adulthood.

 

 

 

Featured Image Via Annie E. Casey Foundation.

School Considers Removing 200 ‘Sexist’ Books From Library

Purging libraries of books considered harmful to children isn’t anything new. It can be for violent content, sexual themes or even due to being written by a controversial author. One group in Barcelona is considering purging books for another big reason: sexism.

The Guardian reported that the Associació Espai i Lleure has reviewed close to 600 books in The Taber School in Barcelona as part of their Library and Gender project, which aims to highlight the hidden sexist content found in most children’s books.

The group found that around 200 of the books at the school’s library contained hidden sexist themes. As a result, the books is considering removing from the library. Some of the removed books include Little Red Riding Hood and Sleeping Beauty.

The group said that the purpose of this review was not to target specific books, but to address the larger issue of sexism in children’s books. There have been studies conducted about gender bias in children’s books, in which males are more likely to be the protagonist of a children’s story and get more speaking roles than female characters. Espai i Lleure hopes to shine a light on the casual sexism in certain stories in order for children to learn these earlier in life in order to counter sexism when they are older.

You can read for about the group’s efforts here.

Do you agree with what Espai i Lleure is doing?

 

 

Featured Image Via Pacific Standard

French Author Yann Moix Claims Women Over 50 Are ‘Invisible’ to Him

Everyone has their own preferences in terms of romantic partners.  If you work out and are a busy bee, you might be looking for someone who can keep up with your active lifestyle. If you’re a big reader, you might want someone who can talk books with you, unless you’re someone who goes for the ‘opposites attract approach.’ Everybody is different, and all of this is pretty fair and understandable for the most part.

 

But then there’s popular French novelist and television writer Yann Moix, who has a preference toward younger women. About twenty-five years younger to be exact!

 

While speaking to French magazine Marie Claire, Moix expressed that he is “‘incapable’ of loving a woman over [the age of fifty]”, and that women over this age are “invisible” to him. Yikes.

 

Photograph of Yann Moix

Image via Kanada Versicherung

 

 

The French novelist went on to justify his preferences:

 

I prefer younger women’s bodies, that’s all. End of. The body of a twenty-five-year-old woman is extraordinary. The body of a woman of fifty is not extraordinary at all.

 

 

Since making these comments, Moix has come under fire from online critics, who have branded his comments sexist. Here is a selection of such tweets:

 

 

Pictures of beautiful celebrities over the age of 50 have also been posted in retaliation.

 

 

Even news stations are joining in on criticizing Yann Moix!

 

 

Yann Moix tried to make light of his comments, stating:

 

I like who I like and I don’t have to answer to the court of taste… 50-year-old women do not see me either! They have something else to do than to get around a neurotic who writes and reads all day long. It’s not easy to be with me.

 

With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, this publicity comes at a bad time and only time will tell if women of any age are going to be sending roses to Yann Moix!

 

 

Featured Image via Evening Standard

marian keyes

Irish Author Marian Keyes Calls out ‘Sexist Imbalance’ in Comic Fiction Prize

Irish author Marian Keyes has called out the  Bollinger Wodehouse Prize, awarded for comic fiction, as the shortlist of sixty-two novels failed to include her newest release The Break, and has pointed out that in the eighteen years the prize has been running, it has been awarded to a female author just three times. 

 

Speaking to an audience at the Hay literary festival, Keyes said that a “sexist imbalance” has resulted in the huge disparity. Keyes also said to BBC News Channel’s Talking Books show:

 

Say what you like about me, but my books are funny. What more can I do to qualify?…Things that women love are just automatically dismissed as frivolous nonsense. Football could be considered as frivolous nonsense but it’s treated as hard news in the newspapers. So I think by giving the men the prizes, it just reinforces that the men are more important.

 

However, Keyes’ publisher Michael Joseph,an imprint of Penguin, confirmed that her novel was not received for consideration for the prize due to an error. They said, “As publishers, it is our responsibility to ensure that our author’s books are submitted for prizes. We can confirm she was not entered for the Wodehouse Prize. We believe we did enter The Break for the prize this year and we are devastated to hear the books have not been received.”

 

The publisher went on to confirm that though the novel had not ended up being entered, this did not take away from Keyes’ orginial point. “There are many brilliant women writing humorous books” they said, “and it is curious not more of them are shortlisted or winners of this prize.”

 

Before The Break‘s publication, 35 million copies of Irish Book Award winner Keyes’ novels had been sold and they have been translated into thirty-three languages. She has been an outspoken supporter of women’s rights. 

 

Featured Image Via Daily Express