Tag: sexism

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

Amber Tamblyn

Amber Tablyn’s Debut Novel Set to Release This Month!

Popular film and television actor Amber Tamblyn (The Sisterhood of the Traveling PantsJoan of Arcadia) will be releasing her debut novel this month.

 

 

'Any Man'

Image Via HarperCollins Publishers

 

The book is entitled Any Man and details the story of one woman, Maude, as she hunts down men in bars, online, and even from within the comfort of their own homes and sexually assaults them in the most horrific of ways. The entire story takes place through the perspectives of the victims as they struggle against a justice system that doesn’t believe them, friends and family who shame and alienate them, and a media that hounds them while revealing their personal lives and the details of their assaults to the public. 

 

The novel is meant as a commentary on rape culture and a society that is so obsessed with views and the idea of celebrity that it doesn’t consider the lives it is damaging when it forces victims into the limelight. It also shows the ways in which victims of sexual assault are shamed, quieted, and tossed aside; along with the power and strength it takes to survive something so horrific.

 

It’s also interesting that the novel flips the story so the assailant is a woman and the victims are men. When asked about this, Tamblyn told Buzzfeed:

 

“By flipping the gender norms of rape culture, I hope to elicit some fresh, challenging conversations and examinations of who we are as a society while also allowing readers to relish in what I hope will be one of the most vile, heartless, and haunting female protagonists in modern American fiction.”

 

The novel sounds like it will be dark, unsettling, and all too relevant in a society in which, according to RAINN, an American is assaulted every ninety-eight seconds and one out of every six women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape in her lifetime.

 

Sexual assault is so wildly prevalent in today’s society, new stories seem to appear in the media on a daily basis. The assaults are happening everywhere; HollywoodWall Streetthe militarythe NFLthe White House, and even within our schools.

 

The epidemic of sexual assaults on college campuses was revealed in the Emmy-nominated documentary The Hunting Ground; showing how colleges fail to protect, acknowledge, and find justice for victims despite the fact that one in four women will be sexually assaulted while attending college.

 

This is why Any Man is extremely important and, as someone who has publicly spoken out against assault before, it’s no surprise Tamblyn would choose this as the topic for her first novel.

 

However, despite this being her first extended work of fiction, Tamblyn’s not exactly new to the writing scene. She has a collection of chapbooks she’s self-published and released over the years, along with a collection of poems she released with Harper Collins in 2015 that describes what it means to be an actor in Hollywood, many famous celebrity deaths, and how it feels to be constantly in the limelight, Dark Sparkler.

 

Any Man is set to release on June 26.

 

 

 

Featured Image via Variety