John Scalzi is traveling, or rather, is about to stop traveling. So he emailed me this morning to see if it was okay to delay my Big Idea post by a day. So look for that tomorrow!
Also, an interesting comment came in the other day on my Boy Books and Girl Books? post. The commenter pointed out that perhaps one reason why men eschew urban fantasy is because the covers seem to portray women who don’t need men, who even actively put down men.
The commenter also mention how James Bond covers, for example, show Bond in active poses with women in them, and posited that if UF covers showed women in active poses with men around them they might appeal more to men.
Which I think is an interesting comment, certainly. I still think it’s sad; it still makes me angry that books marketed toward women or with female MCs are automatically dismissed by men. And I still find it kind of hard to understand; as I said in that post, it can’t be that men don’t like to read books with women in them. It can’t be that men dislike sex. And I have a hard time believing that men just plain don’t like to read about love stories; not only do I know men who read romance–and I think that’s awesome–most men I know do genuinely want to find love, or are married or in committed relationships and are very happy. So I wonder if the commenter is right. Does the way UF is marketed automatically drive men away? Does it almost present a sort of no-men-allowed kind of look?
It’s a real shame, if so. Men already miss out on some great stories in genre romance, simply because they don’t think to pick one up and give it a try. It would be sad to see them missing out on great stories in other genres as well.
My point here isn’t to say men and their opinions are the most important. It’s just that I do get tired of seeing UF dismissed and put down, often by people who’ve never tried it, or who tried one and decided they’re all exactly like that one, when in fact there’s a lot of variety in the genre (and in genre romance, as well). I do think it’s shameful that “girl books” is a put-down. As I said in my previous post, so what if it’s about women, or marketed toward women? So what if it has a love story in it, or sex? Why does that mean it’s okay to insult it? It isn’t, and it shouldn’t be.
A woman who refuses to read books marketed mainly toward men, or see films marketed mainly toward men, or consume media aimed mainly toward men, is going to have a hard time finding books to read (outside of those genres) or films to see, or media to consume. (It actually reminds me of the “News for Women” segment that a news station in Miami used to run, and how it infuriated me, not only by implying that regular news wasn’t something for women, but that women were only interested in diets and cooking, and that men had no interest in such things at all.) I remember reading an article somewhere once about why women’s magazines are as successful as they are, and part of it was because those magazines are some of the few media outlets aimed at and coming from a woman’s viewpoint.
I’m not sure our viewpoints are so different, really. I think we’re all individuals. And I’m tired of stereotypes. I’m tired of women’s writing being dismissed as “just a chick book,” as if that automatically makes it inferior. If you don’t like a genre, that’s fine, but to say you dislike it because it’s a gender thing is just kind of lazy and offensive. I’m tired of books aimed at women, like romance or like many UFs, being dismissed.
And you know, I think men in general are better than that. Don’t you? Give it a try, men! Read something different, for fun. See how you like it, and what you learn from it. Decide for yourself what you think. Try a couple of them. Get some recommendations from people. You might find you enjoy it a lot more than you thought you would, and you might realize that just because something is marketed toward women, or has a romance story in it or sex or whatever, doesn’t actually mean it isn’t worthwhile and good.
Because it doesn’t.