Friday, June 08, 2012

Don't Accept Sexism or Today in Don't Piss Off Twitter:


I really, really didn't think much about yesterday's post about the blatant sexism in Scholastic's Survive Anything books. I opened my committee box from Scholastic, and there they were. I couldn't not look at them, and I couldn't help but notice how it played into gender stereotypes in a shockingly obvious and stupidly offensive way. So I dusted off this blog and wrote a fairly minimalist entry, trusting that in typing out the table of contents the books would speak for themselves. They did.

I didn't expect it to spread through Twitter like WILDFIRE. I figured a few of my friends would find it as obnoxious as I, but I didn't expect the great Ryan North (incidentally, my husband's IDOL, no joke) to pick it up (with a fat cut & paste no less) and run with it all over the place. I spent the day talking to 700 middle school students about books, reading, and the library, so what happened next is really all your story. You spread the issue thousands upon thousands of times on Twitter. You linked to it on Facebook, on Tumblr, and Reddit. It was picked up by BuzzFeed and Jezebel (Jezebel, in a failed example of journalism, didn't credit me, but whatevs).

And Scholastic? They heard you. In a terse post, they announced that no further copies will be made available." Whatever that means. No additional printings would be my guess.

Which puts me in sort of a strange mind. On one hand, VICTORY! We have stood up for our children and refused gender boxes! On the other, there wasn't really anything wrong with most (definitely not all - some of the girl language was downright patronizing) of the content, just that it assigned specific gender roles in a nonsensical out-dated, way. Objections would not have been had if Boys Only! and Girls Only! hadn't appeared on the cover. Make them gender neutral, and it's possible I would have talked these up to the couple thousand students I see this time of year. So, now that these books are no more, my little librarian mind is confused: Did I just instigate some sort of progressive-minded censorship? Regardless, let's hope that Scholastic will keep this in mind the next time they think creating gendered books is spiffy keen.

For some lols, check out the apology North wanted to get from Scholastic.

36 comments:

Janssen said...

All of this post is fantastic but the "spiffy keen" phrase is the icing on the cake.

Sam Barnett-Cormack said...

I only found this blog via the social media storm that it kicked up on this issue... sounds like Scholastic overreacted a little, maybe, and would be better suggesting that they would re-edit the books to sort the two into thematic groups that aren't gender-based or something. However, a strong reaction to gender normative works that are so unashamedly blatant can only be a good thing.

Ruby said...

No more printing? Wow.

Sam Barnett-Cormack said...

Also, I notice that, whatever their statement says, they're still selling the books on their website... so however limited the distribution so far, it could get quite a lot wider.

Anonymous said...

Good for you! It's just a shame that it took the twitterverse to point out what everybody at Scholastic should have already known.

I'll be reblogging this next week.

Jackie Parker said...

Janssen, I'm glad you appreciated it! ;)

Sam, I suspect they are going to let whatever remaining stock they have sell out, and then just let it die.

Thanks Shane!

tanita✿davis said...

Hey - wow. Yeah, I guess this would confuse the mind. Yay, no gender stereotyping! Yay, no ... book?

Regardless. You are spiffy keen, and have mad obvious-sexism-pointing-out-skills, and a great way with the gentle sardonic tone - well done, you. ♥

Stephen Kilbride said...

They might turn around and reissue the books as 'Kid Only Survival Guides' or something like that. Maybe mix the topics about and release a volume 1 and 2. The books probably aren't dead, you've just helped make them less sucky :)

Shame Jez didn't give you some credit...

Anonymous said...

I found your blog from one of the many articles which did give you credit for calling out Scholastic on the sexism in these books - thanks for speaking up. As the mom of a 3 year old girl, I have an incredibly hard time finding books that don't portray girls as useless dress-up dolls. In case you or your readers are interested, here is one from an independent publisher that I like: http://www.amazon.com/Grace-Saves-the-Princess-ebook/dp/B00787QNJ0/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1340209376&sr=1-1

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