What Happens When Boys Don't Read Girl Books

Here is something that I don't understand.

When girls read, they read everything. If a girl says that she likes to read the Rainbow Magic series, then that's cool. If a girl says she likes to read the Alex Rider series, then fine. You wouldn't think a girl is strange for reading a book aimed at boys, any more than you'd think she was strange for reading a book aimed at girls.

With boys, it's different. They can read all the Alex Rider and Astrosaurs and Avengers comics they like, but as soon as they pick up something like Rainbow Magic, everybody goes crazy.

You can't read that! That's a GIRL book. Are you a GIRL? No, of course not; now go read some books about soccer, there's a good boy.

Why does this happen? Why are girls expected, and even encouraged, to read books about / aimed at the opposite gender, while boys are expected to pretend like girls are none of their concern?

This has repercussions, as you might expect. In order to appeal to mass audiences, many films will marginalise female characters, because, of course, no self-respecting boy would ever watch a GIRL MOVIE (if it has a girl as the main character, it's automatically a girl movie. Obviously). How many films have you seen that have a main cast of five or six different characters, only one of whom (and never the protagonist) is female? I can list several right off the top of my head -- Cars, Monsters Inc., Rise of the Guardians, most Marvel films, Inception, Turbo, Kung Fu Panda, Madagascar ... the list goes on and on. It's almost as if the filmmakers thought, "Okay, we'll put ONE female cast member in there, just to make it seem diverse, and then we'll let the MEN do the rest of the job."

This is not realistic. There are more women in the world than men, and yet films would have us believe that women constitute about one-fifth of the world's population.

Thanks to our culture today, we have a discrepancy between the genders. If you look at the world from a girl's point of view, she has been exposed to both sides of the story. She has taken the Astrosaurs with the Rainbow Magic; the super spies with the Disney princesses. She will have seen boys being the hero, and girls being the hero. She knows that boys and girls are equal, and that they both deserve to be recognized in our world today.

By contrast, if you look at the world from a boy's point of view, he has only been exposed to one side of the story. He knows that saving the world is the job of the men, not of the weak and wimpy women. He knows that girls are only there to cry and to adore the big, strong alpha male. He is vaguely aware that girls have some idea that they can be heroes too, but he knows that's not true. After all, girls only ever save the world in GIRL BOOKS.

What does this mean? It means that boys are growing up with the belief that women are not equal to men. They are growing up with the belief that men are the big bosses of everything, ruling the world with an iron fist, and that a woman's only job is to sit at home and feed the baby.

It's a big problem, and the infuriating thing is, it's COMPLETELY avoidable. All it takes is for us to give boys permission to read "girl books". Let them see both sides. Let them see that girls are worthy to rule the world, too, as equals.

Today, please do the world a favor. Give a boy the gift of a "girl book". Whether it's your son, your brother, your nephew, or your neighbour's second cousin once removed -- it doesn't matter. Just, please -- for the sake of humanity -- don't let him grow up only knowing one side of the story.

Right now, boys and girls are separated in their reading -- and that's a terrible thing.

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