This from the BBC:

“To help get boys reading we need a boys’ bookshelf in every secondary school library in the country, containing positive, modern, relevant role models for working class boys.” – Alan Johnson, Education Secretary

Seriously.

Well, I know my school was a girls’ school, and I’m biased, but you know what?

I think boys can have their own, special bookshelves when they put an LGBTQ section in too. Until then, they’ll just have to lump it, the poor things.

And when I think that virtually every computer game I’ve come across is made to be played from a male perspective, when I remember the stories that said that J.K. Rowling used her initials because publishers said that no boy would read anything written by a woman*, when I remember how male was – is – the default in just about everything – newspapers, history textbooks, cartoons… – I don’t think the problem here is with boys being under-represented. Perhaps, just perhaps, we should be looking at the culture we’re living in, that teaches boys not to develop their attention span, not to sit quietly and read, but to expect to see themselves represented everywhere, immediately, to the exclusion of all others. And to immediately switch off, if the book they are given is obviously written by a woman. Perhaps that, and the assumption that “boys” means “white, able-bodied, straight boys”, is what we should be working to change. Because I can’t think of a single disabled boy that I’ve found in all the years I’ve been reading fiction, and the number of gay  or ethinic-minority boys was pretty damned limited, too.


*Links here and here to articles mentioning the intent of the publishers, and a quote here from J K Rowling herself.

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I wouldn’t normally jump on a bandwagon, but I tend to trust Melissa McEwan’s viewpoint, and what I’ve read  and watched today about the murder of Oscar Grant is sick.

Californian police shot Oscar Grant, a black man, who was sitting peacefully and doing as he was asked.

Remember the Jean Charles de Menezes shooting? Remember how that was another man racially stereotyped into death? Remember how any oppression of any minority group affects every other minority group? Remember how racial stereotyping means that police can “mistake” a 12 year-old black girl for a prostitute – because that’s what they think a prostitute should look like, a black child.

This is so wrong. So very, very wrong.

And because it is wrong, please, everybody who reads this, make a fuss. If you’re American, do these things. If you’re not, post it up on your own blog so that people hear about it.

I’m not black, and I’m not Brazillian, and I’m not American, and I’m certainly not a man. But this kind of thing affects everybody. It even affects the white, middle-class, moneyed, able-bodied, heterosexual, cissexual men I know, the ones so full of privillege they ooze it from every pore. Why? Because just as I don’t exist in a vacuum, nor do they. And, logically, every single one of those men knows me. And I’m not “one of them”. Which makes me a combination of “others”. Which makes me directly affected by anything like these stories, and makes them indirectly affected, through me. Very few men like this will exist in a world that purely consists of other men just like them. I would suggest that no man does. And so, at the risk of labouring the point, this kind of thing affects everybody. And it’s horrific.

Cross-posted.

Because I’ve been entertaining Kirsten for the weekend, which has meant running around bookshops and taking part in the general lewd debauchery of the Friday night social, I had little time to check out the horrors of real life.

Instead, I’m broadening my cultural horizons with a book I found in an Oxfam shop:

Facing the Mirror: Lesbian Writing from India.

So far, I’ve found my one word of Hindi (“didi” – “sister”) and my Spanish has come in useful, too (“Que bonita! Nuestra Senorita de la Cocina!” – how beautiful! Our young Lady of the kitchen!”).

And I’ve found references to Anglo-Indians, which pleases me immensely, given that I’ve got some Anglo blood in me. My mother (who likes that kind of referencing, and who once came into my bedroom for no other reason than to tell me, “it’s a shame you’re not a lesbian- I’m so tolerant!”) would no doubt be very approving of my reading material!