NR Digital

Athwart

Snips and Snails and Oppressive Tales

by James Lileks

You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, unless it’s pink and sparkly. Then it’s marketed at girls, and we can’t have that. They should be reading Chilton’s car-repair manuals. But not the one whose cover indicates it’s aimed at boys, because that’s just as bad. This, apparently, is the new policy of the book-review editor of the British newspaper the Independent:

I promise now that the newspaper and this website will not be reviewing any book which is explicitly aimed at just girls, or just boys. Nor will The Independent’s books section. And nor will the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk. Any Girls’ Book of Boring Princesses that crosses my desk will go straight into the recycling pile along with every Great Big Book of Snot for Boys.

The problem? Such books are gendered, a prerogative term applied to things that don’t realize children are nebulous blobs of brain goo who are warped by a heteronormative society to adopt “girl” or “boy” traits. Left alone and shielded from the psychic emanations of the Great Penis in the Sky, girls would play with dump trucks and boys would put on tiaras and totter around in heels. Well. I can only speak from firsthand experience, but my daughter was not given Barbies or princess books or anything like that, mostly because I find them inane at best, and a whitewashing of the realities of the feudal system at worst. Yet she wanted them.

Me: Don’t you realize that princesses did not lead idyllic lives in magical castles with birds braiding their hair, but were part of a crushing, rigid caste system? They were mere pawns to be married off to some gouty brute who got his title because his father stabbed the king in his privy. I won’t buy it.

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