Pink. Ranty. Etc.

Meg Rosoff has shared some of her thoughts on the Queen of Teen book award.

Bags or shoes?? Why, people, WHY? Why is so much marketing to girls swaddled in sparkly pink and demeaning language?

I think there’s a few steps in between talking about shoes and becoming entirely imprisoned by the male gaze. I like shoes. I like to look pretty. I’m not ashamed of that. I don’t let it dictate how I live my life, or how much I eat, or inform any of my life decisions.

Here are some thoughts by other people.

So, how demeaning is that Bags or Shoes question? In a culture which makes a fuss over the Prime Minister’s answer to the searching question ‘What is your favourite biscuit?’ I can’t get too worked up about it. -When I Was Joe

It is all [Jane Austen's] fault: just substitute snogging for marriage, and you have Louise Rennison. OK, also take away the subtle and complex language, the wit, the brilliant structure, etc etc, but thematically, it’s all there. Sorta. I think it’s interesting that popular fiction for boys – from Muchamore to Horowitz is more feminist, albeit in the slightly crap way that the female characters tend to be just as skilled at kung fu etc as the boys. -Anthony McGowan

(I've already made my views on the anti-pink and uninformed McGowan clear here and here.)

Boys are perfectly capable of reading books with pink covers (just as girls are capable of reading books with blue covers). The issue is that they won't because society has convinced boys/men that anything targeted towards girls/women isn't worthy of their time. That's not the fault of book covers, is it? -Keris Stainton

AGREED.

The point is, by covering books in pink and sparkles (and websites), we’re making them what David Fickling calls Readermakers. A teenage girl who isn’t a very confident reader might pick one up, because it doesn’t look intense or threatening. But once she opens the covers, she will almost certainly find characters who are flawed, human, thoughtful, funny, who make mistakes and learn from them, who are curious about the world. And if a pink sparkly cover (or website) with shoes and bags gets them to open that book, then bring on the glitter. It’s what’s inside that counts.

And frankly I'm far more concerned about books that are black or red on the outside. I'd much rather read books about girls who are flawed, honest, occasionally ditzy, and are interested in shoes (as well as other stuff), than books about girls who are only interested in being messed around by passive-aggressive, distant, abusive vampire boyfriends.