Friday, October 22, 2010

Feminist YA

You wouldn't believe how quiet it is here at my work right now.  Somewhere up front I assume people are laughing happily and sipping espressos, but I'm all alone in a cavernous back room with only the air purifier for company.  It's so quiet that I'm alternately super-focused on what I'm working on (merging several databases into one rad super-database) and finding my mind wandering in strange ways.  For instance, I suddenly looked up and realized that I had spent at least ten minutes reading online reviews of Bugaboo baby strollers.  I don't have a baby or any interest in baby-related things, so it was really quite an odd thing to find myself doing.  Fortunately, the internet is full of other, more interesting things to stumble across too.  Like this over on the Ms. Magazine blog:

How I Picked 10 Best Feminist Teen Books of All Time  Apparently there's an article that names the 10 in the current issue and this blog post is there to drum up interest.  And it totally worked on me.  But it's sort of an irritating little post, one of those ones written by someone who seems to have little familiarity with the YA world, yet is writing as some sort of authority.

She seems to think that YA is a label that happens by accident, usually to women writers, and is a derogatory comment on the literary value of the book.  Of course it's true that sometimes books get labeled YA for marketing purposes, (sometimes even books written by men), but there are also many many many wonderful YA books actually written with a teen audience in mind.  Also, apparently the only way to avoid being forcibly relegated to YA is to include some "particularly horrific sexual violence."  And then she writes, after inventing that little problem: "Should we be concerned that girls are taken seriously as subjects of “adult literature” only if they’re brutally raped?"  Oy.  (Guess what!  I know a kind of non-rape-y book that almost always gets published for adults: Books about characters who aren't teenagers, or that are written from the perspective of an adult looking back on their youth rather than through the eyes of the young person.  Duh.)

Anyway.  Being mildly annoyed by something on the internet has really killed a little time here! And as soon as I can escape from this endless afternoon, I'll be heading out to pick up a copy of Ms. so I can find out what the 10 Best Feminist Teen Books are.  Brace yourself for an upcoming rage-filled rant, if my beloved Frankie Landau-Banks isn't on it.

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