Archive for February, 2012

Dudes on top…

Thursday, February 2nd, 2012

Because I am physically incapable of walking past a political debate, whether I know anything or not (this is a crippling disease, people), I feel the need to chime in on this brouhahahahahahaha, concerning the fact that the ALA very often awards the Caldecott to men.

I am, generally, a raging knee-jerk feminist.  Because someone’s gotta be, and I have a uterus, after all.  I think there’s a lot to be said about gender bias. I do believe that as a culture we (by which I mean women, most of all) tend to lavish praise on men when they decide to do “women’s work.”  We like that they’re not above it.  And also (and I mean this seriously) men are cute and fun to have around.  I think I’m guilty of this crime myself, probably.  I like to chat with the dads at the preschool.

I also want to say that I keep waiting for someone to crunch the ratio of overall children’s books published by women to children’s books published by men. Because I suspect THAT will be the real jaw dropper.  People always seem to toss these numbers around, looking for a 50/50 split of awards or NYRB reviews or stars or end-of-year-lists. But what if 80% of the books for kids are by women? What would a good award ratio be then?  (I’ll add that if you enjoy staring at upsetting numbers about literary gender bias, you need to check out VIDA’s THE COUNT)

So yeah, I’m one of those women. I’m a harpy.





There’s something else in play here, something I haven’t heard people talking about… (if they are, please send me a link).  And that is the possibility that when something is hard to do, when there are barriers to success, the resulting levels of devotion and quality work are simply better. Because the worker has so many reasons to quit.

What am I saying? I’m suggesting that when little Johnny Green was a high school kid (and I am absolutely making this up, forgive me) the most obvious path before him was probably not that he become a YA author.  Likewise little Boopsie Raschka and his pretty puppy pictures.  So what I’m suggesting is that maybe, just maybe, boys that end up in these fields are extra dedicated to them. Because otherwise they’d have gone into other, more obvious,  lines of work.  Involving guns or bulldozers or rocketships or other manly things (ie management).

If this is true– if the men who go into kidlit (or pediatrics or childcare or primary education, or, or, or…) are doing so despite the laughter of their frat-brothers, and their mom who only wanted them to become  doctors… then maybe the inflated numbers of men succeeding are just due in part to to super high levels of quality at the top.

Probably the answer is not so simple. Probably (as in most things) it’s both and neither.  But I wanted to add this to the conversation/debate.

And for the record, yeah, I love Raschka. I just really do.