Gender Inequality at the Local Bookstore.

I was recently in Barnes and Noble to pick up a paperback copy of the book our 11-year-old needs for her literature class this upcoming semester. As I was looking for the title another book, on the subject of black women in American history, caught my attention. I was less than impressed with the some on list of names presented as worthy of emulation and consideration, but as I put it back on the shelf, the sign above the books caught my attention:


As I turned around to leave, I ran across another table of books. Included on those shelves was this title:


And a second volume:


Above another shelf of books was this sign:


By this point I was thorougly ntrigued and totally distracted from the purpose of my original foray into the young people’s book section. I spent the next 15 minutes carefully combing the children’s and young adult book section looking for something, anything that would indicate that Barnes and Noble had considered that there may be a market for books that encourage boys or manhood in any way. Here’s what I found:

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As a mother of five daughters, one might assume it pleases me to see such effort being poured into making our daughters feel good about themselves. One would be mistaken.

On the contrary, I see every reason to be concerned about a culture that does nothing to promote positive, authentic masculinity and male leadership in its boys while encouraging masculinity and male leadership in its girls.

16 thoughts on “Gender Inequality at the Local Bookstore.

  1. Major Styles says:

    What we are seeing here is, on some level, the bleeding over of feminist Hollywood fiction into the literary world. “Unstoppable” girls…is she Wonder Woman? That’s fine for a superhero film, but our daughters (and sons for that matter) are anything but unstoppable. There is real danger in the world…the human life is fragile in many regards. Teaching them otherwise is reckless.


  2. Elspeth says:

    “Unstoppable” girls…is she Wonder Woman? That’s fine for a superhero film, but our daughters (and sons for that matter) are anything but unstoppable.

    That’s an excellent point, Major.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Elspeth says:

    What we are seeing here is, on some level, the bleeding over of feminist Hollywood fiction into the literary world.

    I suppose the counterargument to my objection would be that, historically speaking, most books sold were written by and outlined the accomplishments of, men.

    I would argue however, that it has been at least a generation since this was true, possibly two generations. By every current educational and vocational metric, it is obvious that boys need encouragement in a major way.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. hearthie says:

    Boys do need encouragement. I’m glad to see some more interesting heroines, but they could AT LEAST advertise the classics for boys a bit more. It’s like they’re acting like this is the 70s or something. The 50s. WE had some excellent girl-books in the 70s, if I recall.

    The classics, btw, are *excellent* reading in male virtues. We got through Kidnapped (without a language change) in 6th grade with my son, and I was pretty impressed by the amount of male virtue on display. As well as solid adventure. I think I’d recommend sane people get an updated version.

    And today’s boys are being encouraged to read Captain Underpants. Sigh.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Elspeth says:

    In our 6th grader’s lit class, they read Captains Courageous. Excellent book on male virtue and growing into manhood. After that they read ‘The Children’s Homer”. Another good one.

    I was hoping to hear from someone with a son coming of age in this culture, someone who is living alongside the madness. So thanks for chiming in, Hearth.

    Here’s a list of books that were popular with girls in the 70s. I didn’t turn 10+ until the 80s, but I remember some of these myself. Lots of godd books with interesting female characters and heroines, even:


  6. Elspeth says:

    Off the top of my head, I can think -quite easily- of four books written in the last decade or so about the crisis concerning boys in education and motivation. Of young men in the college and career fields, etc. The research concerning what boys are struggling through is out there and it’s not even very hard to find.

    And still, large portions of our culture can find reasons why this all out push to move girls ahead even farther i(and holding boys back by default) is not only defensible, but good and right.

    I have had the experience of watching as our 9-year-old is the only girl in a class full with 7 other boys in our part time school. The class is rigorous, and the teacher is pretty cool about letting the boys be boys in class while still holding them accountable to behaving in a basically courteous way.

    I usually pop into the 90 minute long writing and lit class for the last half hour or so because that’s when the kids get to read their narrations and essays out loud.

    Whenever our daughter (who is a very good writer), reads her stuff, these normally rowdy boys listen, clap and compliment how well she writes. I’m sure she likes the attention after being initially apprehensive about being the only girl in the class. It’s like she has 7 brothers for the day. They didn’t have to be coaed to treat her with kindness or acknowledge her talent. They just do it. I have made sure to teach her to respond in kind.

    I can only imagine what these boys would have to deal with if they were in the public system being ignored while all the resources are being directed toward helping “girls take the lead”,

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Robyn says:


    Not very articulate, I know. I don’t have much use for feminism; save for the fast tracking of the devolvement of the world, which we need, to bring us closer to the finale. Honestly, I don’t know why I’m so surprised by such insidiousness, we all know who rules the world; it shouldn’t surprise me, yet it does.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Robyn says:

    I started researching it only a few years ago. When you start digging into the roots of the movement you can see exactly why we have ended up where we are. I’ve got some titles if you’re interested, I can email them to you.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Bike Bubba says:

    I can see a use for “first wave” feminism in correcting 19th century laws that did things like forbidding women from various trades and owning property, but after that….let’s just say I’m glad my little girls have been on co-ed cross country and track teams and know very well that there are some differences between boys and girls, and that they got to see what their out of shape fat 48 year old dad could do in the weight room, and they could not.


  10. Elspeth says:

    Actually, unmarried women could own property. Married women earned the right to property around 1840-something. Laws were always harsher in Britain than they were in the U.S.

    There is an argument to be had about whether a married woman should own property apart from her husband. I suppose the legalities of property owned before her marriage should have been on the table in the unlikely event of divorce.


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