Young Women and Reading | #fakereadergirls


alternative title: Think Before You Speak... That Goes for Everyone

alternative alternative title: Blimey BookTube, Calm Your Tits

Here in the Book Blogging Community we're a fairly chill bunch, so when drama happens over on BookTube, it's usually a good opportunity for us to sit back and enjoy the shit storm from a place of relative safety, maybe rolling out a sarcastic tweet with that gif of Sarah Michelle Gellar eating popcorn. 

However the most recent clusterfuck actually touched on something worth talking about, and something I have a lot of experience with; That is young women having the validity of their interests questioned... again.

Personally I think that the incident that sparked this discussion was RIDICULOUS. For those who aren't aware a Booktuber made a video in which he derided Bookcon and similar events as shallow and facile, and the (mostly young and female) attendees as stupid for giving time to authors who don't appreciate them. When commenters expressed their disagreement with the things he said he posted the following reply.

and holy balls did all hell break loose.

Now I'd like to state here that I watch Steve's videos and I really like him. He's got good opinions on the books he reads and he acts as excellent writing inspiration, with his unapologetic irritation with people who call themselves writers... who then don't write. So I'm coming from a place of actually being familiar with this guy as opposed to just jumping on the indignation train.

I'm in the position of having an understanding with both parties. I, like Steve, hold reading and books very dear to my heart and I can totally empathise with feeling frustrated if you see something you love being used or experienced in a way that you perceive as being shallow. I think we all can, especially as readers with favourite stories/characters.

I love DC comic books and batman, and always get frustrated with people who say they love Batman... who have only ever seen the Nolan films. I don't think they're stupid or wrong, but it upsets me that they believe that Christian Bale talking like he's on his deathbed encompasses the enormous, complex rich world of Batman and his surrounding characters that you experience in the comics, or the pure joy that is The Animated Series, and that they think they have an understanding of that world when there's so much missing. I can totally see that Steve might feel that there is a gap between 'real readership' and what he saw on the BEA videos.

However, we are not gatekeepers of our interests. We don't get to tell others that they aren't qualified to share them. Some people only read YA, there are others who only read non fiction, or books considered 'classics', how does anybody have the right to separate out who is a 'real reader' and who isn't? if you belong to the latter two groups you may be told that you're missing out, or are limiting yourself, but nobody is questioning your readership.Yet there is this constant reinforcement that if you read YA, which is the major focus of BEA and Bookcon, you are not a real reader. I firmly believe that reason people dismiss this area of reading culture is because the majority of people engaging with it are young women. And that's just not on. This is coming from someone who does not read YA, who has nigh on zero interest in it. I don't get to tell someone that they are less of a reader because their tastes differ from mine.

The reaction following this comment was melodramatic, silly and poorly thought out, but I think it was one borne of frustration. Young women get very sick of having their interests invalidated because of who they are. It happens all the time: We like bands that are just corporate machines built to take our money, we like fashion and beauty but that's shallow and frivolous. We like video games and sports but we're just doing it for male attention, and we have interest in politics and social issues but of course we don't really understand them so we just get an 'aww bless' and a head pat. The outrage sparked by this situation is because books are one thing we just get to have, more or less, without that judgement and dismissal.

Having said that, the booktube community did itself a great disservice with it's behavior. I am willing to give Steve space for the benefit of the doubt, and consider that his reference to 'blush', which many took to mean women wearing makeup, was meant to mean 'stage makeup', in that many Booktubers care more about the aesthetic of their channel (though how putting effort into your videos diminishes your validity as a reader I'm not sure) but a whole lot of people flung themselves into a twitter based witch hunt and crucified this guy for a single, poorly worded comment. I followed one twitter conversation as it took place and it went from justified indignation to personal insults, and questions amounting to "why is he even watching all these videos with teenage girls in anyway?". That sort of thing is just utterly unacceptable and, in my mind, made the whole conversation redundant.

If we're calling for one person to be more considered in the way they speak, we MUST exercise that ourselves. To be so immature and vindictive does nothing to resolve the issue, or further the conversation. I am very glad that some major Booktubers have spoken out against this mob mentality, and that some who contributed have since admitted their fault. What should have occurred were polite comments disagreeing with his opinion and explaining the issue with his choice of words, which I imagine would have led to an apology, perhaps some further discussion into the topic and us all getting on with our lives. Instead we got a very angry circle jerk and increasingly ridiculous accusations and anger which, of course, resulted in defensiveness and dismissal. I'm glad that this topic of discussion has been put on the table because one thing Booktube does right is it's ability to address it's own issues, but I wish we had done it without deciding that one man's ambiguous word choices made him the next Daniel Tosh. We're better than that chaps.

Well that's my two cents. It's coherent if you squint. Let me know your thoughts.

Thanks for reading,


Post a Comment

Thankyou for your comments! I love reading your thoughts :)


© Folded Paper Foxes. Design by MangoBlogs.