Today is International Women’s Day, which apparently started as far back as 1908 when 15 000 women marched through New York City demanding voting rights and better pay, although it was first celebrated in Europe in 1911. In this country women demonstrated in the streets, went on hunger strikes, threw themselves under horses all to fight for equality with men. A century later and Women now have the vote, can drive a car and finally I’m sure Emmeline Pankhurst would be incredibly pleased to know we also now have pink lego!
This was something that had passed me by until this weekend. As a teacher and a mother of two young girls my friend is a bit more au fait with current child trends than me. So for the past 50 years or so, girls have not played with lego because it wasn’t pink. Really? Are we really all so utterly brainwashed by stereotypes that we can only buy lego for a girl if it’s pink? It’s the demise of the last non-gender specific toy in the world. (According to my friend who was rightly very annoyed by this)
Apparently the world has come full circle, and we’ve skipped right past the equality that women were aiming for, and gone straight into everything for girls being pink and fluffy. Take dressing up outfits for example, girls get princesses or fairies, boys get superheroes and doctors. I would much rather be a superhero flying out to save the world, than a princess stuck in some castle bored stupid. The same issues can be seen in the world of literature, as it seems people believe women will only read books if they are pink, fluffy and branded as ‘chicklit’, whereas boys read everything not just ‘cocklit’ (Short for Cockerel thank you).
Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve read a lot of so called ‘chicklit’ over the years, some good some bad, mostly following the same premise – boy meets girl, girl falls in love with boy, boy is bad to girl, girl moans to gay best friend, quiet nerd next door befriends girl, girl realises she has been in love with nerd from the start. Some of these are funny, and very cleverly written, and I’ve enjoyed reading them, but just like I didn’t need my lego to be pink, I don’t need a book to have a nice fluffy cover in order for me to pick it up.
Personally I would say modern day crime fiction has managed to bypass this pink stereotyping and is read by both males and females. Somehow I can’t imagine the likes of Patricia Cornwell writing ‘Last Cupcake of Death’ with a pink cover and glitter all over it (not to be confused with her Scarpetta Cookbook, the only Patricia Cornwell book I haven’t got a copy of, not sure its one for a vegetarian)
At last years Festival the sessions we went to seemed to have quite an even split between male and female attendees and looking at the programme for 2012 there isn’t a huge bias one way or the other when it comes to authors. Of course there are probably statistics that disprove me, however ignoring the ‘fireside crime novels’ of the likes of Agatha Christie, or M.C Beaton I don’t think people choose their crime fiction based on whether its got a male or female protagonist, or if its written by a man or a woman. Some excellent novels are written by both males and females together, such as Nikki French for example, and there are even serial killers who are females killing just for pleasure not for a man.
Mind you saying that, I picked up the Chelsea Cain novels purely because they had a female serial killer at the centre, plus one of her novels had a heart on the front (albeit one drawn in blood) so maybe us women really are swayed by pink and hearts…