Friday, April 15, 2011

Boy fiction

Some of you may have heard about a new television show, "Game of Thrones?" I think some guy named George R. R. Martin wrote the book it is based on, but I can't be sure, because, apparently, that book is "boy fiction," and I've never been a boy.

No. Seriously. Read the New York Times review of the show. That's what it says. (I'm not linking due, not to paywall issues, as I like writers getting paid, but due to finding any review that manages to mention nary a scene, nor name even one character, doesn't deserve the name "review" in my book.)

And yes, I ranted about the idiocy of the review on twitter this morning, as have any number of other women who read and write fantasy.

But the thing that keeps bothering me is that term, "boy fiction." It bothers me beyond the obvious idiocies that we've all heard - "girls don't read comics" "men don't read, period" - because the idea that what people do, wear, read, enjoy, even the color they paint their toenails is still being used as some kind of shorthand for gender is kind of disgusting. As is the idea that things can, or should, only be enjoyed or experienced by one gender.

There is no such thing as "boy fiction." We talk about "chick lit," but that's a marketing category, not moral law. Gender and genre are not the same word.


  1. I read this and it made me sooooo mad. I posted a comment (with the addendum that Lorrie Moore bored me to tears), but it turned out the article didn't accept comments. I WONDER WHY.

  2. Boy fiction? I find I'm rather perplexed by this.

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  4. Edited for grammar: As am I, to be honest. I'm really not sure what sort of literature would fall under that label.

  5. The whole "boy fiction" was the part in the article that threw me into a complete rage. I honestly can't believe that the author wrote that.

    Great blog on the subject -- you're completely right. I'm tempted to write another post about the issue of gender (how it's performative via Butler), but just thinking about the article is making me twitchy again.

    Thanks for writing this. ~Ali