Amanda Hocking

My Reaction to the Gender Coverup

May 7th, 2013 by
This post currently has 34 comments

I’m writing this post, and I’m angry. I usually try not to write things when I’m angry, but right now, I don’t care. I just read this blog – The Gender Coverup written by Maureen Johnson, and now I’m pissed off.

What pisses me off even further, is that I nearly used the modifier “lovely” to describe Maureen Johnson, and it’s not that she’s not lovely, but it makes me angry that my natural inclination to describe her wasn’t “friendly” or “smart” or “incomparable” or any other ten million words that don’t have female connotations to it, and I realize once again that I’m part of the problem.

I very rarely weigh in on the issue of gender bias books because I think that if I say something, people will just point that my books suck, and recognition or lack thereof has nothing to do with gender but merit, and maybe they’re right. Not that my books suck, but I do believe that while my books are enjoyable and fun, they aren’t the stuff the of literary of awards, which is perfectly fine with me.

So this isn’t about me. This isn’t about whether or not I’ll win awards, because I won’t. I was reviewed in the New York Times, and that’s already more than my fair share and more than many much more well written books by female authors can hope for. So I’m not complaining about me or for me.

But I’m sick to death of this. I am so sick of the constant, blatant sexism. And any time any one points anything out as being sexist, they’re accused of “whining” or “nagging” or “not taking a joke.”

From the Steubenville rape trial to the obituary of Yvonne Brill to the fact that more women read books than men, more women write books then men, but only a small fraction of books that win literary awards are written by women. Women are the publishing industry’s bread and butter, we are the backbone of the damn entertainment industry, but we are constantly demoted to “fluffy” to “light” to “meaningless.”

From a very young age, I knew that “girly” meant inferior, so I avoided it like a plague. I played with action figures, not Barbies. I caught snakes and toads in my yard. When I first started developed “crushes” on boys, I was enraged at myself, because “crushes” and “kisses” were girly, and therefore inferior, and I shouldn’t want that.

For years, I have probably been part of the problem. Instead of standing up for the girly things I did like – like the color pink and glitter and teen romance novels – and pointing out that’s its perfectly okay to like these things, that there’s never been anything inferior about glitter, and most people of both genders hope to fall in love – I dismissed them and surrounded myself with the “boy” interests that I do have, wearing Jurassic Park and Batman and Star Wars like armor, listening to Korn and Marilyn Manson in high school to prove that I wasn’t some girl, I was as tough and as valuable as any boy.

Most of my life, I’ve spent apologizing to the world for being a girl. A really big and important event happened in my early twenties wherein I had a nervous breakdown and attempted suicide. And that was terrible and horrible, but it was after that I realized that I needed to learn to accept myself for myself. That I’d spend enough of my life hating myself for the things I couldn’t change, and at the very top of the list was the fact that I’d always hated myself for being a girl, because in my mind, it made me inherently weak and inferior. Having emotions – particularly sadness and love – are associated with the feminine, and I spent a great deal of my life trying to stifle them as a result. Every thing feminine about myself I tried to change, to “correct.”

I’m not transgendered in anyway, because when I actually allow myself to I quite like being a girl. I like shoes and dying my hair and the color pink and guys and tattoos and Batman and comic books and horror movies and romantic comedies and wearing jeans and action figures, because oh my god, I’m a whole person with whole interests, and there’s nothing inherently wrong with any of them. 

There are of course other issues contributing to the self-loathing, and I didn’t hate myself just because I liked Jonathan Taylor Thomas or My Little Ponies. But these were symptoms of a larger problem, one that was constantly reiterated to me by every form of media. Everything female is inferior.

I don’t know how to change this, but I know this has to stop. I may be a terrible writer or an inferior human being or a horrible person, but none of that has to do with the fact that I’m a girl, and nobody should ever feel the way did. Kids today deserve better from us. They do not need these constant subtle reminders that they are inferior.

The first step is acknowledging that it exists, and that there’s a gender gap in nearly every form of industry in the country, and the second step is top stop buying into it. We all need to stop feeding it and buying into it.

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  • Depeche Mode once song ‘People are people so why can’t we be?’ The truth is…it’s okay to be girly, or boyish, regardless of gender. People get too hung up on putting people and things in check boxes, and it’s that what p*ssess me off. It’s one life, as far as we know, so peope just have to be who they are. I think you are right, there are gaps that need to be addressed.

    I’ve never thought that a woman president or prime minister was any different to a male one. I don’t understand why people – and society in general view differences as weaknesses – i.e. you’re a woman, therefore you cannot do that, and vice versa for a man. It’s stupid. All these years of human growth and supposed evolution. If anything, we’re going backwards. Rant away Amanda, you may make a difference and I hope that you succeed.

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  • GadenP says:

    Guys view:
    In the past, I would say equality was not there. But seriously? Today I sometimes feel oppressed as a guy. Woman equality in most 1st world countries has come the distance and most have won the overall fight.

    I am not sure in US of A, but in Singapore, ladies can be scary. In law, it is always the guy’s fault unless proven absolutely. Not only that, most ladies in Singapore know their right and are not afraid to inform everyone.

    A lot of them are protected by their parents. While most guys are keep on being bombarded from a early age that family is important, protect the family, filial piety, etc.

    Funnily in Singapore we are getting a role reversal situation in which more guys are more family orientated and more ladies are more work orientated.

    It is true every where that there will be bigotry but I think it various from person to person, from topic to topic and from culture to culture and seriously it is not one directional.

    But as for Lit in school, you all got to agree or at least acknowledge that preferences vary from person to person and if the person selecting your books to study is a guy… Guess what, most of the books you will be studying will most likely be what he/she likes. Also it does not help that in ancient times most if not all writers were guys. Get a teacher who is a lady, and the opposite would happen (except maybe ladies are more empathetic/non-clueless and thus more fair?).

    My lit teacher for O levels was a older man with strange ideas and he choose a female African writer and the Macbeth. Now Macbeth I loved, but the African book I was like WT!!!

    It was the strangest book I ever read, not because the author was a female, but because seriously I could not relate one bit to the African outlook.

    So seriously is it a gender cover up or just the simple unchecked, uninformed preferences of single people that just might not have thought anything about their selection?

    As a reader of both female and guy writers, both action and romance. I must say that at least where I am (Singapore) while not equal in everything both ways the gender equality is from my view point no longer a major issue for the modern age as it was once in the olden eras.

    Also there is the serious issue that guys and girls like different things. Take movies for example and the strong female lead. I know ladies complain these leads are sexuallised. But think from a $$$ point of view.

    Girls like strong female leads + Guys like hot woman = Hot strong female lead. It is really that simple.

    In the end, while I got to admit that ultra feminism and male bigotry are both alive and well in “special people” and that will not end till the end of time. I seriously do not think there is any more gender cover up. Just individuals that do things for various reasons, be it money, because that has always been how it was done, to protect their job, or because they themselves are bigots.

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  • Mikey V says:

    A very articulate post. There is a weird stigma associated with literature and gender. I was an English Major and constantly was one of three males in class. However, a majority of the authors we read were male. As someone that is trying to keep developing as a writer and hopefully self publish in the future, you have been a big inspiration!

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