The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

Book Club

You won’t get cooties from reading a book about women
Photo by Delia Brandel

I’ve had a handful of men ask me for book recommendations over the years. When asked this question by anyone, I tend to think about books that fit their reading preference. Things like genre, length, contemporary vs. classic, that kind of thing. 

When looking for a book to offer up to a man however, I catch myself shying away from my feminist-themed books or even books about the female experience. I tried to think of why I felt I needed to keep this from them, or not bother them with these topics. 

So why does it feel like recommending these titles to men would be a lost cause? How does the gender gap seep its way into the world of books, even today? According to Wealth of Women, every top 10 best–selling woman writer had only about 19% male readers. 

Not to mention, the writing by women isn’t even respected the same within its own industry. A study done at Queens College found that books written by women are priced 45% lower than those written by men. 

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This need for male–centered entertainment and content is not new or surprising, but it does bring up a larger more systemic issue. If we expect boys to want to read about women and ultimately, sympathize with them, we need to start at the root. 

Romper writes that the disparaging levels of male characters versus female characters in children’s books is noticeable in the top 100 children’s books statistics. 68% of the protagonists on the list were male. 

It is hard to teach men how to be interested in women as humans with feelings and experiences if we never give them the chance to as children. If all of the stories you read as a child revolved around boys, you’d reach for them in entertainment as an adult. 

There is an idea surrounding women’s literature, that somehow it is still considered a special interest genre. Women’s literature has the same right and respectability to sit next to the men writers of the same genres. 

Sometimes I wonder if the reason some men don’t read women–focused books is because they are worried they will be called out, embarrassed or god forbid — knocked down a peg. Or worse, maybe it would ruin the way they view sexual experiences and flirting now knowing what it feels like from a woman’s perspective.

Not to mention this weird stigma we have around romance books. Why is it so kitschy to want to experience two people falling in love? I don’t read romance, but who am I to tell someone that what they read is not good enough? I would recommend reading Kayleigh Woltal’s article about the subject on Grain of Salt.

Personally, some of the best writing I’ve ever been exposed to came from women. Not because they were written about feminism or the female experience, but because they were talented writers with something to share with the world in their books.

Not to say that a man can’t write a good book. I read a lot of books written by men and enjoy them thoroughly. It’s the fact that some look at a book written by a man and assume it will be good, but look at one written by a woman and be doubtful. 

There is no difference between a man writing a book versus a woman, but one will be priced higher, advertised for both genders and put up on a more respectable shelf than the woman’s. Even if their quality and social relevance are leagues separate. 

So men, if you feel like this applies to you, or even if it doesn’t, try to be more conscious of the reading you’re doing. Find a couple of women writers to add to your shelf. You’re missing out on a really important perspective, one that you would benefit from being exposed to. 

Brandel can be reached at [email protected]

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About the Contributor
Delia Brandel
Delia Brandel, OP/ED Editor
Delia is a second-year illustration student, pursuing a career in children's book illustration and animation. This is her third semester on The Spectator. Delia is particularly fond of books, art, her cat Applesauce, music, tea, baby clothes, the 2019 version of “Little Women” and animated movies.

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