To round out the guest posts for this year’s “About The Girls” series, I’ve asked editor Jordan Brown to share some thoughts. I won’t preface this with more than that because his post is powerful.
Jordan Brown is an executive editor for Walden Pond Press and Balzer + Bray, both imprints of HarperCollins Children’s Books. Recent releases he’s edited include Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap, Mindee Arnett’s Polaris, Chris Rylander’s Countdown Zero, and Gris Grimly’s illustrated version of A Study In Scarlet. He lives in Brooklyn.
When she posted her essay, Hale got some truly horrid responses.
The majority of disagreements with her and other writers who choose to speak out are not all quite as ill-conceived as this one, but they tend to imply something similar: the problem isn’t with society, or with the message we’re sending to boys, but rather with the women writers themselves who presume to feel slighted by the natural order of things. I’m a man, and so my tweets about Hale’s experience didn’t produce such vitriolic responses directly into my mentions, but the one negative response to my assertion that her blog post is “the most important thing you’ll read today” was “Hope not.”
If I may extrapolate: how depressing it would be for the responder if this frivolous issue were not eventually put out of mind by something more worthy of his attention. This was not an aggressive response at all—it was simply one in line with the general idea that an objection to this sort of line-drawing where gender is concerned is much ado about nothing, and ought to be dismissed to deal with issues more pressing about boys and their development. This assertion carries with it the idea that not only are these women authors self-obsessed, but they don’t have the best interests of the kids they claim to be writing for at heart—a point raised by Hale’s responder above. To him, it’s a failure of empathy on her part that she thinks boys might want to read about a girl. Sit with that for a moment.