No girls allowed

So a kid age 7 reads a book about insects with much enjoyment, then when she gets to the back cover she sees that it says the book is for boys.

Publishers? Don’t do that.

You don’t say “books for white people” do you? Don’t say “books for boys” either.

Parker Dains, seven, from Milpitas in California, wrote to Abdo Publishing after she discovered that the Biggest, Baddest Book of Bugs that she was reading was part of a series called the Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys. She told her local paperthe Milpitas Post: “It made me very unhappy. I was like, ‘What the?’ I said, ‘Dad we have to do something quickly.’”

So she wrote to Abdo, telling the publisher that “I really enjoyed the section on Glow in the Dark bugs and the quizzes at the end”, but that “when I saw the back cover title, it said ‘Biggest Baddest Books for Boys’ and it made me very unhappy. It made me very sad because there’s no such thing as a boy book. You should change from ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys’ into ‘Biggest, Baddest Books for Boys and Girls’ because some girls would like to be entomologists too.”

I look forward to the columns by Ben Radford and Christina Hoff Sommers saying Parker Dains has been brainwashed by “gender feminists” or some such horseshit.

Fortunately the publisher wasn’t that hateful.

According to the local paper, the publisher responded and told her she had made “a very good point”. “After all, girls can like ‘boy’ things too,” wrote Abdo, adding that it had “decided to take your advice”.

Dains has since received an early delivery of the series, which is now called simply Biggest, Baddest Books. “You can see that we dropped the ‘For Boys’ from the series name and we all agree here at Abdo that it was a very smart idea on your part. No other school, library or kid will be able to buy these books for another couple of months, so you are the first to read them,” it wrote.

Good, but honestly, why did they need to be told? Why do so many people keep having to learn anew that girls and women are people?



  1. komarov says

    Good, but honestly, why did they need to be told? Why do so many people keep having to learn anew that girls and women are people?

    Well, because they honestly had no idea (I’m guessing, but still). I didn’t until feminism, gendered expressions and all the other ‘little things’ (that add up) came up here on FTB*. Hence I’d be more inclined to share PZ’s response and be pleasently surprised by this turn of events. Feminism is not universal so I am afraid people will have to be told again and again until everyone has heard it and gets it, too.

    But I wouldn’t go as as far as claiming that the publishers didn’t view women or young girls as people. Girls don’t play with toy cars and trains, don’t like bugs, mathematics, logic, …
    It’s a familiar sentiment, and bad enough on its own. Certain people – who no doubt consider themselves much more important to global affairs than a publisher for childrens’ books – will insist that this is how the world works. All things considered I think I still prefer a receptive publisher over a stubborn thought-leader any day.

    *On a related (and belated) note: Thank you!

  2. rilian says

    Like, why is there deodorant for men, and razors for men, and that all-purpose soap for men, and clothes for men, and then all that stuff for women too? I guess because the companies think (maybe they tested it) that people will buy more if it’s labeled as ‘specially for women or men. Maybe people would buy even more if they had 40 different packagings for the same product, to target people by age and hair color and whatever else, but it’s not cost effective to manufacture that many different labels.

  3. Golgafrinchan Captain says

    My preschooler daughter loves space, robots, and dinosaurs but we almost always have to shop in the boys section for clothes that have such prints. Whenever we go to McDonald’s and she doesn’t know which toy is for boys/girls, she picks the ‘boy’ toy about 2/3 of the time. I always point out to McDonald’s that it’s ridiculous to be gender-stereotyping toys in the 21st century but now realize I’ve never said to anything to management of the department stores. I’ll have to do that.

    It’s actually quite hard to find out what the McDonald’s toys are at the drive-thru without them mentioning the gender. I’ve settled on, “Without mentioning gender, what are the toys?” Even then, they still sometimes say it anyway out of habit. Note: yeah, I know McDonald’s is crap for a variety of reasons. We have a once-per-month limit but even that is probably too much.

    I’m trying really hard to not write another essay but, if anyone reads this and wonders what the harm is, I have lots of good evidence I’m happy to share. Granted, my evidence is all anecdotal but it’s pretty damning.

    Oh screw it, anyone asking that question would be deservedly pounced on so I’ll give some of my best examples:
    -boys & girls policing each other on use of show-and-tell toys because of which gender McDonald’s said it’s for (cue look of shame and sadness on the child who deviated from stereotypes).
    -It’s not just McD toys, I’ve seen boys kick girls out of the block area and girls kick boys out of the doll & kitchen areas because they are the wrong gender. The child had a real interest in the activity and was rebuked.
    -Teacher intervention is often not enough to undo the damage.
    -Knowing the assigned gender of a toy has a huge impact on whether my daughter will select it (about 80% ‘girl’ choice if she knows the expected gender, about 65% ‘boy’ toy if she doesn’t). Sadly, we’re now getting past the point where we can hide the expectations from her and let her choose purely on her interest.

  4. anon1152 says

    It’s nice to see people listen to a criticism, think about it, admit they were wrong, and change. It doesn’t happen often enough.

    I’m a bit concerned about the part of the letter that says “After all, girls can like ‘boy’ things too”, since it seems to assume that bugs (or whatever) are either “boy things” or “girl things”. I guess the quotation marks around the word “boy” helps.

    I’m also not sure how identifying bugs (or whatever) as a “boy thing” amounts to saying that girls and women are not people. (Is that what you’re saying?)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *