Friday, June 23, 2017

Male stereotypes in books (Forum Friday #10)

In modern day society, men are expected to be "strong". This stereotype seems to imply that they cannot be 'weak' or express their emotions. After seeing many videos about this on my Facebook feed, I thought of this question:

What stereotypes are applied to male book characters?

I hope, for one, that the answer to this question is a little more positive than the answer I posed above about the modern world. Healthguidance.org has an article detailing some gender stereotypes, and male stereotypes specified:


  1. All men enjoy working on cars
  2. Men are not nurses, they are doctors
  3. Men do "dirty jobs" such as construction and mechanics; they are not secretaries, teachers, or cosmetologists
  4. Men do not do housework and they are not responsible for taking care of children
  5. Men play video games
  6. Men play sports
  7. Men enjoy outdoor activities such as camping, fishing, and hiking
  8. Men are in charge; they are always at the top
  9. As husbands, men tell their wives what to do
  10. Men are lazy and/or messy
  11. Men are good at math
  12. It is always men who work in science, engineering, and other technical fields
  13. Men do not cook, sew, or do crafts
Just think about it, these stereotypes are true for many people you know in real life, are they not? And how does this apply in a book situation? It has a larger effect than you probably know of.

New Republic says: "Why do we give books to children? Common answers [include use] of words like “expand”, “open”, “[broaden]”,“[minds]”, “hearts”, “horizons” or “imaginations”. Sad then, [many children's books] do [the opposite by peddling] stereotypes, [closing] minds to new experiences and [offering] limited horizons." They suggest that children's books are full of stereotypes, and I feel inclined to agree. Even with my beloved young adult books, there isn't enough diversity. In my experience, I often come across strong, arrogant males and predominantly white characters. This doesn't mean I don't appreciate young adult books, I most certainly do! But I believe there could be more range and diversity.

The Guardian says: "males are central characters in 57% of children's books published each year, with just 31% having female central characters" after a study of almost 6,000 children's books published between 1900 and 2000 found these statistics (study led by Janice McCabe, a professor of sociology at Florida State University). 

I chose to focus on male stereotypes for this post because I've recently seen quite a few Facebook videos highlighting how these stereotypes affect young boys' lives. One of the most beautiful things I see in young adult books is when a tough character breaks down and cries. I think there should be more of this in literature. There is a quote which I've seen many times over the internet which I believe sums this up perfectly: “People cry, not because they are weak. It is because they've been strong for too long.” – Johnny Depp.

I leave you here! What do you think about stereotypes?

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