Uncommon Sense

May 17, 2021

People Sneer at the Things Women and Girls Love

Filed under: Culture,writing — Steve Ruis @ 11:07 am
Tags: , , ,

Really?

“Teenage girls have so much sway over culture, yet people sneer at the things that women and girls love, and are contemptuous of the creators of that content, particularly if they are women,” Bardugo says. “To me, that contempt speaks to a deep fear. When you start dictating culture, money gets involved and people take notice. When I see someone deride things that women and girls find pleasure in, all I see is someone fearful that women will overtake the culture they’ve had dominion over for so long.” (Leigh Bardugo, as quoted in The Guardian)

Leigh Bardugo is an author of young adult fantasy books with her first novel is currently being staged for the screen by Netflix (Shadow and Bone).

I seems as if she is a bit isolated from the rest of us in her niche.

“Teenage girls have so much sway over culture” Uh, maybe with other teenaged girls and I think that has to do more with marketing than anything else. Way back when I was a teen, there were no influencers because there was no influence because there was little to no marketing to teens. Occasionally a B movie designed to attract teens would be made, but really there was not much. There were no special clothing stores or even sections for teens, their clothes were just mixed in with the larger sizes in the children’s department and the smaller sizes in the adult’s departments of department stores.

I suspect that all began to change with the advent of rock ‘n’ roll music.

“People sneer at the things that women and girls love.” Uh, again, I don’t think so. There are memes and stereotypes aplenty (women are obsessed with shoes, women are flighty, obsessed with romance, etc.) but men have a set of such things, too (men are obsessed with sex, men are clueless socially, men aren’t very bright and get easily fooled by women, men are often nerds (women not so much), etc.).

I think the comment above is largely fueled by social media responses. I can’t say for sure because I don’t “do” social media (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, whatever). Elsewhere in The Guardian piece I am reacting to, the author stated “I used to be very active on Twitter and, quite honestly, I don’t feel comfortable interacting there any more, so I stopped.” I suggest that anyone achieving much success rarely finds a completely sympathetic audience on any of those social media platforms.

Plus, authors are notoriously shy of criticism of any kind. When I was writing my first book, my publisher would send me an envelope full of reviews and comments (this was pre-Internet days). Those envelopes would sit on my desk for days before I could screw myself up to open them. The vast majority of comments/reviews were quite positive but the dread of criticism never left me. After having written hundreds of magazine articles and dozens of books, I still get a queasy feeling in my stomach when I read criticism of my work.

So, in this age of easy connectivity, it is easy to bask in the glow that fan boys and fan girls can waft our way, but negative criticism, even from idiots who you know haven’t read your work, still stings.

I do not “sneer at the things women and girls love.” I tend to look at them as I look ay yearling deer. Pretty to look at, fascinating to watch, etc. As an educator, I hate to see any youths, male or female, enraptured by shallow pursuits but often as not, I admire them for their energy and earnestness. It is what kept me in the classroom with 18- and 19-year olds for almost 40 years.

11 Comments »

  1. Um, does she give any examples of things people “sneer at”?

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    Comment by john zande — May 17, 2021 @ 4:39 pm | Reply

    • By implication she refers to YA fiction for those of the female persuasion and those who write such. I cut my teeth in fiction on YA fantasy and SF, so I don’t sneer at anyone who can write good works and apparently she can, but there must be some kind of sneer emoji going around I haven’t yet seen.

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 17, 2021 @ 9:51 pm | Reply

      • Storytelling is storytelling. Only a dick would criticise it, regardless of content-target.

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        Comment by john zande — May 18, 2021 @ 5:16 pm | Reply

        • The Internet seems to be populated with a high percentage of said persons. The formula goes, I believe: ordinary person + anonymity + audience = dickwad.

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — May 18, 2021 @ 9:12 pm | Reply

  2. I think that most of what is called “teen culture” doesn’t actually exist. It is created not by the social needs of teens and kids, but by the marketing of products to them. There are whole branches of psychology doing research into how to influence the buying habits of young people, (and adults, of course, but doing this to kids seems exceptionally horrific to me) and much of it has to do with trying to make products seem part of a culture that is entirely manufactured by the marketers. Some of the richest pre-teens on the planet are social media influencers doing little more than shilling products for multi-national companies

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by grouchyfarmer — May 17, 2021 @ 10:33 pm | Reply

    • Yep. I remember when there were no “teen magazines” to pitch the “new culture” or teen focused media or … gosh, where did it all come from? It came about when teens had disposable income. If we didn’t have any money (I didn’t when I was a teenager.) there was nothing to sell them as there were no buyers. Now that teens have more money at their disposal than many adults, voila, there is a new teen culture, “new and improved”!

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      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 18, 2021 @ 8:17 am | Reply

      • Gads, here I had a pithy, inciteful, response about advertising and how it has changed and I clicked the wrong thing and *poof*, it was gone. Sigh… So let’s try this again and hopefully I won’t hit the wrong button again.

        You’re right. Advertising directly to kids and adolescents was rare before, oh, the middle of the 20th century. Mostly because kids didn’t have the money. There were children’s magazines like Child Life, but the advertising was aimed exclusively at adults, presumably the parents, not the kids.

        But starting around the mid-1940s that began to change. You’ll find publications like Calling All Boys and Calling All Girls which were advertising directly at a specific market, what we’d call the tween and teen market today. You’d find ads for acne preventatives, shoes, clothes, games, etc, all aimed directly at adolescents, not their parents. Why? Because WWII pulled the US out of the depression and suddenly people had money to spend, and some of that money was passed down to their children. And as soon as the companies realized that kids had their own money, of course they began to scheme of ways to separate the kids from that money.

        Of course some of that was going on before WWII. Boys Life, the official publication of the Boy Scouts, seemed to exist for no other reason than to try to peddle overpriced scout branded merchandise and assorted twaddle to unsuspecting kids as early as the 1920s, but direct marketing to kids otherwise seems to have been rare before WWII

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        Comment by grouchyfarmer — May 18, 2021 @ 12:47 pm | Reply

        • I was vaguely aware of those “organs” and I suspect that they had about as much penetration (of the market type) as the ads in the back of comic books.

          I think parents did not want direct marketing to their kids. Why would they? Some stranger amping their kids up putting stress on the family budget and relationships?

          Liked by 1 person

          Comment by Steve Ruis — May 18, 2021 @ 9:11 pm | Reply

  3. I think there is some truth in that I feel like I have noticed a certain disdain at times for traditionally feminine interests like romance novels/ chick lit/chick flicks (seen as not literary/ to be taken seriously), fashion, make-up and skincare (seen as shallow). But I also think this is changing.

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    Comment by jewishyoungprofessional — May 27, 2021 @ 12:30 pm | Reply

    • Certainly that exists as does disdain for males who are only into sports and have no emotional side whatsoever. I just don’t think they are major building blocks of our culture. I think posting stuff on social media attracts the wrong kind of attention and often gives one a distorted view of humanity as it is here and now.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — May 27, 2021 @ 12:37 pm | Reply

      • Oh I think that is true too for that male stereotype as well! And I definitely agree that posting about one aspect on social media does distort things

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        Comment by jewishyoungprofessional — May 27, 2021 @ 12:39 pm | Reply


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