I recently taught high school for two years at a private school in the South, and for two summers in a row I witnessed the school’s Summer Reading List: ten or eleven books total, from which the students could select one book to read over the summer and then discuss in a small group on their first day back to school in August. Both years, the list of books was predominately male-authored, with one or two books written by—or about—women.
Something about this really pisses me off. I’m going to assume that the high school at which I taught was not unique, and that the pattern is to teach/assign/read books by male authors in classrooms (and summer breaks) across the country. The longer we assume that “male” equals ”universal” and “female” equals ”specific,” the worse off our society will be. It would be beneficial for teenage boys to have to read a book by and about girls. It would be beneficial for teenage girls to see that their school values their experiences as valid, interesting, and important.