Holding their breath and turning blue

It should be obvious that women cannot and will never be as effective as men if they are going to come right out and openly declare that they will not do their jobs because they find doing so to be offensive:

Rebecca Davies, who writes the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk, tells me that she is equally sick of receiving “books which have been commissioned solely for the purpose of ‘getting boys reading’ [and which have] all-male characters and thin, action-based plots.” What we are doing by pigeon-holing children is badly letting them down. And books, above all things, should be available to any child who is interested in them.

Happily, as the literary editor of The Independent on Sunday, there is something that I can do about this. So I promise now that the newspaper and this website will not be reviewing any book which is explicitly aimed at just girls, or just boys. Nor will The Independent’s books section. And nor will the children’s books blog at Independent.co.uk. Any Girls’ Book of Boring Princesses that crosses my desk will go straight into the recycling pile along with every Great Big Book of Snot for Boys. If you are a publisher with enough faith in your new book that you think it will appeal to all children, we’ll be very happy to hear from you. But the next Harry Potter or Katniss Everdeen will not come in glittery pink covers. So we’d thank you not to send us such books at all.

Duly noted. I wonder how long this policy will last before it quietly goes by the wayside? Probably right around the time that a massively successful book explicitly aimed at just girls, or just boys, is published. If I were managing The Independent, I would immediately fire both women for their open refusal to simply do their jobs and review the books that are submitted for review.

This is a particularly egregious case of the gatekeepers attempting to decide what is permissible to read and what is not. The ironic thing is that they probably think the Spanish Inquisition’s list of proscribed books is one of the great crimes of human history. Would you trust these people’s opinions on any book now?

The ridiculous thing is that there is nothing to prevent a boy from reading a pink sparkly book, or to prevent a girl from reading a book with a Frazetta-style painting of a young man holding a severed orc’s head on the cover.

Of course, they’re already walking back their idiotic public posturing: We’re not planning to judge books by their cover….

Sure you’re not. And if sex-specific books demean all children, don’t sex-specific changing rooms and bathrooms demean all adults?