“100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader” Ignites Controversy


When Bitch Magazine posted their list of “100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader” a few days ago, they probably didn’t expect the Internet to explode with anger, but that’s exactly what has happened. The initial reaction to the list, which includes books with strong female protagonists like The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, was very positive. Librarians and book bloggers forwarded the list via email and Twitter, excited to have a resource like this to share. However, things changed when, after receiving some complaints in their comment section, the magazine decided to reevaluate the list and remove three books. They said:

A couple of us at the office read and re-read Sisters Red, Tender Morsels and Living Dead Girl this weekend. We’ve decided to remove these books from the list — Sisters Red because of the victim-blaming scene that was discussed earlier in this post, Tender Morsels because of the way that the book validates (by failing to critique or discuss) characters who use rape as an act of vengeance, and Living Dead Girl because of its triggering nature. We still feel that these books have merit and would not hesitate to recommend them in certain instances, but we don’t feel comfortable keeping them on this particular list.

Everyone from authors to book bloggers to librarians have been weighing in on Bitch Magazine‘s decision to remove the books from the list. Jackson Pearce, the author of Sisters Red, tweeted: “It would’ve been an honor to be on @bitchmedia’s list, if they were both real journalists and real feminists. But they aren’t. #bitchplease.” Author Scott Westerfeld had this to say:

Let’s get this straight: You put Tender Morsels on your list without having read it, then saw a handful of outraged comments appear. So you reread Tender Morsels, swiftly and with those comments uppermost in your mind, then decided they HAD to be right.

Did you talk to anyone in the non-outraged camp first? To those feminists who originally recommended it? Did you engage in a rigorous discussion at all? Or did you just cave?

Two requests:

1) Please remove my book Uglies from the list. It’s an embarrassment to be on it.

2) Perhaps change your name to something more appropriate, like EasilyIntimidatedMedia. After all, the theme of Tender Morsels is that one must eventually leave a magical, fabricated safe haven for (sometimes brutal) reality. The theme of this blog would appear to be the exact opposite.

As of this writing, Westerfeld’s request to be removed has not yet happened. And, despite the outrage, Bitch Magazine says they will not be adding the three books they removed back to the list. They’ve been replaced with Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley, and Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden.

So what do you think of Bitch Magazine‘s waffling and the subsequent uproar? Do you think that by removing challenging books from the list, they aren’t giving readers enough credit? Or do you think that it’s their list, so should everyone just back off?

Follow me on Twitter @kristendaemons

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