While the SF/F genre’s been busy with yet another round of You Wimmens Are All Crazy, There’s No Sexism in Science Fiction, looks like Slate decided to put up an editorial rant about how adults who read YA should be ashamed of themselves. I’ve seen a unilateral reaction of “fuck you” directed at Slate, justifiably so.
I’m not going to link to the article because I’m not going to give it the click traffic; if you really want to read it, io9 does link to it in their excellent rebuttal.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again–any form of “you’re reading the wrong things” snobbery is bullshit and it needs to stop. And in this particular case, people who roll their eyes and assume that YA novels are dumbed-down, simplistic crap just because they’re marketed to teenagers clearly has no actual working familiarity with the best that YA has to offer. It’s also dismissing the mastery that an author can bring to a story, in general. And while I’m not a regular reader of YA, I’m here to tell you: it’s rare that I’m compelled to plow through an entire trilogy as fast as I can cram the words into my head. But the Hunger Games books did that.
Also, two simple words: The Hobbit.
Sure, it’s not marketed as YA, but Tolkien absolutely intended children to be the primary audience for that story. And sure, it’s not nearly as complex and dark as The Lord of the Rings. But Tolkien lavished his love for the language all over that book, and turning up your nose at it just because “oh well, it’s intended for children, and I am a Mature Adult” means you miss out on a masterpiece.
Others have pointed out, too, that YA gets a lot of shit because of more than a little sexism, too. A lot of YA authors are female. A lot of YA readers are female. It’s not a coincidence that “YA is simplistic claptrap for children” goes hand in hand with “women write YA because they can’t write real science fiction”.
At the end of the day, though, it still all boils down to “Hey you, you over there, you are reading the WRONG THINGS, and now I’m going to appoint myself the arbiter of your reading choices”.
I’m tired beyond belief of this. Literature readers sneer at genre readers. Male authors sneer at female authors. Male readers sneer at female readers. SF/F sneers at romance–hell, everybody sneers at romance, and boy howdy am I sick of that in particular. Now we’ve got sneering at people for reading books because of a mistaken idea that “marketed for a young audience” equals “claptrap”.
The other two words I’ve got for that: “fuck you”.