Who here has seen Yentl?
There’s a scene in the movie in which the book vendor calls out from his cart, “Picture books for women! Chapter books for men!”
Yentl, the lovable female protagonist and proto-feminist, wants to buy a chapter book. The vendor, however, refuses to sell her one. It isn’t until she lies and tells him it’s for her father that she’s finally able to purchase the book.
This is usually the point at which we viewers laugh because, in today’s society, this scenario seems absurd.
Well, no one’s saying that women are illiterate. But Barnes and Noble is sending a pretty clear message to all its Nook consumers that women can’t do science.
As at Barnes and Noble and other book sellers, Nook has separate sections for women’s and men’s interest magazines. And as expected, the men’s section has titles such as GQ and Esquire, while the women’s section showcases Glamour and Cosmo. Nothing special here.
But while the men’s section has an array of science and technology magazines such as National Geographic, Wired, Discover and Popular Science, all women get is National Geographic Kids and Ranger Rick.
Funny, I remember tearing through Ranger Rick when I was ten or eleven.
Upon closer inspection, you’ll find that the women’s section is littered with housekeeping and children’s magazines. Need to clean and decorate the house more efficiently? Don’t we all! Check out Nook’s selection of magazines just for us women-folk! Have a daughter you need to keep entertained? I’m a woman, so I must be popping them out! I’m so glad I can find American Girl Magazine on the list! I’d also like to show her Big Backyard, but I’m worried that all that learning and nature stuff might explode her pretty little head.
Baking and knitting for women! Astronomy and biology for men!
There isn’t a single science magazine in the women’s section. My pretty little head couldn’t comprehend how many that was, so I asked my brother to do the math. That’s zero.
Please note the sarcasm. I’ve taken calculus, so I’m pretty sure I can do math…Then again, I’ve taken calculus.
The men’s section, from my count, had almost 10 science and tech mags, including most of the big ones.
Don’t get me wrong; I love girly magazines. During my downtime I‘ll often walk into the bookstore, buy a cup of coffee or maybe a chai tea latte, and skim through the latest issues of Glamour, Fitness and, occasionally, Cosmo. And I do understand the appeal of magazines dedicated to house-keeping tips and recipes. But I’d like to know who decided that science was for men and that cooking, cleaning and childrearing were exclusive to women.
My apologies to any female Nook owner who doesn’t want children, by the way—not that I have any control over how the store categorizes its reading materials.
I’m not entirely sure why children’s magazines appear in the women’s section. I feel like Barnes and Noble should have a children’s section for that. At any rate, the men’s section only offers adult selections.
I guess I could just purchase Popular Science from the men’s section. But the label kind of creates a psychological barrier. I don’t like that my casual, light-hearted reading practices could be considered rebellious or, according to the country’s largest bookseller, masculine.
I’m a woman. I like to wear skirts and dresses. I like flowers, stuffed animals and pretty pink things with frills, and I’ve seen almost every episode of Sex and the City five times.
And I like science a lot. I don’t want to feel manly or badass because I just bought a copy of Astronomy. And I shouldn’t have to.
Even if you don’t like skirts and you don’t fit into the above stereotype, you’re still entitled to read about science and technology without going to the men’s section.
I guess what bothers me most about how these sections are organized is that they parallel the current anti-female climate. Women still earn 77 cents on the dollar, and every day our reproductive rights are under attack. And let’s not forget lawmaker Terry England, who recently compared pregnant women to farm animals.
But I digress.
For the record, I don’t approve of literary segregation. In fact, I don’t approve of segregation period. I’m also not such an idealist that I believe the same magazines will appeal equally to both sexes.
And yet I shouldn’t have to be a die-hard feminist to read a magazine!
All this talk of feminism is making me want to draw myself a bubble bath, thumb through a magazine and chat with my girlfriends about what I read, preferably in a high voice with lots of upward inflections and giggling. Maybe I’ll also do my nails.
Well, I have a copy of Discover that I haven’t gotten to. This issue features stories on robot slaves, lost planets and organ harvests.
Manly. Why would any woman be interested in that? Maybe one of the pre-approved female magazines will teach me how to turn my copy of Discover into a collage or potpourri or something. Or a cake.