Controversial Post

Gender Depiction in Books!

This topic has been floating around in my head for days now, ever since I did the Try A Chapter Tag. I noticed in all the books that i sampled how "ideally" each gender was portrayed, this infuriated me to no end because I found it to be unrealistic and frankly a disgustingly obvious view catcher. By view catcher I mean that the author or publisher would have used this point of having a "sexy" guy/girl in the book would attract readers to buy and read the book. This type of stereotyping has become shamed to do to women for many reasons including the fact that it is morally wrong, however I do not think that the same careful approach has been used with men yet and I feel as though it should. 

Society's Male mold:                                                                           Society's Female mold:

These are images taken straight from Google when you search Men, and Women (full body photo). These are not what most of us look like, however they are the types that are most often depicted in works of fiction.

I am on the far right, those guys are my friends, and this photo I believe more accurately portrays the variety that is seen in build types, more than fiction does at the least.

In each of the books the male character was either 6' with abs and a glowing smile, or was an athletic build who was a pure jock that everyone loved/swooned for. This image does not appeal to many male readers and honestly it in some cases can serve as a reminder that they are not perfect, which I hope and do not think is the authors intention. I cannot believe that we use such a wide range of races and genders in fiction now, however authors cannot write a love plot point without the male/female being the societal version of perfection. This is awful, everyone should be represented through fiction not just the "best"!

 This infuriates me for many reasons:
  • Not everyone will be built to fit a stereotype.
  • Shaming in either gender is not okay to do. 
  • This unassuming little "perfect" man may be seen as a reader grab, and sadly it works. 
    • This guy stereotype, much like a female stereotype does affect guys in a similar way as always reading about models can do for girls. We all want to be the best we can be and since society has formed these molds for each gender I feel that we are all forced and trying to fit into one. 
  • It irks me that an author can write about a love story without representing all types of people, I understand it is their own creative license however they should realize that is teens and society is constantly bombarded with these images and ideas, people will be either self critical or hate that they cannot achieve that "desired" body type.

I am in no way the "perfect" guy, sure I am skinny, however muscles are not really present and I am not going to fit this type anytime soon. It bothers me that we as a society can skirt around and pretend that there is no issue with body shaming with males and yet it is so constantly thrown into the media we consume. This is an issue that I have been seeing more and more as I have been reading, the representation of women and girls in fiction has broadened with many different body types being depicted in literature. However I do not see the male community having such a great change, I am not saying that either gender is fairly represented in literature by any means. 

We have a long way to go to get correct representation of all types of people in fiction, I have just been annoyed with the singular "hunky" male love interest characters that I have seen recently in books. This is not to say that all body types are ignored, often there will be a slightly heavier set person or a shorter stocky male/female, however they are most often used as a friend or moral support character which is not okay. The message that this is sending to children and adults alike is that they must fit society's mold in order to fall in love and be loved, which in NO way is the message that needs to be sent out! 

Books that I saw this in: 
  • Trial By Fire By: Josephine Angelini
  • Where Things Come Back By: John Corey Whaley
  • Carry On By: Rainbow Rowell
  • Throne of Glass By: Sara J Maas 
    • This is not to say that I do not like these books, however I have been seeing these unfair ideals being portrayed in them. 
I am sorry if this is offensive to anyone reading, however it is a topic that I have been thinking about for days and I needed to get it out in the open. I know as a society we need to work on this, that is why I am highlighting it in a post. 

Happy Reading, 
Let me know what you all think about this topic and the way genders are depicted in fiction, and what you are currently reading, I would love to know!


  1. Interesting post, Wil. I agree that portraying the looks of both genders as fitting a certain mold is harmful. However, I think there are more issues with fiction and society as a whole.

    For example, look at women in YA books. Many YA books have female protagonists that are supposedly "strong, independent young women", yet they end up either doing everything they do for the attention of a man, or ending up with a man (and 99.9998% the romance will be a straight one, but that's another topic altogether), usually in your typical norm of her being almost the lesser half in that relationship. This teaches young women that everything they do should be for the attention of men, and that their life cannot be fulfilling without a male partner.

    And on the other side, to me, the most harmful gender norm for males is the fact that they're supposed to be totally masculine and never show emotion, which really just rolls back around to society's harmful views on femininity and how it's equated to 'lesser' for some reason.

    I just think it's a bit more complex than the portrayal of men having abs and women being slim.

    1. I agree completely James. I wanted to touch on this simple fact so that everyone who reads can relate to it, because we have all seen this in books. I do know that it is more complicated than the simple body stereotypes and I sincerely wish that we could change that in society so these moods are not there constricting us.

      Thank you for the input James!


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