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From the Library: 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader


The Bitch Media Community Lending Library brings you our very first book list, made up of 100 young adult novels that every feminist should add to the stack of books on their bedside table. Here at the library we've been re-reading some of our old standbys and finding new feminist favorites. If you're looking to buy a book for your favorite teenage girl or just looking to cuddle up with a powerful story featuring teenage characters, look no further. Click on the pdf below to see our picks, and be sure to let us know which of these books have resonated with you and which books you would add to the list.

100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader (609.65 KB)

If you're unable to open the pdf, you can view the list here.

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Comments

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Terrific!

This is a great list. I could go on about the merits of plenty of the chosen books. I'm particularly thrilled by the inclusion of When Kambia Elaine Flew in from Neptune, which never seems to get the attention it deserves.

Great List!

Excellent list, though I'm surprised that the John Marsden, Tomorrow When the War Began series isn't included. He has created such a fabulous, strong, inventive female lead character in Ellie. Those books were a favourite of mine growing up though, so I admit that I am biased!

ellie chronicles

I second this comment. While war stories have traditionally been a boy's genre, I thought the tomorrow series and the Ellie chronicles were fantastic YA fiction for their nonstereotypical gender roles and the way the group discussed things until concensus or compromise was reached. A good model and a realistic approach.

Is Racism a feminist issue?

So, do "non-stereotypical gender roles" trump epic (if not entirely intentional) racefail - especially when the books are set in a country with a long and squalid history of anti-immigrant and xenophobic racism? Discuss.

Long and squalid history

It is certainly true that Australia has a history of violent racism since 1788, and that this is by no means over. But seriously if the list were predicated on emanation from countries without racial or communal violence, it would be very short list indeed. And... have you read the book? Or are you referring to the film, which has distinctly different race politics?

look again

You maybe read the list too fast: #57.

Awesome.

Woo Tamora Pierce! I reread the lioness quarter series so many times growing up. Ella Enchanted was also hands down my favorite book for a long time. Love this list.

I so agree! I reread and had

I so agree! I reread and had most of tamora pierce's work, and Ella enchanted was and is one of my favorite books. though I think as far as being feminist goes Just Ella should have been included too.

'Heir Apparent' by Vivian

'Heir Apparent' by Vivian Vande Velde is not included. I reject this list on principle.

(But thank you for including 'Luna', 'Uglies', 'Dealing With Dragons', 'All-American Girl', and Philip Pullman.)

Love it!

This is such a fantastic list! Thank you for posting.

Would love to add:

"The Illyrian Adventure" by Lloyd Alexander

This book and the rest of the YA series it begins is about a young woman named Vesper Holly--and she's a truly awesome feminist!

Roz

I would like to give this

I would like to give this list to my 12-year-old niece but I'm afraid my religious sister would object to its origins (my crazy feminist propaganda!). Wish the list's summary didn't include the words "bitch" (why not "b-word", like on the magazine masthead?) and "kick-ass". *I* don't have a problem with them, but libraries, educators and my religious sister probably would. It just doesn't seem YA-appropriate.

I get where you're coming

I get where you're coming from, but it just doesn't make sense for the Bitch Media Community Lending Library to put out a reading list that doesn't have the word Bitch on it. A text version of this list will be available on the website soon, so if you'd like you can copy the list and forward it to your niece without including anything that might alarm your sister.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

Hi Anon, We now have the list

Hi Anon,

We now have the list available as text. Check it out here.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

give her a bunch of the books

give her a bunch of the books as a gift but ask the people in the bookstore which ones are the raunchier ones so you don't go too overboard for 12.

100 young adult book for the feminist reader

Alma Alexander's young adult series, Worldweavers, features a wonderful female protagonist, Thea Winthrop, a girl who really knows how to kick butt. In three books, she manages to save her world, even when it means going against the powerful FBM, Federal Bureau of Magic.

In both her adult and young adult books, Alexander creates appealing and powerful women characters. (One of her adult books, the Secrets of Jin-Shei, features nine strong women characters.)

More for the list

The Blue Sword and other books by Robin McKinley, who creates wonderful, strong, funny heroines

Girl of the Limberlost, by Gene Stratton Porter. I've read this book at least once a year since I was 14, and I'm 29 now.

Ronia the Robber's Daughter, by Astrid Lindgren

I *LOVE* Ronia the Robber's

I *LOVE* Ronia the Robber's Daughter-- and good call, it is a shame this list has no Robin McKinley or Diana Wynne Jones. On the whole, though, it's truly outstanding. I'm especially pleased that it includes both Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan and Rampant by Diana Peterfreund, two recent books that I don't think received nearly the attention they deserved from readers.

Oh god, I totally forgot

Oh god, I totally forgot about Ronia! I read that when I was much younger, pre-teen age, so maybe it's too young for YA? Either way, it's bloody fantastic whatever age you are!

HAHA me too! It used to be

HAHA me too! It used to be my favorite book...I wanted to runaway and live in a cave like Ronia...plus her relationship with Birk was so interesting

YES! Robin McKinley is a

YES! Robin McKinley is a fantastic author for young girls.

When I was a kid

I loved Walk Two Moons. That and Chasing Redbird. Sabriel by Garth Nix was fun, too.

Sharon Creech

Yes, I loved Sharon Creech's work!

YA lit for all!

Thanks so much for this amazing list. As a reader that isn't of 'official YA age', I have to say YA books have been some of the most powerful, humorous, real-life literature I've ever read. "Sold" by Patricia McCormick is harrowing, Francesca Lia Block is magical...

I agree that Marsden's Tomorrow series should absolutely have made this list. Ellie is by far one of the strongest female characters, but her gender is incidental rather than the focus. In another vein of books, I would say many of Rachel Cohn's characters are strong, sharp, intelligent, and in control of their lives (Cyd in Gingerbread, Norah in Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist).

As a huge YA fan and

As a huge YA fan and hopefully future writer of the genre, I can't thank you enough for this list and the inclusion of my fictional hero Sally Lockhart. I am surprised that you included Jackson Pearce's Sisters Red on the list, mainly because of the rape culture debate it brought about on the Book Smugglers review of it (and the author's subsequent twitter flounce of self pity and cries of witch hunt):

http://thebooksmugglers.com/2010/07/book-discussion-why-we-didnt-like-si...

I wasn't a fan of the book either. Not just because of what the Book Smugglers pointed out but also because of the way Pearce clearly favoured her younger, prettier, conventionally feminine character over the older, scarred sister. Left a bad taste in my mouth.

Hi Pandora- Thanks for

Hi Pandora-

Thanks for bringing this up! I had only heard great reviews of Sister's Red. I was excited to hear it reviewed as a feminist retelling of the sexist and scary Little Red Riding Hood story, and like Ana at The Book Smugglers said, I love a good fairytale retelling. While I read most of the books on this list, there were a few that I just researched, and it appears that my researching skills failed in this instance (kind of like the book failed over at The Book Smugglers -- who sure know how to call out a book on perpetuating rape culture). Thanks for tuning me into this. I'm going to go ahead and remove Sister's Red from the list and replace it with another book.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

It isn't only the rape

It isn't only the rape culture that is troublesome but the tired old feminist stereotyping of girls who like to wear makeup and pretty clothing as being stupid and wrong.

I just wanted to say that I

I just wanted to say that I actually read Sisters Red and I didn't agree with that Booksmugglers review at all nor do I think the book perpetuates a rape culture. In fact, I love the book -- I love what it says about sisters and defining who you are as a woman and I was happy to see it on this list. You'll also notice that people commented in that review that they didn't read the book the same way Ana did (which the author herself pointed out as well).

While I think I can understand putting a book that you haven't read on a list, I don't understand taking a book off a list based on one review without reading the book yourself. If that's how this list works, I can just go ahead and start making comments and pointing out negative reviews for every single other book listed because I don't know a single book that hasn't gotten negative reviews. Often, it's the books with the strongest female characters get questioned the most.

trigger warning

Hi Samantha,
Thanks for reading our list! We didn't put Sisters Red on the list without reading it, per se. Some staff members have read it, some haven't. For those of us who haven't, myself included, this discussion has been a good opportunity to read it anyway, so we can all be on the same page (BAD PUN ALERT).
Negative reviews won't affect the list, necessarily. The books we're reading and re-considering are very specifically the three or so that deal with rape. This is a triggering subject matter, and part of what we're weighing right now is whether the books are constructive enough to outweigh potential distress to readers who have survived sexual assault. Earlier in this thread, Ashley pointed out that we WILL be re-reading before removing any books, and will update readers either in the post itself or in the comments.
Thanks again for reading, and for the input on Sisters Red. I'm glad we've heard readers on both sides of the issue. Keep reading!!
--Katie Presley, New Media Intern

for the feminist reader...

There are certainly reviews out there of RAMPANT that responded negatively to the portrayal of women in the book. There is a never a book where people will universally agree with one interpretation.

Sisters Red is not about rape. The single negative review I've read of it used the catch-all phrase "rape culture" to refer to a single passage told from the perspective of an angry young woman who is judging OTHER women going to a club in scanty outfits. So the idea that this book could be removed on "triggering" grounds is not applicable.

I have not read every book on the list, but I know at least half a dozen of them (including the one I wrote, RAMPANT -- so that you know) does include depictions of, discussions of, threats of, or characters who have been raped (SPEAK, SOLD, LIVING DEAD GIRL, TENDER MORSELS, TITHE, and many more). The idea that discussions of and depictions of this incredibly important women's issue would be stricken from a list of books for feminist readers is one that sits uneasily with me -- as a feminist, as a reader, as a parent who wants my daughter (she's a baby now, but someday) to understand the full extent of the issues and experiences facing her sex, and as a writer who has always been deeply concerned with feminist issues in my work.

I understand the concern about "triggering." However, there are other books on the list that deal with potentially devastating and triggering topics -- child abuse, eating disorders, suicide, war...

One of the strengths of this list is, just like the definition of feminism, it's not a one-size-fits all prospect. My response when I first saw the list was to be pleased at the variety -- there are books about "kick ass" warrior women like Graceling, etc., books about important female issues, like ARE YOU THERE, GOD... and WINTERGIRLS, books that deal with the devastating current events some women are faced with (SOLD and LIVING DEAD GIRL), books that deal with queer issues, with straight romance, with NO romance, with race issues, with friendships, with death and war, with family, with careers and education, and books about every other facet of a woman's experience that would be of interest to the feminist reader.

Samantha & Diana, I’ve been

Samantha & Diana,

I’ve been thinking about this a lot and I definitely agree with Samantha in that not a single book hasn’t been reviewed negatively, and that one negative review of a book isn’t grounds to remove a book from a book list. I was quick to say that I was going to pull Sisters Red from the list after reading the review at Booksmugglers, as I was super alarmed to read the victim-blaming passage on page 108. But after talking it over with a few rad ladies that I work with, we decided to read/re-read it (and I failed to mention that we were doing so on the blog). After talking it over today, we have decided to remove Sisters Red from the list. While I liked a lot of things about this book, the scene that is critiqued in the Booksmugglers review still do not sit well with me. No, the scene isn’t triggering in that it portrays rape. However, we do feel that it is dangerous in that it perpetuate the idea that women who dress a certain way are asking to be raped, which is a belief that so many girls and women internalize. The book might not be about rape, but this particular passage is, and we don’t want to promote a book that will cause a girl to further internalize this belief. While we do think that this book has merit and should be picked up by readers who are prepared for this passage, we’re choosing to replace it on this particular list.

Diana, I absolutely agree with you in that this list encompasses a whole range of YA books for feminist readers and we’re super proud of that. We’re glad to hear that you were pleased at the variety of the list and that you found your book (an excellent read!) in good company.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

in good company?

Diana, I absolutely agree with you in that this list encompasses a whole range of YA books for feminist readers and we’re super proud of that. We’re glad to hear that you were pleased at the variety of the list and that you found your book (an excellent read!) in good company.

I did think the original list was in good company. But my book, as I mentioned above, does include a character who is raped, and there are reviews that claim victim blaming for it as well. (Sorry, I don't have links -- not that much of a masochist.)

Given your concerns AND my concerns about my book's inclusion on a list so easily swayed and intimidated into censorship, I ask that my novel be removed as well.

Agree with Diana

I read Diana's book Rampant recently, and if Sisters Red can be considered to perpetuate rape culture, so can Diana's. Which is NOT what I think both books are about. (In Rampant, it's many paragraphs spread out over many pages, leading to one culminating thing, and it's not about rape culture, because no one thought the girl deserved what she got.) I really do think that one paragraph should not disqualify a book.

I have to say I vehemently

I have to say I vehemently disagree about Sisters Red. The scene in question is told from Scarlett's point of view, and later in the book she realizes that she was wrong about the "dragonfly girls" because they're like her sister. And her sister is smart, strong, and capable. I thought Sisters Red was a great feminist novel precisely because it highlights the different ways in which women can be strong. Rosie can be the pretty younger sister, but without being dumb or ditzy. Scarlett is more in the badass warrior mold, she's a Katniss, but I don't see many girls like Rosie in YA.

Sisters Red

For those of you who believe Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce is a victim blaming/rape scene obviously do not understand the author's intent. Every single Little Red Riding Hood tale is about sexuality (red cape, girl and a wolf - maybe we should have a lesson on symbolism), and the author was being true to the essence of the myth in a modern day sense. Oy, let's all calm down.

Sisters Red

First, I want to say that i love this list. I can't wait to share it with all of the young readers in my life (including my sons when they reach the appropriate reading level- they're 3 and 1). Anyway, I want to second those that have asked you not to remove Sisters Red from the list. If any book deserves to be on that list, it does. I hope that you will reconsider. I think this list is going to become a go-to resource and it would be a shame for such a well-written novel not to be on it.

The President's Daughter

The President's Daughter books aren't on this list?!

AKA my new reading list

I love YA. I think I'll start with #54, for no other reason but that the author spells her name the same way I spell mine.

My most recent YA love is

A Love Story Starring My Dead Best Friend by Emily Horner. I love coming-out stories, and this one also manages to be about discovering yourself on the road, dealing with the death of a friend and the power of musical theater. It's Horner's first book, and I can't wait to see what she does next.

I've read 16-maybe-17 of

I've read 16-maybe-17 of them. A Wrinkle In Time was my favorite out of those. I was surprised to see For The Win on there, but I love the book to pieces so no complaints.

For the Win

For the Win has several complex and strong female characters in it, working to make their and their families lives better. I totally approve of it being on a feminist book list.

White Sands, Red Menace made

White Sands, Red Menace made the list, but not The Green Glass Sea? It's one of my all-time faves!

Trigger warning because I can't let this pass

You are actually recommending Tender Morsels? What is wrong with you people? I didn't think Bitch was the kind of place that supported rape as vengeance. That book is absolute crap on every possible level and you should be ashamed for putting it on the same list as Speak.

Describing an event (or, in

Describing an event (or, in this case, implying an event) in a work of fiction is not the same as the author or reading supporting it. I'd say the implication in Tender Morsels is that vengeance rarely works out the way people imagine it will when they plot it.

It's certainly not a work of instruction.

please explain

While I can accept that the act wasn't a specific act of vengeance because it wasn't really planned, it doesn't erase that the youngest daughter's accidental spell resulted in a violent assault that no one seems to really care about. Upon finding out what she had done everyone's response is to ship her off to a proper teacher as if learning she has magic was the only result of her actions. There's no mention of guilt or accountability or even an acknowledgment that this was a bad thing that happened. There's no mention of the men period; once that scene ends the victims disappear completely from the story. And of course there's the complete 180 in presentation between the mother's solemn first-person accounts of her own attack and the rape-homunculi's joyful descriptions of their violence. Personally I don't think the author is a supporter of eye-for-an-eye justice so much as a shoddy writer who can't be bothered to keep track of a single measly theme. From the muddled plot to the bland tone, this is a really lousy book, but the absolute moral ambiguity has to be the worst. It's not trying to make you think by challenging your assumptions so much as throwing token controversy out and then staring at you like vapidly, waiting for you to figure out what it has no clue about.

Hi scrumby, Thanks for

Hi scrumby,

Thanks for voicing your concerns about this book. We definitely don't want to be promoting a book that supports rape as vengeance. This book came as a recommendation to us from a few feminists, and while we knew that some of the content was difficult, we weren't tuned into what you've just brought up. A couple of us at the office have decided to spend the rest of our weekend re-considering this choice by reading the book and discussing its place on the list. Stay tuned -- we think conversations like these are really valuable and part of what feminism is all about.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

I fear for your friends

This thing is just so bad on so many levels it boggles the mind that anyone actually liked it... But I don't want to just nag so I'd like to recommend a good replacement should you decide to drop Tender Morsels. Robin Mckinley's Deerskin is another fairytale retelling that also deals with sexual assault and it's aftermath. It's a wonderful, if painful book that focuses heavily on the resulting trauma and the slow but eventual healing in the mind of the heroine.

Scrumby, did you actually

Scrumby, did you actually read Tender Morsels?

I have to ask that question

I have to ask that question too. Tender Morsels was definitely one of the stand out books of 2009. Confronting and disturbing certainly but brilliantly written and dealing with some horrific issues which are certainly and sadly part of some young people's lives.

It doesn't support it! It is

It doesn't support it! It is an even that occurs in the book and is consistent with the book's theme of harsh reality versus an idealised dream-existence. The daughter, though more in touch with the real world than her sister, undertakes an action that makes sense from her point of view but then discovers the harsh reality of vengeance. That it lets the reader realise this for themselves rather than pauses the narrative to Point It Out is a plus not a minus.

I'd be hesitant to put the

I'd be hesitant to put the Pillow Book of Cordelia Kenn. The author could by no means be considered a feminist. Yes, (spoilers) a young girl who wants to have sex has sex, and gets pregnant, but isn't branded a whore, but (EPIC SPOILER) she dies in the end. Also, her dad portrays feminists as whiny/annoying/complaining about nothing, and Cordelia goes with it. Her dad's girlfriend/mother figure also says she used to be a radical feminist, but she has since changed her mind. The book is very much into reinforcing gender roles. I think her dad's girlfriend didn't want to get married because she was a feminist, so he marries her sister, desperate to have a child, and then when she dies his sister has by then seen the folly of feminism, and they get back together... I can't really explain it all, but trust me when I tell you that book is all about how women should focus on babies, etc. This book is no Twilight, because she actually has a personality, outside interests, and friends outside her boyfriend, but at least Twilight doesn't directly call feminism out as radical.an
Of the other books I've read they're all good.
I'd also like to recommend Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, a steampunk fantasy featuring a girl who cross-dresses to get into the army, Devilish by Maureen Johnson, about a girl who must help her best friend who literally sold her soul to the devil (or something devil-like) to be popular at all girls Catholic school, which also happens to be hilarious; Soulless by Gail Carriger, about an extremely proper unmarriagable spinster in Victorian London with the power to kill vampires, and Ophelia by Lisa Klein, a feminist re-telling of Hamlet where she actually gets a personality.
I also have to second Frankie, because it is the most awesome YA book ever.

Although I think that

Although I think that Soulless is a wonderful book, I do not think it can be considered a YA book. I have never seen it listed as such.

Some great books!

Every list raises some quibbles; reading the comments will give people even more great ideas along the same lines. I was especially glad to see Rampant and Ash on the list; they are two of the most interesting and different YAs I have read recently. Along with Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, mentioned above.

I agree that Robin McKinley's YA books belong in this company.

Gail Carriger, however, does not write YA. While I love her and her books, they don't fit here.

Thanks for starting this great discussion!

I love Carriger's work too. I

I love Carriger's work too. I used to work in a bookshop and we kept her series in both the sci-fi/fantasy section and the YA section. I'm not entirely sure why since I myself hesitate to call it YA but it was rather popular with teens.

Robin McKInley

I was so psyched to see this list and SO honored to see that you included Ash on it. :D I would also add my vote for Robin McKInley, if you're considering adding to the list or updating it in the future. Her books are all wonderful stories about complicated, strong young women -- certainly feminist. The Hero and the Crown, in particular, is a heroine's quest like no other.

Ash!

Oh my gosh, just need to fan girl a little bit -- Ash is a great book, and I think a really important work in queer-themed YA lit. I can't wait to see what you do next!

Feminist Books

Loved all the memories prompted by reading the titles of some of my favorite books on your list. When you update your list I hope you'll consider a book coming out April 4: The Year We Were Famous, based on the true story of Clara Estby and her mother who walked from Washington State to New York City in 1896 in a race against the calendar to win money to save the family's farm - and to prove women could do it. I wrote it, so this is not an unbiased suggestion, but with two real-life heroines I hope it will be a contender.

I just sent an email and then

I just sent an email and then realized I could comment here. I love this list but I am really sad that A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is nowhere to be found. If Francie and her mother and her Aunts Sissy and Evy aren't feminists, then who is?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is a wonderful book and should absolutely be read by feminist readers. If we ever make a 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader 2.0 we will be sure to add it. Thanks for your email and I'm glad to hear that you enjoyed the list.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is

A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is my FAVORITE book. I've read 20/100 of this list, and most of them are not even on par with ATGiB. Thanks for bringing it up :)

Agreed!

My favorite book of all time, still a comfort read now, and I can't believe it wasn't included!

Revisions to the list

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.

We've replaced these books with Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones, The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley and Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden. Thanks to several commenters who pointed out the need to include these excellent books on our list. I'm excited to add a few more rad girls to our list and I can't say how happy I am to know that there are WAY more than 100 young adult books out there that tackle sexism, racism, homophobia, etc... while presenting us with amazing young adult characters. Young adult lit has come a long way. We're really excited to keep talking about feminist-friendly YA books on the blog.

Ashley McAllister, Outreach Coordinator
Did someone say Comments Policy?

Scary

I can't believe you removed Tender Morsels from your list. I'll admit it was a bold choice to include the book in the first place, but once it's there, it should stay there.

Yes, the book is almost gleeful in its depiction of the rape of Liga's rapists. It doesn't mean it condones it. Margo Lanagan doesn't need to spell it out: the reader knows that it's wrong. Hell, even if the reader didn't know it was wrong before the book, he/she has been reading about the dire consequences of rape for about 300 pages when the scene comes in. It is the strenght of this scene: it puts the reader in an unconfortable position, forces him/her to think. What's so wrong with that?

"Moralists have no place in an art gallery." I guess they now have their place in your library.

"but once it's there, it

"but once it's there, it should stay there."

Uh. Why?

"Moralists have no place in

"Moralists have no place in an art gallery."

Also, it's a feminist library of YA, what do you bloody expect? They were thinking about moral issues when they drew up the list, then they responded to criticism and thpught about moral issues when they removed the books. Absolutes like "Moralists have no place in an art gallery." may sound intelligent, but you're really not thinking about the situation here.

So what did you think about

So what did you think about John Boehner and Eric Cantor pressuring the Smithsonian then?

A-Ok, right?

This is a blatant attempt to

This is a blatant attempt to derail.

Not really. I feel that their

Not really. I feel that their behavior was abhorrent and that of the Smithsonian was cowardly. Which is fine since I also think that this smacks of cowardice.

Strawman comparison

It's a false comparison in the beginning. First of all, The Smithsonian is not a feminist institution. Bitch Magazine IS and was created for and by women. Second of all, Bitch isn't removing the book from circulation. Anyone who wants to can still read it. Removing artifacts from the Smithsonian for political reasons is an attempt to get people to not see things you don't them to see. Bitch isn't trying to censor the book, they simply removed it from a list of *recommended* books. It's not an act of cowardice to remove a book from a recommendation list when the book does not suit the needs and desires of those for whom the list was designed.

Sorry, just saw the

Sorry, just saw the replies.

There's a difference between ethics and moralism. I strongly believe in feminist ethics. But I do not think we should judge the "moral character" of works of arts. What I mean by that: I think that a book is strenghtened by the moral ambiguity shown by the characters. That doesn't mean the work is morally ambiguous. And even if the book itself was morally ambiguous: moral ambiguity forces the reader to think about ethics. It doesn't feed answers. I'd rather read a book with morally complex characters than with goody-goody little miss perfect feminist.

The scene everybody is talking about is the strongest in Tender Morsels. The reader somewhat rejoices in the punishment of Liga's rapists, but also feels the horror of it. As a reader, I was ashamed of my own joy in front of that absolutely horrible punishment. It showed me a part of myself I deeply loathe. And it made the book so much more powerful, because it made me reflect on myself.

Now, some people don't like that. Or they take everything at face-value. I guess it's their loss.

As for why once it's there it should stay there: well, the reasons the makers of the list put the book on didn't suddenly disappear because one reader felt that the scene was morally wrong. It should stay there because it has not been proven that it should not be read by a young feminist. Because it just means that you just have to put a little pressure on Bitch and it will backtrack as fast as it can. What message does it send to the ennemies of feminism? That you just have to pressure us a little and we will cave in? Not just about books, but about abortion, about rape, about women's rights? That's just bad for all of us.

P.S. : sorry for the grammar and the spelling, I'm an evil French speaking person.

I was so pleased when I first

I was so pleased when I first read the list and saw that TENDER MORSELS had been included. Yes, it's a difficult, controversial book, but one that will actually make readers sit up and think. I love its boldness. And I loved your boldness for including it.

It seems patently ridiculous that you would have listened to the incoherent ramblings of one commenter and chosen to remove it from the list after a brief weekend of consideration. TENDER MORSELS a long and complex book, and I don't mean to offend you when I say that I think a quick read over a weekend isn't enough to digest it.

This is quite sad

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.

PS I haven't read the other two redacted books, but "triggering," really? Don't you think Uglies might be triggering for a cutter? Or a victim of bad plastic surgery? (Or an ugly kid? Or a pretty one?)

Triggering? Really?

If every book that had potential triggers was removed from this list, there would be very little left. Case and point: Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson is practically a triggerfest for girls who have body image problems or suffer/have suffered from an eating disorder.

wintergirls

I agree about WINTERGIRLS - a beautiful book - but basically unreadable for me.

Does that mean it should be taken off the list? NO.

There are probably triggering episodes for somebody in MOST of these books, because so many of them deal with big, important, scary issues.

Justine wants off too!

Okay, Justine (Larbalestier) just got back from gym, and she wants her Magic or Madness series off the list too. She would have posted this request herself, but has RSI at the moment and therefore finds internet slap-fights triggering and debilitating. (Not kidding about this.)

She says to add she's a huge fan of BitchMedia and is HUGELY disappointed, and yells "Margo Lanagan is a GREAT feminist writer!"

Also, Maureen Johnson has requested removal of her books on her twitter feed. But she pretty much only tweets these days, so don't expect a comment here.

Can't censor painful events out of real-life, why fiction?

Actually Scott you are absolutely right there. I have a past with cutting and Pretties was very very hard for me to read at times. Did it trigger me? I can't say. It certainly didn't make me want to do it, but it did make those scenes more poignant for me. I'd never want to trade the experience of reading it. It's one of my favorite books. I'd certainly never want someone else to decide whether or not it was a good idea for me.

The criteria for an excellent book does not change based on whether or not in might include touchy subject matter. We can't censor these events out of our lives, why would we want to censor them out of our lists of fiction?

Excellent reply Scott. Based

Excellent reply Scott. Based on this I plan to buy your book and the books of the other authors who requested to be taken off the list. You seem like sensible people until the list makers who quailed before comments instead of defending their position.

Not sure you get to decide

Not sure you get to decide whether or not your book is on the list, Scott, just like you don't get to remove bad reviews or stop people you don't like recommending your book to others. That's just how it works.

I think he should definitely

I think he should definitely get the choice to. They are so quick to take off books, why not comply when the actual author asks if their books can be removed from a wishy washy ridiculous list.

Wow, you're right. This

Wow, you're right. This magazine just caves in to everything people ask them to do and doesn't have any opinions of its own, guess any minute now they'll put the books back on the list because the people who disagree with their removal are shouting louder than those who agree...

But they haven't caved in to those people, have they? Guess they must be acting according to their own consciences after all.

Clearly the people who find it so hard to believe that this magazine has listened to criticism, got more staff members to read the books in question and come to a rational decision, have never ever listened to criticism or changed their minds before!

Oh look, a sane comment

You pretty much summed up exactly what I was thinking.

Criticism isn't the point

They don't fear criticism, they fear, "you've recommended offensive material" as a specific criticism. In their rush to not offend, they've lost the purpose of the list. It's not that are willy nilly, it's that they're gutless.

Really, Scott? People aren't

Really, Scott? People aren't allowed to reconsider their Best Of list after receiving complaints? This isn't a library where they're taking the books off the shelves. It's someone saying "on second thought, after some issues have been brought up to me, they're still good books but maybe they don't belong on this particular list".

Jesus, clutch those pearls hard, princess.

Thanks, Linds.

I agree wholeheartedly. Thank you for speaking for those of us who don't feel this has anything in common with censorship.

It was a FEW complaints, the

It was a FEW complaints, the FIRST FEW. Clearly, they aren't listening to complaints from either side now, are they? And they based their decision on a rushed weekend's reading, with only "a few of us from the office," NOT "additional staff" as someone else said. Also, it doesn't seem that they referred back to the individuals THAT THEY SOUGHT OUT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM in the very beginning to hear why they recommended that. They made their decision with only half the argument in mind. It's unbalanced.

It's a blogger's Best Of

It's a blogger's Best Of list. Some people complained, the blogger reconsidered and altered her list while saying she still thinks they're good books and they belong on Best Of lists. It's still not a big deal.

Seriously. Your pearls. You're clutching them.

You might have a point, but

You might have a point, but do we really have to use anti-feminist, feminine-hating insults like "princess"? As though there's anything wrong with being one. Come on; this is a feminist magazine, for crying out loud!

You're right, I apologize.

You're right, I apologize. It was an ill-considered phrase. I hereby disavow the "princess" part of it. I stand by the fact that there's a crapton of pointless pearl-clutching in this post.

worst-dressed

scott,
this would be like someone being upset about being on a worst-dressed list and being sad about that and asking to get taken down. or wishing their movie was nominated for a golden globe. it's not going to happen, and that's the way it should be. it's not your list. bummer you disagree. you don't get to decide on this one.
what in THE WORLD kind of genuine YA author who cares about his books being read by YA audiences looking for constructive material DOESN'T WANT his books on a list? step back from this debate and think about the immaturity of what you're asking. think of how this is revealing a critical lack of concern for YA readers, FOR WHOM THIS LIST WAS MADE. It is not embarrassing to be on a list of books young feminists might read. It is an honor, and you are lucky to have it. Shame on you. YA is better than that, and if you were sincerely interested in your readers, you would be too.

not the same

It's not like that at all, though. This isn't not wanting an insult or craving admiration, both of which fall into the same category. This is saying that while praise is nice, praise with certain strings attached isn't necessarily praise they want to have.

I like some Scott Westerfeld books and don't like others, but you're ignoring virtually the entire contemporary YA scene if you think that teens aren't already reading a ton of his books, and that if they aren't this is the one resource they'd be looking at for book-choosing advice.

YA is better than a lot of things, and one of those things is censorship.

Thank you.

Yes, to all of this, but particularly, thanks so much for saying that last bit.

I love the Uglies series, and have all four books proudly displayed in my living room, but I can't reread Pretties (which is one of my favorite books!) or Specials unless I'm really, really mentally prepared for it. It means a lot to hear you mention it.

So pathetic

I cannot believe you took LIVING DEAD GIRL off the list. For some of us survivors of horrific sexual abuse as children, LIVING DEAD GIRL was a *relief* to read. It was such a relief to finally read a book that I recognized myself in. Where I didn't feel alone. Obviously, I got to grow up, but I never grew out of the horrific things that happened to me. But it makes me feel like a freak and an alien and I cried so hard, in such RELIEF to finally read a book that recognized MY experience. As a feminist and a woman, doesn't MY experience count too???? Thanks so much for marginalizing, alienating, and freakifying me again by saying this book is just too dangerous for women to read. You should be ASHAMED.

Disappointed as well

Finding something as refreshing and honest as Living Dead Girl was very important to me as well and it's disappointing that it's been removed. I haven't yet read Tender Morsels and Sisters Red but I think it would've been wiser to open up a new discussion about these books rather than just delete them from the list.

relating is important

Thank you for illustrating the point I was going to try and make about this!

It's one of the basic guiding principles in developing a collection for children and teens, that you need to have the book for the kid who needs it. yes, I understand and fully respect being sensitive to the fact that such a difficult subject may be horrifying to one survivor, but another may need that book to feel understood, and that they are not alone. Even something as heinous a rape as revenge could be pretty damn cathartic to someone who is carrying anger over an assault.

I know this not only as a professional, but also as someone who never talked about her mom's mental health issues, never sat with it or allowed myself to think about it, until I read the book that I needed - one about a girl who had the same experience, the same thoughts and feelings that I had been trying to suppress myself.

I think a note about content would be sufficient to let those who want to avoid those scenes know they are there, while still letting those who need this book know about it.

Tender Morsels Removal

I am really disappointed in the decision to remove Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels from your list. This is a sophisticated, complex piece of fantasy fiction which deals with the psychological recovery of an abuse victim, and how this affects both her own view of the world and how she parents her daughters - indeed, how abuse can have a knock-on effect into the next generation. It has a great deal to say about the traditional roles of women in the history of fairy tales and fantasy fiction, and is absolutely a book to recommend to young, mature feminist readers.

I don't think the book validates the use of rape as vengeance at all, and I fail to see how anyone would come away from the scene in question thinking that this is portrayed as a good thing.

This is a very skewed, shallow reading of one of the most important fantasy novels of the decade.

Face-palm

I'm a little ashamed of Bitch magazine right now. Those were some bold moves putting the books on the list, but taking them off just takes away from the integrity of the list as a whole. I'll admit that I read Tender Morsels, and it made me physically ill. People say things like that, but this literally made me sick to my stomach. However, it is about women dealing with the situations in their lives that seem insurmountable. Even though I wouldn't read it again, I would keep it on the list for any readers that may need to understand these issues. You don't have to like a book for it to be good. Have a little bit of conviction! Maybe this would be a good time to have 103 books?

Also, your spam filter is too strong.

Tomorrow, When the War Began

Tomorrow, When the War Began by John Marsden

Because that's not a controversial book at all...

Indeed - Racism, Is Not Young Feminist Friendly

Indeed. I don't know if a "kick ass" female POV narrator trumps the deeply problematic (if unintentional, to be fair to author John Marsden) racism, especially in a country with a long - and still live - history of ugly anti-immigrant xenophobia and racism toward indigenous peoples. While Marsden avoided specifying where the invaders come from beyond "a neighbouring country", the recent film adaptation of 'Tomorrow, When The War Began' used quote unquote 'Asian' actors.

Implied racism, coming from a place of uncritical white privilege rather than malice, is pretty "triggering" to me and something I'd want to carefully audit before introducing to my children - though, of course, YMMV. .

http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/opinion/unsettling-echoes-of-yester...

Racism? Did we read the same Tomorrow?

I'd be really interested to see some actual examples of racism pulled from this seven-book series. Really. You go ahead and find them, I'll wait.

I'm not being facetious, but genuinely asking - have you actually read the books, or did you only see the film? Because your comment about John Marsden mentioning the invaders were from "a neighbouring country" could have been pulled verbatim from the article you linked to.

(Either way, a TWTWB film could never have been made without showing the faces of the enemy. So by all means, please suggest a Caucasian-majority nation that could/would have plausibly scaled a massive invasion of Australia in the late 20th century.)

These books were written almost twenty years before the film came out, and the author had nothing to do with the casting of the film. The article mentions that Marsden called the decision to use Asian actors 'gutsy', but the word 'gutsy' doesn't really have a negative or positive connotation in this context - in fact, I'll bet the word was deliberately chosen for its neutrality. It's just a statement of fact - it was a gutsy move, given the inevitable criticism Stuart Beattie would cop for it.

But anyway - this list is about books, not big screen adaptations thereof. A casting decision you disagree with in no way lessens the importance of these books or the kick-assitude of its female lead.

Hmm...

I have got to agree with you, Digressica - clearly the above criticisms were made by someone who has definitely not read the series and was likely not even paying much attention when watching the film adaptation.

The series themselves, especially the first few books, are filled with the protagonist agonizing about the moral ambiguity of resisting the "invaders" through guerilla tactics - she sees that often the people she is up against are her age and conscriptees - just as much forced into the situation as she is. I will reiterate too, that where Marsden could have collapsed into a xenophobic rant through pinning the invading force down to a specific group, he maintained this ambiguity at all times - often dropping conflicting hints as to their nationality I might add.

Even the film was not as cut and dry as some would suggest! Clearly, given that films are a visual medium, it was necessary to give a face to the invading troops. I would challenge anyone to suggest a means of avoiding this! But if you actually watch the film closely, you will notice that at one point Ellie is hiding from a troop of invaders and is pushed up against a wall which has a picture on it of English troops as they invaded and took Australia, "terra nullius", as their own from the Aborigines. Therefore even as she is resisting the invasion, she is aware of the hypocrisy and the irony of the invaders becoming the invaded.

Make a note

What I don't understand is why you choose to remove those books instead of making a note that they had potentially trigger content.

Because that would actually

Because that would actually be the reasonable thing to do, and we just can't have that.

Ashley, when are you going to

Ashley, when are you going to respond to the authors who wish their books removed from this list?

See comment below...

Ashley and the rest of us here at Bitch will be reviewing this issue shortly. As Ashley says in her comment below, we are a small staff/volunteer team and we want to give proper time and consideration to this situation.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Really?

Maybe you should have done that before arbitrarily yanking Tender Morsels off your list in the first place.

There's a difference between non-inclusion and removal

The problem is that you announced your list as being "made up of 100 young adult novels that *every* feminist *should* add to the stack of books on their bedside table" (emphasis mine).

Now, a list is just a list. It's the opinion of one person or a group of people. Everyone who sees the list will have their own opinion of it as well. As you can see from the first set of comments (prior to talk of revisions), some people were pleased to see their favourite books on the list and others were disappointed that titles they love weren't included. I don't believe that the vast majority who viewed the list would have considered it as absolutely and irrevocably definitive. It was simply a list of *some* good books worthy of consideration.

However, by redacting these three titles, you have *explicitly* singled them out as being books that, by your own definition, *no* feminist should have on their beside table. This is not the same as leaving a book off the list in the first place; it is specifically labelling these particular books as not being "feminist-friendly". By extension, should the people who have read them and found it a rewarding experience have their feminist sensibilities questioned? (The original complainant, "scrumby", certainly seems to imply this: "you should be ashamed for putting it on the same list as Speak"; "I fear for your friends"; "This thing is just so bad on so many levels it boggles the mind that anyone actually liked it.")

Incidentally, I'd like to hear about the "certain instances" in which you would not hesitate to recommend the books and how these are radically different from the outlined purpose of this list -- "If you're looking to buy a book for your favorite teenage girl or just looking to cuddle up with a powerful story featuring teenage characters, look no further."

And please stop using "triggering" to back your decision. Firstly, in your original post explaining your decision to remove the books, you stated that only one of them (Living Dead Girl) was removed "because of its triggering nature". You provided different explanations for the other two books, explanations which have been challenged and critically analysed by many people here already. Secondly, as many people have also pointed out, there remain a lot of books still on the list containing subject matter of a "triggering nature" and a better way to handle such concerns would have been to flag books that might fall into this category rather than remove them entirely.

false inversion

To omit or rescind the recommendation of a book to "every feminist" is not to recommend it to "no feminist," but to "not every feminist."

You very plainly set up a good argument for saying that the most the list-makers could be said to be doing by this removal of works is acknowledging that some feminists may find them problematic in the ways indicated, and that those problems were not acceptable within the chosen mandate of this list, but then you made a different argument that isn't supported by those premises.

Mandates?

And the chosen mandate of this list would be? As far as I can see, it's simply "100 young adult novels that every feminist should add to the stack of books on their bedside table". Books you might like to buy for your "favourite teenage girl" or simply to read for yourself. There is no mandate specified beyond this. Which, again, like a cat turning in circles, leads up right back to the discussion of *why* these three books where first chosen to represent and then discarded as not fitting this mandate, and the problematic nature of both of these decisions.

Careful how you throw those "nots" around. If you're just going to use that as a blunt inversion tool, it can be placed anywhere in the statement. So a book which is redacted from the list can be described as "a novel that every feminist should *not* add to the stack on their bedside table". The spirit of the original statement seemed to me to be fully inclusive, namely, that all feminists should read these books. The complete inversion of that is fully exclusive, that no feminists should read these books. Saying "not every feminist" only gets you part way there. The opposite of "all" isn't "not all" -- it's "none".

And to be clear, I'm not arguing that Bitch is actually saying that no feminist should read them. I don't think many people are arguing that. But we are pointing out the problems and implications of first including a book on a list and then discarding it, and how this action make an explicit statement about the book in a way that could never be deduced or construed from a simple omission (for whatever reason) of a book from the list in the first place.

"The complete inversion of

"The complete inversion of that is fully exclusive, that no feminists should read these books. Saying "not every feminist" only gets you part way there. The opposite of "all" isn't "not all" -- it's "none"."

The complete inversion of including it on a list of books all feminists should read would be including it on a list of books that no feminists should read. Removing it from a list that all feminists should read does not logically imply no feminists should read it.

A Grim Moment

You know what? LIFE is triggering, full of unexpected moments where I have to deal with racism, sexism, and reminders of past moments of suffering. If I am going to remain alive, if I'm going to have any chance to live and grow, I'm going to have to deal.

I expect to run into books I'm not going to find pleasant on a list of books I haven't created myself. People who want to not ever have any sort of flashbacks can only expect not to have a real life. They shouldn't go online, watch the news, or go to a website for a magazine called "bitch" that has stories about women from all walks of life, experiencing the pain and beauty and the mundane parts of daily life.

This is a challenging list of books, with lots of different points of view. Any debate should be appreciated, but the items to be debated must be on the list.

You have to live in the world. Not YOUR world. THE world. Get strong. Deal. Live.

See, I agree that this is -

See, I agree that this is - and should be - a challenging list of books that might stir up discussion. Awesome, a feminist reader of this kind *should* make people think and debate issues, right on board with you there.

I think the suggestion that people who have had traumatic experiences should just "deal" is kind of cold, though. I don't know anything about you or your experiences, but even if you have personally been able to "deal" with something traumatic and are not affected by triggers, that doesn't mean everybody is in that position. I mean, part of a feminist outlook, as far as I'm concerned, is believing that the world is flawed and that we can - and must - work to improve it. For some, one improvement might be having fair warning before they encounter triggering material so that they CAN live in the world instead of avoiding all media in the fear of being triggered. Triggers aren't just "reminders of past moments of suffering", they're psychological traps that throw a person back into their most awful experiences. It's much easier for many to get over those experiences if we get to decide for ourselves when to relive them.

That said, I don't agree with the decision to remove these books from the list once they had already been put on it. If they are not good feminist books they should never have been included to begin with, and if they ARE good feminist books with some triggering content, the appropriate response to a complaint about triggering material should be to flag the existence of these triggers in some books and let that signposting warn people with particular sensitivities that they need to proceed with caution.

Not Easy. Simple

There's no "just" in dealing with life. Living is hard. I'm not being unmerciful by stating what is necessary. I understand trauma. I've experienced and re-experienced it. Others have, as well. Truth is more important than sympathy.

Striving always for the good and the beautiful is honest. I respect that. I also respect the need for each and every person to learn to survive. It's necessary.

ironic

Expect to run into criteria for inclusion that you don't find adequate in the creation of a list of books you haven't created yourself.

Why in the world should NOT changing the list once it's published be a privileged course of action over reconsidering it based upon subsequent input?

You have to live with the list. Not YOUR list. THE list. Get strong. Deal. Write your own list.

No Irony Here

I have my own lists. I read other people's and other magazines' lists. I wanted to read the bitch list, which means that bitch should be responsible for the creation of the list. If I wanted to read the "everyone weigh in on what he or she thinks should be on a list, with changes to come after the posting of the list", I'd look for that list.

I suppose this is a function of the list being online and subject to quick changes, but there's something to be said for a static list. I wasn't being snarky, I really just want people to publish and stand up to what's set in place, more like a printed article, instead of an Internet forum. There's value in that, I think.

newsstand

But here you are, reading their Internet forum.

Fortunately, you DO have the option of experiencing Bitch Magazine in print.

The Letter's In The Mail

I like the website as a companion to the magazine, hence my reading the site as well.

I've written a letter.

Thank you for your suggestion and comments.

This is very disappointing.

This is very disappointing. If you were to remove any book that was potentially triggering to anybody, then you wouldn't be able to publish a list at all. All books that are at least moderately readable involve conflict of some sort (a great tenet of literature!), and if they don't, well you might as well read the latest from the great feminist superhero, Snooki.

However, if your ulterior (and super sneaky brilliant subversive) motive in removing these books from this list was to make these books even more appealing, then well done! I plan on re-reading these this weekend.

Books removed from list

A lot of the books on your list deal with tough subject matter (Uglies, Make Lemonade, Luna, The Golden Compass) I have never read the novels that you took off (nor the ones you added to replace them), but I agree with the people who are saying that this act takes away any credibility that your list (and your website/magazine, etc) may have had. I didn't realize that we were still living in a time where a few comments meant a huge commotion! You should have told those people that your name is "bitchmedia" and if they wanted a list of young adult novels that dealt with uncontroversial things, they should go to "happyteenmediawherewedealwithnothingcontroversial".

Thank you

Thank you everyone who has voiced your concerns about our YA list in this space. As a reader-supported organization, we most certainly take reader comments seriously, which is why we re-examined the list in the first place. As Ashley, the author of this post, has said, the books that were removed from the list are not bad books, they just might not belong on this particular list. At the suggestion of several of our readers, we did some research into the contested books and simply decided that the list should be amended.

I hope that even those of you who disagree with the decision to remove the books from the list understand that, as a feminist, reader-supported organization, if members of our audience contact us and tell us something that we're recommending might be triggering for rape victims, we're going to take that seriously. That being said, please feel free to voice your dissent here; we take that seriously also.

____________
Kelsey Wallace, contributor

Ask me about our Comments Policy!

Life is triggering.

So many things are triggering for rape victims. Being brushed up against on a subway train, walking down the street and seeing a very sexual ad campaign, watching a movie with a rough loves scene--all of these things can be triggering. Trust me, I'm one of those triggered victims. But censoring a list of literature to not include such titles lets rapists win. It tells victims that they don't deserve to have a story. It tells young women that their experiences that may keep them from living full lives IS something to be ashamed of.

Blatantly removing a title because it could be "triggering" doesn't give respect to the reader. Going into the book, they usually know what they're getting into. Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak, Sarah Dessen's Just Listen, Daisy Whitney's The Mockingbirds--all incredible titles that have "triggering" content but that tell a story that needs to be told. Too many young women never speak out, and you are part of that by censoring a title just because someone protested the "triggering" content. Abuse toward women is an epidemic and literature that brings it to light is to be commended, not condemned. Until you understand this, you probably shouldn't be labeling anything on this blog as "feminist."

I couldn't have said it

I couldn't have said it better myself. Thank you.

Who reads a book without knowing anything about it? Without reading the back of the cover, at least? Furthermore, if something is too much for you to read, just stop reading that book and read another. It is the individual's decision to read the book, and they can just as easily stop if it's too much. It's not anyone's responsibility but the reader's. All you had to do was put a little note next to these titles saying "Hey, this may be triggering for some people. This book talks about __________ and you might not want to read it." You didn't have to destroy the integrity of this list because ONE person thought you made a bad decision.

I do commend you for listening when someone said something was triggering for them, and I appreciate that you try to make sure everyone's happy. But when it comes to something like censorship, it is not the time to try to please everyone. This is more important than one person's disagreement.

Also, so much love to all the authors requesting to be taken off the list in solidarity. THIS kind of thing is why I love you guys and your books, and why one day I want to write YA fiction.

I haven't read Tender Morsels (although I fully intend on it as soon as possible, thanks to all of this controversy) but I have read Speak and Just Listen, and though sometimes it was hard for me to keep reading, I am glad they are out there and that they're so popular. That whole "I'm not alone" thing, you know? It's important for young women to know that.

Thanks

Your reply is far better than mine. Thank you for being controlled and eloquent.

Tender Morsels

I am very surprised and disappointed by your decision to remove "Tender Morsels" from your YA list, seemingly because it contains difficult and challenging ideas. (I can only comment on this book, having not read the other books removed).

Feminism does not mean you ignore everything that doesn't fit comfortably within a certain safe sphere. Readers read *in order* to be challenged, moved, surprised and, yes, disturbed... The sanitisation of ideas that you propose in amending this list is directly counter to this. Besides, anyone who can read this book and think that is is anti-feminist, just hasn't read it properly.

Yes, there may be a chance that reading a scene depicting rape is 'triggering' but there is also a chance that turning on the TV will have the same effect or a man's voice on the phone...Would you propose banning TV shows that discuss rape or men from phone using telephones?

This is reminiscent of the recent revisionist version of "Huckleberry Finn" in terms of misguided censorship.

As a longtime reader and fan of your publication, this is not what I would expect from Bitch. I hope you will have the bravery to reconsider, for the second time, the books on this list.

Triggers

I'm disappointed by the wishy washy nature of this list and how the magazine handled it. I commend the authors for stepping up for what they believe in when they could have easily looked the other way. Since I'm coming to this discussion late I'll skip over the same points people have already made.

In regards to triggering, and I hope you truly accept this comment in the spirit it is given, the word "bitch" is a trigger for me. Why? Because that is what my abusive stepfather called me when I began fighting back and standing up for myself in high school. From that moment on, he took sadistic joy in replacing my name with "The Bitch". I can't tell you how devalued I felt not only as a young woman but as a human being. Over the years, I've tried to find the positive in that word since so many now find it empowering, but I haven't succeeded.

However, I'm not demanding you change the name of your website because the word reminds me of the hell I went through growing up. You can name it whatever you want and that's your right no matter who it affects. Just like making this YA book list was your right no matter who agrees with the selections, but as a feminist magazine at least have the decency to defend why the books were listed in the first place. Not once did I see a staff member stand behind Sisters Red or the other two challenged books and fight for their right to be included. Part of feminism is having a voice and using it -- not running in the opposite direction at the first sign of disagreement. Its really disheartening to see that you allowed a couple of posters to squash that voice without a fight.

I was absolutely delighted to

I was absolutely delighted to see my book, The Bermudez Triangle, on this list when it was published. I'm a fan of the magazine. But I have been incredibly disheartened to see your process for removing books. It mirrors EXACTLY the process by which book banners remove books from schools and libraries--namely, one person makes a comment, no one actually checks, book gets yanked.

You've removed Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. I think that's a disgrace. You were right the first time, when you put it on.

Ladies, feminist media should be held to the highest standard. This kind of waffling and caving on comments is no good. Lots of people would have LOVED to use this list for educational purposes, but it's such a mess now that no one wants near it.

I request that either you get a grip or remove me from this list. If Margo is removed, I'd like to be removed with her. And please remember that young feminists are looking up to you. When they see you so easily intimidated, so easily swayed, so eager to make concessions . . . it sets exactly the wrong example.

- Maureen Johnson

This.

Maureen, you have pegged exactly why this hasty redaction has me so annoyed. It's just like watching a school library yank a book (though admittedly more honorable, because more open). And Kelsey's language about not *judging* the books, merely finding them inappropriate for this particular library, also sounds awfully familiar.

Thanks for making this trenchant point, Maureen, when I was being somewhat catty .

PS Neither of my previous posts are meant to trivialize triggering. I'm serious about Uglies. I get angry and/or sad mail from cutters (and others) all the time, but that's what challenging books do. See the dedication to Specials if you don't believe me.

It mirrors EXACTLY the

It mirrors EXACTLY the process by which book banners remove books from schools and libraries--namely, one person makes a comment, no one actually checks, book gets yanked.

I could not agree with you more. It is hugely disappointing to see Bitch mag doing this.

As I said above I shall be buying all your books asap.

"It mirrors EXACTLY the

"It mirrors EXACTLY the process by which book banners remove books from schools and libraries--namely, one person makes a comment, no one actually checks, book gets yanked."

Yes, I agree, it's exactly like a book banning! Now that these three books have been removed from the recommended reading list, neither I nor anyone else has easy access to these books. They've surely been pulled off the shelves just as quickly as their HTML has been backspaced out of existence. It's a shame that no young people will get a chance to read them and decide for themselves what they think about--

Wait, what's that? Oh my, I've just been told that nothing like that has happened at all. But that can't be right, let me just-- oh, well, would you look at that! I still have the option of checking these books out at the library, and there's been no news of schools pulling these books based on their removal from this RECOMMENDED READING LIST.

And to further my surprise, I don't see anyone calling for public burnings, or demanding these books not be read... In fact, it seems as though the only thing happening hear is that three books were taken off a RECOMMENDED READING LIST for not being feminist enough to qualfy.

This is NOT like when angry parents took Speak off the bookshelves, petitioned against it and called it pornography. This is a small group of people editing a RECOMMENDED READING LIST (and my constant emphasis of this fact is due to the startling number of people who seem to think it is anything more than this) to better reflect the values of that list.

"Ladies, feminist media should be held to the highest standard."

I'm glad we agree! Now I'm left wondering why you are objecting to the removal of three pieces of media (from a RECOMMENDED READING LIST) that clearly do not meet these standards. Books that contain victim-blaming (and not just at a character level, mind you, where it could be excused for a number of reasons, but on a meta level where the author is saying to the reader, shame on these girls!), and perpetuating rape culture are NOT amongst the highest standards of feminist media. Are they bad books? Not necessarily. They just don't meet the expectations to be put on the list, and when these flaws were pointed out they were replaced with books that did.

Comparing this editorializing to book banning and censorship devalues ACTUAL efforts against these problems. You are NOT helping the cause by making these false comparisons.

And shame on the people talking about triggers who apparently have no idea what they're talking about: "real life is a trigger/can be even worse than a book" (because I haven't heard that one a thousand times before!), "if I don't like a subject, I just don't read it" (that works well if you know beforehand what the book is about, or have adequate trigger warnings to help you decide)...

A library or school yanking a

A library or school yanking a book from its shelves is not a "book banning" unless done on behalf or, of at the behest of, the government. If your town or state or national government labels the book obscene, prohibits anyone from bringing it into the country, forbids its publication/selling, or makes possession illegal, that is a "book banning."

Now that we've got the terminology straight, yes, this is EXACTLY like a library pulling a book off its shelves, or forbidding children from checking it out, because one angry parent complains it has the word "fuck" in it. And your defenses of Bitch are EXACTLY like those offered by the censors: Why, you can just buy the book off Amazon, or get it from a different library, or read it on the Internet, so what's your beef?

If a book is triggering, it's trivial to simply note "Warning: may be triggering for rape victims" to put people on notice. Deciding a book is no longer something every feminist should read because.....it's triggering? That's a judgment that feminists are too soft and stupid to handle the book, even if forewarned that it contains triggers.

And you're trying to play it both ways. If this is nothing more than a tiny group of people offering recommended reading, then what's your problem if others criticize the decisions made to include or remove books? If, on the other hand - is as actually the case, despite yourhand-waving - this is a list prepared by a respected and influential feminist publication, strongly recommending books, that turned tail and decided a book was no longer of value based on one commenter's rambling dislike of the book, and then made lame-ass excuses for why that book was removed (oh, we didn't bother to read it, you girls can't handle 'triggering' subjects and never mind if many other books on this list are 'triggering'), then perhaps people criticizing the decision have a point.

"I like BItch and the rest of you need to STFU" is not a point, by the way.

First off, I'm sorry if you

First off, I'm sorry if you were expecting a reply sooner -- I've been at work and haven't had proper internet access until about now.

"[...] yes, this is EXACTLY like a library pulling a book off its shelves, or forbidding children from checking it out, because one angry parent complains it has the word "fuck" in it. And your defenses of Bitch are EXACTLY like those offered by the censors: Why, you can just buy the book off Amazon, or get it from a different library, or read it on the Internet, so what's your beef?"
Apparently I didn't stress this enough: What Bitch made was a RECOMMENDED READING LIST. It's not a digital library, where by removing their RECOMMENDATION for the books, they have stopped interested readers from having free, easy access to them. When a book is removed from library shelves, it is directly hindering a person from being able to read it in a free and legal manner. The staff at Bitch has said in at least one comment that they haven't removed the books from their actual, physical library; they are still available for anyone to read. That is the key difference here that stops this from being "EXACTLY like a library pulling a book off its shelves."

"If this is nothing more than a tiny group of people offering recommended reading, then what's your problem if others criticize the decisions made to include or remove books?"
I don't have a problem with that. I have a problem with people crying out "censorship!" when nothing of the sort has occurred. I have a problem with people in the comments trivializing triggers. And I have a problem with published authors, who I presume to be adults, making the digital equivalent of throwing a tantrum, then picking up their toys and leaving when they find out someone doesn't agree with them on whether or not a book they liked meets the standards of top 100 list.

"If, on the other hand - is as actually the case, despite your hand-waving - this is a list prepared by a respected and influential feminist publication, [...] then perhaps people criticizing the decision have a point."
I was actually unaware of this at first. I had never heard of Bitch before seeing this article all over my little corner of Twitter. And I never said the people criticizing don't have points. I disagree with them that the three books should still be on the list, yes, but I will agree that the manner in which the list was made should have been approached differently. Not a single book should have been put on the list before it was read thoroughly for content that kept it from meeting the standards needed to make it onto the list in the first place.

"decided a book was no longer of value based on one commenter's rambling dislike of the book"
Except that they didn't. The three books' exclusion doesn't make them any less worth reading, they just don't make the top 100 anymore, and staff said as much in other comments on this page. Unless you're willing to argue that the article writers feel that every other book with a feminist slant that didn't make it onto the list has no value... As for the second half of your sentence, it was not one lone commenter. This issue has made its way around the internet to Twitter, LiveJournal, other blogs, and private conversations. And while there may have only been two original commenters publicly voicing their opinion on this blog, that does not mean that there weren't others.

"If a book is triggering, it's trivial to simply note "Warning: may be triggering for rape victims" to put people on notice. Deciding a book is no longer something every feminist should read because.....it's triggering?" "[...] you girls can't handle 'triggering' subjects and never mind if many other books on this list are 'triggering'"
I'm... not quite sure you understand what a trigger actually is, or at least not the gravity involved with them. A triggering subject isn't something that just makes you a little uncomfortable until a little while later you forget about it and go on with your life. It can mean dealing with a full-scale, crippling panic attack, having to take an emergency dose of anti-anxiety medication, an extra session with your therapist.

A book making someone just a little uncomfortable isn't a bad thing by any means. To paraphrase another commenter, if every book that was potentially triggering was removed, there wouldn't be much of a list left. The fact that only one of the books on the list was removed because it was triggering speaks volumes about the content in comparison to others, and its suitability on a list with the words "[...] every feminist should add to the stack of books on their bedside table" above it (emphasis obviously my own).

As a last note on this quote... Your use of scare quotes around the word triggering are precisely what I meant when I said I had problems with people in the comments trivializing triggers.

"I like BItch and the rest of you need to STFU" is not a point, by the way.
This was never my point. As mentioned, I previously hadn't heard of Bitch at all. I'm not trying to white-knight for them, and I'm definitely not trying to tell anyone to shut up. I'm disagreeing with some of the attitudes found in some of the comments.

Except it IS exactly like it

Here's what happens when a book gets challenged/banned: A parent walks in and says, "I don't like this book. It talks about rape. Take it down!" The principal goes "Oh ok." and takes it down.

Here's what happened with this list: One commenter comes in and says "I didn't like this book. It sucked. Take it down." and Bitch Magazine goes "Oh ok." and TAKES IT DOWN.

Do you see the similarities now? It's still censorship. You buy a book for a library, you put a book on a recommended list- you need to stand by it. Who cares what other people say? There are tons of people who are saying "Why didn't you include this book?" Should they be revising the list to include all the other books that people want included? No. They can make another list, like they mentioned above, in the future.

Obviously those books DID meet the standards. Otherwise, they would not have been on the list in the first place. They put those books there for a reason and therefore should stand by that reason, no matter what some random commenter says. This is THEIR list, not yours or anyone else's. Or, hell, if they are going to listen to reader feedback, then they might as well reinstate Tender Morsels (and the other two) since like 50 people, including authors on the list, have said what an amazing, powerful book it is. Whereas only one person has said they didn't like it and thought it promoted a message that no one else seems to see.

But if you're (general you, not you specifically) just going to let other people change your list, it loses integrity and your standards are just shot to hell. It becomes a huge mess. You made the feminist list, stand by it like a true feminist. Yes, it may have some dissent but who cares? It's your list; you put the book there for a reason and no one should be able to sway you.

My suggestion for Bitch Magazine is put the list back as it was (or make it 103 books) and stand by it from here on out. Standing by what you write, whether it's a review, list, or whatever, is the first rule of blogging (and feminism, for that matter); otherwise, if you give in easily, people lose their trust in you. Readers can make their own judgment on the books that are included.

Except that it's really nothing at ALL like book banning.

Except that nothing that Bitch has done actually inhibits access to these books.Taking a book off of a library shelf or removing it from a school - which at least in the US *is* a government act, unless it's a privately owned and operated library - limits access to the book. I can't go in and check it out. I can't look it over to decide for myself if its something I want to read or want to encourage my kids to read. It's no longer there, freely available to the public to check out and read. It's no longer taught to our children or available for them to check out and read at school.

Taking a book off of a book rec list created for a specialized audience may limit the number of people who hear about the book, but it does absolutely nothing to actually decrease access to the book. It's a list of suggested reading, not the reading itself.

I'm not saying I agree or disagree with Bitch's actions here, either in including these books, none of which I've actually read, but a couple of which look really interesting to me (and which I'm, ironically, discovering *because* of this controversy, not dispite it) or in taking them off and including other books (at least one of which I would personally endorse). It may be a bad decision, it's definitely wishywashy and it's indicative of lack of sufficient consideration of potential issues by Bitch prior to publication, which is absolutely worthy of critique, but it is *not* censorship or remotely on the level of book banning.

Cowardly Acts are not Feminist Acts

When I first saw this list, I was proud to see my book (White Sands, Red Menace) included, and in such distinguished company.

That was before you chose to censor the list, and remove Tender Morsels.

For me, part of being a feminist is challenging the status quo, talking about things that "nice girls don't talk about."

Censorship is cowardly, and not a feminist act.

Either reinstate Tender Morsels, or remove my book from your list as well.

If you're willing to make snap judgments and promote closed thinking, then I am no longer proud to be a part of your politics.

-- Ellen Klages

Because not recommending a

Because not recommending a book is EXACTLY the same as removing/limiting all access.
Are you completely unaware of what censorship means? How have you gone your entire life and become published without ever hearing of a dictionary?

I'm rather confused about how it's closed minded to feel a book with rape as revenge not handled in a particularly agreeable manner is not really for everyone.

If you honestly think it is for everyone then you're kind of very misinformed, or rather close minded yourself (gawd, all that sympathy nonsense- clearly people should just get over their deeply traumatic experiences.)

Just in case you weren't giving that impression enough with your quite frankly bizarre misunderstanding of how awards and recommendation lists work (i.e.: you don't get a say in who likes your work, you are not owed positive reviews, you generally don't get a say in you NOT getting nominated for an award. Unless of course you are pro-thought police and anti-free speech, in which case carry on your attempts to have these no doubt horrible cases of censorship removed, just don't expect people to listen.)

While I don't entirely agree with the action taken (applying warning would be just as valid- though people would still kick up a stink because baaaaaawwww censorship) I am curious; why are you and so many authors rocking up and giving their very best impression of a toddler not getting their way? I can understand disappointment, disagreement and such with changes, but seriously losing massive amounts of respect for a number of people here.

By all means, make note on

By all means, make note on the list and here of controversy that you think is valid, but please don't remove books from the list. You put it out there. You need to trust the feminists who recommended the books and stand behind what you've published.

Be strong, please. I don't want to lose my trust in you. Thank you for all the wonderful work you do!

On with the blanding of the world…

YA literature is where questions need to be asked, and 'issues' need to be raised. It's why I read it, it's why I write it. Margo Lanagan's Tender Morsels is one of the best books I've read in years. It is nuanced, deep, subtle and confronting. It does not give easy answers or condescend to issue moral judgements. In other words, it is EXACTLY the sort of book that young adults ought to read, and respond to, and question.

Proclaiming this book 'anti-feminist' and removing it from this list is more than condescending, it is effectively saying to the young women (and men) out there that they should not think for themselves, but rely on some higher power to decide for them. Feminist? Hardly.

Just to clarify

Hi Scott,

Bitch Media never proclaimed Sisters Red, Tender Morsels, or Living Dead Girl "anti-feminist." Our library coordinator was very transparent and clear for her reasons for *not promoting them on this particular list* and said "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."

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, Web content manager
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, editor-in-chief
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

I firmly disagree with your

I firmly disagree with your decision to remove Tender Morsels, Sisters Red and Living Dead Girl from your list. The argument that these books are "triggering" is insulting to the intelligence of your readers. These three books are examples of exactly the kind of literature young women should be reading, if only to make sure that they know what they might encounter in this world. Instead of empowering women, the decision to remove these books coddles them.

Ignorance is never the answer. We may want our fellow women to be safe, but the truth is, we live in a world that is far from safe. Helene Cixous, a well-known feminist, encouraged women to write about their lives and their problems and issues because otherwise, we would only have "male" literature. Margo Lanagan and Elizabeth Scott handled the issues of rape and sexual abuse in a mature manner and deserve better than this. A society can't move forward if no one is willing to admit that there are problems that need to be solved.

Since when did feminism require a happy ending?

Listing "great feminist reads" doesn't mean listing books that are morally unambiguous, where political correctness is strictly observed and girls are always righteous and triumphant. For me, a "great feminist read" is a book that explores and celebrates the messy, complex, contradictory business of being a human being - and a woman. Tender Morsels is a book about ultimately giving up a false, romantic idea of what the world should be like, and embracing the world as it is - sometimes cruel and unpleasant but always true and beautiful.

I don't want to read books where moral, soulless girls always do the right thing. I want to read about strong, flawed, funny, intelligent women who make mistakes and are faced with tough choices - and by doing so learn about the world and themselves.

Many - most - of the girls in your list behave in unpleasant or dangerous ways. Should you remove The Hunger Games or Tomorrow When the War Began because Katniss and Ellie are both killers? Ditch Forever because Katherine cheats on her boyfriend? Or deny Frankie Landau Banks or Lyra Silvertongue or Alanna because they lie? Liesel in The Book Thief steals. Tally in the Uglies series betrays her friends and becomes cold and cruel.

Does moral ambiguity make these books unfeminist? These characters bad role models? And do you really think that teenage readers are so shallow and naive that they can't make their own decisions and judgements after observing the behaviour of others?

Put Tender Morsels back on the list, or consider removing the word "feminist" - and replacing it with something else. "Safe", perhaps. "Uncomplicated?"

Coming Late to the party

I'm coming late to the part of comments, but I wanted to reply to your sentiments on a happy ending, Lilli. I eschew most mainstream cinema for this reason precisely. I WANT my females REAL and that includes challenges and morally ambiguous situations and mistakes. We make such a point to demand humanistic realism from Hollywood and the media and raise our voices at hte lack of diversity in body sizes, races and roles. Yet when we do get someone who borders on anything questionably feminist (which, agreeing with you, is not synonymous with happy endings tied up in a bow ) we then become quick to rip back the label of "feminism" because they don't have some quixotic component that we feel is required to be "Empowering". Thanks for using your voice!!

Other people have already

Other people have already dealt with this manner better than I, so I'll keep it brief.

There is danger in judging an entire work of art based on a few moments. Is the scene in Sisters Red a little disturbing? Yes it is, but does that completely cancel out it's value as a whole? Tender Morsels is a beautifully written book that illustrates some of the most joyful moments in life, as well as the most horrific. It's not an easy read, but it is a rewarding one.

I would urge Bitch Magazine to take a closer look at these novels. Please do not censor yourself based on the opinions of a few. Tender Morsels is one of my favorites, and Sisters Red is one hell of a ride.

This is not a list of

This is not a list of self-affirming and optimistic books for the feminist reader, is it?

If it is, I am not sure my novel, The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, belongs on it, either.

I assumed this was a list of books that addressed feminist issues in intelligent and moving ways. If that's what it is, I am honored to be on it.

Pulling books off because they invite argument and incite controversy -- that seems wrong-minded to me. Literature is meant to spark discussion and to be read and reread for multiple interpretations.

I am stunned too that Tender

I am stunned too that Tender Morsels was taken off this list. Margo Lanagan is one of our finest writers, and clearly clearly a feminist writer. jv

Also stunned

I couldn't agree more. Stunned.

I'm completely dumbfounded

So tonight I saw a tweet from Maureen Johnson, about this list, so I decided to check out this post, and see what all the commotion is about, and wow, I'm speechless.

Life is triggering for anyone who has to deal with triggering issues. It is the readers decision to read a book, and to look up more information on the book before reading it. Why can't people take responsibility for themselves, and if they don't want to read it they don't read it, why do people have to have big brother/big sister/anyone else make those decisions for them? When did we as a society become people who cannot decide for themselves what they want to read.

I have not read any of the books that have been removed from this list, but I can say, your controversy has me putting in my requests through my library and as soon as I return my books I just got out. I'm borrowing these.

So in a twisted round-a-bout way, you are doing exactly the opposite of what you wanted to do by removing these books. More interest is being garnered on these 3 books than your list 100.

I'm proud to see all the authors standing in solidarity here.

Which is the problem with making lists -

- Without first qualifying, IN EXTREME DETAIL, what makes EACH item on the list worthy to be considered 'feminist'. That way people, upon seeing your 'list', will actually know where you're coming from and will be in a better position to deem whether or not they agree. I mean really, is this hard?

How is 'feminist' being defined? And thus, what qualifies a book as 'feminist'? It is of EXTREME importance that this is figured out first. You'd be surprised at the number of varying and often misinformed answers you'll get ( ie) Book X is feminist because, like Buffy, it has a character who 'kicks butt', literally, by fighting and stuff! Yay! Because being able to enact physical violence onto another human being automatically makes you 'strong' and in no ways reinforces the Western culture of hyper-masculinity associated with this continuous deifying of violence, fighting and war!). Make sure your parameters are clear before you start doling out the gold stars, mkay?

Second, through what lens are you making these judgments on what is or is not feminist? We all come equipped with built in ideological values and biases we've been socialized to believe as normal. Are any of these hindering your ability to see something as 'feminist'? That's something you need to be able to point out too and explain before any list-making.

Slapping books on a list addresses none of this. It is an incredibly ill-thought out move, and the funny thing is, everyone's bitching about precisely the wrong thing. And I suspect most are simply wannabe writers who may or may not tangentially know what's going on, but feel the need to chime in so they feel included in the big fat clique that is the YA community. And yes, it IS a clique, whether people like or not. Censorship goes beyond Speak Loudly, people.

Notice how I'm not defending anyone involved? Because this whole thing is fail all around, from the hysterical YA writers demanding their books be taken off the list, to the mindless followers endlessly vying for the bandwagon before it takes off without them, to the (very mainstream, deeply unthoughtful, way over hyped) 'feminist' website who obviously didn't think through what it really meant to make a list of 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader and probably have no idea how to theorize feminism and social justice in the first place (no sorry, watching Buffy and not liking rape is NOT enough).

So continue to play in your sandbox kids until you move on to the next ego-boosting, righteousness-reaffirming crusade, which I suspect, will be just as pointless as this one.

Thank You Oh Wise One for

Thank You Oh Wise One for telling us what we think and why we think it. Whatever would we do without condecending Yank wankers? It must be hard for you have to put up with us mere mortals. Which re-education camp should I report to?

Mansplainer Bonus Points!

Bonus points for using the word "hysterical" on a feminist blog, especially when describing posts such as these:

"Pulling books off because they invite argument and incite controversy -- that seems wrong-minded to me. Literature is meant to spark discussion and to be read and reread for multiple interpretations."

"Either reinstate Tender Morsels, or remove my book from your list as well."

"If Margo is removed, I'd like to be removed with her."

Can't you just FEEL THE HYSTERIA in those sentences?

Words. They mean things.

(In other news, Billy Joe Bon's post is the longest in the thread. Why is it always the guy like him of whom that is the case?)

It's not a real internet

It's not a real internet discussion until This Guy shows up! *blows partyblower*

lol you assume I, the poster

lol you assume I, the poster am male, because the name chosen was a masculine one?

In that case feel free to assume I'm a red mutant dog-hybrid thing from a Japanese video game.

And also, your diversionary tactics are astounding. Would expect nothing less.

But please, feel free validate yourself by responding with a 'witty' comment.

Yes.

...to the (very mainstream, deeply unthoughtful, way over hyped) 'feminist' website who obviously didn't think through what it really meant to make a list of 100 Young Adult Books for the Feminist Reader and probably have no idea how to theorize feminism and social justice in the first place (no sorry, watching Buffy and not liking rape is NOT enough).

When I saw this list the first time, I rolled my eyes and searched for my favorite feminist YA books. They aren't here. I never really thought Bitch Mag had a great grip on things, so I wasn't surprised.

Actually? Hysterical? Was

Actually? Hysterical? Was directed at you. It doesn't matter how you 'write' it. The act of rushing in to get your books removed from this list is in and of itself HYSTERICAL, regardless of the gender of the person performing it. Connotations of the word alone can't be judge whether or not the word itself can be used in this instance.

But again, picking out the most minuscule detail and ignoring the entirely valid points brought up - maybe because it's easier to do so - is a common diversionary tactic that never ceases to amaze me.

Also? I'm not a man. As my username suggests, I'm a mode of communication. Ironic, huh?

Not ironic. Just weird.

Not ironic. Just weird.

Anyways.

I know you think your comment is very smart. That much is clear. But you may be able to tell from the reaction of more or less everyone that it's not so much smart as smarmy, but just because you asked . . .

Lots of people run around talking about YA now because it's "the thing." Happens a lot. Articles get written. And a lot of times, the people assigned to those articles know NOTHING about YA, but they do them anyway, and people in YA (or "the clique" or "the Illuminati" or whatever you think it is, but for my purposes, I mean people who actually read it) go a little bonkers. Because people READ ARTICLES and BASE THINGS ON THEM. Like school reading lists. Or buying lists.

Add to this the fact that feminism itself, as you almost managed to point out, has many definitions to many people. And that's what the people in the comments are working out. We're talking. It's nice.

And you know what, person who has not given any real name? When it's YOUR real name being thrown around, you do get a say if you want to be on a list. Unless it's a list you have no control over, like a no-fly list. I tried to get myself removed from that too, but that's a different story.

As everyone else reading this comment knows, commenting back is kind of a pointless exercise. But I'm not really talking to you, whoever you are. I'm really writing this comment for the other people, the ones who are actually talking. And just a little bit to the TSA. Just kidding with that "I have a bomb in my bag" thing.

No kidding. "How dare you

No kidding. "How dare you make such a sudden and rash decision to remove a book from your list! I demand that you remove my book RIGHT NOW!" It's not surprising that a YA author would have temper tantrums down pat.

A quick note on "hysterical"

"It doesn't matter how you 'write' it. The act of rushing in to get your books removed from this list is in and of itself HYSTERICAL"

Um, why is it hysterical? I've read the book in question, thought long and hard about it, and have had decades of experience as a teacher, textbook editor, and writer for teens dealing with various flavors of control over teen books from parents, teachers, politicians, other teens, and concern trolls. I've corresponded with and met thousands of teenagers and talked about what and how they read, and have worked for a long time in an industry in which lists like these are complied, argued about, and in which they make a big difference. It didn't take long for me, Maureen, or the other teen authors to spot what was going on here, true, but that's only because we've seen it many times before. But that doesn't mean our response is inherently rushed or irrationally emotional. (And the fact that we write for teenagers doesn't make us particularly prone to temper tantrums or mood swings. But nice try.)

Hysterical is in fact a tone, so It does matter how you write it. And by insisting that people who disagree with you are "inherently hysterical," you're trying to take the position of the only reasonable person in the room. But you aren't. We authors in this fight are acting from long and deep sets of experiences, and we will be fighting this fight as part of our day job while you've moved on to the next Internet fisticuffs.

(Yes, I realize that this particular removal is not the same as a library challenge or as, say, setting books on fire, but it has played out in every particular with the same actors, bystanders, and confusions, and so many of the same things are at stake.)

hysterix

Scott, are you aware of the etymology of "hysteric?"

If not, let me save you the trip to Google; it literally refers to the womb, having been coined as an entrenchment of the notion that women, intrinsically and exclusively, are emotionally unstable.

To defend "hysterical" as being "in fact a tone" is kind of like defending "to Jew" as in fact a verb, and something that really happens. It misses the point of why it may be considered, particularly in some circles, objectionable.

--
rljd

Removal from the List Vs. Library Challenge

Here Here Scott! "Yes, I realize that this particular removal is not the same as a library challenge or as, say, setting books on fire, but it has played out in every particular with the same actors, bystanders, and confusions, and so many of the same things are at stake." As a school librarian recently certified getting ready to head into the trenches, I expect there will be days ahead when I will be faced with fighting tooth and nail to keep a few books on the shelf. Hopefully I will have supportive administrators backing me. Yes, this is "just a list", but you are so right about it involving the same usual suspects found in book banning.

I know I shouldn't feed the

I know I shouldn't feed the troll, but I just want to point out that:

- I am not some wannabe writer who is "dying" to get into the YA field.
- I am a successful Instructional Designer, which hey, actually means I do get to write for a living.

So please don't lump me into a group which I don't belong.

Slumming it?

"So continue to play in your sandbox kids until you move on to the next ego-boosting, righteousness-reaffirming crusade, which I suspect, will be just as pointless as this one."

Which would make your little tirade here, what? Slumming it from the swing-set to make sure we "mindless, mainstream, deeply unthoughtful, bandwagon-jumpers" what? Have someone more appropriate to look up to?

*sigh*

I agree with your first 2

I agree with your first 2 paragraphs, and then you turn into a whiny baby. What qualifies a book as feminist. That should've been defined, and perhaps still can be.

List change is a disgrace.

If a book is triggering, then absolutely, positively, put a trigger warning next to it. But to remove it entirely from the list is to pretend as though these issues don't exist. Just like in adult fiction, sometime YA fiction is disturbing. Upsetting. Sometimes scary events happen. Sometimes morality isn't clear. Part of being a feminist is realizing that it is okay to address the darker parts of a woman's experience, in fact to realize that we must talk about them, if we want to make the world better. Books help facilitate this discussion. Removing Living Dead Girl, Tender Morsels, and Red Sisters from your list is the same as saying, "Don't let's talk about the darkness. It makes us uncomfortable."

Strong books make strong girls.

"Strong books make strong

"Strong books make strong girls."

This is quite possibly the best sentence I've read in a very long time.

"This is quite possibly the

"This is quite possibly the best sentence I've read in a very long time."

Seconded.

triggers? really???

you do realize that even talking about cutting and triggers is a trgigger.
so now, every single cutter who reads this list of books will instantly trigger.
right?
seriously

I live with a women who was abused, tortured, starved, beaten, has chronic pain from stage 4 endometriosis, disabled without being able to get disability, disowned by her parents, no money, no pain meds, no anti-anxiety meds.

so when she has NOTHING ELSE to turn to, she cuts to survive.
she literally has no choice.
so of course I understand the nature of triggers.

so how do we protect people who are cutters from triggers?

ban them from all social/internet/real world contact?
or do we get them real help and worry less about triggers?

/seriously, given that EVERYTHING is a trigger for some one, you would have to ban everything.
and how do you address REAL world problems without talking about them?
how do girls/people who are getting abused learn that they are not alone and that there IS HELP out there, if not by reading stories by people who are in the same shoes? or were in the same shoes and got help?

if not me, who?
if not now, when?

this, this and MORE this.

this, this and MORE this.

Confused

Rule # 1, never put anything on a list you haven't read or aren't willing to stand by to avoid scenes like this.

It makes no sense to remove anything but I am even more confused that If Living Dead Girl is removed yet, Sold, a novel about girl sold into prositution stays.

I loved Sold but there are people who probably believe it's is too adult for YA and would love to have it removed from this list. I wonder if such a person left a comment would there be four books removed.

I really liked Sisters Red. I saw The Book Smugglers critque after reading it . I never considered the points they talked about while I don't agree, I do think what they said is worth discussing. And this could've been the perfect place.

Rather then remove Sisters Red, Tender Morsel and The Living Dead Girl you should encourage people to be active readers and to think as they read. That's a great lesson for a reader to learn at an early age.

Wow.

What a shame that any books have been removed from this list. I loved all three and can't wait to give them to my daughters to read as teenagers. As an author, a lifelong feminist and a hardcore V-Day activist, I am wowed by how easily this list was altered due to the views of the few.

Feminist as an adjective is

Feminist as an adjective is always a little problematic, but I am greatly disturbed that it isn't considered huge enough or powerful enough to encompass the difficult themes and ideas and conflicts and dark humour in Tender Morsels. Tender Morsels is about (among other things) young women who are protected and cosseted and kept from the violent realities of a dark world, and what happens to such women (their own darkness, their own anger and violence is not eradicated for example). Anger is powerful for women and we need to learn how to express it, harness it, use it, because repressing it has Dark Consequences - look at Urdda and what happens when her anger/vengeful desire is unwittingly enacted.

I know as a parent I am guilty of trying to suppress my own daughters' anger, I worry that they won't be liked, that people will think they are unappealing little girls if they throw tantrums in public. It has taken a lot of soul searching to ask myself about the value of their anger and how much of my own anger I have pushed down and denied. Anger and vengeance ARE feminist issues, of course they are.

As a writer, I want to create a vital tension between reader and character, not pin a bunch of ideas to a page like dead insects.

Meh

I came here to see what all the hubbub on Twitter was about. I have to say, I'm really not all that impressed. Just so I'm clear: a blog created a book list without fully informing themselves of the books, had the audacity to edit that list based on a couple comments that made them nervous, and is now getting smacked down by authors and readers about a list that didn't exist three days ago?

This isn't something I choose to get upset over.

  • It's not censorship. Choosing not to recommend a book is not the same as making the book unavailable to readers.
  • I found many of these books without the help of a list. I'm smart like that. Lists are handy things, but they shouldn't be given more importance than they deserve.
  • They're called Bitch Media, for heavens sake. I can be a feminist without being a bitch. Accepting your femininity and being proud of it should never be construed as "bitchy." Even tongue in cheek, that's a poor word choice for a feminist media outlet to use. Let's leave the offensive categorization and marginalization to the less intelligent, shall we?

At best, this was an error in judgment by a media organization that seems at best a little out of touch with true feminism. I haven't been out burning bras and daring people to call me a bitch for at least 10 years now. Personally, I prefer to save my righteous indignation for something that could have real impact on women.

If it's not something you

If it's not something you choose to get upset over, why the need to run over and assure a bunch of strangers that, gosh, you're a very feminine feminist and you would never do anything like burn a bra and what's with calling a magazine Bitch?

Do you feel reassured? Gosh,

Do you feel reassured? Gosh, that's good to hear. That wasn't my intent, but I'm glad I could make you feel better.

Oh, grow up.

Posting just to say that you don't care at all about what everyone is discussing seems pretty shallow to me. Shallow along the lines of, "I'm more interested in hearing the sound of my own voice than participating in a real discussion."

There are many things in the world that are "not issues to me." Doesn't mean I belittle those people who DO care about those things.

Don't remove books because they're complex

Literature isn't supposed to offer pat and simple experiences of the world. As a YA writer, and a reader, I'm astonished that you've decided to remove Tender Morsels. Please stand up for complexity and nuance in literature, and don't remove titles simply because someone disapproves of their content. It puts you on the wrong side of.... well, pretty much everything.

I was thrilled to hear that

I was thrilled to hear that Tender Morsels had been included in your list exactly because it's such a thorny, complex book -- no easy questions, no easy answers. To see it removed after one comment and a hasty re-reread trashes the reputation of your list and more for me -- if books can so easily be taken off it, how much weight does your stamp of approval really carry? That you're so quick to make concessions and pull out morally difficult books for safe ones is disheartening.

For reals?

SISTERS RED is one of my favorite books. In reletivity to this site, it shows that girls can kick @$$ just as well as guys. I love it. None of these books should have been removed. Sure, maybe you need to be mature to read them, but, honestly? It was great that you included them; now you're just taking it back? I think that's morally wrong. You don't take a compliment back. You just don't do that.

A book can't prove that girls

A book can't prove that girls can "kick @$$" as well as guys. Know why? Because they can't. Ask any woman who has been overpowered by an average-sized but determined man. Or do you want to blame her for not fighting back, like Sisters Red blames the victims of the wolf attacks?

That's not what happens in

That's not what happens in Sisters Red, that entire sequence is taken out of context. Because only half of the book is from Scarlett’s point of view. The OTHER half of the book is from Rosie’s point of view- Scarlett’s sister- who is, in fact, one of the “butterfly” girls mentioned in that excerpt.

And guess what? Throughout the book, Scarlett learns that no girls in particular deserve to be targeted, that it’s all right if SHE chooses to spend her life as a hunter… but that Rosie’s choice not to hunt, and to not be ashamed of her femininity, is EQUALLY VALID.

Yeah. Unlike the compiler of

Yeah. Unlike the compiler of this list, I read the book. Rosie is not one of the "butterfly" girls. Rosie's embrace of her femininity is quite different than the disapproval expressed over the "dragonfly" girls (which is what they're really called in the book.) And that disapproval doesn't really change just because Scarlett accepts a role as their reluctant and continually disapproving protector.

Another point is that if you

Another point is that if you read the book carefully, even though Scarlett passes judgment on how the "dragonfly" girls dress and act, these things are NOT what attract the wolves to them. It is their scent. So Scarlett embraces a common stereotypical disapproval of women who dress too sexy. The age old accusation of "They're asking for it." When dress and appearance had nothing whatever to do with their victimhood.

Selection or Censorship?

As with several of the YA authors and other readers who have commented on this post, I myself am a bit outraged that not only have you pigeonholed the term "feminist" AND subscribed to the same tactics as book burners, albeit digitally, you also seem to use the term "library" loosely.

I am an educated, experienced, licensed, and certified young adult School Librarian. I am trained to first carefully select and classify reading materials for my patrons, and then to rigorously defend that these materials remain publically visible and accessible. If you, as an individual blogger, decide to remove a publicized title based primarily on your readers' politics du jour, then that is your right to do so. However, please consider doing this without insisting your site is some sort of "library."

I am glad your profile states you are the "library coordinator" and not the “librarian.” Your removal of these terrific and thematically appropriate selections from your advisory is precisely why, in real libraries, non-professionals are not permitted to select materials or remove them from the collection. If librarians made decisions in such a way there would be nothing left on the physical or digital shelves.

I work in an atmosphere and profession where these "triggering” conversations often lead to very powerful and damaging actions on behalf of "those that know better" and want to "protect" young adults from words on a page.

As a feminist I believe that women and men are entitled to equal rights, including intellectual rights. I believe that women, even teens, can and should be allowed to make their own decisions about how literature or any art form speaks to them personally.

Might I suggest, from one feminist to another, that in the future you let each female reader decide for herself how to interpret a writer’s words? Please resist the temptation to censor your reading lists or decisions based on the ideals or experiences of a few. However, if you continue to publish targeted reading advisories be prepared to be challenged, no matter how carefully you select the novels.

In defense of Tender Morsels: This book was so powerful that I though about it for months after reading. As for the comment about this novel being poorly written, I can't even begin to wonder how any feminist reader, especially one who is an expert in YA fiction, could possibly come to this conclusion. To assume that this novel somehow glorifies or promotes violence against women, a reader must have only read the words and not comprehended or experienced the story.

Thank you @ScottWesterfeld for tweeting your response. I look forward to more intellectual discussions on this issue in the future from the bloggers on this site.

Hi yalibrary, Bitch Media

Hi yalibrary,

Bitch Media actually has a physical lending library at our Portland office. It's not an officially accredited library staffed by people with Library Sciences degrees, but it is a public lending library, and Ashley is a superb and very thoughtful library coordinator. Hence our use of the word "library."

Ashley removed titles from a list--she did not make these books inaccessible or pull them off a shelf or out of a library patron's hands. I also disagree with your use of the term "censor." Ashley was very transparent in her decisions and said "we do think that this book has merit and should be picked up by readers who are prepared for this passage" about Sisters Red, making it clear that anyone who wants to read this book should.

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, Web content manager
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

____________
Kjerstin Johnson, editor-in-chief
Did someone say "Comments Policy"?

More about censor and selection and libraries

Thank you for the clarification.

In my professional opinion, there is a big difference between 1) making books publicly available to a unique patron base (say young women) and 2) making them available but with a warning label on the content.

According to the quickest dictionary I have access to (dictionary.com), when using censor as a verb, as I did, it means:
(a) "to examine and act upon as a censor", or (b) "to delete (a word or passage of text) in one's capacity as a censor." It is clear from these definitions that your coordinator did in fact censor. Censorship does not have to be done in secret to be considered censorship.

I do not say that libraries, especially those we define as "Special" libraries, do not have a duty and a responsibility to make selections based on a set criteria. Funding is not limitless and some titles may not be appropriate for a certain population (say very young children). However, again let me reiterate that a librarian has a duty to his/her public to offer and PROMOTE materials that have been selected without a warning label. A librarian who has earned an MLS, and who has experience and/or an experienced mentor has learned how to handle these types of challenges properly. The amount of time and energy people have put into reading and commenting on Bitch's decision to pull those books from the list should show you just how serious a matter this is to your readers.

As for the debate about whether or not this is censorship or editorializing, I would have to say that if Bitchmagazine was only a blog, what happened might be strictly defined as editorializing. However, because Bitch is also a "Public Library" I believe that you could argue the actions taken by your coordinator could be be defined using both terms.

In the library world, pulling novels from a previously promoted and circulated advisory is like pulling materials from free access shelves and relocating them in the "Restricted Section." According my professional associations (ALA and AASL) doing this is an act of censorship.

Another "theory" of censorship is being played out here beautifully. Once you restrict access to information from free thinkers in a free society, many will go out their way to protect that information and perhaps read it for the first time.

I appreciate your reply to my post and also your willingness to allow reader thoughts and ideas to be published, even if it has brought you bad press.

"subscribed to the same

"subscribed to the same tactics as book burners"

What. How? I don't even. What planet are you living on?

Earth, I assure you. And

Earth, I assure you. And Earth in the 21st Century.

Over zealous censors, or book burners, often get people motivated to remove literature from public access or view by insisting that material in the books is harmful to a group that needs to be protected from these words. Using the term "trigger" as a justification for restricting content or making it harder to access is akin to the tactics used in just about every book burning I have researched.

What has been stated by a reader is that these novels contain language that could act as "triggers" meaning, they could cause readers to harm themselves based on the content. Hypothetically, this content could also drive readers to promote, glorify, or committee rape or other violent acts against women.

Now, who in their right minds wants to allow something that dangerous to be made accessible? Not the parents, friends, or families of teen girls. As a mother of a teen girl, and a teacher to thousands, I can vouch for that! And this is how trigger-based conversations can and have and do lead to over zealous censorship, sometimes to book burning.

When I first heard about this

When I first heard about this list, I thought, Awesome! Man, I really should subscribe to Bitch again-- I can't believe I let my support lapse.

Now that you've practiced censorship? No. No, no, no. I'm going to buy copies of Tender Morsels, Living Dead Girl, and Sisters Red with that money instead. Because at least those authors had the courage to stand by their convictions.

(I've read Tender Morsels and Living Dead Girl. Tender Morsels helped me face, feel, and process some of the abuse I've suffered. I didn't like Living Dead Girl, but I felt it was an eerily accurate portrayal of how young girls can be caught and kept trapped in situations of sexual slavery. They are definitely books that give their readers a lot to think about and feel. To remove them from the list is cowardly, and, in my opinion, decidedly not a feminist act.)

Horrified

Removing books because a couple of readers were offended? No book can possibly satisfy all readers, and validating the reactionary comments of a few internet trolls is beyond shocking to me. Recently, the book Speak (#4 on your list) came under fire for a rape scene that critics described as "pornography." Obviously the critics were in the wrong for proposing that a rape scene would ever be sexually exciting. Simply because one reader was uncomfortable with an challenging scene or theme, doesn't mean their criticism is in any way valid.

Seeing all of these YA authors stand up against this kind of imbecilic discourse makes me proud to be a faithful reader of YA literature.

Bitch Please

You can follow authors, bloggers, and readers reactions on Twitter by searching the fabulous #bitchplease hash tag. I can't believe any organization association themselves with literacy would so casually censor.

What a stupid choice for a

What a stupid choice for a hashtag. Now if we want to follow the debate we get to see all the people on twitter shouting about 'my girlfriend she don't respect me #bitchplease' as well as the debate! Hooray.

Disheartening

As a rape survivor and as an author of a YA novel about rape (to be released in 2012) reading this comment thread is like riding in a patchwork balloon. The support of the writing community is phenomenal. It lifts me up and gives me hope. But the swiftness of judgement, of yanking THREE books of 100 because they deal with the subject of rape? That cuts the strings pretty handily.

Triggers. Wow. Do you know what the biggest triggers are for me? Judgement--swift and without due consideration, rape survivors are well versed in that, I assure you. Conclusions--reached by people who have never been where a character in a book has been, or where each individual rape survivor has been, but who still see fit to decide what we are strong enough to read. What I can handle, enjoy, weep over, laugh about, is different than what other rape-survivors can. Like cutters, anorexics, and a plethora of other survivors. Singling out rape survivors to be "protected" from literature is not doing us any favors.

This event may not be quite on par with banning a book from library shelves, but it smacks of the same thing. Snap judgements. Blog comments, that will be available in perpetuity, that this book has been deemed less-than-worthy or unacceptable. That does harm. It's wrong, and I truly hope you reconsider.

Women have been censored for

Women have been censored for far too long. I was under the impression that the defeat or the uprising against such censorship and injustice was the feminist movement. Putting a book on a book list does not mean that you wholeheartedly agree with every word, every thought, every action. You put a book on a list with other fabulous titles because you recognize a special bond which ties all of those books together. Your job is not to censor, monitor, or blind the consumer, your job is to say, "This is a fabulous book, as is that one, that one and that one." This is not required reading; let us judge what is appropriate or not for ourselves. Maureen and Scott and Jackson taught me that.

Thanks for a great list

As a Young Adult Librarian, I was thrilled to see a list of books that I could turn into an instant book display. I admit I was wishing the word "Bitch" didn't appear on the list, as I could foresee potential issues with putting it in the teen area, but I decided to risk it and put it out there! I printed out 40 copies of the list, pulled a few of the highlighted books off my fiction shelves and filled my display wall. It wasn't until I got home tonight that I saw the flame war going on here in the comments.

People all over the world make lists of "the best" of x, y or z. Those same people sometimes revise those lists. It had to have been SUPER tough to narrow all the great YA books to just 100. So, when our favorite magazine writers decide to swap out a few books, that's totally their prerogative. The three books that were swapped out are all in my collection, but so are the three for which they were swapped.

This is not book banning. The authors of the list have not said that the books removed are "bad books" or that no one should read or buy them. There are simply SO many books that could fit onto this list, that the list authors found a couple books that "fit" the list a little bit better.

I just want to say "Thanks" for putting the list together. My teens and I appreciate it!

Hear, Hear!

I couldn't agree more.

No one is saying that it IS

No one is saying that it IS book-banning. They're saying that the justifications for this and the reasoning that went into it are similar to those of book-banners. It's giving those actions legitimacy.

It's really not similar at

It's really not similar at all.

Just like the book banners, y'all

It is similar as it follows the exact same process:

1. Complaint is registered by someone who may or may not have read the book. (Usually not, and in this instance, I'm not particularly shocked to see so many comments from people stating openly that they "agree with the decision" but "have not read the book." I wish to the gods that I was shocked by this.)

2. Organization quails in the presence of WRITTEN DISSENT! (oh noes!)

3. Books are removed from list and/or shelves, thus standing in solidarity with the ideas of the complaint.

4. Organization claims that removal of the book(s) is NOT IN FACT censorship, as it doesn't keep the books out of the hands of everyone on the entire planet--that it just doesn't fit within the values of the organization/list. (In this instance, it is just a list...and one that has now made itself irrelevant and useless. But as has been previously stated, librarians/educators/others like to use these lists to promote books.)

What this magazine has done is not book banning, but it is EMPLOYING THE SAME TACTICS and FALLING INTO THE SAME TRAP...which is what everyone is saying here.

i do love how the author and web moderator keep saying that the books just don't fit in with the theme of the list, which is the rather nebulous "books for YA feminist readers." Of course, if I had my way, a list such as this would include books rife with misogyny and other anti-feminist tropes. The list would point to the examples and allow a true learning of what feminism is and how anti-feminist ideals subtly (and not so subtly) weave themselves into our literature and other media.

But, you know... coddling with "girl power" is another way to go.

game birds

Stop saying "quails" as though its quaint literary charm can stand in for describing the glossed-over steps in the process being derided.

What they did was they heard the complaints, took them seriously as an indicator that more attention could be paid, all read the books in question, and came to a new conclusion with the same criteria applied to a fuller spread of information.

Everyone rattling their sabres about censorship and banning and burning and shame and deplorable are TRYING to make Bitch "quail." What weird bullying.

On another note, you DO have your own way. Go and make your own list on your own blog, and then goodness help you if you should happen to rethink any selections once it's posted. Changing one's mind makes one's perspectives irrelevant and useless, I've heard.

Foul or Fowl

I used the word and I stand by it.

Talk about rattling sabres--you don't suppose that throwing around such phrases as "rape culture," "blame the victim" or "triggering" on a purportedly feminist blog was just the same tactic used to shame Bitch into dropping the books in the first place?

It's not bullying to stand up and say, "What you did was disappointing." It's not bullying to say "This played out just like other library and school bannings to which the YA community has been subjected (OVER AND OVER AGAIN), and we cry foul!" (Or "fowl" as the case may be.) ;)

No one is trying to intimidate anyone. We are all just sharing our opinions. And it would appear the majority opinion is that

1) the person responsible for putting together the list should have in the least READ the books prior to recommending them
2) the author of the list should have been prepared to stand by the choices she/others made
3) claiming to have read and discussed almost 1000 pages of text in two days doesn't appear to leave time for unbiased, thoughtful contemplation of the work or its place on a list of books that promote feminist ideals.

The problem with a list like this, coming as it does from a magazine/website with an established audience such as Bitch, is that to be included was considered an honor for the authors listed. It's not an officially recognized award, maybe, but it's a little like handing someone an Oscar and then saying, "Oh, we decided maybe you weren't the best actress after all. Sorry. We're just going to give it to that woman over there. But really... you still did good."

If they weren't prepared to back their choices, they didn't do the research necessary to put out the list.

To put it out and then waffle around with it after the fact negates its importance and relevancy. And that's sad to me, because a lot of my favorite authors and books are on the list (or WERE on the list in one case). I also would've like to have passed this list around to a few of my librarian friends/friends with teen daughters.

I wish this could have just been a little boost/encouragement for the authors and a chance to discuss what we loved/disliked in the books. Instead it turned into another slap in the face to the whole YA writing community. Just another case of a few players trying to hide away "dangerous" and "uncomfortable" books so that our kids don't get confused and think we're condoning the ideals and notions within them.

Sad, that.

big bird (carol spinney)

For the Oscars analogy to work, it would have to be a recount of the votes from the academy, and they would have had to realize that - by their own subjective framework (the numbers are objective, but represent subjective opinions) - they had mistakenly made the award inaccurately; and they WOULD give it to the nominee who actually satisfied their standards, and that's the only way it WOULD mean anything.

And that would remain the case even if it was only one person's complaint that occasioned a recount.

Also I don't wish to be a total twerp, but speaking perhaps significantly as someone who does not identify as a member of "the YA community," socking through nearly 1000 pages at an 8th-grade reading level, with ever-so-slightly larger typeface and margins than non-YA novels tend to have, and coming out the other end with a working comprehension of the content covered pretty much intact is by no means an unlikely or remarkable feat. Every time a commenter brings that up as hard to believe, I find my least charitable presumptions about adults who read only books intended for children coming into play.

Your low (and obviously

Your low (and obviously ill-informed) opinion of YA lit makes me wonder why you care at all about this list.

But we're obviously never going to find common ground. And I try to talk "at" people as little as possible, as it's useless and irrelevant. ;)

read books

In a public forum, to talk "at" someone can serve the function of an open letter, providing a venue for a response to certain ideas regardless of whether the espouser of those ideas is likely to adjust his or her perspective in subsequence. Lots of people read these comments who may never take part, and the discourse is valuable! In my opinion.

I didn't slight Young Adult literature by suggesting that it is categorically less challenging than books intended for an adult-adult readership. I do think that adult readers who identify as a community around specifically that point of delineation may serve to undermine their credibility as arbiters of what kind of challenging feats of literacy may or may not be realistic to achieve under certain limits or parameters.

When I was a young adult reader of Young Adult literature, I would routinely blow through 1000-page fantasy novels in two school days, let alone a weekend, and for my part, I think my grasp of the content once I was through it was comparable to anyone's. I also don't think I was especially gifted in that department; I recall frequently feeling the need to re-read passages when I hadn't quite got them the first time, and flipping back to earlier scenes to refresh myself on just what was going on.

Now that's just anecdotal and it doesn't prove anything, I offer it only as a background to why I find it shocking to repeatedly read what amounts to a flat rejection of the possibility that anyone could make a call regarding the content of that number of pages in that amount of time.

Young Adult isn't a type of book, it's a marketing niche. I don't have an opinion of it as a whole except that its constituent works have one thing in common: they are being marketed by people who think they are suitable for an audience within a certain range of age and emotional/intellectual development. It's not, in essence, a coherent literary community any more than "alternative" is a music scene.

--
rljd

Breaking my own rule here. 1.

Breaking my own rule here.

1. What I meant by "Talking At People" is that there are times in every debate when the actual issues are no longer being discussed. When someone starts to take apart the technicalities of the arguments themselves instead of dealing with the POINT of the argument, it's time to move on. Meaningful debate has ceased, and it's all about winning. As I see no real winning on this subject, given Bitch's stance on "making no more changes" despite the very well voiced arguments against their actions thus far, and as so many others have made my same points over and over, most likely with more eloquence than me, it's probably time for me to stop coming back to this post.

BUT...

2. You're flat wrong about YA not being a literary community. Writing for kids is an inherently challenging task, despite what some may think. The fact that several prominent adult authors have recently jumped on the bandwagon (and their books' lack of connection with the teen audience) kind of proves the point. But that's another issue. Kidlit authors have their own professional society, their own conventions, their own standards... I could go on and on.

The fact is that the teen audience has to deal with the best and the worst of our world, all without the authority, life experience, and advantages of adulthood. The best YA authors write with love and respect for those unique challenges, write with authenticity, and connect to a wide audience with a single voice. There is nothing sub-par about that. There is also more to it than a mere marketing niche. Your denigrating tone, in referring to the genre as somehow beneath you and in belittling those adults who choose to read it, shows how little you understand YA.

It is also most definitely a slight.

YA is not less challenging than adult fiction (though often it tends to be less navel-gazing). It is also not subject to limits and parameters (although most adult lit relies on genre formula, trope, and expectation). If anything, the readers of YA are such that anything is possible, and the writers of YA take advantage of that in oftentimes BRILLIANT ways.

But I do understand now why you don't see anything wrong with what Bitch Media did here.

If you don't understand the subtle complexities of YA, you won't get how brilliantly the authors of the three books removed from this list tackled those complexities, exposed the beauty and ugliness of humanity, and empowered the feminine with their work. To then be seen as not good enough to stand as a book for feminist readers is a complete slap in the face. Worse still, it invalidates the list as a whole by showing that the list was compiled not to challenge the feminist reader, but (once again) to "protect" YA readers from "dangerous" (read: triggering) ideals. And that is the reasoning used in libraries and schools across the nation to ban books. The YA community is responding here, because (unlike the adult lit world) censorship is an issue we have to deal with on a daily basis.

I hope that helps to clarify my meaning. And even though I doubt it, I even hope that maybe you'll reconsider your attitude toward kidlit, and YA specifically. If you haven't read YA since you were teen, it's worth another look.