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Men Don’t Read

bukkheadheadby Jason E

I was not aware of this, but it seems that men don’t read. I am a man, and I read. I haven’t always read—last year I read maybe one book. Maybe two. This year I am making a concerted effort to read, with a goal of one book per week, average. So I read. But read this article on Huffingtonpost: Why Men Don’t Read: How Publishing is Alienating Half the Population.

The author, Jason Pinter, insists that men do read. And I believe him, and respect what he’s saying. So why is it that there’s this pervading idea that men don’t read? Probably because it works, as an idea. It’s not true, or not based in truth. But if publisher can keep making money by assuming it’s true, well then, it’s as good as true, right?

I mean, we’re not facing some awful, moral dilemma here (or are we?). Humanity as a whole won’t be made better by a big-time publisher deciding to sacrifice profits for truth. Men Don’t Read isn’t a declaration, but more of a business philosophy.

But there are people who are men who do read, and lots of them, so what’s the take away? Well, what do these so called “men,” in fact, read? Sci fi? Those aren’t men, they’re nerds. Sports memoirs? Those aren’t men, they’re jocks. Who Moved My Cheese was a big seller. But not bought by men—bought by businessmen.

Starting to see the trend here? Men have the luxury of shedding their gender, when it’s convenient, and can define themselves in some other way. And the reason this is a luxury is because they can always assert that gender again later, if need’s be. A nerd, a jock, a businessman doesn’t risk losing his gender identity by reading a book that isn’t specifically written for men in general.

So no books are written for men in general. Because Men Don’t Read.

Well so what. Here’s what: little incentive for men to read books written by women. I’ve been complaining about this for years. If books are being written for women, why would a man want to read them?

And it does a disservice to women, too, because a woman CAN’T shed her gender and be a nerd, a jock, or a businesswoman, without being judged for her lack of femininity. And if she succumbs to the pressures of maintaining her gender, she’s a nerd with boobs. A she-jock. A bitch.

I’m no anthropologist, no sociologist, so I’m probably missing some larger point, some deeper phenomena. I’m just a white middle-class male who avoids huge sections of the bookstore because I know those books are written in a language I don’t understand. I might be totally wrong about all of this; it just seems to me that the atmosphere of Men Don’t Read does more of a disservice to women than it does to men. If it must change, as Pinter says it must, I agree, if only to further the idea that a person who is a woman is a person first, an individual with interests and tastes that are not necessarily impacted by or impactful on her gender.

Men Don’t Read. Well, Women Shouldn’t Read, too. I don’t even want to admit that People Read. But a person does read, so let’s publish books for that individual to choose.

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