Children’s Book Publishing, Hot Men, and Sexism

After reading and posting comments on Roger Sutton’s blog post from yesterday presenting questions and a snapshot regarding gender representations in YA and children’s books, I recalled another similar post from a while back (8 years ago) The other g-word and all the impassioned, albeit a lot less heated, and eye opening comments following that post. 

Many of the comments, including my own, allude to the Hot Men phenomenon of children’s publishing: both behind the scene in the publishing process and in the front line at promotional and other events.

I was definitely trying to stir up the pot a bit but I still wonder if so many of the comments, especially from female children’s book creators, don’t tell quite a bit of the truth! 

Such as this one: When I got my first book illustration job at a major publisher, I noticed something that made me feel instantly uneasy. It was a male illustrator’s headshot taped to the wall with hearts around it. I asked about it, and got giggles and swoons about his cuteness from the all female dept. My first thoughts when I saw this photo were: is this just a little office joke or is he actually be more likely to get offered a ms. then a similarly talented female or male? and: does he feel weird when he comes into the office and sees that?

Or this one: When I was studying illustration, a teacher took me and some of the other female students aside for a talk at the end of the year. He said he had no idea what was going on, but he wanted to warn us of something. He said that in his experience, year after year, he not only had more female illustration majors then males numbers wise, but that in his opinion they were overall better illustrators, and that after graduation most of the women faded from the scene while more men made it. He was utterly perplexed, had no answers, but urged us to be aware of this and to please not quit and to press on despite the odds. He literally begged us not to get discouraged and quit the field.

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