I was wandering back through Amazon, rootling in my previous reads looking for more books by an author whose work I’d enjoyed (it was Kate Quinn’s immensely enjoyable Mistress of Rome, pictured left) when I stumbled across something that really f-ing irritated me in the blurb.
Someone had described it as ‘Spartacus for girls’. It stopped me dead in my tracks. Spartacus wasn’t for me? The STARS series was wall-to-wall naked men wrestling each other, and naked women frolicking about. Granted, not to the tastes of all women, but still – I felt that my demographic was being somewhat catered to. I don’t think violence or combat are things that only men enjoy watching. But perhaps they meant the 1960 Kirk Douglas classic movie Spartacus? But I enjoyed that, too. None of that seemed to be men-only.
Like the now-famous Vagenda tagline, ripped from a cringeworthy Cosmopolitan review of the Margaret Thatcher biopic The Iron Lady, it presupposes that ‘girls’ (*ahem* women) need their own special version with a female protagonist, less violence, less graphic sex, and more “girly” things.
The thing that irritates me is the idea that stories with female protagonists are ‘for girls’. Or that there even needs to be a version of things ‘for girls’. Aren’t we past this? Can’t men enjoy whatever books, films, plays, TV shows they want? Can’t women do the same? It’s patronising, irritating and downright stupid to be talking like this. We don’t need a ‘for girls’ version of things. Sure – some things tend to appeal to women, some things to men. But for god’s sake leave those assumptions out of your blurb.