Thursday, April 22, 2010

trash day

By Nick Sweeney, Grade 11

I figured that if it was okay for Mr. Smith to do it, that, since I was left in charge of the blog while he goes off on some research thing (which, by the way, I believe involves bars), I thought I would say what I think about books and boys.

After all, it's trash day, and when I was wheeling out Mr. Smith's trash can to the street (don't worry, I had surgical gloves and a mask on), I noticed some printouts of emails he'd received from people who had some pretty interesting points of view about things. Not that you can't be interesting and wrong, all at the same time.

I'm going to give you a digested version of one of them. It was from a person who said that males live in their own closed-off universe, and that if boys didn't want to read books with girl protagonists, that it was a form of sexism, and we needed to force boys to read those kinds of books (with girl main characters) for their own good.

The reeducation camps will be fully operational by this time tomorrow.

Look. I'm a boy, and if I don't want to read a book and then someone forces me to because it's for my own good, not only am I not going to read that book, I'm going to not read it and hate it at the same time. That's just how boys are.

When a boy doesn't want to read a book because it's about girls, that is not a form of sexism. I'm just a kid, but I always thought that sexism involved taking actions that discriminate against or inflict some kind of disadvantage to a particular gender. When teachers try to force things down our throats "because it's good for us," it makes us act all Neanderthally.

It's kind of like if someone forced me to listen to hours of Peruvian pan flute music because, after all, it's music, and I should appreciate it, and it's good for me.

Well, I have this deep irrational phobia of pan flutes. It's hard for me to even write the words. I am not going to like pan flute music or appreciate pan flautists if you make me listen to it.

Anyway, those kinds of attitudes about making boys read what is good for them (based on judgments of the so-called experts who know what's good for us) is one of the reasons why some boys hate to read. Because we're not given choices, or because the things that some boys really want to read are labeled as somehow less-evolved or unworthy.

And that's just aesthetic snobbery.

It's "literatism."

The thing is, when you read, even if you happen to only like books where the protagonists are males, the act of reading still opens your mind to things that you may have never considered before. And that is "good for you."

But what do I know?

All I can say is I am pretty sure that even if I had an idea that I wanted to read a certain book and then some authoritarian grown-up said it was "chosen" as "mandatory" reading because it was "good for me," I probably would change my mind about ever wanting to open it in the first place.

-- Nick S.