Tuesday 30 May 2017

Review on The Gender Games

What exactly is gender? Is it the same as our sex, something unchangeable that is given to us at birth and which we must conform to, or is it something more? Juno Dawson, a woman who has experienced gender and it's implications from both sides, shares her personal experiences with gender and sexuality, exploring what gender really means, and why forcing gender roles onto children from an early age is a problem.

 Juno pairs her opinions and experiences with facts to show how gender impacts all our lives, and what we can to do to help us to achieve gender equality.

When it was announced that Juno would be releasing a non fiction book focusing on gender, I knew I had to read it! I've probably mentioned this a hundred times before, but I adore Juno's YA fiction books. Although I was initially interested in the topic of this new book that seemed a lot more adulty than any of her other books, I am not a big reader of non fiction. My recent non fiction reads have been by famous youtubers stepping out into the literary world, most often aimed at a young teenage audience, so I instantly knew I was stepping out of my comfort zone by reading this one. Although I have lived quite a sheltered life, thanks to the Internet, I have seen enough shit on Tumblr and in fan fiction that this book didn't send me screaming and crying in the opposite direction. Even though we are used to seeing young, innocent protagonists in Juno's books, this one is definitely only suitable for older teenagers and adults.

Juno tells her story in a raw and honest way, not leaving out the more embarrassing and promiscuous parts. Women are often slut shamed for discussing their sex lives, while men are usually congratulated on having had many sexual encounters, and get called a “stud.” This is just one of the many gender inequalities that women face, and I loved how Juno had the courage to talk openly about her sex life, and how what she wants now is different to what she wanted before her transition.

I feel as if this books target audience is women (both trans and cis) in the 18-30 age category, and as I fall somewhere in the middle of this, I found myself relating to many of the issues that came up. Although your average “meninist” will insist that gender inequality doesn't exist, rape culture, the wage gap, being cat called in the street, amongst many other things proves that it does. I, along with many other women, have experienced drawbacks of being the “weaker sex” first hand, and I found some of the issues that were brought up extremely relatable.

I loved that the topic of women who don't want children was brought up, as my feelings are exactly the same as Juno's in that I currently do do not plan on having children. As an only child, I am personally responsible for crushing my mum's dreams of ever becoming a grandmother, and she is constantly trying to persuade me otherwise with excuses such as “who's going to look after you when you're old?”, “I didn't want kids at your age either, you'll change your mind in a few years,” and “you'll regret it when you're older and it's too late.” The idea that all women strive for motherhood is insane. We don't say these things to young men, so it is extremely unfair that women get subjugated to this.

As a cis woman, there were quite a few problems that I didn't personally relate to, as they were trans women only issues. As someone who doesn't have personal experience with being transgender, I learnt a lot about the awful things that trans women have to endure, and although transgender people are now visible in the media, it was interesting learning about Juno's personal experiences, and the awful transphobia she has endured. Transgender people, especially those who do not “pass” are often cruelly ridiculed and seen as a joke. This is awful and unacceptable behaviour, and I can only imagine how awful Juno and other transgender people must feel when this happens.

Although Juno had some very valid opinions, and I agreed with her opinions on the majority of the issues she brought up, there was one thing that was briefly mentioned that I felt was going a little too far. Although, like Juno, I am not a parent and therefore my opinions on parenting are no more or less valid than hers, I disagreed with her view that expecting parents shouldn't tell people the sex of their baby. Although I think “gender reveal” parties are ridiculous, I understand that expecting parents would be excited to share the babies sex, as it is the only information they have about their unborn child. I think this is a personal preference for each parent, and just because a parent decides to share what the babies sex is, it doesn't make them a bad person that's conforming to gender roles and forcing a gender on the baby. As Juno explained, sex and gender are two different things. Babies have no idea what gender is, and it's not going to matter to the baby if their parents dress them in pink, blue or yellow. It clearly is important to teach people that sex and gender don't always co-exist, and to not tell children they have to play with gender specific toys, but I feel as if it's unfair to take the excitement of revealing their babies sex away from a parent if it's what they want to do.

Juno makes some extremely good and valid points on subjects such as feminism, gender inequality, race and the LGBTQ community. This book definitely makes you read it with an open mind and see things from her point of view. I think this book has the potential to change opinions, but unfortunately I feel as if the majority of people who buy this book will already have the same views as Juno, and ultimately lead to her preaching to the already converted. Juno doesn't need to convince young women that being a feminist is good, they already know that. The vast majority of the people who are causing these problems, who are labelling us “feminazis”, whores and sluts, are the exact people that this book is not marketed towards, white, cisgender, heterosexual men. The sad truth is that we can't even say the word feminism on twitter without getting bombarded with tweets by men mansplaining how gender inequality doesn't exist. If we are ever to achieve gender equality, it's men like these who we must teach to have less shitty opinions.

Despite tending to avoid non fiction, I really enjoyed reading this book. It was a real eye opener into Juno's life as a transgender woman, and all the shit that transgender people have to go through so that they can live their lives in a body that they feel comfortable in, and how we still have a long way to go to stop transphobia. I really admire Juno for sharing such a personal story with us in an attempt to educate us, and ultimately teach us that women, no matter if we're black, white, cis, transgender, straight, heterosexual etc, should come together and support each other.

The Gender Games is now available to purchase!

| Amazon Book Depository 

Juno Dawson will be going on a UK tour! I've already bought my ticket for the Liverpool date and I'm so excited to meet her 😁😁 Here are the dates for anyone who's interested: 

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