I’m a little exhausted by the idea that our capacity for love — a young girl’s capacity for love — is worthy of derision, because I see it all the time (there’s a reason so much excellent SFF YA is ignored by the wider SFF community). Books for chicks, indeed.
Have we become so derisive of love and affection that we allow ourselves to erase entire books of complicated relationships and magic and wonder and heartbreak over a love story? How much derision will we, as a culture, continue to swallow regarding the importance of love in our lives and in the stories we tell each other, discuss, and reward with our accolades? Will we continue to build idols to the idea that masculinity is the last bastion of freedom from girl cooties? Will we defend the idea that there’s some arbitrary, natural divide between “stuff for girls” and “stuff for boys” that goes beyond cultural training? Will we keep building a narrative history that treats women as objects and devalue stories where men and women are equally important to the foundation of a relationship, whether it be romantic or otherwise? Will we keep pretending that characters build relationships while standing still, instead of building them along ley lines, on battlefields, while exploring star systems, on alien planets, and that everything else a novel could contain is overshadowed by the mere idea of feelings? Why else do we read a story but to feel?