Sexism in children’s book marketing

I generally stay out of debates about sexism, but I recently heard something that even I can’t let pass. Apparently Roald Dahl’s Matilda has been reissued with a pink cover that visually implies that this is not a book for boys.

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To say Roald Dahl’s novels are for all children is to state the bleeding obvious. In the specific case of Matilda, the book – and also Danny De Vito’s film – is just as enjoyable for both genders. Again, this is obvious. So why the pink cover marketing the book exclusively to girls?

As an aside, why indeed is pink so horribly ubiquitous in marketing to girls in any case? Many toy companies are guilty of doing things that never happened “in my young day”. For example, when I was a boy, Lego was always gender neutral. Why not today?

Leaving aside that bigger question, I do accept that some stories are more likely to appeal to one gender or another. But that is emphatically not the case with Matilda. Boys and girls throughout the decades have enjoyed it equally. Beyond the fact that the story has a female protagonist, I can see no reason whatsoever that it should be marketed in a gender specific way. By that logic, the Harry Potter books should only be marketed to boys and the Hunger Games books only to girls.

In short, this trend of reducing mass appeal children’s stories to “blue” or “pink” demographics is utterly dismaying.

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