Sexist Books for Teens

Did you ever read a YA book and feel like there was something a little off about the romance, or the role of females in the book? Did you ever think that maybe it was too male-dominated, or that it was too focused on girls needing to be saved, and waiting around for their boyfriends instead of doing things for themselves? I've noticed a frightening trend in YA literature with this sort of message--these are books that are supposed to be "clean" with good morals, and yet the female heroines are rarely self-sufficient, and spend most of their time going gooey over their boyfriends--or catatonic over the lack of boyfriends. So if you've ever encountered this before, add the book to the list!
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163 books · 161 voters · list created July 29th, 2010 by I am Bastet.
12 likes · 
Lists are re-scored approximately every 5 minutes.


Tatiana 2742 books
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Cami 934 books
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SantosGray 717 books
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Ladymidnight 3449 books
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Susanna - Censored by GoodReads 3264 books
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Julčaa 294 books
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Comments Showing 1-22 of 22 (22 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by Randi (new)

Randi (The Artist Formerly known as Guitar Chick) Twilight is an offense to feminism. Which is surprising as most girls are totally possessed by it.


message 2: by Michael (new)

Michael I'm really excited someone brought this up. What many people don't realize is that the media is a way to shape ideology, and as such, people. In cases like this, you are absolutely right in commenting, and questioning the status of women in these "romance" novels.

What even more people don't realize, is that these tendencies not only shape women, but also shape men as well. It stereotypes both genders in unfair manners, and sets up unreal expectations for both genders, and gender interaction. But, alas, I rant. Kudos for the list.


message 3: by I am Bastet (new)

I am Bastet Michael wrote: "I'm really excited someone brought this up. What many people don't realize is that the media is a way to shape ideology, and as such, people. In cases like this, you are absolutely right in comment..."

I completely agree. These stereotypes send bad messages to girls AND to boys, teaching them both to act in ways that are unhealthy and unfair.


message 4: by SantosGray (new)

SantosGray How is the Hunger Games Trilogy sexist? I really enjoyed it as a feminist young adult book.


message 5: by Roxy (new)

Roxy Stephanie wrote: "How is the Hunger Games Trilogy sexist? I really enjoyed it as a feminist young adult book."

I agree, I'm surprised it's there at all. Katniss was awesome. In fact I think one of the reasons some people didn't like her is because she wasn't the typical YA protagonist that did nothing but pine for a guy.


message 6: by I am Bastet (new)

I am Bastet I actually thought Katniss was hard to relate to as a person, not as a female (and I had problems with her because I thought she treated the people around her badly), but I definitely appreciated that she was not that typical whiny needy YA protagonist, and that was one of the only reasons I DID like her at all. I don't know why the books are on this list, either.


message 7: by SantosGray (new)

SantosGray Maybe it was rated as sexist because it doesn't pass the Bedchel test usually used on movies. I'd have to read it again to see if there are any conversations between Katniss and her mother or Katniss and Prim that have nothing to do with men.


message 8: by I am Bastet (new)

I am Bastet You might be right. Katniss does talk to Coin in the third book.


message 9: by Tzippy (new)

Tzippy The Hunger Games completely passes the Bedchel test. How many conversations did Katniss and Rue have about how cute Cato was?


message 10: by SantosGray (new)

SantosGray LOL. Ok, so why is it on this list?


message 11: by Nyima (new)

Nyima the hunger games? Maybe because of its lack of females but I think that had more to do with the situation/plot/society than sexism on Collin's part.


message 12: by Kat (new)

Kat Why is "By Midnight" on here? I thought April was a very strong female character, more so in book 2. She has her own mind and she doesn´t let others boss her around, she doesn´t need to be saved all the time. A lot of vampire romances are sexist but not "By Midnight". Huh...

"Stormbreaker" too. I read it as a kid but are there even any girls in it? Or is that WHY it´s on the list?


message 13: by Jenny (new)

Jenny I am Isis wrote: "I actually thought Katniss was hard to relate to as a person, not as a female (and I had problems with her because I thought she treated the people around her badly), but I definitely appreciated t..."

All the women in The Hunger Games, barring Katniss and Joanna, were flat non-characters used more as props.


message 14: by Goddess (new)

Goddess Of Blah Beautiful Disaster should be on there


Susanna - Censored by GoodReads It's easy to add books to lists; at the top of the list, at the tab next to "all votes."


message 16: by Erin (new)

Erin Jay wrote: "I am Isis wrote: "I actually thought Katniss was hard to relate to as a person, not as a female (and I had problems with her because I thought she treated the people around her badly), but I defini..."

Because Katniss and Johanna were the only female characters who were essential to the plot. You can't expect Suzanne Collins to develop every single character, especially since there are so many.


message 17: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Erin wrote: "Jay wrote: "I am Isis wrote: "I actually thought Katniss was hard to relate to as a person, not as a female (and I had problems with her because I thought she treated the people around her badly), ..."

why were there so many more male characters than female characters who were more essential to the plot? why only 2? why not at least 3? 4? why were nearly all the important characters men?


message 18: by Brantwijn (new)

Brantwijn Serrah Jay wrote: "I am Isis wrote: "I actually thought Katniss was hard to relate to as a person, not as a female (and I had problems with her because I thought she treated the people around her badly), but I defini..."

I highly disagree that other women were flat non-characters.

Rue certainly wasn't, as the youngest contender in her year and an example of that unfortunate 12-year-old who gets called into a contest no one expects her to win, she showed resourcefulness, cleverness, and even cheerful optimism ("If they can't catch me, they can't kill me... so don't count me out!). She lasted a long time in the arena by outsmarting her opponents, and shared her knowledge and trust with another female (rather than suspecting and competing with her). Her skills weren't necessarily the gendered expectations of "a little girl". I'd say she became a sort of woman in the refrigerator for Katniss, except the circumstances of the plot established well in advance gave little chance of Rue not being killed and it not being a plot point for Katniss' further development and choices.

Katniss' mother, while perhaps easily "dismissed" in the first book (because she suffered from depression and post traumatic stress?), shows a surprising amount of depth and resourcefulness, though she gets less screen time than others. She manages to recognize dangerous situations and moves to cleverly protect her child, in the face of terrifying authorities she has in the past submitted to. She is, in her context, an educated and respected physician (even though she hasn't been formally educated and we know there are more educated doctors involved in the events of the books, I don't think a single one other than Katniss' mother is even named, let alone given any real screen time, except the psychiatrist who naps through most of Katniss' recovery).

Of the other tributes, I'd say Seeder, Mags, Clove, Glimmer, Wiress, and Enobaria all have distinct and relevant character, even given their limited screen time. Even the female Vox from books 1 and 2 has a distinct presence, and Tigris from Mockingjay.

Cressida is one of the few members of the invasion team to survive the final attack on the Capitol, though she isn't a soldier but the film crew lead. Coin, bitch though she may be, was also a distinct female presence and the leader of a militarized society, very intelligent and calculating. Her hatred of Katniss isn't based on jealousy or popularity but on the fact that Coin is used to a very totalitarian and marshal authority, which Katniss threatens by refusing to fall in line.

Besides Effie Trinket and Johanna, I'm failing to think of any female characters who fell into traditionally feminized roles or conflicts -- even the pampered District One girls were trained for combat and their conflict with Katniss was over survival, not jealousy or boys or prettiness or other 'traditional' female conflicts. I suppose the prep team girls could be called overly feminized, to be absolutely honest, but I think the point of that was to contrast Katniss's struggles, none of which had really to do with anything so trivial as fashion or femininity.

One could argue Prim was more of a prop than anything else, but I would personally disagree. The highlight of her position in Mockingjay -- the previously unthinkable possibility she could be trained as a doctor -- serves to show her potential future growth and opportunity in a not-traditionally feminized role (a "math and science" career).


message 19: by ~☆~Autumn♥♥☔ (last edited Sep 20, 2018 06:48PM) (new)

~☆~Autumn♥♥☔ Wells Well, back when I was a teenager 100 years ago this was totally acceptable behavior and super romantic. I just love it that Bella fell in love with Edward
FIRST and she picked him. It took him more time to catch on!

Katniss is NOT romantic to me and Peeta is a wimp! I could never look at poor Peeta twice. Now Gale has some potential.


~☆~Autumn♥♥☔ Wells Jenny wrote: "I am Isis wrote: "I actually thought Katniss was hard to relate to as a person, not as a female (and I had problems with her because I thought she treated the people around her badly), but I defini..."

I also found Katniss hard to relate to. I don't think I could get out there and murder all those people. It seemed very sick to me.


Edward Cullen is Bae Twilight and Hush, Hush are everything to me. don't know how people saw them as sexist


~☆~Autumn♥♥☔ Wells Books and Coffee wrote: "Twilight and Hush, Hush are everything to me. don't know how people saw them as sexist"

Same for me! I thought they were just very caring after all. Care is super rare these days.


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