British Libraries Under Fire for ‘Sexist’ Bookmarks

Mar 24, 2017 by

By Ian Miles Cheong –

Public libraries in Hampshire, in the south of England, are facing criticism for the creation of supposedly “sexist” bookmarks.

Designed by Hampshire county council, the bookmarks bear the words “Male Lit” and “Chick Lit” along with the names of male and female authors whose works of fiction it is suggested library users might want to read.

For example, readers who enjoyed a book by Tom Holt are advised they might also enjoy a book by Colin Bateman, and so on.

(Photo credit: Lucy Cruickshanks)

The alleged issue of “sexism” came to light after writer Lucy Cruickshanks found the bookmarks at Eastleigh Library and brought her outrage to social media.

Posting on Twitter, the author of The Trader of Saigon and The Road to Rangoon said: “I will defend libraries until my dying breath but everything about this makes me mad. Come on @hantslibraries. You’re better than that.”

“I love libraries. My children love libraries. You are so important in broadening minds & challenging  preconceptions,” she wrote. “PLEASE stop and think.”

The news of her anger was picked up by the BBC. She told the broadcaster that the “images of a bespectacled man with a stack of very serious looking tomes and a wisp-thin woman drinking coffee,” had triggered her ire, as well as the implied separation of male and female authors.

She said that it was important for libraries to challenge preconceptions about literature.

“It shows such ignorance about the authors and their readers and undermines all the great work libraries otherwise do,” said Cruickshanks.

Hampshire libraries have pulled the bookmarks following the criticism and issued an apology through the BBC, clarifying that they designed the bookmarks with the intention of promoting specific genres of fiction.

“No offence was intended and the bookmarks are being pulled from circulation. We’ll consider promotion of this kind carefully in the future” they said.

Source: British Libraries Under Fire for ‘Sexist’ Bookmarks | Heat Street

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