Guest post: class, gender, and YA lit

“not a pretty girl” was a ton of fun to write, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the discussions it’s started about gender, gender roles, and gender presentation. But I have to acknowledge it was a pretty narrowly focused series: gender intersects with class, race, sexuality, and physical and mental ability in all kinds of ways that I didn’t get into. So to start getting into that kind of intersectionality, I’m pleased to host this response from Teri Carns ( on gender, class, and the books she grew up reading.

One thing embedded in my generation, and my mother’s and her mother’s, and so on back was social class. It’s a mix of ancestry, education, origins, ethnicity (there’s arguably no scientific basis for the term “race,” so I avoid it), manners, and social skills. Every woman I grew up with on both sides of the family was exquisitely attuned to social class, and expectations for one’s life (I originally wrote “goals,” but women didn’t have goals, they had roles).

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