Thinking about gender: The Gender Games by Juno Dawson
The Gender Games is part-memoir, part-manifesto, covering many aspects of how gender messes up lives and society. It follows Dawson’s personal narrative around gender as a trans woman whilst also pointing out major issues with the ways in which gender is framed and how gender affects people, from being forced into looking one way or playing with that toy to being at risk of violence or lacking vital opportunities. The varied topics discussed include the north-south divide in England, issues with PE in schools, friendships (and how they are gendered), the rise of the alt-right and other internet stances of non-acceptance, transitioning, gym culture, fairy tales, and growing up.
She tells her own story in a witty, often self-deprecating way, and uses her experiences as a teacher and as a YA fiction writer as well as her own childhood to question how children are pushed into stereotypes or pushed away from what they really want to do or be. The book is full of pop culture references and relatable British jokes like her dad calling Little Chef ‘Little Thief’. It is an accessible, enjoyable read that encourages people to question gender and examine how it can be detrimental in society. It is also an important memoir that shows experiences that many people will know very little about and which can be a life line to those who do. She points out that hers is only one example, but that is the point: a personal reflection on gender from somebody who has thought a lot about it, which will inspire others to think further.