A fair bit of time ago, I wrote about a blogging hierarchy in the book blogging community because at that time it was something being discussed.
It’s not happening again but I am thinking about it again and this isn’t just about blogging. But still, raise your glass to my recycled ideas, yeah>
What is the YA hierarchy?
It’s a mass of white, allocishet women on top and just about everyone else at the bottom.
This isn’t something I see as much anymore, I’ve just about unfollowed every adult, white woman reviewer there is to maintain my peace of mind and pretend for a second that those most influential in the YA community are actually teens and queer peeps and POC.
We work in a community that any day would take an adult reviewer’s voice over a teen’s. When it comes to reviewing, when it comes to issues, when it comes to anything. Our voices aren’t nearly as valuable to people as those of the famous, white, allocishet woman reviewers.
And who are the people who are listening to those popular reviewers over other voices? Authors, publishing, other reviewers, who usually fall in the same boat as the famous ones, just with less of a following.
These are reviewers who’ll ignore or oppose certain issues in the community. Who’ll talk over people who clearly have a better understanding of what is at works here than they would. But because they’re offering comfort in their opposition or silence, it’s easier to go to them.
These are the people who often get review copies over people who should actually be receiving them. Reviewers who will willfully remain ignorant and ignore discussions about the issues because no matter the problems of these books, they’ve formed their opinion and nothing can change that.
Queerphobia, racism, ableism, classism, all of those things are ingrained so deeply into our communities it’s nearly impossible to recognize them unless someone from outside the privileged group brings it to the attention of the privileged group.
And when it comes to YA, the books that are being handed out for pre release review aren’t going to the people who can positively and accurately say “this is wrong, this is offensive”. It’s going to people who see queerphobia, racism, ableism, classism and the like as normal.
No amount of bringing it to their attention, to attempting to do so budges them.
Teens can talk about how we aren’t actually like that, POC and queer people can talk about how harmful the rep is, disabled people can talk about the ableist language for days, those in poverty about how awful that rep is.
It doesn’t matter in the end because what? We’re younger. The experiences we bring to the table are less valuable to others than the numbers supporting us.
Reviewers with large followings aren’t going to go out of their way to raise up teen voices no matter how diverse because there’s always that fear that one day maybe our voices will actually matter more than theirs.
For those who’ll likely get butthurt over this, I’m not saying all adult reviewers are like this. Just a majority of them.
After following them and holding them up as the pentacle of great reviewers for most of my time as a blogger it took so long and so much of other people’s time breaking down just how wrong some of the those book’s content was and never seeing those people address it to realize there was some major disadvantage going on.
It’s taken seeing teens time and time again, shut down, harassed and more and seeing not one of those people I looked up to doing a damned thing about it to realize they don’t care about teens, they don’t care about the issues ingrained in YA that directly affects the teens reading them. It doesn’t matter that they outnumber teens 10-1 and it doesn’t matter that most of those teens are actually legal adults by US standards.
YA books have slowly become less and less about teens and teen experiences and more geared towards the adult audience that’s so obvious online and how that harms the invisible teen population doesn’t matter.
YA is about teens, it’s supposed to be and this hierarchy of adult, white allocishet, privileged reviewers being the pentacle of what is put out there is hurting us.
It doesn’t help that those who do acknowledge it do it badly. I don’t think that should be possible but I guess it is.
Those reviewers who’ll see the criticism and erase all evidence that they ever did something wrong? People screenshot. Erasing it doesn’t erase the wrong you done. Why is it so hard to acknowledge what you did was wrong, APOLOGIZE, and do better?
Those reviewers who are the epitome of that one Tumblr post? People who hear a book is racist, openly support it, get called a racist and then suddenly say “well, I have a mental illness so blah blah blah” like POC teens can’t have mental illnesses? Like stigma against mental illness and racism can’t be directed at the same body and cause ten times the harm?
When people review a book part of their job in reviewing it is to inform potential readers and by constantly ignoring or fighting against harmful aspects of a book you’re being a shitty reviewer and I say this as someone who believes it’s close to impossible to be a shitty reviewer.
But guess what when you’re a shitty human it bleeds into being a shitty reviewer.
And those people who blatantly fight issues or just ignore them, who act so PASSIVELY when it comes to harmful stuff?
They’re the top of the hierarchy.
Adults are the top of the hierarchy, perfectly privileged adults who don’t care what any diverse body, what any teen has to say in a place for them.
Well, I think it’s safe to say that spiraled out of control a bit but that’s all for now. So, I hope you gained something from this. Thanks for reading.