Back in the day, you could quite happily declare your stories to be for one gender only and nobody very much would mind. Or at least protest very loudly. Even when the best stories for girls were chosen by a man, the prolific author Leonard Gribble.
We were quite used to gender-segregated fiction. Bunty (the comic) was for girls. It said so on all the covers. God help you if you were a male interested in following the adventures of The Four Marys or Slaves of the Ballet.
You’d have to steal your sister’s copy. At night.
The Bunty, published by DC Thomson & Co, was printed weekly from 1958 to 2001. (I’m surprised it lasted into the internet age.) We also had Judy and Mandy, a “picture-story paper for girls” which brought us tales of heroic and noble orphans — a surprisingly high proportion of them blind — and plucky gals from the riding stables.
We were quite used to gender-appropriate fact, too. Careers for Girls, for example.
Today, publications don’t announce quite so brazenly which chromosomes they expect their readers to own, but it’s quite clear that Toxic tends to the blue, while Sparkle World tends to the pink. Disney Princess magazine is “specifically designed to entertain and engage young princesses“.
So it’s clear that stories for girls and stories for boys still exist. It just doesn’t say so ON THE COVER. And that’s got to be a good thing. The boys attracted to pink ponies won’t see a barrier, and the girls who prefer hot things on four wheels won’t see a “Keep Out” notice.
Progress! (Hush, Mr Gribble.)