Often described as part-memoir and part-manifesto, The Gender Games explores transgender author and activist Juno Dawson’s experiences with gender. The tagline is ‘the problem with men and women, from someone who has been both’.
I think that this book is a key read for anyone interested in feminism, especially those who want to read more about LGBT+ and transgender issues specifically. If we want to be more intersectional in our feminism, it is vital that we listen to and raise up the voices of people who are not cisgender.
That said, Juno does not claim to speak for all trans people. Another reason I feel this book is important for twenty-first century feminists is that Juno is able to write about her experiences as a man and the expectations we place on men. Whilst I agree that feminism is about women, we should acknowledge that the patriarchy is damaging to men as well as women.
Perhaps this is because I listened to the audiobook, but I felt that her style was very conversational. I chose this method of consuming the book because I didn’t have time to buy or read the book before going to ‘Banging Book Club live’, an event where the three hosts of this podcast discussed the book with Juno. This conversational style means that The Gender Games doesn’t feel dry or boring. Rather, listening to the audiobook feels like Juno is a friend telling you about her life, and putting the world to rights over a cup of tea.
As the daughter of a childminder, I found Juno’s anecdotes about her childhood and views on toys particularly interesting. After asking Juno about this at ‘Banging Book Club live’, we certainly agree children should be offered a wide range of choice in the toys they can play with, and not be demonised for those they choose.
One qualm I have with The Gender Games is that, in the second chapter, Juno makes some assumptions about what religious people believe about gender, based on religious texts. As a Theology student and a Quaker, I found the comments here to be highly dismissive. Yes, the Bible says that God created men and women, but many Christians are able to understand gender in a way which is neither binary or fixed.
Overall, however, I found the book both informative and entertaining. I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone: we all have something to learn about gender.
Image: Faye Chua and Hodder & Stoughton General Division