Friday, 28 July 2017

Book Review: The Gender Games by Juno Dawson

Title: The Gender Games: The Problem with Men and Women, from Someone Who Has Been Both

Author: Juno Dawson

Pages: 368

Publication: 1st June 2017 by Two Roads

Reason for Reading: I only recently discovered Juno Dawson, I think because of her planned appearance at the Bradford Literature Festival. When my Audible credit came in for the month, the cover caught my eye and the fact that it was narrated by Juno herself sealed the deal.

Goodreads Synopsis: Gender isn't just screwing over trans people, it's messing with everyone. From little girls who think they can't be doctors to teenagers who come to expect street harassment. From exclusionist feminists to 'alt-right' young men. From men who can't cry to the women who think they shouldn't. As her body gets in line with her mind, Juno tells not only her own story, but the story of everyone who is shaped by society's expectations of gender - and what we can do about it.


The Gender Games is part-memoir, part social commentary and in this respect it reminds me of Emer O’Toole’s Girls Will Be Girls - another book I loved and highly recommend. Juno Dawson takes us through her life, from the moment her parents were presented with their baby boy to her coming out as a gay man and later as a trans woman. Simultaneously, she weaves in her own anecdotes and those of others to inform the reader about issues surrounding masculinity and femininity. These span from rape culture and alt-right politics, to parenting and dating app experiences.

Not only is this book incredibly informative, it’s also very funny. I loved the little asides of self-deprecation she had and also her stories and the way she told them were simply fantastic. I also felt very close to her, and that might have been because I was listening to her narrate the book, but whether or not that was the case, it really added to my enjoyment.

As audiobooks go, it’s one of the best I’ve listened to because of how natural a storyteller she clearly is, and how she whisks you away with her to various points in her past. It’s also incredibly candid, and she makes it very clear that she can’t speak for all trans people, and that her thoughts on gender are very much confined to her own experience. To this end, she points you in the direction of extra reading which was a great addition.

I’ve come away from reading The Gender Games with many thoughts. My slight worry is that this is the kind of book that’s preaching to the converted, in that those who pick it up will already be aware of trans issues and problems surrounding gender. Even so, I think there is a tremendous amount to learn from it. It is well worth the read for all of the emotions and thoughts it will inevitably inspire, and for this reason I’m giving it 5 out of 5 stars.

P.S. Juno recently did an interview with Simon from Savidge Reads on his YouTube channel, which is fantastic and Juno herself said it’s the most comfortable she’s ever felt discussing her transition, so check that out too!