So with the end of the month its time for me to change displays. I swapped everything out a day or so early due to a second display I also have to set up for February.
February has a couple of obvious themes that come to mind, but I wanted to play and avoid the standard relationship idea so instead settled on "Battle of the Sexes." What made this display particularly awesome in my mind is that a few weeks ago someone donated the board game Battle of the Sexes to the Friends of the Westfield Athenaeum book sale.
The final selection is a mix of books on women and men. The result is a collection of themes spanning manhood, womanhood, communication/biological/thought differences, and achievements/notable people. Some of it is a bit tongue in cheek, some is a bit more serious, but the display is definitely getting attention with patrons flipping through the books on display.
Brain Sex : the real difference between men and women / Anne Moir
Sex on the Brain : the biological differences between men and women / Deborah Blum
Why men never remember and women never forget / Marianne J. Legato
The consuming instinct : what juicy burgers, Ferraris, pornography, and gift giving reveal about human nature / Gad Saad
How to cook like a man : memoir of cookbook obsession / Daniel Duane
Self made man : one woman's journey into manhood and back again / Norah Vincent
You just don't understand : women and men in conversations / Deborah Tannen
What men really think : about women, love, sex, themselves / [compiled by] Mark Baker
The queen of the ring : sex, muscles, diamonds, and the making of an American legend / Jeff Leen
The soul of a butterfly : reflections on life's journey / Muhammad Ali
Guyland : the perilous world where boys become men / Michael Kimmel
What women want - what men want / John Marshall Townsend
Why is the penis shaped like that? : and other reflections on being human / Jesse BeringTesla : man out of time / Margaret Cheney
Madame Curie : a biography / Eve Curie
Breasts : a natural and unnatural history / Florence Williams
Vagina : a new biography / Naomi Wolf
The end of men : and the rise of women / Hanna RosinAdam's navel : a natural and cultural history of the human form / Michael Sims
Some interesting problems arose in putting this selection together. First off the scope of the collection had to be limited and balanced. As earlier stated, I really didn't want relationship books, but it took a bit of digging and keyword massage to pull out a selection not centered on "the 'man-woman' thing" (thank you, Coupling). I deliberately excluded children from the subject of gender difference and development, that subject on its own could be a whole display. I also did not seek out books on transgender and intersex, as those are specifically being shunted to a different display.
The next hiccup is then trying to provide a good balance. We've got books on feminism and women's movements all over the place, but there's not a whole lot on men's culture as its own unique subject (and I don't consider this a sufficient fulling of the void). I also distinctly did not want books of the more extreme feminist slant decrying all men as scum. The Battle of the Sexes I had in mind was a bit more playful than that.
I has an additional struggle with balance once I started pulling books for the display. See, when I put together the title list based on catalog searches (or books that passed through my hands that I thought would be a good idea), I didn't look at publication date. Some of those books on display are not what you'd call current. I had a bit of a panic about making sure I had enough newer material until I rummaged through our New section for the last titles to round out the collection. I did run the titles by a co-worker, who felt that while some of the titles are older, they are still decent books so that was a good reassurance.
The last difficulty was trying to figure out if something was appropriate or not. As I mentioned in an earlier post, I am aware that what I do is in the public eye and that this can have repercussions. I know that my humor, when allowed free reign, can be rather off color. I also know that just because a word is used in its proper context with no obscenity intended, does not mean that people will not be offended by the word. Having Breasts, Vagina, and Why is the penis shaped like that? in the display counted as one of those things that amuses me but that I wasn't quite sure would fly. Fortunately my co-workers have a sense of humor and similarly thought the idea was amusing and worth the risk of possible offense.
I'm interested in seeing what selections of the display are picked up over the month. So far patrons have only picked up books to flip through before replacing. I have some ideas of replacements, we have a book in the new section on the Suffrage movement, as well as some interesting biographies. Additional books that will fit in the display will also likely pop up over the month and be integrated.
EDIT [2/5/2013]: In some serendiptious timing, I came across this article today:Study debunks notion that men and women are psychologically distinct