Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Chick Lit vs. Women's Fiction: The Constant Whining of Artistes

I've been a superfan of Chick Lit and Chick Flick probably since the mid to late 90's. I loved love stories, funny stories, and stories with awesome clothes. The fact that I loved writing these stories in college was kind of a thorn in the side of my teachers and classmates, who thought my love of Romantic Comedy wasn't worth their time (Seriously). In fact, my best friend, Lauren, and I bonded after our Screenwriting class, on our way to the Commons for lunch, because we were both discouraged that our screenplays, hers a black romantic comedy, and mind a fluffy romantic comedy, were torn apart by classmates whose own works were, for lack of a better word, weird.

Last week, I read an article on Buzzfeed about how Chick Lit is a degrading title that holds women back from their works being viewed as "Literature." This article actually made me mad, because I see Chick Lit as a specific genre. Wikipedia describes Chick Lit as genre fiction which addresses issues of modern womanhood, often humorously and lightheartedly.

I took it to my Facebook Writer's group, and their reactions pretty much matched my own: that women are so afraid of their work being construed as Chick Lit that they bash a genre that's not even theirs. A book can be funny, engaging, and have some of the same themes as Chick Lit and NOT be Chick Lit.

What bothers me the most about the Buzzfeed article is that it compares Women's Fiction to books that are a completely separate genre. They claim they're just marketed differently just because they're written by men. The books shown on the article Dead Man's Room by Peter James and The Kill Room by Jeffrey Deaver. Both books are thrillers, not dramas or comedies. Of COURSE they're going to be marketed differently than something like It's Not Me, It's You by Mhairi McFarlane. They involve two different subject matters.

Now, yes. I agree, based on the cover of McFarlane's book, it does look like Chick Lit. But let's take a step back. How much of a say did she have in the cover design? The marketing? Could she have said no at any time to how it was portrayed in the media? I don't know the ins and outs of traditional publishing, but I do believe that we can take ourselves out of the equation at any time if it's not what we want.

According tWikipedia
The Women's Fiction Writers Association guiding statement is broad and comprehensive: An inclusive organization of writers who create stories about a woman’s emotional journey. These stories may have romance. Or they may not. They could be contemporary. Or historical. But what binds them together is the focus on a woman’s emotional journey.[2]
While I can kind of see how aggravating it is that your work is referred to as something that it's not, Chick Lit is a specific genre. There are authors out there who proudly publish Chick Lit.

I'm part of a proud group of women writers who love the light, fluffy genre, and we write it with the best of our ability. We take control of our writing by being true to who we are and what we love. We don't tear down another genre because of stereotypes. People like McFarlane and Marian Keyes are tearing down a genre that doesn't match their own ideals. Instead of fighting against a genre they don't want to be considered as, they should be fighting for their own work.

Author Brea Brown had this to say about the article, and I agree with her.
 It's pretentious and doubly sickening, because it's denigrating one form of expression in order to glorify another. "What *I* write isn't chick lit. Oh, no, no, no! Heavens no! It's women's fiction. I really wish people would stop referring to it in such debase terms." It's only debased because of the people who continue to perpetuate that stereotype!
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I don't know why Chick Lit gets a bad rap. I'm all about escapism in my writing. Peeking in and experiencing someone else's life for a couple hundred pages. When I read Chick Lit, I want to laugh, relate, and hopefully fall in love with the characters. I think all writers hope that people have similar emotions and actions when reading.

Real Chick Lit has nothing to do with being anti-feminist, which is an argument that many people on the Buzzfeed article complained about. It can have serious undertones, while written in a lighthearted manner. I don't think it's a bad thing to like stories that have a happily ever after. The stories might not be realistic, but not every book has to have deep, philosophical meaning. And that's okay.

  • What are your thoughts on whether or not Chick Lit should be banned as a descriptor?
  • Do you like/read Chick Lit?


  1. You know MY thoughts. Hahahaha. Thanks for including me in your discussion of this topic--and for the serious plug for my upcoming release, which definitely deals with serious issues in a light-hearted manner. Chick lit forever!

    1. Of COURSE, my Friend! And you're so spot on. I hope Chick Lit will never be removed as a title, because it rocks, but also, because people need to get over themselves.