Sunday, June 10, 2012

Who's Talking Trash About Chick Lit?

The short answer: lots of people. And it pisses me off.

What got me thinking on this was an internet surfing session a few days ago when I stumbled on a great post on Jennifer Weiner's blog, her keynote address about blogging at a recent blogging expo. In it she talked about her battle to defend her writing and her genre: chick lit, which is also sometimes called women's contemporary fiction (though that is a more generalized term). Let's face it: chick lit is often made fun of, the words said with a sneer. But as Jen pointed out: 

"As anyone who’s taken a women’s studies class will tell you, as long as there’s a woman writing about her own life, there’s someone – sometimes a man, sometimes another woman -- to tell her that what she’s written is unworthy, unimportant, beneath notice, that it’s not real literature and not worth taking seriously."

Link the the whole post here:

 That is the issue with some people's crappy attitude about chick lit: it dismisses women, says that our silly little problems aren't important. It's insulting and the people who have to start standing up against it are women, because all too often it's a woman doing the sneering. And if we sneer at each other, aren't we validating the argument that is being made against us?

Case in point: after reading Jen's post, I Googled Jen's earlier post
about Curtis Sittenfeld's scathing review of Melissa Bank's fantastic novel, The Wonder Spot.  In it Jen hilariously tears apart Curtis's review, pointing out that Curtis - a woman who writes women's fiction (literary) - wrote that review to defend her own writing. And in so doing, contributed to the continued criticism and marginalizing of women writers. 

Let's all do ourselves a favor; whether you're a reader or a writer who enjoys women's fiction, whether it be called chick lit or women's contemporary or literary, stand strong and unflinchingly enjoy what you write or what you read. Don't apologize. Don't shrug it off. Because women's lives are important - just as important as men's - and that's what women's fiction explores. From the search for love, to the search for our lives' meaning, to the search for a great handbag, it all matters to us and is worthy, even the handbag part. I mean, think about it: if a man writes a novel detailing his fantasies about baseball, it's considered deep and symbolic. If a woman writes a novel about fashion or shoes, it's considered shallow and foolish. Are we going to keep playing this game? I say, let's just stop playing. Hey, you can throw me that insult curveball anytime you want, but I don't have to catch it.

What do you think? Have you or anyone you know talked trash about women's fiction?


  1. This is too true! And I have to admit it: I'm pretty guilty of sometimes talking trash...

    1. Thanks, Sadie! Actually, I, too, have been guilty in the past. No more! I refuse to ever talk trash again :)