Chick Lit

Rebecca Traister wrote this. Maud Newton wrote this rebuttal.. Edward Champion said "Girls! Girls! Settle down!".

The question seems to be:

Are women bad feminists if they criticize chick lit?

Yes.

Unless they do so as part of a sweeping criticism of all forms of popular literature, like the romance novels, mysteries, thrillers, etc. that are its siblings.

Why? Because the impulse to criticize 'women's fiction' is at its heart a criticism of women.

Being female is a disadvantaged status. Sorry, folks, but it is. It's just not as easy being a woman as a man, if you want to do anything except carry a baby in your body. If you want to run for Congress, run a Fortune 500 company, or even get tenure at a top university, you're statistically better off being male.

Women know this. Everyone has their own way of compensating. One can out of the rat race and choosing a different value structure. One can choose specific industries that are more female frierndly. One can do any number of things.

One way to seek equality with the dominant class is to divest oneself of associations with ones’ disadvantaged group.

‘Chick lit’ is aggressively female. Therefore, women who have subconsiously adopted the ‘join ‘em’ method react aggressively to claims that chick lit represents their life experience. Denigrating this category (and other ‘female’ categories like romance) is a way of separating themselves from the female mainstream and by implication choosing association with the favored male class.

If you're going to call yourself a feminist, you should know better. Criticize individual authors. Criticize escapist fiction. But please, be more self-aware than to criticize 'chick lit'.

4 comments:

deborahborah said...

Because the impulse to criticize 'women's fiction' is at its heart a criticism of women.

Criticizing all women's writing, or all women's fiction even, could be construed as critical of women or critical of some essential essence of womanliness as expounded in writing, etc.

But criticizing a particular genre that's written mostly by women (maybe there are male writers of chick lit?) = anti-feminism? Nah.

If I'm black and I criticize rap, am I racist?

There are a lot of great novels written by women. Stuff that falls under a chicklit rubric generally isn't great. I don't think it's the scourage of, well, anything. But it's also not good and to pretend that it is good or not distainable just because it's written by women seems inherently false.

I don't feel that my criticism of the genre aligns me with men or against women. Just against that type of writing.

Maple, school me. Where is my logic failing? You know I'm all about the wimmins. But horrid fiction is horrid fiction. And, frankly, if I get more annoyed with it than with bad science fiction writing, it's because [fill in the blank because I'm not sure why.]

Maybe because I hate the stereotypes of women in it. Frankly, I can't really say what I dislike about it because I never read it. I can't get through a paragraph, much less a page.

But why does my revulsion/distaste = my political bad?

mapletree7 said...

My point is, none of this shit is good - or at least - none of it is better than the rest of it. A lot of this criticism is coming from, say, people who write thrillers or mystery novels. GIVE ME A BREAK! If chicklit is worthless pulp fiction (with it is, if you're into the whole categorizing/ranking writing) than so is all that other shit people read.
I just seeing a major disconnect on the part of some of these people and it bugs me.

deborahborah said...

Maybe what's weird isn't the criticism itself, rather it's the hidden expectation lodged in the criticism. The criticism implies that the genre is supposed to be more than it is. More literary. Deeper, broader, better.

Why the elevated expectation? And why the emotional charge? If I felt that chicklit were the sole expression, the sole voice in popular literature representing women's lives, I would be disappointed.

It's late. I'm tired. People are stupid assholes.

Same old.

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