Chick-Lit: Yes or No?

Last month, HuffPost books asked BookRiot’s Bethanne Patrick to write against Chick-Lit. Here’s her argument about why it’s harmful to call it Chick-Lit. (It’s not long, don’t worry. Go ahead and click over to read it… I’ll wait right here for you.)

What do you think? Is it bad to label this sub-genre of fiction Chick-Lit? Is it derogatory towards women, or is it a needed name distinction? Do you shy away from books that are labeled Chick-Lit, or do you not care?

Talk to me people…

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14 thoughts on “Chick-Lit: Yes or No?

  1. I really appreciated that article. It’s sad because I find myself saying, “when I publish a book as long as it doesn’t have a pink cover I will be fine.” I don’t want to think that, but I’m too scared to be labeled chick lit. Not because there aren’t Damn good books under the chick lit genre but just because, like the huff post article says, it is a gender genre and it is derogatory. The equivalent is dick lit. Let’s let men see a shelf of that and hear the uproar.

    • She made some good points didn’t she? I don’t mind the chick-lit title, but I think she’s right about the fact that it’s strange we need to clarify so much when it comes to literature geared for women. As if we can’t tell if the story will be light vs. heavy on our own?

  2. I enjoy the genre labeled as “chick lit,” but as I was reading Bethanne’s article I got angrier and angrier that that’s what we call it. She’s absolutely right; there is no equivalent for men or men’s literature, and it’s insulting and infantalizing. It’s too bad; I’m afraid women are avoiding this literature solely because of its label, and we all know men avoid it for that reason.

    • I agree – it didn’t really bother me either, but like I said above… it got me thinking that it IS strange that there is no equivalent for men (when she’s right, there most certainly ARE books geared for men and just referred to as ‘general fiction’).

  3. *This, then, is why I am “against” chick lit. It shouldn’t exist in the first place! When a book appeals largely to an audience of the male gender, it’s a “thriller,” a “mystery,” a “procedural,” and so on. When a book appeals largely to an audience of the female gender, it’s a “cozy,” a “romance,” a “novel of suspense,” or “chick lit”–anything to make it seem less exciting, less danger-filled, less…important.*

    YES. I agree with the article and have hated both the term “chick lit” and the term “chick flick” for a while now. They are derogatory and demeaning.

    • Smart article, right? It’s interesting, because it’s all so very subjective… would someone call the BBC version of Cranford a chick flick because it probably appeals mostly to females? What’s the definition (if there is one)? And if there’s not one, why use it at all? Definitely a good topic for conversation in the publishing field.

  4. I had not put much thought into the label, but I think she makes an excellent point. And now I find myself wanting to rid the world of this moniker.

  5. I think Bethanne makes a good argument about the label. Women have been being demeaned and infantalized (is that a word? I don’t know, but it seems to fit) for a long time in our society and it slid into how we label literature. I do think that some literature is more appealing to women readers, and I label it “women’s fiction”…I don’t use the word “chick lit” because I think it has a derogatory connotation (ie: it is less important, or poorly written, etc…). I don’t think there is anything wrong with labeling a genre as women’s fiction because I think it helps in marketing books and ultimately helps readers find the types of books they are looking for (just like mysteries, literary fiction, historical fiction, etc…).

    Ultimately, this whole argument is not so much about books but about how women are viewed in society. The current political atmosphere is very negative towards women (we “need” government to tell us how to make decisions about our bodies and choices, for example). There is still inequity in pay for women vs. men. There is an awful lot of sexism and misogyny out there. Women still have to be afraid to report rape for fear of not being believed. The list goes on and on.

    So the short answer to your question? I don’t think we should call literature written by women and for women “chick lit” … I think we need to give is a little more respect than that.

  6. Chick lit is a term I use but because its recognizable and not really because I like it. I think its definitely a little sexist. There are many genres that fall under that designation and being the very type A person that I am, I would rather walk into a book store and go by actual genre (thriller, mystery, fiction, etc.) instead of the ridiculous-ness that is the chick lit title.

  7. I hate to even admit that I read a book labelled “chick-lit” because of the negative connotations. I do tend to think that what is called “chick-lit” is what I’m more likely to think of as women’s fiction lite; no matter the underlying subject, this kind of book always deals with the subject matter with a good dose of humor and perhaps a healthy dose of fashion and white wine. Not that there’s a thing wrong with those books; they often have wonderfully profound things to say. Frankly, I’m perfectly fine with bookstores having a section devoted to women’s lit or women’s fiction – I have always been more drawn to books, tv shows, and movies that have something to say from the female point of view.

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  10. Thank you for your referral to that article! It expresses exactly what I think.

    When I first heard about chick lit a year or two ago (I should add that my first language is German), I didn’t quite know what it meant. When I found out, I wondered how any woman could NOT feel offended. In German it’s really rude to refer to a woman as a hen or a chick… an English friend thought nothing of it. Besides, I fear that it makes believe that all women read and write such stuff. Mind you, the usual chick lit is a genre that I can’t stand at all because it’s too light, too sentimental, too predictable – in one word: boring. As a writer I’d rather burn my manuscript than publish something of the kind.

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