Friday, August 6, 2010

The Chick-Lit Debate at The Guardian [You're The Expert]

I fancy myself a fan of chick-lit.  Not exclusively of course, but I read for upliftment, for enjoyment, and because it's more stimulating than other hobbies I have the tendency to pick.  Last night I happened upon a debate over at The Guardian, a London-based news site, on chick-lit.  As someone who enjoys and reads chick-lit on a regular basis, both YA and adult forms, it was intriguing to read DJ Connell's perspective, bashing the chick-lit genre and label.  Here's a little blurb:
Why do I find the chick-lit label so offensive? Because it not only condemns a work of humour to the ghetto of the light and frivolous but it is also ridiculously outdated. Who in Playboy Mansion Hell still refers to a woman as a chick?

When you call a woman a chick you diminish her as a human being and dismiss her as something less than intelligent.
I tend to disagree whole-heartedly with Ms. Connell becuase I call friends, coworkers, and people I admire "chick," or some derivation of that term, on a regular basis.  She continues on saying, "'Chick' offends me but it is the tacking on of "lit" like an accessory that really causes my testosterone levels to spike. Whatever lit is, it is certainly not literature. It is much lower on the food chain, something light and unimportant."  I grace that with a serious eye roll and move on, perhaps pondering a bit on why in the world she would call such a popular and beloved genre "unimportant."  Remind me again who she is?

On the flipside of the issue is Michelle Gorman.  My favorite passage from her response to DJ Connell is this:
And there's no need to fret over the malleable minds of chick-lit fans. Our poor little female brains aren't going to turn to mush because we read light and breezy books. And it's not as if women who read chick-lit read it exclusively. Most of us enjoy chocolate cake, but we don't eat it every night for dinner.
She's right.  I don't exclusively read chick-lit.  I don't exclusively read YA.  I don't exclusively read anything.  You clearly see where I stand on the matter.  I am a fan of chick-lit, don't mind it being labeled as such, and certainly don't think having "a female name is like an affliction." (Connell)  If you have a chance, read both articles.  They're both well-written.  DJ Connell, the anti-chick-lit chick and Michelle Gorman the I-write-books-people-splash-margaritas-on-so-what-wanna-fight? chica both have excellent points.  I just happen to agree with Michelle. Where do you guys stand?  I mean after all, you're the expert.


viewfromdownhere said...

I couldn't agree with Michelle Gorman more. Personally, I'm working on my first book, which just so happens to be chick lit. I read chick lit religiously, mostly because in my profession as an attorney, I read a lot of heavy stuff on a regular basis. When I pick up a fiction novel, I want to escape and read something entertaining and lighter. So chick lit is just the fit for me. That, and these books also have very uplifting messages, as well as empowering ones. Great post!

Kristen @ Daemon's Books said...

I've been following this debate and I totally agree with you! I don't find the term "chick" offensive at all. I'm always happy to see people reading regardless of what type of book it is.

Michele Gorman said...

Hello I Heart Monster, just noticed your post, thanks! It seems that this debate has sparked a 'handbags at dawn' response from readers worldwide, which is great. As writers, readers or fans of chick-lit we've taken a lot of criticism on our well-groomed dermabrased chins over the years. Meanwhile the genre has grown in size and popularity to include a wide range of styles and a lot of talented writers. It's about time that the genre is taken seriously (by 'seriously' of course I mean with glass of wine in hand :-)