Posted in: Dorothy Koomson, Is it because I is a girl?
Ms Koomson writes:
…It’s a derogatory term used to describe books that are apparently formulaic, vacuous and written by young women that does nothing to enrich the tapestry of our cultural world. (It’s an accusation that’s been levelled at my books, but as I always say: everyone’s entitled to their own wrong opinion.)
On the other hand, there are many people who say they love ‘chick lit’. That we readers have nothing to be ashamed of devouring those types of books and that some ‘chick lit’ handles serious issues (someone once used My Best Friend’s Girl as an example of this – it probably didn’t occur to them I’d find my books being labelled ‘chick lit’ even in an allegedly positive way rather insulting). Those who champion the cause of ‘chick lit’ say they are trying to reclaim the term, to own it, to make sure fiction that’s – in the main – written by women for women is taken as seriously as other fiction.
It’s funny, but this is a subject that I can take or leave. I don’t read much chick lit I don’t think. The last was a Jane Fallon book if I recall correctly, and although it was ok, it was one of those books that I kept putting down, and forgetting to pick back up again.
Anyway, Dorothy continues:
What both the lovers and haters of ‘chick lit’ seem to have overlooked in all of this dismissing and championing is the term ‘chick’. It’s not the books that you need to be worrying about but the word that basically insults all women. In my mind, it’s like trying to find a suitable place to stub out a cigarette when your house is being engulfed by 50ft flames – you’ve got bigger things to worry about.
I object – rather strongly – to people calling my books ‘chick lit’ mainly because I don’t call myself or any other woman I know a ‘chick’. You see, I’m 99 per cent certain it didn’t come from a place or time where women were considered intelligent, worthy, equal human beings and using that term is just repeating the insult.
‘Ah, yes, but we’re trying to reclaim that term,’ declare the lovers of ‘chick lit’. ‘We’re trying to own it and reclassify it and make it something cool and hip and what every right-thinking female should want to be known as.’ I applaud such efforts, I really do. But I’ve never been completely convinced by the wisdom in trying to reclaim insulting terms and phrases.
You’re fighting a pretty long and dense history of negativity and you’re more than likely to find that although you’re using the word in the new, ‘right’ way, very few other people are.
Dorothy concludes by writing:
I have a novel suggestion for both the lovers and dislikers of what is essentially commercial – i.e. non-literary – storytelling: get together and come up with a new term. I quite like the term commercial fiction but it is a mouthful. I’ve come up with a new term for my books and any authors out there are more than welcome to realign their work in this new genre – as long as they acknowledge that it was my idea (he-he!!). My new term?
I love books that can touch your heart. Stories, characters and writing that can break your heart, lift your heart, stop your heart, fill your heart. They can be any type of book as long as they move, involve, impassion. That’s what I read for, so heart lit is what I’m going to call any book that touches me so.
My newest mission is to try to get heart lit to replace the C Lit word. Because whilst I’m all for people being honest about the non-literary/highbrow books they do and don’t love – the world would be a slightly nicer place if they expressed their opinions without insulting 50 per cent of the population in the process.
This is something that Ms Koomson seems to feel quite strongly about, but I have to say, I don’t care either way.
I do have a suggestion though, how about Clit Lit? *g*
Any other suggestions?