Dear Chick Lit vs. Bitch Lit

28 Jul

Dear Chick Lit vs. Bitch Lit,

Why did Publishers Weekly describe Erica Kennedy’s (author of The Feminista Files) new novel Feminista as “The pioneer of chick lit’s naughty stepsister–bitch lit”?  (And why did her publisher decide to slap that above the title on the paperback edition?)

(But. Let me congratulate PW on managing to fit so many terrible connotations into one short phrase!  Pioneer woman!  Doing what no one else has done before!  (That would be: write a book?)  Naughty!  Oooh sexual overtones!  Possibly of the dangerous/forbidden type!  But more likely just vaguely flirtatious without actually being threatening!  Stepsister!  Cinderella!  Disney!  The mean/ugly one!  Who doesn’t get married, doesn’t become a princess, doesn’t get to have birds braid her hair every morning because she isn’t blonde!)

I’m sorry…are Chick Lit and Bitch Lit really our only two options?

I’m not talking about the actual books themselves.  Not their words, not their plots or characters or anything to do with their authors or their literary merit.  I’m talking genre names.  Chick Lit? Bitch Lit?  Those suck.  They not only carry prescriptions for the words, plots, characters.  They say way too much about the authors– or rather, what we think about the authors.  Or the readers.

Ohhh….chicks read chick lit.  And bitches read bitch lit. Ahhh. It all makes sense.  There are 2 types of women: the soft, cuddly, downy kind that coo and are yellow (whoops, too literal, my bad) and the mean, hard, bitchy kind who wears all black and eats men for breakfast and has ulcers from drinking too much coffee and so can’t have children (because babies grow in the stomach, obvi, and there isn’t room in there between the ulcers and all the men she’s eaten).  The world fits into neat little damaging misogynist stereotypes once again.  Oooh this makes me feel comfortable and comforted.

Or: I’m a chick so I read chick lit. Or: I read bitch lit so I’m a bitch.

wait…that doesn’t seem right…hrmm.

In fact, let me go you one further: why are there any genre names for books by women?

Do we have Dude Lit?  Asshole Lit?  Bro Lit?  Oh wait, no, we just call those books.



PS– I’ll be buying Feminista’s new book today and I fully expect to love it (and yes, I linked the novel title above to Amazon, because I want you to read it too).  But I might have to sharpie out the PW quote on the front cover.


One Response to “Dear Chick Lit vs. Bitch Lit”


  1. Dear Bridesmaids « Dear Mr. Postman - 14 May 2011

    […] male-centered movies all the time– we just call them “blockbusters” instead of “dude flicks” or “douche flicks.” Isn’t good writing just good writing and aren’t good […]

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