Story by Nicole Gawel. Reporter for The Metro Group and Metrowny.com
Chick lit has been around for a long time. It hasn’t always been in that form though. This genre of literature, written for young women ages 20’s to 30’s, is a form of feminist movement.
Authors of this genre tell stories of average, everyday women who must go through life down different paths. Some eventually seek happiness and derive a sense of fulfillment.
This genre has spurred the third feminist movement. Betty Friedan, the late author of The Feminist Mystique in 1963, began the second movement of feminism. In the novel it discussed the women’s role within the home and in industrial settings. Friedan depicted the women’s homemaking job as stifling. One could say that the first official movement of the feminist movement was the years that led up to the right for women to vote.
When the third wave of feminism moved over America the independent woman displayed in earlier works was somewhat cut back a little displaying a needy, self-absorbed and dependent on most things kind of woman. Chick lit authors and their publishers now see the need to denounce women and lump them stereotypically into the defenseless helpless category. The books are chalk full of silly antics and delusional scenarios. The covers of the books written are full of pastels, lipsticks and shoes. Women should be seen as a more powerful presence. The covers of the book denounce this revelation.
One could argue that The Princess Diary series is chick lit. The series is aimed more at a high school and middle school age group though. The main character, Mia, goes through what the adult chick lit characters go through; men, conflict, either external or internal, work- or school-related things, friends and parties. Girls are being taught at a young age what is acceptable of a woman through fairy tales and movies that show women as defenseless creatures who don’t have a spine. To some extent the characters are seen as standing up for something they believe in, but when it comes down to it most are seen later in the story as wishy washy and full of turmoil, which they can’t take into their own hands and go on to get help.
Many of the chick lit books have been best sellers and even have been made into popular movies and successful television shows. The popularity of the genre is not downplayed by all means and the following is really there. The article about chick lit in the Buffalo News talks about how those who grew up backing the second wave of feminism cannot grasp the ideas of this third wave. In some respects the new wave degrades women’s views and responses to certain situations making them appear unintellectual and uninspiring individuals. Many of these books might have created new stereotypes for women. Women see characters in these chick lit books and try to be like them.
Helen Fielding author of Bridget Jones’ Diary talked about love and diets and how Jones was intent on getting both. In some respect Fielding aided the diet craze making women obsessed with weight and dieting. Also the topic of love; the movie, book and column made it appear that in order to be successful in life Jones needed to have a man by her side. That’s not a true statement at all. One can be the most successful, single woman in the world and be happy with her body image and how she projects herself. True, no one is every going to love themselves 100 percent but to project the idea of changing everything about yourself for one cause you want and are fighting for is generally not worth it.
Maybe audiences who like this genre relate to their past experiences and enjoy reading other’s hardships and battles. After reading some of the fiasco’s the characters go through maybe the audience feels empowered by not being like that and standing independently without a crutch to hold onto.
The New York Times has a hard time acknowledging this genre. From a feminist standpoint, the Times should accept it and write about it if that’s what their audience is looking for and wants. If it’s popular they should review it and proudly display it on their best sellers list. Just ignoring the phenomenon won’t make it go away.
Women admit that what they read in chick lit is “fluffy.” They think it is enormously entertaining. In a way though this lends a hand to how they might act later, after reading the book or view certain issues that women are caught up in. In some ways it takes a step back from what Susan B. Anthony or Elizabeth Cady Stanton were trying to do for women. Chick lit books portray women as silly and superfluous. They are obsessed with shopping, love lives, sex and their careers downplaying a woman’s mind. There is hardly anything substantial in the reading.
The genre claims to be a representation of women’s lives. If that is true, hopefully women will take their brains out of their heads since they won’t need them anymore for intellectually amenities. Most chick lit is about women in he upper middle class. There are more women out there; women of all races, colors, creeds and societal status. Not all women have the opportunity to live in a prominent city and work in a fabulous great paying office job and get to attend fancy socialite parties every other day.
The fact that it is something out of movie experience is a lot for a woman to ingest. Maybe reading this nonsense that looks like a fairy tale life makes financially unstable women feel better about themselves. The author could easily pen a chick lit story but in a way where the character thinks clearly and without different agendas on her mind with each action she decides to delve into. Characters could maybe think with their heads and reason instead of just jumping into this or that like most do. Then it really wouldn’t be called chick lit and would just be regular fiction.
Chick lit is definitely not written with the feminist women’s rights and views in mind. Women have worked far too hard to take a step back in time and give up some of their rights because they come across as too flighty and into themselves. Fairy tales and chick lit go hand in hand. They are epic fantasies that a real woman should take a look at and see that real women are stronger and don’t need to fantasize about petty things that won’t get them anywhere in real life. Books about the everyday women taking charge and throwing off a sense of independence is what more stories should be about, representative to women all over. At least these books would strive to make a stance and make women realize that they too can be strong, real and dependent on themselves.
Nicole Gawel. Reporter for The Metro Group and Metrowny.com.
You can read more articles by Nicole and our other reporters at http://www.metrowny.com
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