Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Semantics

I am slowly noticing - I hesitate to use the word backlash, but an increasing concern about being known as feminist as well as a desire from people who feel they write literary stuff to refute the label chick lit. I don't know if these things are tied together or not. But in both cases it seems there is, in part a misunderstanding about the label or a feeling the the label is not all encompassing. I suggest this because I don't see any reason to believe that these famous-ish people who are stating they are not feminists are against gender equality (which is really the basic premise of feminism) so it seems a backlash against people who take positions they don't agree with under the label of feminism. Just imagine for a moment, what would happen to Christianity if that happened. (And okay, reformation, millions of splits, Protestants of every shape and size, it kind of did.)

I feel like the anti-chick lit issue is similar. As far as I can tell the thing that unites chick lit is that the main character is a girl. And sure often it's a middle class, twenty something, white girl but again, I don't think that is a function of the label. I find book labelling (from a bookstore perspective, rather than a dewey decimal or other cataloguing perspective) morbidly fascinating. Why is Pat Booth in Fiction but Jennifer Crusie is in Romance? And then there are people like Alesia Holliday and Linda Howard and Kay Hooper who have books in both Romance and Mystery and - depending on the store, Fiction too. (Holliday also has books in YA, but under a different name). And why is Christine Feehan in Romance and not Sci Fi? But anyway, the label or section marker is really just a starting point. Sure, I don't spend a lot of time in the History section, so if your book got shelved there chances are I won't see it but that's why books are all over the store these days. That's why there's an information desk. That's why there's kiosks and stuff. And honestly, if your story is about a woman, being called chick lit or women's fiction or whatever today's heading of choice is, is not inaccurate. (We won't even talk about what happens if your story is chick lit about a guy.) So, feminist, chick lit author - it's all good.

Okay, it turns out this is not new, and Sars has spoken eloquently on the feminist label rejection issue here: http://www.tomatonation.com/youare.shtml

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