Monday, June 13, 2005

The Contradictory World of Chick Lit

sista solidarity (click chicks to link to chicklit)

I thought this post over at Tingle Alley was pretty interesting. In fact, it syncs up with some of my feelings about the wedding industry (I think the trends are connected).

Anyway, this is what I said:

I’ve enjoyed many novels about the inner lives of fourteen year old girls (Member of the Wedding, Jane Eyre, The Bluest Eye, and Weetzie Bat – just to name a few faves).

And of course, as the above commenters point out, the label “chick lit” is distinct from the books themselves (and the authors), but of course the way this label operates is worth parsing out – especially in the way it influences reviews and sales.

And I can’t help but think of the diet or beauty industry (which also almost exclusively target women); the products in these categories are successful because they inspire both desire and shame. And they inspire a fantasy of being desired, or at least suggest that the key to being powerful is to be desireable. But this fantasy can only be fulfilled if one buys the product. Anyway, what fantasies are people fulfilling when they buy these “chick lit” books? What fantasies do these books inspire? And what does this suggest about our culture?

I’m worndering why more people aren’t exploring the class factor in these books. Most of them are about middle or upper class women who drink mojitos and carry fendi bags.

And I’m not really sure of the history, but wern’t romance novels (harlequins) popular among repressed housewives during the fifties? didn’t these books help women explore their sexuality? But didn’t these novels falsely resolve gender inequalities in the idealized world of boddice-ripping knights and noble ladies?

Anyway, any chance today’s “chick lit” does something similar? That is to say, falsely resolve some conflict our culture is still reluctant to really confront (such as persisting class and gender inequality)?

Anyways, while I'm on the subject of books and chicks, I'd like to recommend Pink Think by Lynn Peril and Nickle and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich. Also, check out

hip chicks

And I'd like to note that I really like chicks, you know like baby chickens. Did any of you see that promo for Making the Band 3 that was just shots of little fluffy chicks perched on mini ikea furniture? There was this voice over -- like the chicks were talking to each other -- saying stuff like, "well, you know what happens when you get a bunch of girls in one house. We're getting along I guess . . .for now!" Anyway, this promo was genius. So fun to watch . I'd watch a whole show of sassy chicks (of the baby chicken variety) peck around a mini hipster loft apartment. Where's that show?

1 comment:

Jenny said...

I did see those promos and I would definately watch that show!