After reading a few too
many (hundred) plots in which whiny women who hate their bosses, coworkers,
boyfriends, husbands, female friends, or all of the above find happiness
through a combination of deus ex machina, superficial fashion advice, and
completely implausible plot twists - I'm saying it out loud. I HATE most chick-lit.
I could go on at great
length. Becky Bloomwood, anyone? Yes, if my life's ambition were to be an irresponsible
child, I'd LOVE the “Shopaholics” series.
Spend, hide bills, lie, repeat 500,000 times, and maybe everyone will
think you're cute. Gag. But unfortunately, I am trying to better
myself through *work* and am attempting to be *responsible* with money!
I'm convinced that if
men wrote chick-lit, there would be a feminist outcry. Women write it and it sells. But much of it promotes the worst views of
women: that we are irresponsible
children who cannot or will not take care of ourselves; that superficial
attractiveness is all, and that we need divine intervention and a cute, rich
man to save us. I love men; don't get
me wrong. My husband and I will be married
10 years in May. But he would not have
ever gone out with me if I acted like the loser that many of these chick-lit
Allow me to sum up a few
1. Get a bad job, with a bad boss (generally an
older woman) who takes advantage of you, then whine about it for 290 pages,
until you find a great job through the author's last-minute intervention. For God's sake, don't do anything
constructive, such as act professionally to impress more responsible coworkers,
network, go back to school, or do volunteer work that will give you expertise
in a field you prefer. Why bother? Whining is SO much more
2. Act like a ditz (at best) in desperate need
of medication for ADHD, or a person with bipolar disorder (at worst) in
desperate need of medication for mania.
Whine about your tough life and how no one understands you for 290
pages. Have several men interested in
you for no particularly good reason, since you often act like you need to be hospitalized. Then at the end, decide to get married after
knowing your true love for a long time, such as six days. Be very happy (presumably except when the
mania overtakes you, that is).
3. Have a bad childhood, with parents who
didn't take care of you very well, including a mentally disturbed mother, but
don't stay in therapy, deal with your childhood problems, and learn to be a
responsible adult. Instead, waste time
selling theater tickets for years. Then
show up for a job interview with your skin tinted orange because you stupidly
used your gay male friend's (cliche alert) self-tanner the night before, and
get the great
job anyway, despite zero
qualifications. When you find men who
are interested in you, do not show a shred of backbone by pursuing them. Wait around for months for them to notice
you're alive. But, it's all OK, because
you're looking much better these days, due to a decades-old fashion book called
Elegance. As we all know, clothes and
makeup are important when a woman's brains and personality are for shit.
When you do show
backbone by divorcing your gay husband, sob hysterically about it for
months. Make the connection that your
father's emotional distance and your mother's instability contributed quite a
bit to your being so upset. Still, do
not go into therapy. Sob in your room
and whine to your roommates (who in real life would probably have kicked you
out after the first month) instead.
Now, you may think I'm
kidding, or at least exaggerating, but -
#1 - you'll recognize
this plot - the Devil Wears Prada and its many clones
#2 - The Wedding Day by
Catherine Alliot. And it's so much
worse than what I described. The
heroine almost gets herself killed by having a hysterical fit in a carwash
early in the book. Why did I keep reading? See below.
#3 - Elegance: A Novel by Kathleen Tessaro
And so, you may ask, why
does she read this crap? Let me tell
you why. I am a victim. Yes, I am a victim of my own stupidity by
buying this garbage, thinking it's going to be a stress-reliever, then feeling
the spike in my blood pressure as anger takes over and I resist the urge to
throw the book against the wall. (I
don't want to damage my walls.)
On a serious note, I
really, truly thought that chick-lit would help me bond with other women. As in, I'd read what many other women like
to read, and commune with them in spirit.
But I'm sick of it. I don't
dislike it because it's stupid; I dislike it because it in all-too-many cases
(IMO) is written by women who are hell-bent on proving the truth of that awful
saying - that women are like men when you take away responsibility and accountability.
And I have run across a
few good books; Marian Keyes is good. A
book called Rescuing Rose is good.
African-American women often write decent chick-lit, because they seem
more oriented to the real world, or at least their protagonists are. But my God, I've read a lot of crap to get
to the few good books out there.
Time to sell my
chick-lit or dump it on another victim.