Take bestselling author Sophie Kinsella’s latest, Wedding Night. It’s about Lottie who’s fed up with her long-term boyfriend because he won’t marry her. Then her ex appears on the scenes and reminds her they had a pact to get married each other if they weren’t married at thirty.
Whilst being a good read for her fans, isn’t being a woman about more than finding a mate? Isn’t it about the relationships we form with others (not necessarily romantic ones) and the way we really live?
So many of the women in chick lit novels have glamorous jobs, whereas most women work in offices or factories. What’s wrong with setting fiction in a factory? It might not be as glamorous, but it would be more representative of real women and the jobs they do. Of course romantic relationships are important to women (and men), but is settling down and probably (but not always) having kids, really the be and end all of female existence?
Are women really failures if they don’t end up settling down? Of course not.
So, why do we have a gender specific genre that pushes those outdated ideals? It’s time that chick lit was dragged kicking and screaming into the modern era. Into modern times where a woman is just as likely to boot a mugger in the balls as relinquish her handbag. True story that, but my cousin Amy is a kick boxing fanatic. Dumb mugger.
I came up with the Die Hard for Girls series of books because I wanted to write books for women like myself who were sick of taking crap. Who wanted strong, feisty, sassy heroines who were like them; not ones still steeped in a Pride and Prejudice time capsule where their sole goal was snagging a man who'd provide for them. The main character in the first book, Hell To Pay, Nancy Kerr does go on a manhunt, but of a different sort. When she finds one of the men who murdered her parents’ and left her for dead, she carves the word RAPIST into his stomach.
Many top authors are already writing what could be dubbed kick lit because they’ve cottoned onto the fact that readers want it. Lisa Gardner has Boston police detective DD Warren, solving crimes whilst juggling motherhood. In Catch Me, she’s an emotional and physical wreck looking after her young baby – but so is the baby’s father.
Too often in books, women are the ones lumbered with all the child care, whilst the daddies breeze on through life, or sit in a bar whingeing about their OH having no time for them because of the baby. Tess Gerritsen’s bestselling Rizzoli and Isles series is as much about the friendship between the two main characters as the crimes. Sure they have romances but they’re a small part of the story, not the whole story.
Note - this piece first appeared in Hi Magazine.