chick lit genres

As far I can tell and have encountered, the majority of books with female protagonists are tales of survival. The moral of each story being that a woman’s strength is like no other, and the reader can be inspired to find their own strength in the reading. Women survive it all, and sometimes thrive, but the tale is in the great overcoming. Here are the sub-categories as I have found:

  • Woman survives abuse.
  • Woman survives rape.
  • Woman survives a bad marriage.
  • Woman survives divorce.
  • Woman survives child abuse.
  • Woman survives patriarchy.
  • Woman survives sexism.
  • Woman survives natural disaster.
  • Woman survives loss of child.
  • Woman survives loss of husband.
  • Woman survives loss of career.
  • Woman survives disease.
  • Woman survives loss of sanity.
  • Woman survives addiction.
  • Woman survives self-hatred.
  • Woman survives hatred of others.
  • Woman survives racism.
  • Woman survives childbirth.
  • Woman survives abortion.
  • Woman survives loneliness.
  • Woman survives cult.
  • Woman survives religion.
  • Woman survives war.
  • Woman survives genocide.
  • Woman survives inner-demons.

Survival is a perfectly admirable trait. And when we consider the women who do not survive, these stories do hold great power. But women do not have to face stupendous obstacles to be a worthy protagonist of a story.

When I was a rebellious youth I read the cannon of rebel stories. It soon became evident that these stories had no room for the female imagination. These stories hardly had women with any of their own stories. And now, a decade later, I still wonder where are the female stories parallel to:

On the Road, The Catcher in the Rye, The Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, Into the Wild, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, e.e. cummings, Dylan Thomas …

I am not seeking woman as heroine, it is dangerous to ask us to all be more than simply our own complex selves. Where are the stories of women: who make choices, good and bad, encounter a world full of wonder and full of tedium, seek out sex and solace, try and fail, resent the world or embrace it, find themselves drunk at a bar facing the meaninglessness of life. Female protagonists ought to be able to be as self-involved, unscrupulous, hazardous, stupid, and pathetic as the male characters that abound in literature.


to fail or not to fail, what is your response

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