Women and culture: The ghettoisation of the female artist

4 posts / 0 new
Last post
Timebandit Timebandit's picture
Women and culture: The ghettoisation of the female artist

Purposely left blank, see next.

Issues Pages: 
Timebandit Timebandit's picture

An offhand comment about "chick lit" and other supposedly lesser art forms had me thinking, and then I stumbled across this opinion piece by Lionel Schriver:

When my novels are packaged as exclusively for women, I'm not only cut off from a vital portion of my audience but clearly labelled as an author the literary establishment is free to dismiss. By stereotyping my work's audience as self-involved and prissy, women-only packaging also insults my readers, who could all testify that trussing up my novels as sweet, girly and soft is like stuffing a rottweiler in a dress.




Now, the original comment had to do with commerciality and art, but the one term did stick in my head. I know a lot of women who write and make films. They do important work. But the fact still remains that if we write something that speaks to our community, are we tying into the ghettoisation that we're already subject to? Why is it so hard for a writer like Schriver, who tackles tough subject matter in a way that should speak beyond sex, to be taken seriously?


This is also a big problem in the film industry.  The idea that a film that tells a story about a relationship or an emotional experience devoid of action, violence etc and where the primary characters are women is a "chick flick" is ridiculous.

I think it's just an example of gender roles being enforced and drilled into our heads.  The part of the article about changing the names and covers was really interesting.  It's like the artist has literally NO control over what they produce.  

Thankfully there is independent publishing that lets people write however they want!

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

Franzen Book Controversy: Chick-Lit vs. Dude-Lit

Bestselling authors Jennifer Weiner and Jodi Picoult have been annoyed lately at all the feverish attention Jonathan Franzen has been getting in advance of his new book, Freedom. Their gripe is not just with him, but with the fact that men who write about family and relationship issues in general are ballyhooed as brilliant, while women who write about similar topics are routinely overlooked. Reviewers, in the minds of Weiner and Picoult, are like the people who marvel at the dad at the playground with his kids—amazing!—and ignore the hordes of moms.

“Would I like to be taken at least as seriously as a Jonathan Tropper or a Nick Hornby?" Weiner asked, "You bet."