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For those about to teach “Chick Lit” in Senior High School (Philippines)

May 10, 2017 - - No comments

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Originally posted on Facebook, May 4.

In senior high school, they’re required to read “21st century literature” and “Chick Lit” by Filipino authors is part of it.

Chick Lit used to be the term for what I write, but publishing has begun to bury it. It remains a category under fiction in some classifications, but no BISAC, no Amazon category. “Women’s Fiction – Contemporary” would be the closest. Any Filipino author who has published titles that qualify as Chick Lit will also have written Young Adult or Contemporary Romance because these categories are still very much alive in publishing.

Studying Chick Lit may require exploring Contemporary Romance and Young Adult. All these categories, because they center women, are dismissed as “shallow,” not considered “literary.” Notice that women characters outside of Chick Lit/Romance/YA are often sacrificed, placed in danger to motivate a male character, or given male characteristics so they can “earn” their spot as protagonists.

The short explanation of Chick Lit (as we’ve been writing it) is that these are stories where women are main characters and they can live their lives, get what they want, live their potential, without being told to stay home and give up their place for someone else.

When you call these books shallow, you are telling a female author to give up their place for someone else.

When you call them “unrealistic” but give your money to a story of a high school nerd getting both superpowers AND the hottest girl in school, you are telling a woman to give up their place for someone else.

Our books (see romanceclassbooks.com for over 100) cover so many topics: love, dating, faith, children, sex, societal pressures, body issues, relationships, friendships, sexual orientation, so much more. We encourage #ownvoices (person going through it tells the story), but for those that aren’t ownvoices the #romanceclass community provides support, resources, and an emphasis on research. Now we have a few books centering LGBT (well L and G at least so far), because the readership overlaps, and the support system is intact because of a shared experience of being told to not write their characters as successful, happy, self-actualized.

I am used to my own books being dismissed by those who feel that they should be reading “smarter” stuff. Now that these books have a place in the classroom I challenge you to actually know what you’re dismissing. You can have an opinion on something, but you cannot say that an #ownvoices story is wrong, just because you never experienced it. Just because you never identified with these characters. Be a better reader than that. (Be a better educator than that.) Readers of romance and women’s fiction read 20, 30, 40, 50…100 new books a year. They will know more than you. Maybe that’s not a bad thing; ask them why they like what they like. Why they hate what they hate. I learn so much from young readers. I’m learning still.

There, I said it. Please stand up for us and our fiction in classrooms too. Thanks.

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About Mina



Mina V. Esguerra writes contemporary romance, young adult, and new adult novellas. Through her blog Publishing in Pajamas (minavesguerra.com), she documents her experiments in publishing.
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