Thanks for the overwhelming response to my last blog post on the chick-lit debate. Clearly many people felt very strongly about the topic. And I don't know whether the moon was in the Seventh House, or Jupiter had in fact aligned with Mars, but there was some kind of synchronicity going on. At the risk of blogging a dead horse, I'm going to take this opportunity to point you in the direction of a couple of other recent items of interest.
Over at Tara Moss's blog, after attending the recent SheKilda crime festival, she decried the gender bias still rampant in the literary world. I'm sure Tara couldn't have imagined the response she was about to get, however, then Cameron Woodhead, reviewer for The Age newspaper, weighed in with some extraordinarily patronising comments. Primarily, that it all sounded like 'privileged whining' to him. I was almost not going to write the previous post for fear of just such an accusation, and Lisa Heidke –herself a wonderful author of women's fiction – commented on my blog that she didn't want to whinge or seem ungrateful ... Little wonder young women today are reluctant to identify as feminists, for fear of being accused of being whiny whenever they speak up for themselves.
I was heartened by all the comments that you would read the books no matter how they were labelled, and I appreciate that, I really do. But not everyone is as sure of themselves. Romance readers have been the most enthusiastic migrators to ebooks, but the main reason for this is a little sad – no one can see the cover of an ebook, so romance readers feel they can read with impunity, away from judgemental gaze of literary snobs. That breaks my heart just a little.
When my kids were learning to read, their teachers always impressed upon the parents that they must be seen to be reading around their children – newspapers, magazines, recipe books, anything – and that it didn't matter what kids were reading – similarly, special interest magazines, comics, whatever – as long as they were reading. So if Mum happens to be reading a book, written by a woman, which may or may not sport a girlie cover, is she to be ashamed of this, and hide it from her children? When did everyone get so judgemental? Are we not supposed to enjoy reading? Good luck getting kids to read at all if that's the message we're sending them.
To quote Tara Moss, 'Women's voices matter'. Our stories matter, our writing matters. What we have to say matters. We shouldn't have to apologise for it.