In defense of Chick Lit

Photo by Graeme Robertson. Image: Four Mills and Boon novels laid out in a fan shape.

 

I have a confession to make.

I read romance novels. I enjoy reading romance novels.

But confession is a bad choice of words. I’m not ashamed of reading Julia Quinn, Meg Cabot, Cindy Dees, and the rest, indeed, of enjoying them.

But, according to some people, I should be.

According to some people, there are two kinds of literature. One that’s worthy of being read, and one that isn’t. 

And chick lit falls near the top of the latter list. 

If I had a tenner for every person who’s expressed shock that someone like me (read: someone smart) reads chick lit, and romance novels at that, I’d be a rich woman indeed. 

 

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No homo. Yes bigot.

No homo.

What does it mean? Basically, when someone (generally a guy, and generally someone in his teens or early twenties) does or says something that could be construed as not being entirely ‘straight’, he immediately disclaims the possibility of being gay, by saying ‘no homo.’

In some respects, the objective of the phrase is attained. Whenever I hear someone say ‘no homo’, I don’t think they’re gay. I do, however, think they’re a gigantic cowardly homophobic douche.

Because what ‘no homo’ implies is… Being gay is bad. Being gay is so bad that I have to immediately point out how NOT gay I am.

And worse, it reinforces all the stupid patriarchal bullshit about how guys aren’t supposed to show emotion. How they’re supposed to be the strong, silent types. How anything that departs from the tiny, rigid box of ‘acceptable’ masculine behavior is gay, feminine, deviant. 

Wrong.

And the sick thing is, you ask any of these people who say ‘no homo’… they’re going to immediately say, ‘Of COURSE I’m not a bigot! I love gay people! I have gay friends!’

Some friend you are, then, implying that you’re too good to be one of them. That being one of them is so repugnant to you that you have to qualify any statement you make that might imply you’re anything but unfailingly, utterly straight. That you’re so insecure in your masculinity, in your sexual orientation, that you can’t show affection or caring without thinking about how it might affect other people’s perception of you as a macho tough guy.

Some of you are going to read this and think, ‘Jeez, chill out! It’s just a joke!’ and ‘man, you’re taking this way too seriously…’

It’s not a joke. It’s an insult, to gay people, to bi people, to straight people. It’s immature and hurtful and bigoted. And it’s just plain stupid.

Being a queer rights activist isn’t about the number of gay friends you have or the amount of rainbow crap you buy. It’s about everyday thought, word and action, about the small things that have the potential to cause big hurts.

It’s about calling out things you think are wrong, wherever you can.

So this is me calling out everyone that uses ‘no homo.’

Grow up, please. And grow a pair, while you’re at it.