Sunday 18 May 2008

The 'No Chick Lit' Rule

picture from

Over the last 12 months, I have ranted and blogged about women in IT across multiple blogs and to anyone who is interested or polite enough not to walk away. This post continues that theme so stop here if you were hoping for something lighter.

I'm a geek girl in almost every way but am still pretty unique, while being like everyone else. My latest geekdom to be revived is my love for discussing what I read. After leaving Canberra, finding a book group wasn't as easy as I'd hoped so that meant starting one was the only option. It has started and is going well. We are on our first book and headed at some cool titles I would not have picked off the shelf on my own but am looking forward to reading.

When it rains, it pours. After signing up for at the recommendation of a couple of friends, I discovered others I knew shared the same hobby for reading and talking. A wise friend of mine says that "you can tell a lot about someone from their bookshelf" and that is true. I'm willing to push that as far as you can tell a lot about a person if they read at all.

With a lovely invitation to join another book group came the tale that they want people who join to share a book with others in the group that they might not read normally... BUT there is a 'no chick lit' rule. The person doing the inviting is a geek girl. Now what I am about to say does not apply to her directly but what she said triggered off a torrent of emotion and thought that had to be ranted at someone (so you will do).

Why is it that geek girls say and do things that make other women feel insecure about being geeky and girly at the same time?

Just like it is ok to not be a pink-feather-boa-wearing girl in thigh-high boots reading chick lit, it's ok to be that too. I like to think that I'm pretty secure in who I am most days but it sure does suck when I feel the need to butch it up so as not to lose some geek cred. Imagine how it makes young girls feel about a career in IT. Every time I hear this it makes me want to be who I want to be and ignore the no-blah rules. What if you are more socially driven? Is this what makes 'geek' a bad word? All this talk of rejecting mainstream views because geek and popular are mutually exclusive?

Embrace your inner pink feather boa wearing self and read your chick lit while eating Swiss chocolate on a couch with a sequined cushion or don't but I'd like to let you know that whichever path you choose to walk is ok. You are a cool geek girl, just like Jane Austen.


Unknown said...

You know, I have been guilty of this, even if I didn't say it out loud. Thanks for calling me on it. (We women geeks must keep each other honest.) I know that if anyone tried to put me in a box and tell me what kind of geek I needed to be, I'd hit 'em over the head with a club. Glad you set me straight before someone took a swing at me.

Damana Madden said...

Thanks @mmwebster. I usually write these things to remind myself not to do them too.

Andy said...

Hey mana,
I'm a geek guy and I read chick lit, mainly because I will read *anything* put in front of me. (I have even read the multi-lingual no-bribe posters in the RTA :-)
My feeling is that constraints are bad. I prefer recommendations to rules.

Just as an aside, do you know the origin of the "no chick-lit" rule?
Is it based on the geek girl image, or is it because in the early days there was too much chick-lit?

Damana Madden said...

Hey @Andy, to be honest I think the whole idea of rejecting mainstream ideas is a kick-back from when popular people treated geeks badly at school. Although nothing has changed on that front, I hope we all grow up enough to move on and just to happy and honest with ourselves.

Let's be nice to other people.

Acknowledge Me

Apple started a user experience trend many iOSes ago when it accepted Settings changes and did not ask for confirmation. Once the chang...