Mean Girls, The Notebook, Legally Blond, The Princess Diaries and many more are some of the most watched and talked about movies of our generation. What do all of those movies have in common? They are categorised as so-called “chick flicks”.
The term “chick flick” originates from a genre created primarily by men in the 1930s, which was named “woman’s film”. This genre was intended to appeal to an audience composed of women and thus had to talk about romantic relations and their related drama. Since yes, apparently that’s all women care about. Chick flicks are often considered cheesy and predictable, with a poor plot, and are hence not regarded as respectable movies. However, as far as I am aware, there is no “man movie” category so why do we feel the need to associate a movie genre to women solely and then, make them feel guilty for liking it? Big oof.
Assuming that all a woman wants is a perfect love tale is not only misogynistic but also derogatory. Most of these movies belittle women and girls as inconsequential beings, dismiss any activity appealing to women as shallow and futile, and portray women as emotional wrecks or mindless. Chick flicks not only perpetuate stereotypical portrayals of women but also promote certain forms of toxic masculinity. By claiming that love and romance movies are targeted at a women’s audience, it reinforces the assumption that men should not be as sentimental, emotional, and interested in romance. Cause caring about romance for a man is supposedly shameful? *Eye roll* The underlying issue here is that these movies are targeted at and associated with a specific gender identity, implying that ‘real’ men are not supposed to enjoy them while women are. This also produces a hierarchical organisation of interests, traits, and behaviours between gender identities.
The term itself with its silly colloquial appeal delegitimises, makes fun of, and betrays the alleged worth of feminine media. By calling a movie a chick flick, many argue that it also cheapens the work that goes into making and producing such a movie. Romantic comedies and/or movies centered around women as leads undergo just as much editing, reflection, rewriting, and changes as any other film. Statistics show that the “chick flick” stigma has real-world ramifications for women in the film industry. Since other films are marketed to everyone, they reach a larger audience and gain more recognition, which is not the case for the ones categorised as chick flicks. In 2013, the ratio of women’s characters on screen declined to 28.4%, and none of the 2014 Academy Award nominees for Best Picture featured important female protagonists. Despite the fact that more than a dozen films directed by women have been nominated for best picture during the Academy’s 93-year tenure, only seven women have been acknowledged in the category of best director.
So, can we please stop calling movies “chick flicks” unless they are literally about little baby chickens?