Women & romcoms : why we should never say 'chick flick' again
Updated: May 8, 2022
The first time I heard the term 'chick flick', I assumed it was for the purely entertainment filled films with terrible scripts and actors made by men who though they knew what women want but of course failed to see the forest for the tree. As I was researching the sub-genres of romance, I stumbled upon formal definitions of chick flick. According to Wikipedia, a chick flick is "a slang term, sometimes used pejoratively, for the film genre catered specifically to women's interests, and is marketed towards women demographics. They generally tends to appeal more to a younger female audience and deals mainly with love and romance."
When it comes to the romcom entry, this what I found : "romantic comedies (rom-coms) are often also chick flicks. However, rom-coms are typically respected more than chick flicks because they are designed to appeal to men and women. "
For Urban Dictionnary, a chick flick is "a film that indulges in the hopes and dreams of women and/or girls. A film that has a happy, fuzzy, ridiculously unrealistic ending." On Peterson's blog, rom-coms have been "marketed with guys in mind" and apparently if it focuses on "love and romance and no comedy (ie.no guys in mind)". Since when "no guys in mind" equals to "no comedy" ?
© IMDB Top 100 chick flicks
The real difference is that one genre focuses on women (and is often mistaken for what women want) so of course, it has to be dismissed. And women's hopes and dreams can be professional too and not always focused on love.
The use of the term 'indulge' is quite insulting as if women had no right to be represented on screen so it is a favour done by the industry. And I mean, it's basic knowledge, that men don't want love and are all single forever, right ?
As soon as it focuses on women, the film industry and critic world uses a derogatory term for female-led and/or female-focused films. So, what should we call the films that focus on men - which are of course the overwhelming majority ? I tried to look it up but of course, in our sexist society, male-centered films are the norm so you will never hear the term 'dude flick'. It will just be called a film. This is why we need to reject the term 'chick flick'. It is only there to discredit the films focusing on women, fronted by female leads and/or with women working behind the scenes. On the IMDB chick flick list, films like The Duchess (2008) or Brooklyn (2015) are seen as chick flicks which proves that it is a sexist term. These films are first and foremost dramas dealing with women breaking away from society stereotypes which puts them already miles away from the image of 'silly' films with frizzy, unbelievable happy endings - to go back to the Urban Dictionary definition. Where is the happy ending in The Duchess ?
What this top also shows is that men are overwhelmingly making content for women. Out of 100 films, only 10 are actually directed by women. If we are going to talk about the contents and quality of these films, a lot of the blame is to place on men. If women don't get to direct, write and produce in majority the films aimed at women, it's not the women who are brainless princesses desperately waiting for a prince.
It is the men who are 1. clueless and 2. most likely, would like to make women believe that their main purpose on this earth is to find a man and keep him - even if he is a dick.
I mean, they need to foster the environment so they can have the supportive wives they need to go conquer the world, right ? I mean, how would they do it if women start getting ideas and want to work, being equally paid, getting awards ?
The term 'chick flick' is a manifestation of a sexist society trying to keep women in a role good for the men without asking them what they want. It is to denigrate the content aimed at women as "not serious", secondary and of poor quality.
The existence of this term means that women will have to work 10 times more than the men to prove they are "serious" directors, producers, actresses. Although, women might not make the films seen as 'chick flicks', they will be the most harmed by the existence of that term. It exists to shut out anybody who focuses on women's issues in an industry where men are over-represented at every level. In 2021, we are better than that so let's leave that term in the past and call them "films".