Today I was asked to define vagina fiction, the term I use for the type of books that I generally prefer to read.
“Bourgeois chick lit,” was my prompt reply. When asked for something more specific, I added “books of the type likely to be recommended by Oprah.”
It’s not easy to define, but you know it when you see it: the protagonist is almost always female; the prose is generally at least slightly lyrical; the conflicts are usually internal. The titles are sometimes, The ____’s Wife, or The ____’s Daughter. Often the cover has a female figure posed to the side, or her front but only up to her chin.
But this is a sci-fi and fantasy blog!
Vagina fiction overlaps with all genres.
However, it’s fairly rare (outside of small independent bookstores where the folks know what they’re doing) that my favorite speculative fiction is actually shelved in the science fiction and fantasy section. I don’t even think it’s a matter of sexism pervading genre, of oh noes the girl cooties in our geek stuff, but marketing; I am fairly confident that this difference exists because vagina fiction $$$$ > SF/F $$.
And so what happens to readers like me, I wonder, who have a preference for certain genres, but a distinct preference for another literary dimension, when that dimension means those books are shelved off from the rest of their brethren?
Are there other readers like me, ones who spent several years not realizing that they liked sci-fi and fantasy, who would morosely wander the general fiction section of the bookstore, relying on nothing but covers and titles to try to find a book that appealed?
Because, you know, when you take out all the stuff that distinctly is marketed to the ladies, the SF/F section of the bookstore is kind of, well — alienating for me. There’s a bunch of dudes. And swords. And dudes with swords. Some dragons, being fought and slain by dudes with swords.
It’s Sausage City up in those shelves, and I definitely prefer frolicking in Taco Town, you know? At least most of the time.
So if I had to state a main purpose behind this blog, it’s this.