Chick Flicks: A Sexist Phenomenon?

13 November 2015

By Lauren E. White

Chick flicks have been ingrained into our society as a solely ‘female thing’ – something exclusively for women who want to cry and eat Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. Some of the best ‘chick flicks’ of all time include The Notebook, Mean Girls, The Holiday, Sex in the City and many, many more. Some of the most memorable films ever made have been chick flicks – but are the morals behind them just as credible?

Before we get deep into the ethics of this genre, let me point a few things out to you: The Notebook‘s director was Nick Cassavetes, Mean Girls‘s director was Mark Waters, Sex in the City‘s director was Michael Patrick King – need I go on? Out of the four films I listed in the first paragraph – only one of them was directed by a woman: Nancy Meyers and The Holiday. It’s all a little bit odd that chick flicks, famed for their target audience of women, are mostly directed by middle-aged men in suits.

Our own Houses of Parliament is made up of 459 male MPs to 191 female MPs, Hollywood has a huge issue with a gender pay gap where women are paid less than their male counterparts, and of all world leaders, just a few of them are female. It is this sparse representation of the female population on our screens and in our papers that we spend most of our time complaining about. So, why is it nobody speaks out about a man directing a film on behalf of millions of women around the globe?

Generally speaking, chick flicks are all about how love and breaking up impacts a female protagonist. How does Nick Cassavetes or Michael Patrick King know when they have never experienced it? I’ll be frank: it’s like appointing a man as the Minister for Women and Equalities… stupid.

Now, there’s no issue with chick flicks being aimed at women. In fact, it’s great that there is a genre of film (and even literature’s spin-off, ‘chick lit’) aimed at women and recognising them as a valid target audience. However, it begins to become an issue when the people behind the films are men trying to speak for women about issues they’ve never had. Moreover, it becomes a larger issue when women become stereotyped as emotional wrecks because of films like The Notebook and Legally Blonde, which happens all too often in today’s society. And let’s not forget boys and men too – they are also pushed into thinking that they can’t like this genre of film because it’s for girls. The stigma surrounding chick flicks and the stereotypes for how men should think and feel are poles apart, making it easy for the portion of the male population whom enjoy these films to be left behind.

All in all, the end product of a chick flick is credit-worthy. When the acting is polished and the lines delivered, they become great films to laugh and love with. But the deeper you go with this genre, the more you see the preposterous inequalities of it: chick flick is a genre ran by men for women and about women. Whether this is a ‘sexist phenomenon’ is something you make your own judgement on, but chick flicks certainly appear that way when presented stripped bare in front of you.

Like this article? Please share!