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Koos Kombuis

Why real men should read chick-lit

2011-07-29 12:24
I have a confession to make. I am addicted to chick-lit.

When I was younger, much younger, I turned to porn whenever I needed information about the female sex. I still like porn, but I cannot honestly say that I find it irresistible. As a red-blooded man, I can, off-hand, name quite a number of things that are more interesting than watching naked women in high-heeled shoes indulging in fake sex on late-night e-tv.

Such as rugby. Such as imported beer (especially from Germany or Belgium). Such as science fiction paperbacks. Such as good music, sleek cars, conversations about quantum physics, and going to a braai.

And such as a good chick-lit novel.

I have been secretly addicted to chick-lit now for quite a number of years. Though I have not read the seminal chick-lit novel, Bridget Jones’s Diary, I am an ardent fan of Sophie Kinsella and Joy Fielding. I have read every single novel by Marian Keyes. I am unable to resist these books, and I am always the first to tell my wife:"Did you know there’s a new novel out by Jennifer Weiner?" (or whoever).

The F word

After a number of years reading chick-lit, I have come to the conclusion that men NEED to read chick-lit. Not because they HAVE to. But because it’s fun, because it can help them to understand women, and because it can teach them the basic principles of feminism without the guilt trips, the insecurity, the boring, boring, oh so boring intellectual clap-trap of the bra-burning fraternity.

Why are men not open to traditional feminism? Well firstly, there’s nothing humorous about it. Secondly, when you tell a red-blooded man that women are equal to men, he is bound to misunderstand that statement. To him, it will either mean that women also like rugby, or it will mean that women have balls. Which, to most red-blooded men, would be very bad news. Whereas most red-blooded men would probably be, theoretically, perfectly okay with the idea of gender equality, the idea of gender equality would not be enough to alert them to the very important fact that women are not simply equal, but also maddeningly dissimilar from each other, enticingly mysterious, and vastly different from all pre-conceived ideas that surround them as a group.

What an entire generation of feminists have failed to do – persuade men of the basic humanity and, even more importantly, the real reason for LIKING the female sex (as opposed to WANTING them or even LOVING them) – chick-lit writers CAN do. If only men were prepared to read those writers.

Fellow human beings

And read them, they would. If they knew about them.

Because chick-lit is funny. Because it explains women perfectly. Because it is the best antidote to porn and locker-room generalisations known to man.

I wish, I wish, I wish, that more men knew the joys of chick-lit. It would be like men discovering quiche, or sushi. I know it’s a strange idea, but it’s perfectly feasible. I want red-blooded men everywhere to know that there’s more to life than cars, rugby and braaivleis. I want them to weep with Marian Keyes. I want them to go shopping with Sophie Kinsella. I want them to understand why shoes are so important to the female sex. Once they realise this, once they really understand it, they will be able to outgrow their infantile e-tv obsessions with naked women in heels. They will come to the shocking realisation, gradually, that women are not just objects of desire or fear, but fellow human beings, capable of feelings, capable of dreams, and subject to the same follies all human beings are subject to.

Viva chick-lit!

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