In books feminism

'Women's Fiction'

The phrase ‘woman writer’ and ‘women’s fiction’ floats around the literary world a lot. It’s prominently used in bookshops, which dedicate whole sections to the genre. But what actually is it?

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‘Women’s fiction’ is often equated to romance novels (and no, I don’t mean the smutty kind, although that is often included in this bracket), which is, of course, all that a woman could possibly enjoy reading. In a video of Leena Norms’ I watched a while ago, she said how a lecturer teaching Women’s Fiction in her university said that she hoped she wouldn’t be teaching the course in 20 years.

The fact that the whole bracket of women’s fiction exists creates a whole divide between women and ‘normal/regular’ fiction, somehow implying that women aren’t normal or don’t belong in normal literature. This attitude can put off lots of potentially incredible female authors from trying to get their work published or from people buying books written by women writers who aren’t writing in the set genre stereotypes set out by the term ‘women’s fiction’, as was why Joanne Rowling chose her pen name to be the gender neutral JK Rowling, so as not to put off potential male readers.


Like the lecturer Leena mentioned, I can’t wait for the day that ‘women’s fiction’ doesn’t exist, as such. Where men can be allowed to like romcom-esque fiction without having to go over to a shelf marked with a label that doesn’t sync with them and where a whole section of society isn’t metaphorically fenced off from being properly accepted into ‘regular’ literature. Because obviously, women don’t just enjoy a good love story. I admit I am partial to a good love story – I’m a proper hopeless romantic – but I also love poetry, dystopia, gothic, classics, fantasy, non-fiction... as long as it has a good plot and interesting and developed characters, I’m probably there.



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