My post was funny, especially to most of my fellow horror writers. Horror is a genre that is regularly maligned, and mainstream booksellers don’t usually put much thought into curating diverse horror fiction sections.
So it wasn’t a huge surprise that upon visiting my local used bookstore, I didn’t find anything on the horror shelves that I either hadn’t read before or wasn’t interested in.
As I was leaving, I noticed a significant “Chick Lit” section—yes, that’s what it was called. I chuckled to myself, and my post to the horror group was something very similar to this (I can’t direct quote because the post has been removed by the group administrators):
“Visited my local used bookstore this afternoon. After finding nothing in the horror section that I either hadn’t already read or wasn’t interested in, I headed toward the door. On my way, I noticed a huge “Chick Lit’ section and thought I’d take a look. Alas, there was no Richard Matheson, no Ligotti, nothing even remotely scary on those shelves except for maybe Hallmark stories. OK then, I guess THAT lit section isn’t for THIS chick.” And then I ended my post with a famous quote from Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness:
“The horror, the horror!”
As I expected, most of the reactions to my post were laughing emojis—people of all genders thought it was as funny as I did. And then…
One comment: “Let’s not go all ‘pick me’.
Another: “That’s sure a lot of ‘pick me’ bullshit.
Note that the quotation marks are mine, they weren’t there in the original posts.
Yet another: “Pick me much or what?”
Befuddled yet intrigued, I asked one of the posters to describe ‘pick me’. I had absolutely no idea, but clearly several women swarmed in with the same type of comment, so I had to get to the bottom of it.
It was described to me as (and again, I have to paraphrase): “Pick me is when you want to show off, particularly to men, that you’re not like the other girls. And you do whatever you can to shame and ridicule other women, especially in front of guys.”
I read a lot. Horror, mystery, classic literature, non-fiction, gardening books, textbooks, medical books…but I had never noticed a “Chick Lit” section until that afternoon in my bookstore. What I also noticed that day was that the section carried none of the above-mentioned genres. I’ve never been a fan of historical romance or rom-coms or supernatural love stories, so none of the books on those shelves attracted my attention. Quite alright. I note they must be popular because there is significant real estate afforded them.
So what--I don’t read what is apparently called chick lit. That is my personal choice. When I saw the section in the bookstore, I was puzzled as to the use of what seemed to me an antiquated term. Is it not for men too, or aren’t men supposed to like romance? Should all women enjoy it? What the heck? I don’t see a readers-with-a-penis-only section?
“I read both horror and chick lit,” one post says. To me, that’s great! Read what you enjoy. This is not an either/or comment. There is no need for division.
I don’t pick fights, and I don’t look for them. I’m not offended by much these days, and I’m not upset as much as I’m curious and flummoxed as to the quick desire to condemn another.
I realize (it appears) these girls are young, certainly younger than me. I appreciate that they have likely grown up in a world where immediate gratification is much more prevalent than it was during my younger years. I remember the need to answer, whether it’s before you think about it or not, just to be heard.
Is the lightning speed of our online communication that encourages us to name things instead of describing them? Take, for example, the Karen phenomenon. Now if you complain, you’re branded a Karen! God help all the birth-named Karens having to carry this around with them. Whether or not you’re voicing a legitimate concern, someone who doesn’t agree with you will name and shame you by using a lazy shorthand that is meant, ultimately, to ridicule the subject.
Was I surprised that the 'pick me' term’s origin is arguably TikTok? Not at all. TikTok is the ultimate quick fix, the immediate satisfaction associated with short-term attention spans.
But this term, ‘pick me’, becomes even more insidious as I dig deeper. It’s considered a term for women who go along with the guys, even at the cost of denigrating women. It’s letting men take advantage of you, just so you can be ‘one of the boys’.
There are magazine articles describing how being ‘pick me’ is rooted in misogyny. There’s a lot to read on that, and I’ll leave it to you if you’re intrigued. (Don’t go there haha!) Pick-me girls are said to be the anti-feminists; one report referred to them as being ‘proud wifey material’. Does this type of person exist? Likely. Does the term make them sound like 'girls other girls don't like'? Yeah, it does. Last I checked, folks are multifaceted, and honestly, I set out to find a positive attribute in everyone I encounter. Hanging a ‘shaming’ label over someone’s head doesn’t help in that regard.
I was accused of making a narrow-minded comment and then being upset about it. I posted on my own behalf. Of course it’s subjective. It’s an opinion. I would never think of speaking on BEHALF of all women, just like I’d never speak AGAINST all women.
I wonder if the concept of nuance is even taught these days. I must admit that if we live in a world in which quick-trigger judgment doesn’t consider subtle shades of expression, I think we’re in real trouble.
Who are these women? I’m certainly not attempting to paint women younger than me with a broad brush—I know many thoughtful, introspective, compassionate millennials and Gen Zs, and like in every generation, there are thinkers and stinkers. But these women’s quick and wicked validation of each other’s comments makes me wonder how they took offense to my post. How they made it theirs, made it a personal assault. How THEY chose to ridicule and shame ME because I posted something they misinterpreted.
I been published in both horror and inspirational non-fiction genres. I read everything that interests me if I have time. But I’m a 61-year-old with a cognitive deficit. I don’t care what other people read or what other people think of me. If you like ‘chick lit’ (again, it seems a strange term to me) or extreme body horror, it’s none of my business. Read what you want. To each, your own. Escape to the glorious world between the covers. Just, please, read. Read before your eyesight goes, or your brain capacity steals away the words on a page.
Wait a minute—THEY chose to SHAME me? If I were quick to judge, I might interpret that as ‘pick me’ behavior. A younger version of me would have definitely called them Mean Girls. But I’m choosing not to go there. I’m optimistic that as they age, they too will begin to see the world around them in shades other than black and white.
About the Creator
I live with a broken brain and PTSD--but that doesn't stop me! I'm an author, artist, and qualified mediator who loves life's detours.
I co-authored NOT CANCELLED: Canadian Kindness in the Face of COVID-19. I also publish horror stories.