As the two previous chapters have argued, chick lit’s subversive potential arises from its ambiguities. Readers can choose from a multitude of angles, take up different offers of identification, fill textual gaps with meanings of their choice, and decode (and encode) ironic and humorous comments as social criticism. The plots of the texts, however, cannot and do not deviate substantially from the pre-set formula. In the vast majority of chicklit novels, this formula speaks to and about white, Western subjects from middle-class backgrounds who identify as heterosexual within a binary gender order. Regardless of the fact that chick-lit’s spectrum of subgenres spans other ethnic identities and has begun to include homosexual love, the successful mainstream titles remain not only anchored within the above default categories, but they also often exclude or stereotype other identities. Similarly, in mainstream African-American, Asian, or Latina chick lit, the group identity addressed by the texts often does not mix with other ethnic groups either, but mostly stays within the targeted community. As I have pointed out earlier, ethnic chick lit should not be categorized as a subgenre
of chick lit. It makes more sense to think of these texts as variations or even, in some cases (Terry McMillan being a notable example), forerunners of the genre, which have conveniently been subsumed under the heading of chick lit for marketing purposes. The ethnic chick-lit texts penned after the publication of Bridget Jones’s Diary and Sex and the City usually follow the original formula, but they also rewrite it for their target audiences. The issue at stake is in how far ethnic variations of chick lit tend to reiterate the norms of white Western femininity as presupposed by the original formula, and in how far they can subvert them, i.e. whether they introduce their own cultural politics and perhaps even transgress sexual and ethnic boundaries.