From the Montreal Gazette:
"It's hard to think of that term as being anything other than derogatory," she [Tana Janowitz] replied over the phone from Brooklyn. "Because they certainly didn't call men's writing 'Boy Books.' Chick Lit usually means the book is written in the first person of a girl looking for a man - with a lot of punchy one-liners."
That's the contemporary take. "But if you're thinking of women's writing of the 20th century," she continued, "women's books going back to Edith Wharton certainly do have much more to do with the pursuit of love and happiness as opposed to men's books of the 20th century. They are different. I suppose Olivia Manning was one of the few writers in a war zone, dealing to a degree with politics. And that was supposed to be the realm of male writers, like Graham Greene or Evelyn Waugh."