BEST-SELLING author Marian Keyes said she is frustrated at her books being constantly dismissed as 'chick-lit'.
The Irish writer - who has sold 30 million copies of her books - said the chick-lit label was a derogatory term used to make female novelists figures of fun.
Keyes's novels, including 'Watermelon' and 'Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married', tackle hard-hitting subjects such as drug addiction, depression and domestic violence.
Despite this, Keyes said her works still get described as part of the 'chick lit' genre.
"It's definitely a pejorative term.
"I'm going to quote Gandhi here, 'First they ignore you, then they mock you, then they fight you'," she said to an audience at the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts in Wales on Sunday.
"This (is) very much a patriarchal society.
"And I think one way of keeping women less well paid and having to do more work is to mock them and anything they love.
"And I'm not saying this in anger - it's a simple fact that one way of keeping women shut up is to call the things they love 'fluff'.
"It's a device," said Keyes, whose latest novel is 'The Woman Who Stole My Life'.
"I think people probably aren't even aware that's what's going on, but it's absolutely innate in our society that anything pertaining to women will be treated with less respect and given disrespectful names."
The 51-year-old also spoke about her three-year battle with depression from 2009, revealing that baking helped her cope with her condition, the Telegraph reported.
"I started baking cakes like a looper, around the clock. I was accosting strangers in the street.
"My neighbours would back away when they saw me coming at them bearing cakes.
"Now I don't bake at all and I've moved to buying old furniture.
"I ate all the cakes, but I can't eat the furniture," Keyes added.