The Sexism of Being a Fangirl
As a 20-year old female, I feel personally attached to this issue. Why should my credibility be questioned just because this fanbase I am a part of has mainly female fans? I love artists like One Direction because they are good, not because I am childish. I like television shows like One Tree Hill because I enjoy the teen drama, not because I am following a "fad" that only girls watch. I feel as though our society is hardwired to instantly judge an artist in any form if his/her fanbase is composed of all girls. The credibility of the art is taken away, and the fans are considered "childish" or "unintelligent" for having an interest in this thing. However, when a male enjoys something, the art can be considered legitimate. This is something that has been happening for a while now, and I absolutely despise the concept of it.
Let's go back in time to when The Beatles first started out. Their fans were predominately female, so they were not taken seriously right away. They were brushed off even though they were genuinely talented. It was not until males started realizing that they were credible and talented that the group's popularity was taken seriously. Now The Beatles are regarded (by some) as the best band of all time because of their experimentation with music and talent.
If we move up to this current generation, this is still happening. An artist is not taken seriously for years until a male comes around and says how he/she is credible. Until then, the female fans of the group are considered stupid. I used to be a massive fan of the Jonas Brothers. They were a boy band, but they played their own instruments, wrote their own songs and experimented with different sounds. They had a live strings section when performing. They even performed at the GRAMMY Awards with Stevie Wonder! Yet, they were laughed at and ridiculed because their fanbase was mostly girls. Nick and Joe Jonas have now gone solo, and they are suddenly considered "cool" to be a fan of. They are no longer ridiculed because males have admitted to enjoying their music.
This same thing is currently happening with Justin Bieber. He and his fans have been essentially ridiculed since 2008, even though he has collaborated with people like Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Big Sean and more "credible" artists. He was not even taken seriously until recently. Yet even now, people are hesitant to admit that they enjoy Justin's music because he still is that "teenybopper" artist.
One Direction is another example of girls being considered unintelligent because of liking a boy band. The group's music often makes nods at older artists like The Rolling Stones and Fleetwood Mac. However, the group's credibility is always questioned because "only girls like them." Why would people spend so much money seeing a band that isn't good is the real question here? Is it that hard to believe that an artist with female fans can have quality music? Even members of One Direction themselves get the flack from people for having so many female fans, and they have to defend themselves for being in a boy band! (See Instagram conversation between Niall and footballer below.)
The worst part is that the fans themselves are considered "crazy" or "unintelligent." There have been neurologists who have done experiments about why the fans are so passionate, and it is essentially a science. Music releases endorphins in the brain that cause a sensation of happiness. There is literally a scientific reasoning to why fans are so passionate, but they are just labeled as crazy. I think the thing that bothers me the most is when the fans are considered unintelligent. People actually believe that a girl's music taste determines how smart she is. I've seen so many people respond to a tweet about social issues with the phrase, "Says the girl who likes One Direction." What does liking boy bands have to do with social issues?
I personally love groups with predominately female fanbases, but that doesn't mean I'm not smart. The fans themselves are clever and do things that haven't been done before. For example, One Direction's fandom has worked together to create fan projects. They were smart enough to get people from all over the world to do things like take out an advertisement in Billboard Magazine to thank the band. They went on a radio promo spree and got a song that was not officially released as a single to play on the radio. There was even one moment during a concert when the fans arranged signs to hold up so that the audience would show the country's colors and spell out "We are 1d Family" (see below). If that's not intelligence, I honestly don't know what is.
This phenomenon of female fanbases not being taken seriously also carries over to television shows. I know some big examples of this are The Cw shows like Gossip Girl or One Tree Hill. I have heard males say that they are embarrassed to watch the shows because they have mostly female fans. They admit the shows are good, but it is embarrassing that they watch the shows. I remember in high school, people would tell me how it is humorous that I like TV shows like those because they are not good at all. Honestly, what is wrong with watching a little teen drama? There are some good plot points and life lessons. Still, the fanbases and shows themselves are not considered legitimate.
My main point here is that I don't understand why girls are ostracized for their media interests. The art and the fans are mocked in society because people do not see the music or TV shows as legitimate since mainly girls like it. When a male says the artist is good, the artist is suddenly not as embarrassing to listen to. It is just a ridiculous concept that I can't get over. Just because I love a boy band or a "girly" TV show doesn't mean I'm not smart or that I'm crazy. It also doesn't mean that the art itself is not real. The whole point of music, movies and TV is to entertain and make a difference to someone. If that is what the art is doing, there should be no reason why it is considered faulty by society.
I guess I will never understand why male opinions matter more than female viewpoints in media. Quite frankly, I may be considered childish, unintelligent and not following "real" music or TV shows, but at least I am enjoying it. The inherent sexism in all forms of our society is something that needs to be stopped, and that sexism should never change who we are as fans of music, television, movies or anything really. We as girls need to continue to defend this problem and make sure people don't drag us down for our interests just because we are girls.
Truly ladies, let's keep loving what we love. Don't let anyone stop you.