When I say the word fangirl, what words come to mind? Fan girls are notoriously known as crazy, obsessive, shallow, annoying, or deluded. But this begs the question: Why are girls constantly belittled and degraded by society for simply enjoying and being passionate about their interests? Why does it bother so many people when a young teenager waits hours in line to see her favorite band? Or when she purchases posters and merch in support for her favorite book series? The answer is simple: it’s because they are women. I’ve been called a fangirl before and strangely felt the need to defend myself from this term. I have wanted to justify that I really do care about the music and not just about the attractiveness of the artist or character. Because that’s all a young girl can care about, right? When I attempted to dissect why male music fans are not challenged by the same prejudices attached to female fans, I knew this was part of a bigger issue. Sexism and misogynistic double standards are driving the narrative around fangirls. When football fans spend money on front row tickets, wear t-shirts to support their favorite team, or react emotionally to wins or losses, they are not shamed the same way women are. I’ve seen grown men crying and throwing things at their television screen after the sports match did not go their way, yet we are the crazy obsessive ones, right? This is part of the same narrative that labels women as too emotional, sensitive, and irrational, thus not worthy of being taken seriously about their interests.
When Harry Styles was asked about his fanbase being primarily young teenage girls, he rightly stated, "We're so past that dumb outdated narrative of 'Oh, these people are girls, so they don't know what they're talking about'. They're the ones who know what they're talking about. They're the people who listen obsessively. They fucking own this shit. They're running it." So, think twice the next time you use being young and female as an insult. Because it’s not.