Why does female-leaning fandom come in for such criticism?

Feature Simon Brew 25 Sep 2013 - 07:20

Fans of female-focused properties like Twilight are often subjected to aggressive criticism. Simon explains why it should stop...

Regular tolerators of Den Of Geek may well know of the existence of a 3000 word feature on One Direction that I somehow managed to stumble into having to write, courtesy of an ill-founded bet on Twitter. In said feature, I argued that while I was hardly bowled over by the work of One Direction, I didn't feel I had the right to gleefully urinate over the fandom of someone else.

I could criticise their music, I could vow never to buy anything they ever did. But slag off those who do love One Direction, and are dedicated fans? That's over the line for me.

Yet it was in the comments field of that article that one point stuck in my head, where it's firmly resided since. As one commenter put it, "it does seem that fandoms that can be 'female' learning (such as One Direction) do get a lot of stick, but if it's male skewering (e.g. football) then it gets a free pass".

A further commenter picked up the baton: "anything with a fanbase mainly composed of teenage girls - One Direction, Bieber, Twilight etc - gets tons of these uber-macho comments from people desperate to prove that they don't like this sissy rubbish". As such you get "homophobic slurs aimed at the artists and misogynistic ones aimed at the fans".

That's put it far better than I ever could.

All of this has stayed with me, primarily because it has so many rings of truth about it. And you don't have to look much further than that Twilight saga for a whole clutch of evidence.

Putting aside the merits of the Twilight films for a minute - whether you love, hate or put up with them - the core demographic was female, and primarily teenagers. I don't think that's much of a secret. That was reflected in the casting, the publicity and the material itself, and the box office rewarded the choices that were made.

Let's assume for a minute (and this isn't the biggest leap I'll ever take) that there's a big bunch of people who don't like Twilight movies, as many of you don't. There's also a big bunch of people who don't like the staggeringly successful Rush Hour trilogy. But look at how the tone of the comments both franchises attract differs. You get vilified for liking one, and nobody seems to mind either way if you like the other. 

Mark Kermode infamously wrote a piece at The Guardian back in November 2012, entitled 'Move over, Luke Skywalker... I'm a Twilight man'. He's made little secret of the fact that he's enjoyed the Twilight movies, and in the article he put across his reasons why. Granted, an introduction saying he preferred the film to Star Wars stirred things up, but as he related in his upcoming book, Hatchet Job, the strength of feeling he encountered in the comments field was something to behold. And he's not alone. I visited a breadth of movie sites, as well as the likes of Amazon and the IMDB, to see what user feedback articles on Twilight were getting.

It was depressing, and a sizeable number of comments had a really nasty, sexist twinge to them. Twilight fans, apparently, are "all so stupid", "get pregnant at 16" (I wish I was making these up), and generally "dumb girls".

Apparently, the "only reason a guy should see this is to get layed (sic)", and the alternative name for the series is "Twatlight". Meanwhile, "if there was a movie of guy on guy full penetration porno Jacob on Edward that movie would not be as gay as Twilight".

You don't have to look far to find even less savoury comments elsewhere online. I've not pulled a few out of context here. There are thousands, if not more, comments like those I've quoted.

But it doesn't just stay online. At the Los Angeles premiere of Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2, the queuing fans were jeered by passers-by. Jeered! Just for waiting to see the stars of a film series you happen to like. Not even jeering the performers, or the people who made the film. Instead, it's become sport to jeer the people who want to watch it.

The people jeering were reportedly coming out or going to a basketball game, and the jeerers were, it seems, male. And doesn't that encapsulate it a little? Were the fans at said basketball game female, and were a male crowd waiting to watch the stars arrive for the premiere, would the women jeer the men? I'd argue not. So why is it acceptable here? Why is it okay to use the cover of a film that people want to see to effectively bully human beings?

Some people hate Twilight because of what it does with the vampire genre. Some Twilight fans do themselves no favours (and let's be truthful, that's putting it mildly). Few would have quarrel with debating either of those points. But the rampaging sexism that surrounds the franchise is depressing, and yet alarmingly tolerated.

But this isn't just about Twilight. Most recently, it's been seen with the One Direction film, where the bashing of the film and its fans was out in force. Again, I'm not blind: I see some of the comments coming from One Direction fans to those who criticise the band, and they're sometimes no better. I'm not defending those at all. Two wrongs certainly don't come close to making a right there. 

What about, though, the ire aimed at some female teenage Doctor Who fans for being unhappy with the casting of Peter Capaldi in the show, which again was in marked contrast to that that male fan would get?

But then, in a really good piece at Whovian Feminism, they argue there that "I’ve seen more people complaining about how heterosexual teenage girls are complaining about Peter Capaldi’s casting because he isn’t a young man onto which they can project their sexual fantasies then I’ve actually seen heterosexual teenage girls making that complaint. It seems to me that this ‘problem’ has been widely blown out of proportion". I can only add anecdotal evidence to that, but my findings - save for one YouTube video - are the same.

Let's pick another example. Sherlock has attracted an enthusiastic and sizeable female fandom too. The outside assumption is that every woman who loves Sherlock instantly wants to have wild and passionate sex with Benedict Cumberbatch/Martin Freeman/Una Stubbs. And they may well do. But that they might just really love the show seems an alien concept in some quarters.

A Den Of Geek correspondent went along to a Sherlock press event earlier in the year, where she found herself talking to a journalist from a respected (well, less respected by us now) daily newspaper. "You must be a Cumberbitch", said the male journalist in question, pretty much his opening line. Our correspondent, as it turned out, has read all of the Conan Doyle Sherlock Holmes stories many times, has always loved the material, and now has her fandom denigrated down to three syllables that trivialise just what she's got out of the stories. Mind you, even if she hadn't, does that make it right that someone can call her a 'Cumberbitch' within a sentence of meeting her? Is it inconceivable that not every human being is comfortable with that phrase?

It's all a bit depressing. 

Look too at the recent filming of Sherlock around London. Our same correspondent walked passed the assembled crowd, and she noted that it was almost entirely female. Sherlock's fervent female support has already resulted in the aforementioned 'Cumberbitches' term (a word that some are happy to adopt as their own), but it still tends to be approached more negatively. Contrast that with the queue for the launch of a new Apple product on launch day. That queue is mainly male, still comes in for some stick, yet is seen as more 'acceptable'.

But why?

Let's go for another quick example - I'm using lots, because I don't want this to be about the individual films and show. It's about the broader underlying point.

I got talking to another colleague about the recent box office disappointment, The Mortal Instruments, another film roundly dismissed as "for teenage girls". If it is for teenage girls firstly, does that make it any lesser a project? Does the fact that it's aimed at teenage girls suddenly make it bad? 

My colleague's argument that The Mortal Instruments was a film based in and around female-centric fantasy. And that's seen, again in some quarters, as a bad thing. Star Wars, meanwhile, even the weaker films, is centred around a more male-driven fantasy. That's one of the biggest film franchises of all time. 

That's not quite comparing like with like certainly (I don't intend to take any kind of bullet for The Mortal Instruments), but then what female-targeted franchises are amongst the biggest in the world? That's perhaps a question for another time, because I want to finish on the main point: that this is about the fans, rather than what they happen to be fans of.

You may or may not agree with the individual examples, but there still seems to be a general instant dismissal of films and shows targeted at women, and teenage girls in particular, that overrides the actual content and just attacks the people who like it.

How miserable and depressing is that? That online mob rule attacks you simply for what you like. Didn't we leave all that behind in the school playground?

Films are targeted and marketed at different genders, and different demographic audiences are generally receptive to different material. But isn't the bottom line this? If you pay your money to see something, and hate it, then you've every right to slag it off. But that doesn't anyone any right to slag off the people who feel differently, and to dismiss and denigrate their fandom.

Fandom is supposed to be a positive thing, about celebrating something you enjoy, are entertained by and are passionate about. It's not about sending up flares to attract a crowd of bullies who should know better. Sadly, that's just what some female-leaning fandoms in particular tend to do at the moment, and it can't just be me who's pig sick of it.

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Fandom can be a positive thing and it's good when girls have things they're passionate about. Sadly with teenage girls and some grown woman it's often all about sexual desire or fantasies.

Ask them why they like One Direction or Justin Bieber and the answer is more often than not because they're cute or hot, all the while merrily holding up signs with marry me and writing the kind of slash fiction in which Justin Bieber has a threesome with Robert Pattinson and Harry Styles. Good for them but it sets back feminism about 50 years and it has nothing to do with the merit of the product itself.
I'm sure there are plenty of girls who enjoy their pop culture fandom in fun and healthy ways drawing Harry Potter art or dressing up as their favourite Doctor but when girls go crazy over a hot boy in their thousands they're not doing themselves any favours.

I've never had any serious issue with female fandom and if anything it sickens me how arrogant and obnoxious the male side of fandom is towards it. Why can't a female audience enjoy a said TV show or film just as much as a male audience? At the end of the day stuff like Doctor Who, Harry Potter or Sherlock are made for all the enjoy.
Having said that the side that does bother me is when some interpret something like Doctor Who into a romantic drama or they watch it because they fancy the lead actor, rather than watching it because they like the said TV show/film for being a compelling drama. And when certain female fans go on about how that is the focus of the TV show/film they don't do themselves any favours and clearly miss the entire point of the said source.
So far as stuff like Twilight goes? Well I've never seen any of the films and have no interest in ever seeing them, so I can say one way or the other how good they. But at the end of the day those films are made for teenage girls, so it's easy for an older audience member or criticise them for liking it.
All in all female fandom does get a bad rap, but at times they don't help themselves.

Taking Twilight as a series, it was dreadful. Wooden acting and a script that couldn't escape the source material. It also had some disturbing themes, such as the American purity movement and the romance between a teenage girl and a pensioner vampire.

Yes the internet will have idiots on it, it is in many ways a overgrown school playground with added anonymity. But compare it to the responses to Buffy it just shows that where such virulent criticism is present there is no smoke without fire.

Finally we have now entered the age of the targeted teen girl demographic movie, Past experience has shown that this production by committee can never produce quality in any genre.

'romance between a teenage girl and a pensioner vampire' lol what utter nonsense

What was it then?....

But female fandom is sometimes a little bit insane, I mean, I loooove batman and don't like the idea of Affleck being the new one, but I havnt cut my wrists like some cerain Beiber Fangirls did. They take their obsessions a little to extreme!

Thanks Simon, an interesting article. I got into sf as a child, reading everything I could find by Asimov, Ray Bradbury, John Wyndham etc, but I also enjoy sf on TV and film, and it annoys me that female sf fans are often treated as empty-headed idiots who only watch sf for the 'hotties' in them. It is possible to enjoy both - to enjoy speculative fiction and the ideas they generate, and to enjoy looking at attractive people, and I suspect men do both without anyone giving it a second thought. (Seven of Nine anyone?!) If something like Twilight (which I personally don't happen to like) gets young women into reading and opens their eyes to some of the gems of sf/fantasy out there, then it's potentially a good thing. No one should be put down simply for being different and liking something you personally don't like.

So what if bits of it are insane though? I've done 200 mile round trips to watch films I'm desperate to see, which hardly wins me too many sanity points.

I've deliberately separated your other point. Wrist cutting and self-harming, I'd argue, are indicative of deeper issues, rather than of a fandom. That's not a problem with an obsession with a popstar, rather the sign of someone who needs genuine help and support. People of both genders self-harm, and it's heartbreaking. I don't think that fandom is the cause of it. - Simon

Perhaps the root of this problem is in that female-orientated shows and films have been exceedingly scarce lately. Yes, of course Twilight is awful when you compare it to Iron Man, but young women want someone relate-able to cheer for, someone t hey can imagine themselves in the role of and where else are they supposed to go? Black Widow? Bella Swan may not be a good female role model but at least she's a female with screen time.

When I was a teen I had Buffy or Xelda or Starbuck (and do you remember how angry everyone was when that casting decision was made?). On the big screen I had Sarah Conner and then later I had Selene or The Bride. Who would young-me have at the moment?

We can't be angry at teenage girls for liking "the wrong things" when the "right things" simply aren't being made.

EDIT: I of course meant "Xena" not "Xelda". I mxied up the lteters.

Wow, I got quoted by DoG! Thank you. :D

I think more of these articles really need to be written. I'm no apologist for the Twilight movies themselves, but why does that give me the right to trample on those who do like them? The misogyny and occasional homophobia behind most of the Twilight comments really bothers me. Are people so insecure about "geek" culture that they can't let teenage girls enjoy it like teenage boys do?

It's fair to criticise the horrible morals of the Twilight films, with the central romance being an abusive relationship, but this never seems to be the main target of people's criticisms. And what's more, it's only things like Twilight that get this level of scrutiny. What about the Indiana Jones films, which when you look at it are blatantly orientalist movies glorifying a white American going into nasty foreign countries to steal artifacts from those scary brown people and put them in museums. He even has a comic relief sidekick played by a Welshman in the Arab equivalent of blackface, FFS! Or James Bond, which is an ultra-macho power fantasy about a suave misogynist arsehole. You're not vilified for putting Goldfinger on your list of favourite movies, despite the horrific way that Bond resolves Goldfinger's plot in that film. Or what about The Hobbit, which has a supporting cast made up of a bunch of hook-nosed, greedy, gold-loving Jewish analogues (admitted by Tolkien himself)?

I love every film that I've just mentioned, so I'm not saying this to slag them off. But it seems Twilight gets more stick for its morals than anything else. Perhaps it's because Bond, Indiana Jones etc. rest on male fantasies with unfortunate implications, whereas Twilight relies on female ones.

If I'm correct in assuming that you're male, then you have to love the mansplaining there telling women when THEY'RE setting feminism back. Despite your blatant stereotyping of female fandom when it doesn't conform to your ideas of what fandom should be.

You did, and thank you.

and what's so bad about sexual desires and fantasies?

The reason to criticise Twilight is because its utter bilge. Nothing to do with gender

My issue with Twilight isn't the fandom but the fact that the books/films are aimed towards young girls and have such an awful central message about a stalkery often abusive boyfriend and a female lead who at one point tries to kill herself over a boy. Yeah not the kind of ideas we should be encouraging kids to embrace.

High horse again DoG, stick to the stuff we come here for

This unfortunately is nothing new. In the 80s you'd get some sexist stick if you liked romantic mainstream fantasy like Splash or Peggy Sue Got Married rather than Aliens or Batman. In the late 90s it was if you liked Charmed or Roswell instead of X-files or Buffy. This is not the majority of fandom but some people who think it is funny.

There is no reason you can't have a pleasant debate on the subject of quality without descending into name calling. I've even debated with hardcore Whedonites pleasantly about whether or not Buffy has some accidentally dodgy subtext without either side getting nasty. The internet, however, seems to encourage the worst people to come out of the woodwork. My wife once said online that she thought the Twilight books were merely enjoyable fluff and she got some very insulting remarks about her gender and *ahem* reproductive systems.

Holy cow! I *think* my comment was part of what set these wheels in motion... that's awesome! If not, it's still an awesome article.

Now, if DoG can lend me their flameproof suit for a moment... the article not about Twilight or any other female-centric fandom you want to name - it's about the reactions towards them.

Yes, their 'object' may be 'questionable' in terms of taste, (I tried reading Twilight and didn't get on with it at all) hell, I know of a couple of things I love that would qualify under Sturgeon's Law. That doesn't give people who think that those fans are wrong, carte blanche to denigrate them.

No one gives fans of, say Sunderland AFC grief (apart from Newcastle and Middlesboro') so why should young female fans of DW and Sherlock be picked upon?!

Re teen girls not going for older men, oh dear - how little those commentators know of young women! - I developed a crush on Patrick Stewart when I was 16, from watching ST:TNG on BBC2. I therefore support and cheer any teen girl (or guy) who does the same over Peter Capaldi (although my heart still belongs to Nine.)

Tl;dr - agree completely with the writer and would recommend people read the whole argument.

Agree with this article.

Thing is, I don't think Twilight is *great*. I've only seen the first 3 films. First was mediocre, second was pretty bad, third was actually okay. I don't find the characters particularly compelling, but as far as the *filmmaking* is concerned they're really not that terrible. The acting isn't always fantastic but I think it's mostly good enough, and I'm not particularly compelled by Bella as a character (particularly in New Moon), I do believe in her as a character, and I'm perfectly willing to accept that I'm not the target audience. But the direction is mostly solid, the story is told relatively efficiently with a degree of focus, and they have a pretty good structure. It's not my thing, but generally speaking they cover the bases as far as adequate filmmaking is concerned.

There are SO MANY blockbuster films which really do not cover those bases. That feature nothing but big explosions, contrived scripts which aim to do nothing but lead from one set piece to another, and awful characterisation. I'm thinking of Michael Bay here, or some of the Pirates sequels, as some examples. Because of the male appeal of these films, and the CGI/explosion factor, they are saved from the vitriol aimed towards Twilight, which is a shame.

It was, yes. Wary of outright namechecking on this one!

And you're right: this is not an article about Twilight. It just happens to use Twilight as one of a few examples.


Thank you for this article. I have also wondered often enough why there would be something wrong with "teenage girls" as fans. And the derogatory way they are being talked about (and even bullied). That I don't like what they like is no reason to dimiss the girls themselves. Growing up is difficult enough without being jeered at because you like something other people don't and even extend to you as a person. I remember being a teenage girl myself a long time ago, and thankfully cannot remember being laughed or jeered at for enjoying the movie Dirty Dancing - also targeted towards teenage girls. But then, we had no internet then. Internet certainly has made it easier to bully people, but the underlying sentiments of course would be there without it. And it seems strange that in the 'backward' 80's, at least as far as certain equality issues are concerned, the view of female fandom was actually more tolerant and normal as it is now!

I think we have a variety of mixed issues in this situation.
There is the sexism angle, which is completely and undeniably there. There's the quality of the stuff, a problem in cases such as Twilight (with the clearly wrong image of what a healthy relationship is, and I say this having read the books). There's also the visibility that fandoms get, and here I'd put the Sherlock case, for example, because they are constantly showing just the sex-related stuff (and I really don't get why that is something to laugh at, I think here we are in sexism again, disregarding an expression of what a group of women find sexually appealing), which shapes how the fandoms are perceived.
This is an issue that needs to be written about a lot.

The Sherlock point brings up a strange aspect to all this - the idea that women 'only' like something because there are attractive men in it, which is a weird one to deal with. It's an odd one because it's hard to deny that these things have attractive men in them and that's part of the appeal - but not the only part. It's been suggested to me that I only like F1 because it's sexy and so are the drivers. Some of them are indeed very attractive and maybe that's part of the appeal - but mostly I just really like watching people drive round in circles really fast. It's like suggesting men *only* like Return of the Jedi because Princess Leia wears a gold bikini, rather than accepting that that is part of the appeal, but not the whole story.

I am a huge football fan, because I like the sport in itself, but I have had to prove myself in front of male friends who thought that I only watched the games because "football players are hot". Well, honestly, some of them are, others aren't, but that is not what makes me cheer up for my team or enjoy a match.

It's not just ire aimed at females. A year or so back you ran an article about iconic knitwear in SFF (Neville's cardigan, The Doctor's Scarf etc).

As I often do I added to your list with a few of my own and one of the items I added were Bella's fingerless gloves. Now I am neither a lover or hater of Twilight. I have seen the films and read the books (mostly to see what the fuss was about) and it was all a bit 'meh' to me, but that was my opinion.

Anyway, back to the point, so I mentioned Twilight, never affiliating myself with it or expressing a fondness for it - I just mentioned it and I got the following reply:

"F*ck you and F*ck Twilight"

Now nobody else could see this as comments with cursing in are only visible to the author and the person they were replying to.

But seriously...? Someone felt so strongly that the fact I had even mentioned it meant they had to make personal attacks?

I thought Post Modern Britain was supposed to be about "I'll like what I like and you like what you like and as long as we don't hurt anyone that is fine." but this same attitude is infiltrating the whole of society, not just in fandoms.

I have come under fire from people in the street, whom I do not know and have never spoken to before just for being overweight - like my lifestyle offends them somehow. I've never had health problems or caused any kind of public outrage because of it. They obviously haven't seen my immense uphill struggle to lose weight, or know nothing about the 4 stone I have already shed.

I've been insulted and threatened for being a Christian (Not the interfering, 'you must come to church or it's hellfire for you' kind but the subtle 'just want to help my fellow man, no strings attached' kind). This didn't happen while doing some kind of crazy street preaching (which I wholeheartedly disagree with) but just because someone saw me coming out of the church building.

These days people seem to think it OK for them to have one belief but that they must insult anyone different to them.

Remember the Life on Mars episode about football violence - Sam talks about how United and City fans would walk to the derby together. Where is that spirit now?

Selfishness rules these days and it's very sad indeed.

I call football fans twats irrespective of gender

A further commenter picked up the baton: "anything with a fanbase mainly composed of teenage girls - One Direction, Bieber, Twilight
etc - gets tons of these uber-macho comments from people desperate to
prove that they don't like this sissy rubbish". As such you get
"homophobic slurs aimed at the artists and misogynistic ones aimed at
the fans".

That's put it far better than I ever could.

There is indeed a lot of it going on. One thing that I've noticed to be depressingly common in the Doctor Who-fandom is an ongoing dismissal of people who are fans of David Tennant's Doctor, of Rose, or the relationship between these two. These female fans are labeled as "fangirls" and are apparently not considered to be proper fans because they would only be interested in the show because of Tennant being hot, or because they want to see Doctor Who being turned into braindead romance. For instance, whenever Tennant scores higher than any other Doctor in popularity polls the results are immediately dismissed as being "rigged" by the fangirls, who pollute the fandom by thinking with their vaginas only. The surprising thing is that it isn't just male fans who express this opinion, but many female fans as well, whenever they try to distance themselves from the label of being fangirls.

As for Twilight, Bieber and your average boy band, I don't understand why people put so much effort into hating these things. In fact, there are often occasions where the rabid natures of the haters come across as creepier than that of the scariest diehard fans of these things. I myself don't like any of these things either, which is mainly because I'm not a part of the intended target audience and none of these really appeal to me on any level, but they also do not annoy or offend me enough to rant about how they would be "the end of human civilization" as some people would do. I just ignore them, which works just fine.

I like the twighlight books, They are one of those books thats good when you need something "easier" to read. The problem with the films is how shocking the acting is! during the second third and fourth films I actually couldnt stop laughing at how bad they were. The part where Bella cuts her finger and jasper goes to attack her (in slow motion) nearly had me in rollong on the floor with laughter. The last film was better because I thought the twist was clever but thats about it.

It doesn't just happen to female-majority-fandoms. It's been happening to any fandom not considered "trendy" for years. Star Trek for instance. Male dominated fandom, quite a few ladies but a whole lot more men. Belittled and abused for liking it for YEARS. Star Wars. The same and they do it to each other. You mention football doesn't have the same issue but fans of different football clubs have ridiculed and rioted against each other also for years. People have died over football fandom. They chant nasty rubbish at each other. This is utter tosh if you think it only happens or happens more in female fandoms.

Ah, but people may well give female Sunderland fans grief. I'm not into Sherlock or Dr Who or Twilight, but I do like football. I'm a qualified referee, in fact, and I've supported my team for over 25 years. Yet I'm frequently told by men (usually men I've just met - my friends wouldn't dream of it) that I 'can't REALLY like football' or I get comments like 'Yeah, bet you just like watching them running around in shorts!' The level of sexist comments I received while refereeing was incredible - never on the pitch (on the pitch you just get abuse for being a referee) but otherwise from the minute I arrived at the pitches to the minute I left, I'd get a constant stream of 'Alright, love?' 'Give us your number, ref!' 'You reffing our came today, love? Aww, no? Can we have you next week?' 'Can you wear shorter shorts next week, ref?' and so on. And the overwhelming attitude is that this sort of behaviour is 'just part of football', 'just a bit of banter', and if women don't like it then we shouldn't be going to football matches.

Yes, referees get abuse from players (I also don't think that's right - it doesn't happen in rugby or cricket or netball so why is it OK for it to be 'all part of the game' in football? But that's a different point...) but I'd be one of several refs working on a Sunday morning and I'd be the only one getting catcalls and comments about my legs. The male refs would get 'banter' - 'Alright, mate?' 'How's it going, ref - you going to send me off again this week?' - that sort of thing.

I've veered slightly off-topic there, but the point is, as a woman it's assumed that I can't possibly know anything about football. I recently started a new job, and on my first day a colleague was wearing a football-related t-shirt with a nod to my team. I told him I liked it, and he looked totally surprised and said 'Yeah? And...you *get* it?' To give him credit, he was then chuffed to have found a fellow football fan, but his initial reaction was total shock that a woman could be interested in football - let alone know her stuff.

And it's the same with female fans of anything - we are belittled because obviously the only reason we can possibly have for liking a band/film/TV series/sport is because of the 'hot men' involved.

Not to mention his failure to point out that there are legions of men idolising female characters/actors for sexual reasons too...

i love that new perspective on football :

heterosexual men watch football because the players are hot !


Fantastic article here, Simon! You've provided a fascinating and thought-provoking read; you really opened my eyes! Bravo!

Haha, next time a guy tells me that, I'll answer that ("Of course, so do you, don't you?"), thanks for the idea :)

(Did I forget to say I'm a girl, thus my friends comments?)

I save most of my vitriol for the unisex hipster subculture, and of course the Daily Mail/Express/Telegraph and UKIP, but that's a different thing.
I should like to point out, whilst in no way excusing the abuse of female fandom, that geeks (of both sexes) have traditionally been THE target of abuse throughout the ages. The Twilight/OD lot are just the new kids on the fandom block. Plus it's just SO prevalent, because it's mainstream. Of course geek material is much more acceptable now too, but I seem to know far too much about OD etc without having any interest in it at all, because you can't avoid it. The old school geek is, in my experience, just as much a victim of the baying macho football mob as any OD fan, and both cases are unacceptable.

I would feel sorry for the fandom girls if I hadn't been around a fandom for a show that had a black woman as one of the main cast. The racism directed towards her from the white and non-black members of the fandom was horrific. So I don't care if these girls get treated badly because they are just as nasty as any misogynist. Weak girls who seem to only have any status in a fandom or online.

Interesting how many commented on Twilight.
The issue is not the subject of the fandom. Male and female fans are treated differently even when they are in the same fandom. You brought the example Sherlock. It's similar with Doctor Who. I guess everyone has their Doctor. But if you are female your Doctor is better not David or Matt or you are instantly called a Fangirl. Same with Supernatural.
And even if a book/show/movie is aiming at a female audience, it doesn't mean it can't be well written.
At least the girls reading Twilight ARE reading. And how many of them don't stop with Meyer and read also Shakespeare (for example). I don't say Twilight is high literature. I'm just saying liking girly things doesn't mean you are stupid. ;)

Great Article. Not got time to reply but keep up the thought provoking debate inducing intellectualism!

Exactly! Can't deny some drivers are hot and I have quite the thing for them - but that's not what I enjoy about the sport

Twilight does not get criticized because it's female led. It gets criticized because it's absolutely awful in every way.

But what about Twilight fans?

ha, thought I had stumbled on to a New Statesman article for a bit there.

A lot of good points there and actually a lot can be made to many things people for whatever reason get territorial about. the comments might not be sexist but often they are mean and bitter. Look at most articles on Apple/Android. PS3/xbox football teams. we become so desperate to have our choice validated we end up being bitter towards the people who take the opposite choice from us and the vile sexism stems from this too.

To be more specific about female fandoms though, females have been very poorly serviced, with Twilight, 50 shades, 1 direction being poor. Look at Hunger Games, a large female fandom (a large teenage female fandom) but a great film and a strong female lead. It and it's fans don't receive anywhere near the attacks of twilight and that is on the fact it is it is actually good

I find it annoying how it is impossible to be in the Sherlock fandom and not be expected to ship Johnlock. I hate getting the answer "OMG HOW CAN YOU NOT SHIP THEM?"

Good point, I have done crazy things for my obsessions, I retract my previous statement...

I think part of the problem is Twilight is just a bad movie.If it was really good people wouldn't be able to bash the fans/movie as much

We shouldn't encourage misogyny either, yet I never see DoGers attacking teenage boys who watch the Bond films. As a teenager I was a huge fan of Eminem, but I never got vilified for it in the same way Twilight fans are.

I agree that the message behind Twilight is awful. By all means criticise the novels. But there's a certain irony to a group of predominantly adult men trying to police teenage girls for liking stuff that isn't feminist.

"As a teenager I was a huge fan of Eminem, but I never got vilified for it in the same way" That is because you never met me.

Eeep. Lots and lots of different issues here. But mostly it's because
Twilight in particular (and to some extent Potter-mania) took something
mainstream that doesn't necessarily react well to being exposed to the
mainstream. Fandom doesn't make any sense to people who aren't fans, and
that lack of understanding creates criticism because it challenges
peoples' worldview. That online culture then lends itself so well to
fanning the flames of fandom (in good and bad ways) has made sure it's
basically snowballed - the negative response has increased exponentially
as the examples of fan behaviour get more publicity. The growing
influence of fanfic on pop culture in the last few years is getting more
noticeable too (Cassie Clare was a big name in fic before she wrote
Mortal Instruments, and let's not even get started on 50 Shades, because
I frankly think fandom imploded at that point and it makes my brain

The fact that Twilight (and Potter) tend to attract younger female fans who have more time and inclination to be obsessive in general, and are more prone to focusing on one fandom to the exclusion of everything else are what makes this so tangled up with the other issue of online misogyny in general. *sigh*.

Having said that, I'm going to put a point out here and say that if the
basketball crowd referenced in the article had been walking past a line
of guys queuing for, er, The Phantom Menace for example, the reaction
would have been the same. I'm pretty sure it *was* the same. It's a
basic tribal geek/sports fan thing; the female crowd are just more

Side note: it's really quite exhilarating being in San Diego for SDCC or Atlanta for Dragoncon, and walking down the street where *everything* is geared towards geeks. The crowds are insane for the Dragoncon parade; and Saturday night is spent taking over the Georgia Aquarium in costume. it's pretty damn cool.
Because the real world doesn't quite work like that normally. (I'm still
convinced Twilight broke SDCC though, and nothing is going to convince
me otherwise.)

On the other hand, I don't think theSherlock fandom is quite the same example - seriously, I've never seen 'Cumberbitches' be used as an *insult*. What would be the point, it's a name they came up with for themselves, and it's very much in tune with the nature of the fandom from what I can see. If some people
misunderstand that because they're not aware of the nuances of a fandom,
that's something else entirely. Considering the extent to which the
word 'bitch' is still bleeped out of mainstream media though, even when
used by women about themselves in a positive context, it's not something
you tend to call a complete stranger to their face as far as I know?!

I'll also say it's still perfectly possible to be *in* one part of a fandom
and still find the die-hards quite scary and hard to understand.

Couldn't agree with this more. I'd also add that teenage girls are smart enough to gravitate towards clever, quality story telling on the very rare occasion that it is offered to them; Hunger Games wasn't exactly hurting for fans.
And as I said below, when Bella Swan is the only character of their age and gender being given screen time, we can't blame them for flocking towards her. We should be angry at the adults who created Bella (and Bond), not the young girls who had the misfortune to be born too late for Buffy.

Females love football, like death metal, and can drink most blokes under the table. Its a fact! Accept it, move on.

Whew, you sound proper hardcore.

Really interesting article & comments below!

This kumbaya whining gets wheeled out every few months in English football, you know, hey, why can't the fans all just, you know, get along. Because people quite enjoy the chance to vent their spleens and call a steaming pile of horseshit exactly what it is.



I think the article is spot on. The answer as to why some people think things like Twilight are fair game is plain old sexism. I do agree with the post by Lou saying the subject matter isn't exactly healthy though. But the main point of the article that otherwise equally poor offerings don't get you vilified for liking does IMHO indicate plain and simple sexism.

That is not surprising though given how deeply sexist so many societies are... some more so that others. America may have a black(isn) president but will they ever have a women president? I doubt it.

Women may be better off in a lot of ways than they were in Mad Men days, but they still have to deal with deeply ingrained sexism. Adult women are far more prone to depression than men, main cause is argued to be due to the way they are allowed to develop by their parents and society... or rather not allowed to.

This is an area I have had a long interest in both through critical studies and psychology. I try as much as possible not to fall into the traps and let my daughter grow up without the baggage.

As to lines of people getting abused or heckled, when I went to get GTA5 the people waiting got a fair amount of abuse form passing cars and pedestrians... we all laughed though.

That's a brilliant observation.

I mean, I love Sherlock and Doctor Who, but neither show has a central female character the way a lot of shows in the last decade did.

Game of Thrones? It's an ensemble thing, and whilst there are strong female characters, a lot of them end up either raped or dead.

Is it any surprise that teen girls fall for Bella when she's pretty much the only character out there that is written from their perspective?

If a fan wants to focus on the Doctor/Rose romance over the sci-fi/time travel aspect of Doctor Who, I really don't see how they're opening themselves up to criticism. What's wrong with focusing on the romance? You may perceive Doctor Who as a sci-fi show, but she may perceive it as a romance set against a backdrop of sci-fi. Neither of you are correct.

I get tired of people shipping Johnlock, but it should not and does not affect my enjoyment of the show.

The point the article is trying to make is that you are perfectly entitled to criticise a show, but that you shouldn't vilify female fans for liking what they like.

There have been people who have petitioned the White House to make Ben Affleck being Batman illegal. Just because you, personally, may be less insane than other people objecting to Affleck, there's ample evidence that the internet temper tantrum was completely and utterly ridiculous and in no way 'better' than Beiber fandom.

Mention you like Star Wars or Doctor Who on the internet, and you will get tons of people agreeing with you. Mentioning Star Trek will get you at worst a couple of tame comments about being a nerd. Mention you like One Direction, Twilight or Bieber and you will get abuse hurled at you.

You can't compare what women face in our society, historically and in the present day, to the plight of geeks. You just can't. Especially nowadays, when being geeky is pretty socially acceptable. If anything, male-dominated geek culture is equally capable of exclusivity and hyper-macho misogyny as football culture. It's not football fandom that started off "Tits or GTFO" or sneers about fangirls after all. Geek culture has always been INFAMOUSLY male-dominated and unwelcoming to women.

It's pretty ironic when us geeks are always crying out about societal oppression.

But it'd stick be gendered abuse. Unless you call them c*cks also...

Agree that it is really just plain old sexism. The fact that Twilight itself is a horrid piece of sexism on pretty much every level does confuse the matter, but that's no excuse for abusing fans...

Oh I agree, I watched the films and they are dreadful and sexist too, I think it's hard (impossible?) for any vampire and werewolf stories not to be. But yeah as the original article pretty much says they are no worse than a lot of other escapist nonsense which doesn't get the fans abused for liking.

Surely Buffy the Vampire Slayer would count as non-sexist - indeed, feminist - vampire and werewolf stories...?

Good article but unfortunately I just think it is part of an overall trend to looking down on anyone with a different opinion.

Man of Steel I loved it, so did my kids, I also really enjoyed the marvel films. But if you read the IMDB forum it is full of "Donnerites", "Marvelites", "Nolanites", "Man of Stool" and the belief that anyone who could possibly have enjoyed the movie is a child, or just incredibly dumb/a marvel hater. Alas a lot of fans aren't any better.

So while female-led film fans tend to bear an unfairly large brunt of it, it is unfortunately all part of a depressing trend towards vilifying anyone with a different opinion.

Bah, I miss the days of a sense of community from the BBS/early internet days when differences were respected. I hope it is not the case but all too often it seems we are moving towards a hate-driven society when looking at internet culture. And this has started to spill out of the internet and into mainstream.

The thing is, people only seem to care about sexism when it's in things they don't like. I'm quite outspoken on GallifreyBase about sexism in Moffat era Doctor Who, and every time I make a mild observation about how having the Doctor force a kiss on a married lesbian may not be a good idea the reaction is an avalance of "OMG POLITICAL CORRECTNESS GORN MAD" and endless "trying to be offended" type comments.

Online culture is incredibly defensive about any accusation of sexism... unless it's about Twilight.

While Bond's ability to seemingly sexually transmit a curse that gets every woman he sleeps with killed or kidnapped is in every film, they're not the driving force behind the plot. It's not about him giving up his dignity and simpering after a paedophile that likes to hang around schools and hit on pubescent girls.

Very well said Paul, you make some very valid points. Fandom should bring people together, yet in some circles it's still incredibly divisive and the abuse that some receive is inexcusable. Also, congrats on shedding the weight, I know how hard that can be!!

Speaking for myself, I care about sexism in everything, and if something's particularly sexist, it usually puts me off watching/reading it. Perhaps Twilight (the films/books, not the fans) attracts heightened levels of such criticism because it's so popular; then again, as I say, it's certainly towards the extreme end of the scale.

With regards to Moffat Who, you're going to have to give me some succinct dot points, because despite hearing the occasional complaints, I've never seen the examples laid out for me (aside from the fact that the show is generally sexist, in the sense that it's about a man with a revolving roster of female 'companions'.)

When I question Moffat and sexism, I usually think back to the first thing of his I saw - Press Gang. Lynda Day was a feminist role model if ever there was one. She was the driving force of the show, supremely intelligent, strong-willed and never defined herself through the men around her. Plus the show never objectified her. To be honest, I saw a lot of her in Amy.

good article.
It is the same hypocrisy and misogyny that is behind 'slut shaming' in force here

but lots of 'male' geek fandom fare is utter bilge as well and doesn't attract the same attitude towards its fans.

4 out of 6 of the Star Wars films are morinic childish rubbish in my opinion, . About 80% of the Bond movies are utter crud filled with awful male power fantasy drivel.

In neither case would I feel the need to abuse the fans of those films. I would happily attempt to debate their merits in an engaging way and argue my point, but I wouldn't have to resort to insults

It is largely to do with gender. It is the 'fandom' equivalent of slut shaming

Which characters in Game of Thrones have been raped? I think you're imagining something that isn't there. The relationship between Dany and Khal Drogo began with what would be rape to modern sensibilities, but within the culture depicted was just the typical first night of a marriage, but thats the only case I can remember, and as for deaths the female characters have fared much better than the male ones, with only 1 major and a couple of minor character deaths.

So? Many of the comments are repsonses to other comments, not to the article (like this one)


Goldfinger is resolved by the rape, or at the very least sexual assault, of a lesbian.


Although i agree with pretty much the whole article, what i didn't see mentioned is the word Fan although originally short for fancy, it really more aptly in some cases describes Fanatic and if you had conversations withs 'Fans' on imdb, not just of movies like Twilight but many of the big blockbuster or popular films you realise some of the people are impossible to have a reasonable discussion with. These crazy few who haunt these boards with their only i am right and no one can critisize my film without my wrath attitude are the ones who get noticed and tarring all genuine fans of the film with the same brush. So as someone else has mentioned that at the moment it seems to be teenage females reciving most of the flack Star Trek fans have been on the recieving end of these sort of derogatory comments for years. Also as a Demolition Man fan i have recieved similar abuse although going to college in a beret and bulletproof vest for 3 years may not have helped.

I kind of think stuff aimed squarely at teenage boys also gets hate. I'm pretty sure the Transformers, GI Joe, Wrath of ... movies sucked because they lack any kind of nuance or message and are just 'What would look cool exploding to a teenage boy?' it's just that teenage boys go 'Yeah that was awesome' and move on to the next thing. (Admittedly the mostly high quality Marvel and Batman films also appeal to this demographic)

Teenage girl stuff is equally vapid, but way more in your face because they publicly and vocally obsess over it. I've never made any attempt to find anything about One Direction, or their fans, but I know plenty now because it's unavoidable. Similarly with Twilight, it was impossible to avoid even though I had no interest (eventually I watched the first two because Michael Sheen was involved and they were both mind numbingly dull, overwrought and poorly executed).

Another issue is that things aimed at teenage girls are usually based around a hunky guy/guys that they can obsess over when they're not watching the films, listening to the music or reading the books. This is particularly weird with Twilight which pushed the notion of abstinence whilst promoting itself on the sex appeal of shirtless buffed up teenage boys. Teenage boys might think Optimus Prime is cool, but they're never going to get the chance to meet him proper. Their wish fulfillment fantasy begins and ends on screen so they don't queue up outside hotels waiting for Bumblebee to come out and so they don't get the same coverage, so they don't appear as crazy. If I say Snake Eyes sucks donkey balls on Twitter, noone cares. If I say One Direction do, I'll get death threats, because the obsession isn't just about the art but the objects of their affection.

Ultimately the material aimed at teenagers is disposable, shallow and easy to hate on. I'm not saying that's any excuse for the way people talk about kids that are figuring their way through life, but I think that's the reason female fandom gets such a bad rap. Because teenage girls are more vocal in their fandom so you're exposed to it whether you want to be or not and it gets tiresome. I'm so sick of hearing about One Direction and I've never actually heard a full song of theirs.

With Dr Who, Marvel and the Batman movies, I know as many female fans as male. Because they're about something. They're about being a decent person in situations where it might not be easy and the consequences of making the wrong decisions. They have stuff that stays with you beyond teenage crushes/excitement at explosions and they're not catering for a particular gender, they're just telling stories in their worlds.

I feel bad for the guy who upset the woman with the Cumberbitches comment as there are plenty of women who are fans of his that would wear that on a t-shirt and think it humorours. It's like Hiddlestoners, it doesn't mean that all Tom Hiddleston fans smoke weed. At the same time I can see why some people might not like it, but I'd expect common sense to prevail and both to realise that no disrespect was meant and not to do it again.

Well it's a little off-topic, but the argument for sexism in Moffat Who can be found all over the internet. My point isn't even that it's sexist, but that even lightly suggesting that it may be invokes an angry, defensive response from people who are terrified at the very thought that something they like may be sexist.


My example was the scene in The Crimson Horror where the Doctor, after being cured of the red sickness, lunges at Jenny (who is both married and a lesbian), bends her over and sticks his tongue down her throat. She responds by hitting him, and the whole incident is played as a wacky comic eccentricity. To me (and many others) it was sexual assault.


Yeah, that scene was lame in a Carry-On kind of way. It didn't make any sense for the doctor to do that.

Twilight is a particular problem because it appears to have "hijacked" a beloved (and historically male-oriented) genre, and dumbed it down. Personally I deal with this by not watching it, but I think this genre-jacking is the source of the anti-fans' resentment.

Now that it's cool to be a geek/nerd, granted. Internet hate is a huge problem everywhere. The anonymity of the internet means people think they can say awful things to everyone. It's ripe in the gaming industry too. So much so that female bosses in firms like BioWare have felt the need to quit due to death threats to her and her children. Men say these awful things to each other too, not just to women. That's my point. Women take the comments a different way to men. It's an issue to all groups male AND female.

The hate on Bieber, Twilight, and One Direction may be extreme but it happens EVERYWHERE and not to just female dominated fandoms. Why are they the only ones people notice? A trend? Getting the most media attention at the moment?

Sexism. The word you're looking for is sexism.

The structural denigration for source of innocent pleasure of women is a direct result of sexism.

What, nobody brought up Call of Duty yet, to present an example of abusive comments on a male-dominated fandom?

One look at the Steam forums and you'll find a hell of a lot vitriol. Heck, even just criticising another game may get you labeled as "CoD fanboy", regardless of whether or not you even own a game in the franchise.

This is not something exclusive to Twilight, or TV shows, or the female parts of fandoms, so I would not call it just a problem born out of sexism.

Aside from that, I'd also like to point out something where the "fandom" concept is being pushed to extremes, and milked by the industry as a result - in both ways.


Just checking tumblr tags for a particular, currently airing anime will lead to a lot of fanart of characters making out - not just the type that may appeal to males, but also a lot of homosexual activities. Rape is often featured, and I've met and spoken to enough teenage-girls lusting after this particular stuff, and expressing their excitement, to be utterly sick of it.

Now, the industry is fully aware of the sexual appeal certain Anime shows have, and produce myriads of questionable merchandise every year. A lot of shows have a cult following for featuring hot dudes - just yesterday the final episode of "Free!" aired, which was only turned into a full season because a fandom formed itself based on a minute-long concept commercial of the animation studio. Even before the show was actually confirmed, I was looking at dozens of character shipping threads on online forums, and fanart-wars about who would top the other guys in the sexual sense.

Of course this is not exclusive to females in fandoms, but when looking at discussions or imageboards, I usually see "fangirls" shipping characters within a series, or actively writing 18+ fanfiction, whereas guys will make dumb comments about how they would like to bed the female characters, but other than that they assume a much more passive role when it comes to content creation (fanart, fanfics) or spreading their fandoms (for example via tumblr).

I am completely convinced that, if male fans were to spread their fandoms out wherever they go or whatever services they use online, they will attract a very similar kind of wrath from other users.
There's a lot of ridicule being thrown around, targeted at guys who buy scantily-clad figurines of female anime characters and put them onto their living room shelves, for example, or buy hugging pillows.

And just for the record, I am fully aware that these are vocal minorities here, but it is a matter of fact that these vocal minorities shape the way a fandom is perceived.

This is not isolated to Anime either. The amount of slash-fiction written about trending bands or movie casts or fictional characters in any form of media is staggering. Most of the time, there is no regard for context in those stories, and the characters are barely recognizable, to the point where they are faceless puppets with popular names.

I have seen a lot of Harry Potter or Twilight material like this, for example, or recently Sherlock, but even more often do I see "fangirls" being giddy about this kind of stuff, and going to great lengths to express their love for these things. It is hard to miss, especially in Anime-related online communities.

I do not think that, necessarily, the reasons why those fandoms receive a lot of flak is because of intolerance or blatant sexism. It may be part of the reason why this stuff keeps happening, and the popularity of the material also plays a big role, but at the end of the day, they are reactions to something else, oftentimes overblown or utterly misplaced.

However, I would not paint the female-dominated fandoms a true victim here. The individual girls or women are victims, yes, but the problem I see is with the "hivemind" of the fandom, the public image it has, and the way it is being carried and represented by the vocal minorities, rather than the sane people who enjoy the books, movies, shows or music.

How many times did we see or hear completely over the top Twilight fangirls, or even fanmoms, acting irresponsibly over something related to their fandom? If these things continue to occur, and be pushed into the spotlight, it is quite obvious why the image of the fandom is this distorted, especially in the eyes of men, who usually do not share the same feelings about the object of fancy.

I neither excuse nor condone the way those people act towards women, or women towards men. Usually those reactions are entirely uncalled for and unreasonable. However, they are more of a symptom of another problem in my eyes.

I didn't, though, I compared the abuse that female fandom faces with the abuse that geekdom faces. I don't know how you extended that to all of "what women face in society, historically and in the present day". I can still remember being mocked by attractive, popular girls at school because I was 'sad'. That's fine, if you're into D&D and Star Wars then it sucks that people pick on you, and I never found a solution to that. I don't condone the Twilight and OD fans being picked on either, especially not if it's because they are female. And some of it will be, but then I'm sure a lot of it is because people despise those specific things, their prevalence, and the hysteria that often surrounds them. I mean, what do you think a female Slipknot fan thinks of a female OD fan (and vice versa)? I doubt it's mutual misogynistic self-loathing at the heart of it.
And I made the point about geek culture being more acceptable myself.

I'm a big Buffy fan and would love to say it isn't sexist. It was at times utterly brilliant (The Body episode) and Joss Whedon is a writer I respect pretty much without qualification. I think you could write a PhD on 'Is Buffy Sexist' (in fact that has given me an idea :D).

There are aspects of the story which are typical negative female story stereotypes. From episode one when ever Buffy is really stuck it's often (not always) one of the men who comes to her rescue, could be Angel, Rupert, Oz, Spike, Riley or Xander (even though he usually failed to help).

All her intimate relationships with men end in disaster one way or another or are dysfunctional... and god knows how much you could read into the fact she can't have sex with Angel without there being dire consequences.

Where I do question even my own interpretation, and this is why so much criticism is complex and has shaky foundations, is just how many of the sexist aspects were deliberate and consciously written into the story to reflect the reality of the society she was living in. For example she complains herself she wants to wear nice dresses and go to the prom and be a cheer leader etc. But most of the time she can't and that does reflect the equally sexist notion of women as 'tom boys'.

I'm sure a lot of people would read this and think what a load of old rubbish. But that's the nature of it and I am unashamedly fascinated by these kind of things. And funnily enough I am hoping to start a PhD next year and am looking round for subject ideas.

I agree with Stans, but like you Stuart I still see and care about sexism even in things I do like. I'm 46 and have been into (good) hip hop & rap since the early days, and that is an area of culture where sexism and misogynism run deep even with artists seen as being on the mellow non ganster side of things.

I've always thought it would be cool if Dr Who became a women in one of his transformations. Never been a massive fan, but have always watched it. I'm more of a Star Trek person than a Dr Who one. Trek, to my mind, is one of the few programmes which has tried consciously to break down a lot of sex and racial barriers.

I think it's significant that by the last season, everyone's taking orders from Buffy. She even 'fires' Giles because there's nothing more he can teach her. In fact, the whole slayer mythos is revealed to be entrenched in misogyny, which is why she changes things forever with the scythe (note that it's not a phallic sword; in fact one could argue that the blade is vulvic).

With regards to sleeping with Angel, in one of the audio commentaries Whedon addresses that, concerned that people would think he was damning sex before marriage. The show was always about the horrors of everyday life taken to extreme levels - so instead of 'my boyfriend slept with me and now he won't return my calls,' it's, 'my boyfriend slept with me and now he's eating hookers in alleys.'

I think Buffy wanting to dress up and go to the prom whilst also being a kick-arse 'tom boy' is the whole point. She doesn't conform to either of those roles that the patriarchy have delineated.

My two cents.

I've found myself unable to defend the choice of Ben Affleck as Batman because every time that I do I get "You only like him because you think that he's hot"

Apart from the fact that he's not my type at all, if I DID think he was hot it shouldn't matter in the slightest. My arguments for him weren't based on my thoughts on his appearance, my arguments were the same that any man defending the casting choice would have made...and yet, since I'm a woman, I must only want to see a movie if the main guy gets me hot and bothered.

Screw. That.

I take onboard what you're saying and agree with most of it.

The tom boy thing is something I hate more than anything. It's one of the most demeaning and sexist notions... being based on the idea that to be strong and 'kick-arse' a women has to become a 'boy'.

(Tongue in cheek): Maybe Lara Croft is a better example of a woman who has no issue with fighting, exploring and then putting on a nice dress... all without men bailing her out and without one aspect compromising the other.

Strong women leading or at least being equal to men is the norm, it's only since industrialisation things got twisted.

I think one of the problems is that female fandoms (particularly in their teen years) tend to be -- ahem -- extremely vocal and dedicated to the point of obsession. It's probably pretty intimidating for a real-life male to be constantly reminded that their lady friends spend most of their free time drooling over dudes that are impossibly good-looking/heroic/romantic/etc. While it's certainly not justifiable to mistreat these girls for liking what they like, the impulse is at least understandable.

Another problem? The fact that the majority of what's out there for teenage girls that's made it into the mainstream is (or at least has been thus far) dreck. But I believe the tide is turning. As mentioned somewhere above, The Hunger Games is actually a pretty great story with a reasonably aspirational female lead. There are a lot of really excellent girl-skewed YA novels out there right now with great storylines, strong female protagonists and very non-traditional messages, and many of them have been optioned for the movies. The Fault In Our Stars (John Green), Graceling and sequels (Kristin Cashore), The Book Thief (Markus Zusak)... I'm hoping that properties like these will regain some respect for the genre and encourage other media to give girls something a little better to obsess over.

Sorry this is so teen-centric, but that's my field of study! :)

So go ahead and hate Twilight and tell anyone who asks why you hate it, but don't participate in the public vilifying of other people for liking what they like. Ain't nobodies business but their own.

I believe the difference is that the hate spewed all over female fandoms is a lot more, well, hateful. And misogynistic. And homophobic.

And let's not forget how PO'ed everyone was the Anne Hathaway was cast as Catwoman. Now that the film's out and she was AMAZING, everyone's forgotten about it and moved on to the next outrage. :)

It's probably because a large percentage of females actually like guys (=their potential partners) to dwell in machismo and male power fantasies (because "machismo & male power fantasy" = "guy will use aggression to protect me and my offspring when necessary"), and the percentage of females who don't simply don't care to counter this machismo in an aggressive manner (because aggression is not their way).

Whereas a large percentage of males don't like seeing girls (=their potential partners) to swoon after and give themselves to a male idol who is their "unbeatable competitor", and many of these males (but not all) are not too shy to voice their dislike in an aggressive manner (which also scores points with girls who like aggression in males).

Females too express their dislike in an aggressive manner when guys (=their potential partners) swoon after and give themselves to a female idol who is their unbeatable competitor, but they direct their aggression towards the female idol rather than towards its male fans (in other words, they veil their aggression from the guys, because the average guy doesn't appreciate aggression in females). However, this phenomenon is conveniently left out of the article.

But does literature aimed at teenagers need to be didactic?
The first time I came across Twilight was on a website for fans of Tamora Pierce. There were plenty of teenage girls who enjoyed both reading about a girl disguising herself as a boy to become a knight, and reading about a girl who falls in love with a vampire.

Twilight was enjoyed by girl geeks before it was popular so I think much of the hatred is simply disdain for the popular.
I think crushing on fictional characters and celebrities is actually healthier for girls in their early teens then rushing into a sexual relationship. It's a safe way for them to deal with the intensity of their feelings.

But Star Trek and Star Wars are phemonally popular. These are not obscure interests. Surely once you've left school no-one would mock people for liking such things?

It's not that the apparent phenomena you've described have been conveniently left out of this article, it's that they are not actually accepted as fact. What you have said in your comment is based on sweeping generalisations that do massive disservice to all genders. More to the point, you've (conveniently?) ignored the central point of this discussion - which is *not* about the comparative aggression and jealousy of men vs women and how that might influence the expression of film opinion.

Oh dear, we have an evolutionary psychologist here...

When someone opens by referring to women as "females" you know it's going to be bad.

Call me late to the party but I've only just read this. I agree with every word :-)

As a girl who likes geeky things I'm forever banging on about feminism and fandom and it is so brilliant that a site as popular and well respected as DOG calls people out on this kind of behavior.
I'm not a fan of Twilight but I don't begrudge people the enjoyment they get from it. I also dislike the assumption that I'm a fan of something just because there's an attractive man in it (as a previous commenter has pointed out there are actors I find attractive involved in these things but they aren't the only reason I watch them).

Please keep writing articles like this, it's great :-)

Benedict Cumberbatch actually hates the term "Cumberbitch" he prefers "Cumberpeople". If someone can find the source for this, I'd be grateful.

Um... Sansa after the riot in King's landing? You could argue it never actually went that far but that's not for want of them trying.

So one attempt that failed? Hardly "a lot of them end up raped" is it?

So basically you're making the argument that people shouldn't say mean things because others might get their feelings hurt.

I'm firmly of the belief that the things we enjoyed as teenagers should always be looked back on and ridiculed. Those were the times of our lives when we had absolutely the worst taste in everything. Clothes, music, games, tv, movies and especially celebrities.

We should celebrate our ascension from low-brow crap. The refinement of the ability to be selective. Part of that is looking back and cringing. Our tastes could not evolve without some point of reference anyway.

So yeah, I think it's important we don't take these things seriously. Entertainment choices aren't religions that grant some magical protection from criticism. Humans are naturally judgemental. Everybody gets theirs, and teenage girls should not be exempt from it either.

Btw nice White Knighting article. Let us know how that panned out for you :P

The problem is that the only thing that would stand up as a legitimate defence of Afflek as Batman, would be that you think he's hot.

Saying something like: "He has the chops for it" or "Give the man a chance" are the only other arguments being used, and are sadly way flimsier than the hot defence.

"but lots of 'male' geek fandom fare is utter bilge as well and doesn't attract the same attitude towards its fans"

What about My .Little Pony. Final Fantasy. Call of Duty. Anything by Ubisoft, Activision, Electronic arts.

There is plenty of male entertainment that is tripe and scorned because of it. But the bashing is mostly male on male. It's when males bash female entertainment that the panties (or White Knight briefs in this case) get twisted.

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