What’s Wrong With Being A Fangirl?
What’s wrong with being a fangirl? Someone needs to help me understand this perspective because earlier there was an article written in The Telegraph where a journalist calls out women for fangirling. While the Urban Dictionary isn’t very complimentary about how they describe the act of fangirling, I will tell you there is no greater showing of love or appreciation of something than you get from a fan, and fewer things stronger than friendships forged in the moment you realize that you share a deep love of something with another person.
The author calls fangirls sycophants and equates tweeting the object of your fandom or praising the work of those that you admire hollow, self-serving or even disingenuous. She calls out celebrities for starting, or perpetuating, this trend of fangirling hashtags and walls of emoji high fives: specifically Lena Dunham, Jennifer Lawrence, and the worst fangirl of all, Taylor Swift. For the record, I don’t follow any of them on Twitter, where their rampant fangirling is single-handedly destroying something that must be very important to the author. I’m not sure what it is because she has no problem with women supporting women — even going so far as to quote Madeleine Albright, who said “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women” — so this isn’t about women being supportive of women.
The crux of the argument she presents? Twitter isn’t networking; tweeting your appreciation of someone’s work is fake or childish and thus cannot be taken seriously because it’s out there for the whole world to see. Further, since it takes no time to tweet at someone — unlike, say, tracking down an email address (stalker much?) and writing them or having a face-to-face meeting (because everyone gets to meet their idols). Those take real effort and, therefore, are genuine. Bullshit. That’s like saying online relationships aren’t real.
The author further assumes that fangirl tweets come from people in it for themselves, rather than a simple expression of appreciation. This just reeks of something else I’m tired of hearing: fake geek girls. The idea that fangirling comes only from people seeking to advance themselves is ridiculous. The women that she cites as the worst offenders don’t need help with their careers. Last time I checked, Taylor Swift has won 220 awards for her work, Lena Dunham has won two Golden Globes, and Jennifer Lawrence has won an Academy Award for best actress. I suppose it’s everyone else on Twitter that is out for themselves?
I don’t understand why this article calls out women: Why are they not allowed to enjoy things? There are fanboys out there, and I can assure you they can be just as bad — if not worse, as they have privilege to hide behind. It’s as though women are lesser fans than men, according to this article, and I can assure you that this is not correct. The women that graciously invited me to write for them on this website are huge fans of many things. Amelia will talk hours about Stephen King; Bell will talk about “Dragon Age” and her dislike of Blackwall forever. I met them through our mutual love of BioWare; my tweets in response to their fangirling brought me here.
Women have made careers over their fangirling; Sam Maggs turned her fangirling into “The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy” and is now a best-selling author and is the pre-show host at Cineplex movie theaters in Canada. Her knowledge is encyclopedic; her passion for her ships knows no end, and one day I hope to ask her in person what her favourite store on the Citadel is. There are others who have turned their fandom into careers. Jessica Merizan was BioWare’s social media coordinator throughout “Mass Effect 3” most of the lead up to the release of “Dragon Age: Inquisition,” but before all that she was a cosplaying fan at San Diego Comic Con and featured in the documentary Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope. But clearly being a fangirl is bad for your career.
I could continue to cite women here who are fangirls and successful in what they do, either within their fandoms or by creating their own spaces, but I would run out of space. There is, after all, a hard limit to the number of words I can publish. I don’t expect that the author of that article will ever read mine. But if she ever does, perhaps next time instead of going to her respectable newspaper and writing about how much she hates fangirling, she should take a look at fangirls and fandoms in their entirety and see how amazing all these women are — and how by praising each other, we encourage others to be excited and share their feelings, too.