Sexism in Music: The “Crime” of Being a Fangirl

A lot of times we find ourselves staring wide-eyed at the media, absolutely dismayed at what we see. Craving attention, news outlets bring out these crazy, prosperous articles. They do this all in attempt to move our gazes to them, and have us keep them there. Celebrities are commonly the victims, ridiculous rumors constantly popping out of literally nowhere.

For example, we’ve seen plenty of articles about One Direction breaking up, even though each member has specifically stated that they have no plans of going anywhere. Despite that being the case, these outlets know Directioners will still click on the article, even if it ends up being based upon a series of false claims. This gets them their numbers, so they continue to write articles like these, even though it’s not true journalism.

While celebrities are often the main idea behind falsified stories, they’re not the only ones affected by this type of writing. Over the years, so-called journalists have taken it into their hands to write stories about these celebrities’ fanbases, and make them seem like a huge disgrace. One fan does one bad thing, and suddenly every single person is responsible for their actions.

A while back ago, there was a documentary attempting to portray the Directioner fandom to audiences. Instead of being realistic and showing every type of fan, they only showed one; the practically insane, out of control fans. These girls had their walls covered in One Direction posters, travelled around to hit as many shows as they possibly could, and stalked the band at their hotels. Their entire lives were dedicated to One Direction, and nothing else seemed to matter to them. The documentary gave the fandom an awful look when it surely wasn’t deserved.

Not all fanbases are susceptible to this damage though. Usually, it’s one certain kind of fan base that’s targeted… One that is comprised mostly of young women.

The fans of One Direction, 5 Seconds of Summer, and plenty of other bands out there fall into this category. Their fan bases comprise mostly of young women, which immediately, for some odd reason, make them seem less successful as a group.

That idea alone is insane – One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer have highly-successful albums and singles, and they both have their own share of well-deserved awards. 5SOS has won thirty-one awards since their creation in 2011, and One Direction has won one-hundred and seventy-four since 2010.

On top of that, the idea that their success means nothing because of who their fan base is is absolutely ridiculous, and entirely sexist. If men were the ones primarily enjoying this kind of music, the band would be seen as much more respectable. This is because guys don’t obsess and ‘fangirl’ like women do, and that behavior is often seen as silly and unacceptable, despite the happiness it typically brings.

That’s why when an older Alternative Press article resurfaced, a lot of fangirls were very surprised. Most of us are used to the backlash we receive, and to an extent, it’s almost expected. We’re almost never defended, no matter what we do.

In December 2014, Cassie Whitt, a writer for Alternative Press, released an article called “In Defense Of The Fangirl—an op-ed“.

She started her article off with actual comments she saw on the Alternative Press Facebook page, all aimed negatively towards fangirls. She then moved on to her own experience at a My Chemical Romance concert, which she went to when she was fifteen.

I heard the man in front of me going on about “stupid, little My Chemical Romance fangirls” wearing the band’s T-shirts and “ruining” the show. I looked down at my brand new MCR shirt and hoodie and turned my back, self-consciously zipping up. It was easier then to think, “Is there something wrong with me? Am I stupid? Maybe he’s right. I can’t act like a stupid fangirl.”

The feelings she had are very relatable nowadays. Sometimes women refrain from talking about the singers they admire, sometimes they decide not to wear their new band merch, because they’re scared they’ll be seen as “immature” or “stupid” for what they like. They hide something that makes them happy, just because society believes that for some reason, what they’re doing is inexcusable.

Cassie pulled away from her past, and gave a brief description of why fangirls are seen as “unacceptable”.

Fangirls are accused of the unspoken crime of being young, female and excited about the art they like—a “crime” people never seem to take the time to realize is very silly. Being young is awesome. Being a girl is awesome. Being passionate about something is awesome. What’s the problem?

While short, her stand for fangirls is worth shouting from the rooftops. She’s absolutely right. There’s no reason to be against fangirls, because most of them aren’t doing anything wrong. Some of them are young, sure, but who cares? Yeah they’re women, but why does that matter? What difference does it make? They may show their passion differently, but that doesn’t make them any less of a dedicated and worthy fan/person.

She also went into rebuttals against that thought, offering worthy evidence for each argument. She even talked about the discredit issue when it comes to a band having a mainly-female fan base, and she made a hugely important point.

What is implied when someone says “fangirls are ruining the band” is: “It’s not okay to like things that girls like. Things that girls like are not credible.”

Another fantastic quote came from Annie Zaleski, who is a contributor for Alternative Press.

The possibility that they could appreciate and want to hear music with substance (and not just blindly worship the cute guy or perky pop star) often isn’t even considered. Besides being insulting and sexist, such assumptions are also wildly incorrect.

Unlike what a lot of people think, most fangirls don’t like a certain singer or band just because of their faces. Most of them look for great music, and that’s when the love for the singer or band comes in.

Cassie continued into how it affects men as well, which is a point not many go into.

A male friend recently confided to me, “Man, I love My Chemical Romance, but I almost feel like I have to defend that as a 20-something man” because of the perception of their fanbase. Because we live in a society where we’ve taught men it’s not okay to like things that young girls do, where they have to explain or completely conceal their own passions.

You almost never hear of a man being a fan of One Direction or 5 Seconds of Summer. Men who like 1D or 5SOS are commonly seen as “unmanly”, since their fan bases are mainly women. If a man happens to appreciate one of these bands, they tend to keep quiet about it. A lot of them even talk badly about them, even though they happen to like them, because admitting their appreciation would give them backlash… Much like the backlash women receive.

By being unreasonably cruel to women fans, you’re damaging male fans. This cycle just leaves everyone hurt, making it… well, in the simplest term, stupid.

The outlook on fangirls needs to change. There’s no reason for them to be treated the way they are, and this kind of sexism should be left in the past where it belongs. There’s also no reason to discredit a singer or band because of who their fan base is made up of; female fans mean just as much as male fans.

Success is not decided by gender, and it’s not even decided by numbers; it’s decided by impact. True success is when you’re making the music you want to make, and while you’re doing it, you’re helping people and changing lives. It doesn’t take much to see that bands like One Direction and 5 Seconds of Summer are doing just that.

What is your opinion on fangirls? Do you think these bands are commonly overlooked because of their fan bases? Tell us in the comments, or tweet us at @CelebMix.


Extra: On Twitter, we asked our readers about the topic. The results aren’t surprising, but they’re still daunting.

Note: Sorry about the mix-up. We know 5 Seconds of Summer isn’t a boyband, so we apologize on that mistake. We didn’t want to delete the poll because we believe it still shows a valid point.

Written by Jessica Brown

A college graduate who enjoys watching Supernatural, attending conventions and concerts, taking photos, and writing to the masses. Email me at