by: Evie Zahner
Dedicated. Crazy. True fan. Obsessive. Devoted. Weird. These are all words I've seen to describe fans. However, I've noticed one difference. Some of these words are used to describe men, and some are used for women, in different contexts. Men who paint their chests and go to every game for their favorite sports team are just true fans of the sport, and showing their support for the team they love the most. But women and girls who go to every Harry Styles concert or every Timotheé Chalamet movie are obsessive, crazy, and have an unhealthy obsession that can be seen as creepy and borderline stalking. There is a very obvious double standard when it comes to fan culture in our society, and yet again it paints women in a negative light.
Why is it that women are unable to have interests without being met with hostility? Women are unable to be interested in anything without men trying to prove that said interest is just for attention, or make it be perceived as creepy or cringy. Men can paint their faces and scream like maniacs during the Super Bowl or even a regular season football game, but when I want to scream my head off at a Harry Styles concert there's a chance people will think I'm obsessed, doing it for attention, and weird. Why are women seen in this way but men aren't? I have noticed that in our culture, men are praised for acting like this, usually by other men, and women are ridiculed. Women are told to name the starting lineups from the 1996 Super Bowl if they mention they are fans of football. Told to name every song on the debut album if they mention they like a band, or even wear a band T-shirt. When they can't, or don't want to, they risk being told they are fake fans, and only doing it because they want attention from men.
This happens in so many aspects of life. It seems as though women aren't allowed to like classic rock, because they are trying too hard to be different, but they can't like One Direction because that's really cringy and weird. They can't like sports or video games, because they only want male attention. The list goes on, and on, and on. Why does it feel like women are not allowed to have interests? Are women supposed to just be a shell of a person that succumbs to every stereotype pushed upon them? What is the big deal about women being interested in things?
In my opinion, men are trying to prove that they are superior to women by showing that they know more about a subject both are interested in. To me, that's more attention seeking than simply being interested in something. When it comes to topics like interests, I've heard many people say that women are trying to be different or looking for attention when their interests are more niche, but really, they are simply enjoying something content that was made to be enjoyed.
Honestly, it's really not that hard to just let people enjoy what they enjoy. Things exist for people to like them, so why are we shaming people for actually enjoying themselves? The fan culture in our society puts a heavy emphasis on shaming people for enjoying things that are not as mainstream, and has a lot of toxic masculinity involved in it.