Female Figures Offer Power

Michaela Ely, Webmaster

Throughout the history of pop culture, men have primarily dominated the target audience for several films, genres of music and video games. 

However, just because men are the target audience does not mean that women haven’t enjoyed these same things. Even when women are made the target audience, they are still often not taken seriously because some men happen to believe that if women enjoy something, it is simply not worth enjoying.

One notable example of something with a female target audience that was never taken seriously was One Direction. Formed during the X Factor in 2010 and eventually finishing in third place, this UK boy band was commercially successful from 2010 until they went on hiatus in 2015. They won several awards and sold out stadiums around the world. However, because teenage girls were the target audience, many people did not take them or their fans seriously, branding them as a bubblegum pop boy band. And while this may have been the case for their first two albums, their last three moved closer to a pop rock genre, especially as the members began to participate more in writing their own music. This situation applies to several musicians within the pop genre, like Taylor Swift and Shawn Mendes. It seems that regardless of commercial success, they are often overlooked and likely will continue to be.

What many fail to realize is that because of teenage girls being the target audience for most musicians in the pop genre, they also have a large impact on what music is popular and will remain popular. While many refuse to take these fans seriously, one must acknowledge that they have the largest impact on the commercial success of a musician.

Even when women are fans of music that isn’t pop, they are often questioned as to whether or not they are a “true fan.” Let’s say I wear a Guns ‘N Roses shirt because I like how it looks and I like their music. The likelihood that I will be questioned by a man as to whether I’m a true fan and that I will be asked if I even know any of their songs or albums is far higher than it should be.

Several important pieces of pop culture belong in a place that is often dominated by men, the main examples being films belonging to the Marvel Cinematic Universe or Star Wars films.The MCU fanbase is notoriously toxic as most female fans are often called fake fans because men believe that we watch the films for the conventionally attractive male heroes. Something that feels important to note is that I have experienced this exact toxicity. If I don’t know the backstory of a minor character, I’m a fake fan. If I haven’t watched all the films (because The Incredible Hulk is a disaster of a film) I’m a fake fan. If I think Captain Marvel is a good character, I’m a fake fan. Captain Marvel was not taken as seriously as other Marvel films and Brie Larson faced death threats over her portrayal of the character. The misogyny within the MCU fanbase is even more apparent when male fans criticize Captain Marvel for having an ego and praise Iron Man for the same behavior.

Fans of Star Wars aren’t much better. They continue to criticize female characters for the same flaws that their favorite male character possesses. After The Last Jedi was released, Kelly Marie Tran, who played Rose, was forced off of social media because primarily male fans did not like her character and sent her nothing but negativity. Female fans are still called fake fans if they do not know certain details of Star Wars lore, even though new information is constantly being released which can be hard to keep up with, even for the most dedicated of fans.

It seems that most people often forget that you can be a fan of something without being completely obsessed. I’m both a Marvel fan and a Star Wars fan, but I don’t claim to know every piece of information about either universe. I am content with what I know and don’t feel the need to bash others because they know less than I do. I enjoy One Direction and Taylor Swift, but I also enjoy Fleetwood Mac and ABBA. I don’t claim to know every Fleetwood Mac song (although I do know way more ABBA songs than a healthy person should) and me enjoying Taylor Swift or One Direction does not erase their worth as musicians and it does not erase my worth as a fan. 

But the simple answer to why female fans are not taken seriously? 

Because of that key word. Female. 

Centuries and decades of misogyny are not so easily forgotten. However, a conscious effort can be made to recognize that our differences do not make us lesser. Nobody wants to be attacked or made fun of because of the things they enjoy, especially when it is purely because someone wants to feel superior. Bringing others down to bring yourself up has never been the right way to go about things. Everyone should be allowed to enjoy things without criticism and without focusing on anyone but yourself.