I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll say it again: I’m a fangirl. My fandoms are many and varied, but I am passionate about each and everyone. And that’s all it means to be a fangirl: To be a person who identifies as female and to have a deep passion for…something. For me that is a variety of books, movies and television shows. And I shouldn’t have to feel the need to defend that passion, nor should the term fangirl be a negative adjective. Unfortunately, it is often used that way. Sam Maggs says “No more!” in The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy, which I received a preview of from NetGalley. As Maggs explains, when someone questions your undying love for Star Wars (or Harry Potter, Tolkien, Star Trek, Firefly, etc., etc., etc.):
“Remind them (and yourself!) that throughout history, the best kinds of literature – the ones that have survived the longest – are the books that touch people on a human level. Your fandoms are like that: fiction, no matter the form, allows you to live a thousand meaningful experiences and relationships that you could never have in real life. Getting invested in a fictional world means you have a wonderful imagination, a big heart, and the capacity for endless creativity. No one can say anything bad about that.” p. 39
But it’s not the fan part of fangirl that gets a bad rap. Often it’s the girl part. It’s a sad reality that boys/men letting their geek flag fly face less popular resistance compared to the reaction when girls/women do the same thing. Granted, men who spend time in comic book shops (or other stereotypes like that) get to be the butt of more than a few jokes, even though they shouldn’t. Fanboys/men are generally awesome and fun to hang out with and shouldn’t be judged for their interests. But women not only get joked on from outside the geek community – as men do – but from within the geek community, as well, often from those same men that face prejudice from non-geeks. (Note: This is not true of everyone. The male geeks I have encountered have more often than not encouraged me when I expressed interest in a specific subset of geek culture.)
I have a confession: There has been a large chunk of my life in which I disliked feminism. I didn’t actively attack it. I treated it the same way I treat other things I didn’t want to deal with or didn’t support: I just ignored it. It’s not that I hate women, I just hate the big deal that is made out of girl power. Which I admit is kind of crazy, seeing as how I am a woman, I identify as such, and I admire powerful women, whether they be real, like Wendy Davis, or fictional, like Zoë Washburne. I like to believe we live in a society where we’ve moved past the need to point out that girls have power, too. It’s just a fact, or at least it was, in my worldview. Yes, I know this is naive and even lazy of me. And recent news stories have proved that my idealist view of the world is way off. From the continued pay gap between men and women to the horrible Internet trolls that have attacked women for daring to be geeks have forced me to think about my own beliefs.