DID YOU KNOW THERE IS A WORD THAT MEANS BOTH “FANBOY” AND “FANGIRL” AND ALSO COVERS PEOPLE WHO IDENTIFY AS NEITHER?
It is “fan.”
I’m nominally out of the office for a few days, so instead of getting a quick meditation on how “fanboy” usually denotes…
I have mixed feelings. Because geek culture (like so much pop culture) defaults to male, if you just say, “Fan,” that can lead people to believe the demographic defaults to male. Specifically: WHITE males.
I call myself a fangirl, (and yes, I’m a fully grown woman tyvm) because I refuse to bow to the implicit slut-shaming, desire-shaming, FAN-shaming baggage it carries.
Then again, I am a contrary and complex gal. Fanboy still carries some stigma, too. Less than that of Fangirl, but it’s still there. The obese, basement-dwelling, perpetual virgin myth of the fanboy is still there. (Don’t get me started on ALL the baggage, we’ll be here all day.)
I agree that the media should certainly find better ways to denote, “Hey, we’re at San Diego Comic-Con and with all of these amazing, dedicated fans. Attendance is nearly evenly split between men and women,” etc., but I’m not giving up being a fangirl. Just as I will never give up being a geek/nerd. Just as I cannot give up being a woman. It is something intrinsic to the concept of me. As much as my reflection in the mirror, or the encyclopedia of useless knowledge in my head, or my lifelong dedication to human rights, being those things is part of me.
I think it’s important that we demand journalists who cover geek culture stop being patronizing twits when it comes to gender, but that’s true of all journalists in any milieu. When we hear about Hilary Clinton’s hair and not the policies she’s engaging as Secretary of State, there is an obvious problem. Microcosm and macrocosm. The media and the culture are no more immune to issues of gender than anyone else.
So please, journalists: stop saying fangirl the way you’d say “Groupie” and fanboy the way you’d say “Leper” and we might not have to have words again.
In the meantime, I shall hie my fangirl squee to youtube and watch panel coverage whilst sobbing because I’m not at SDCC.