In defense of female fans: dismantling a double standard

by Yethmie Goonatilleke, Editor-in-Chief

The stadium is a full house, with thousands of fans packed in the seats of the establishment. The fans are all gathered here today for one driving reason—to fervently support their favorites, all while viewing an impressive spectacle. Clamorous, yet organized fan chants ripple across the stadium, demonstrating intense devotion and passion. Idolization brews in the crowds, and young fans grow mesmerized. Fans of all backgrounds are decked out in representative merchandise, maybe even carrying decorative cards adorned with the faces of celebrities. 

Wait a minute. Am I describing fans of sports or fans of boy bands?

In light of the recent FIFA World Cup, it has come to my attention that these two groups of fans are actually quite similar. I’ll admit, the comparison may be a bit jarring at first, but fundamentally, both groups consist of a dedicated fanbase, often supporting their favorites and participating in large-scale activities like a sporting event or concert. Despite the apparent similarities, it has also come to my attention that female-dominated fanbases (such as fans of boy bands) are often ridiculed for their interests—a perception rooted in misogyny. 

When the Beatles garnered national attention and “Beatlemania” made waves throughout the country, female fans were often criticized for their intense idolization and frenzied screaming. But what’s more surprising to me— the Beatles and their very own musicality were mocked, with critics often considering them a laughingstock due to their fanbase of  “teenyboppers.” In fact, in an article in the Boston Globe published in 1964, William F. Buckley Jr. stated “The Beatles are not merely awful; I would consider it sacrilegious to say  anything less than that they are god awful.” In a more recent article published in The Guardian, Van Badham shines light upon the surprising idea that the Beatles were only solidified as legends in music history when men began to respect the Beatles. 

This notion that young girls are manic fans doesn’t end in the era of the Beatles. When One Direction broke up, hundreds of fans were taunted for their distraught and devastated reactions. Recently, James Corden was under fire for negatively insinuating that BTS’s fanbase only consists of crazed teenagers. 

Young female fans are often painted as obsessed and hysterical, while male-dominated fanbases rarely face this treatment. If both groups are actually quite similar, how is it fair that this double standard exists? If it’s true that fans of sports often demonstrate joy through cheering and screaming, how is it fair that this action is admonished as soon as young girls take part in it?

In all honesty, I’m not sure why this contrast in perception continues to occur, but I think it can largely be attributed to the undermining of female interest. It appears that there’s a certain assumption that young girls only become fans because of trivial reasons, such as appearance (especially in the case of a boy band). But this isn’t the case all the time, and some fans are truly inspired by their favorites for the better. 

We have to stop equating genuine interest with hysteria and insignificance. No one should have to stifle their interests, especially if they cause no harm. To perpetuate the idea that female fans can’t express their love and passion creates an unfair double standard that we must dismantle.