words by Jayda Jasmine
ARMYs, Swifties, Hotties, Harries, Arianators, do these fandoms sound familiar to you? They belong to BTS, Taylor Swift, Meghan Thee Stallion, Harry Styles, and Ariana Grande respectively. They’re all popular artists with a large following of fangirls. Despite being some of the biggest and most recognizable artists in the world, their fans are still looked down upon. Whether it be disguised as, “too mainstream” “too showy” or “too sad” all of the excuses in the book are used to diminish popular artists that appeal to a certain demographic. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, there is hidden misogyny behind the treatment of both fandom and artist. Today we will focus on misogyny, fangirls, and why they deserve more respect.
First, let’s focus on misogyny in music. Even Phoebe Bridgers recognizes “how dismissive people can be of teenage girls’ tastes in music”. In an interview she reflected on the fact that the Beatles became a global phenomenon due to fangirls and their love for them and their music. This is also how One Direction, BTS, Boys II Men, Taylor Swift, and Ariana Grande got their start. In fact, if you look at most popular artists their fandom consists mostly of young women. This isn’t a coincidence, “Women are more likely than men to respond to music in a more emotional way. Furthermore, females prefer popular music more than males.” This isn’t to say that men can’t listen to music and feel emotional attachment, women are just more likely to use music as a way to reflect on their feelings. Ever since I was a little girl I’ve never focused on popularity, album rarity, or music theory. Whatever music moved my soul was the music I listened to. Sara from Name 3 Songs, a music podcast created to challenge sexism and empower fangirls had another answer for me. “I feel like girls just know in their gut,” she continued, “ I think it’s something to do about the excitement of finding someone new you believe in & wanting to build them up because it’s exciting to watch an artist grow from the start”. Getting an exclusive insider on new trendy things that are genuinely good and belonging to a group of like-minded people is definitely the reason many became fangirls. This answer is reminiscent of the Name 3 Songs slogan which is, “let’s be honest, fangirls knew about that band way before you did”. The name of the podcast is also a joke about how young women are often prompted to “name 3 songs” of an artist that they like to prove they’re knowledgeable about the topic.
Despite being an expert on trends in the music industry and borderline A&Rs at 14 years old, young women are belittled and their taste simplified. A relevant example of this is the BTS Army. BTS is the hottest act in the world at the moment thanks to their “extremely dedicated fan base called the “ARMY” who stream the band’s songs like clockwork and spend large amounts of time and money fueling their love for the band”. Members of ARMY “have bought billboards, planted trees, and have been very active on social media. Without fans, artist teams wouldn’t have the funding that comes from record, merch, and ticket sales”. Young women are often painted to be immature and naive. As if they’re being tricked into spending money to support an act they enjoy. However, this notion is far from what’s happening. As an ARMY I’ve seen other ARMYs coordinate on Twitter to start campaigns to buy merch and albums. We rest easy because we know that our disposable income is going towards a good-hearted band who stands for something bigger than all of us. We are not spending money senselessly, but rather voting on who we want to succeed. With ARMY fan engagement setting a new level of superstardom, BTS has been the envy of many. Perhaps fangirls will be taken more seriously in the next decades to come due to their outstanding engagement.
In this article, the author makes an excellent point when they state that fangirls “are essential to shaping the taste of the world around them”. That’s what fangirls ultimately are, global tastemakers. These global tastemakers are becoming much more important, especially in the music industry. Music is no longer the product, the experience of music is. This means things like music videos, festivals, live appearances, and fandom presence are also becoming increasingly more important. Fangirls, who have long carried the commercial music industry, have valued engagement and experience. Research has also shown that “not only are more young people turning to music creation as a common activity, but women are doing this more so than the men”. In the new participation phase of the music industry, there is hope for young women to get the respect they deserve for their expertise.