Fangirl

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Synonyms: fan
See also: fanboy, squee, feral fans
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Contents

Positive and neutral meanings

A fangirl is, literally, a female fan. Many fans use both fangirl and its related term fanboy purely as neutral synonyms for male and female fans.

Other fans use the term in a positive fashion, and happily call themselves fangirls [1]. The positive connotation also occurs in verbal form: to fangirl an item is to love it unconditionally; it is an item that causes squee. This usage, especially when self-proclaimed, is in general unassailable and positive in meaning. For example:

it was the only show I fangirled at the time, and, you know, it's Buffy.[2]

To fangirl a canon, a creator or a fellow fan is to express delighted admiration for them or their work (i.e., *fangirls you* or "let us now fangirl each other madly!") This sometimes leads to describing fans of a BNF as "so-and-so's fangirls," usually in the critical sense of "blind supporters" or "minions."

Derogatory meanings

As the meaning of fangirl shades to the negative when associated with BNFs above, so too does the word have considerable negative and pejorative connotation in usage. It is usually clear from context which connotation is indended by the speaker.

In addition to the "blind supporters" sense, fangirl is a locus for derogatory speech about women in general, and especially their ability to be fans (or real fans). It is very common on the internet for fangirl to be deployed derogatorily to mean a fan whose understanding is shallow, attention frivolous, behavior undignified, and interest sexual.[3]

Although in general culture derogation of female fandom is common (e.g. reactions to Beatlemania, Harry Potter fandom, and Twilight) this derogation also occurs within media fandom, often so pervasively as to appear unconscious. Even on Fanlore, the term fangirl Japanese employs fangirl as an adjective to mean unserious, uneducated, and shallow in understanding (in that case, of the Japanese language).

By contrast, the related term fanboy is also often derogatory, but focuses on the perceived immaturity of the fan (i.e. boy as child), rather than on a gendered category. Male fans may, according to this logic, progress from boy to man, but a female fan will always be a girl.

Female fans have been known to accuse other female fans of incorrect fannish activities by invoking the spectre of the drooling fangirl [4][5], a phrase intended to highlight "compulsive" and "irrational" behavior. To be a fangirl is to perform stereotypical femininity, which in this usage is by definition deserving of ridicule.

References

  1. Elijah and Sean made me a fangirl by msilverstar, 2003-10-06
  2. mskatej on how do you watch? post thread, 2008-10-28. Accessed 7 December 2008.
  3. Urban Dictionary definitions of fangirl, overwhelmingly pejorative. Accessed 7 December 2008.
  4. Douxquemiel comment in Halfamoon community, 2008-2-13. Accessed 7 December, 2008.
  5. Douxquemiel comment in Halfamoon community, 2008-2-13. Accessed 7 December, 2008.
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