Gender and Fandom

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Related terms: Misogyny in Fandom, Women and Slash
See also: Race and Fandom, Transphobia in Fandom
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Gender Issues Regarding Fan Interactions

Women in Fandom

Fandom as a Female-dominated space

There has been much discussion about what types of fan activities and fandoms draw mostly women.

There has been discussion of what it is that women find they can express through fandom.

Fandoms dominated by teenage girls, such as boy bands, are a topic of interest.

Misogyny in Fandom

Woman Positivity

Responses to the lack of fanworks about female characters have often come in the form of fests or ficathons. The Femgenficathon, founded and run by gehayi, was one such response. Originally designed in 2005 to combat the lack of female-character gen stories in Harry Potter fandom, it became Pan-fandom the next year due to overwhelming demand.

Also in 2005, 100 Women was created to celebrate female characters in any fandom. It followed Fanfic100's example and created a chart with 100 prompts that anyone could write for.

Galpalficathon, subtitled I Will Not Be Afraid Of Women (a line from the Dar Williams)) song As Cool As I Am) was a prompt-based ficathon from 2008, specifically for exploring nonsexual female relationships (instead of female characters in isolation or femslash.)

Halfamoon, started in 2008, is an annual fourteenday challenge celebrating female characters.

The in-depth Mary Sue discussion, begun on Metafandom in early 2010 with an essay by Dreamwidth member boosette, Why Mary Sue Shaming Is Bully Culture and carried over various Dreamwidth and Livejournal blogs, led to the discussion groups So Sue Me, She's Awesome and Hooked On Heroines among other online communities.

The Rarewomen LiveJournal community was founded in November 2011 as a winter fic exchange for stories about female characters who are rarely written about.

Femslash February was started in 2014 on Tumblr to promote female/female relationships in fanworks. The challenge has spread to multiple platforms and has spawned related challenges, such as Femslash February Celebrates Black Women.

Kathleen Smith, on her blog Fangirl Therapy, suggests this approach for dealing with misogyny in fandom: if you love female characters, celebrate them, let them be rolemodels for you, and find other like-minded fans. This sets a good example:

"I can’t deal with (internalized) misogyny in fandom anymore. I’m so tired of fandom making everything about dudes. I pretty much exclusively watch shows with a female point of view and several amazing, well-written, complex female characters, but somehow the fandoms of these shows are still all about the male characters. It’s so frustrating that after episodes full of great character development for women and meaningful interaction between women, all everyone wants to talk about are the two scenes of their male fav doing nothing of importance. And it hurts me so much to see women being called bitches, crazy and worse in a predominantly female space. I’m tired of feeling like I’m less important, less interesting, less of a person simply because of my gender." ...In every fandom... you’ll find people who root for women, and more important, people who aren’t willing to engage in preschool theatrics. Huddle around them for warmth and inspiration. It’s like Michelle Obama says. You gotta go high when they go low... People will be drawn to you and to your favorite characters if you live a life online and offline that honors whatever you see in them that’s worth emulating. This is HARDER but more rewarding than arguing your case on social media or trying to fight fandom demons.... 1. Find your people. 2. Leave people with other interests alone. 3. Don’t put your worth up for a vote. You’ve found a beautiful character who stirs something deep in you. Don’t beat people over the head with her. Just let her shine in your words and actions.[1]

Men in Fandom

Trans People in Fandom

Gender Issues in Fanworks

Gender Issues In Source Texts


Meta & Further Reading


  1. ^ Kathleen Smith, "Misogyny in Fandom". Fangirl Therapy, 2016-10-20.