Equal Opportunity Geeks
February 20, 2008 7:44 AM   Subscribe

Move Over Alpha Geeks, Here Come the Fangrrls an article about thousands of women gathering for a sci-fi convention, and what it means in fandom circles.

Interested in more essays on feminism, gender, and fandom? Start here.
posted by FunkyHelix (87 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite

 
Essays, hell. Gimme pics.
posted by grubi at 7:48 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


an article about thousands of women gathering for a sci-fi convention, and what it means in fandom circles.

It means that Dean and Sam are HAWT.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 7:54 AM on February 20, 2008


Essays, hell. Gimme pics.

heh.
posted by Paris Hilton at 7:54 AM on February 20, 2008 [15 favorites]


Ecch. TV fandom.
posted by Artw at 8:04 AM on February 20, 2008


Any other Winchester Widowers in the house?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:06 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm not really sure this is as indicative of a change in 'geek' behavior, as it is a broadening of the genre of 'science fiction' to encompass themes and characters that apparently appeal to more women.

Women can and do get just as emotionally and materially invested in entertainment as men; the only thing that seems unique here is that the show they're interested in has been deemed 'science fiction.' If that hadn't happened -- if the show had been arbitrarily assigned to another category -- suddenly it wouldn't be remarkable or warrant attention, but I suspect the same fans would still be there.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:15 AM on February 20, 2008


That was a terrific article; thanks for posting it, FunkyHelix!
posted by Asparagirl at 8:17 AM on February 20, 2008


You want pics? How about: girlyunderwear crashes a Furry Convention and lives to tell the tale.
posted by chuckdarwin at 8:19 AM on February 20, 2008


Oh for crying out loud, can't we have just one thing for ourselves?

First, women get into heavy metal and ruin it, and now they want in on our scifi and gaming. Next thing you know women will be in our pornography. When does it end?
posted by Pastabagel at 8:20 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Any other Winchester Widowers in the house?

Is that what drove the strat purchase?
posted by COBRA! at 8:24 AM on February 20, 2008


Oy Metafilter, is that the best you can do? "Gimme pics"? And I know you're being, um, sarcastic, Pastabagel, but, you know.

Can we make it through this thread without ridiculing female fandom? Please?
posted by jokeefe at 8:31 AM on February 20, 2008


Wait, I realize that I ask far, far too much.

How about we aim for, at least, taking it as seriously as Star Wars fandom? In other words, open to parody and jokes, but with a fundamental acknowledgement that it matters to the people involved, and that at least a grudging respect should be paid?
posted by jokeefe at 8:33 AM on February 20, 2008


Hmm. Dunno, I mean surely gender is largely orthogonal to the general heirarchy of nerd snobdom?
posted by Artw at 8:35 AM on February 20, 2008


aw, Paris, ya hurt me. I wasn't being mean or ude. I just find geek girls cute. I *understand* fandom -- I don't need another article to tell me all about it. And I understand women are just as horny, weird, driven, lazy, annoying, interesting, and human as men.

So... on with the pics.
posted by grubi at 8:38 AM on February 20, 2008


jokeefe, but if we did that, it would prevent the lulz.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 8:41 AM on February 20, 2008


And I wasn't ridiculing it. So there.
posted by grubi at 8:41 AM on February 20, 2008


Pics only when it's been demonstrably proved that our cuteness or lack thereof is relevant to our experience of fandom. Or this thread.
posted by casarkos at 8:42 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Slow-motion trainwrecks are the best ones.
posted by aramaic at 8:43 AM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


I happen to work with one of these fangrrl types. I don't have a scale (although I bet someone does), but by any measure "reads Doctor Who novels" has to rank pretty highly.

It's definitely a measure of how lopsided technical fields are that I was (and still am, sometimes) amazed and amused at her "girly writing" of equations. She uses pink and purple pens to write linear systems of equations. Hearts on her imaginary numbers. Etc.
posted by DU at 8:51 AM on February 20, 2008


I wasn't being mean or [r]ude. I just find geek girls cute. ...I understand women...on with the pics.

Wow.

I'm not sure which is more disturbing, the fact that you're a socially retarded sexist, or that you are unaware just how much of a socially retarded sexist you are.
posted by FunkyHelix at 8:51 AM on February 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


Ahem. Women in SF fandom have been going strong for over thirty years.
posted by ursus_comiter at 8:52 AM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


Is that what drove the strat purchase?

Totally. This Thursday night will be the first Thursday intersection of guitar ownership and new Supernatural broadcast. I figure nothing would enhance her viewing experience like a series of A, D, E, and G chords played haltingly through my amp at top volume. I'll try and make up a song to go with it, but will likely just steal the Wayne's World lyrics and modify them to suit my needs:

Man Pain! It's SPN time! Excellent!
Man Pain! It's SPN time! Excellent!
Chicks tune in when it's Nine PM, Thursday night
It's Sam and Dean that they want to be with.
They are in their Impala loading up their guns.
Girls really dig those Winchester boys.
Man Pain! It's SPN time! Excellent!
Man Pain! It's SPN time! Excellent!
Girls hope the episode don't suck
Chyea right! They're showing a shot of Dean's butt!
Supernatural is awesome, but stuck in a rut
So we will give up and watch Smallville... NOT!
Man Pain! It's SPN time! Excellent!
Chicks go mental! Chicks go mental! Chicks go mental!
Chicks go mental! Chicks go mental! Chicks go mental!
Man Pain! It's SPN time! Excellent!


So as you can clearly see, I will be spending most of Friday shopping around for a new guitar once I get out of the Emergency Room after having my first Strat rammed up my ass.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 8:53 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


I understand women...on with the pics.

quoted for FAIL.
posted by jessamyn at 9:08 AM on February 20, 2008 [23 favorites]


More excuses to read about Supernatural and be kinda scholarly? Awesome! Thanks for the post!
posted by banjo_and_the_pork at 9:14 AM on February 20, 2008


I'm not sure which is more disturbing, the fact that you're a socially retarded sexist, or that you are unaware just how much of a socially retarded sexist you are.

Thank you for completely misunderstanding everything I said.

I'm a sexist? Oh I know: because I like women. Or I like looking at women. How utterly rude and nasty of me! I shall flog myself to make sure that my reputation is no longer sullied in your hastily judgmental eyes. Lord knows I wouldn't want to offend you. I like women. I like geeky stuff. I find it especially attractive when women are into geeky stuff. There is a connection brewing there. Shame on me, I suppose. My wife (who is a woman) is into geeky stuff. She's also cute. Cute, geeky women are attractive to me. It doesn't disparage or ignore the types of geekiness these women are into to say I'd like to know what they'd look like. Christ almighty, what a fucking assumption you make there.

And yes: I understand women. Because women are as frail and weak as men. There is no real difference in how their minds work. Neither is superior to (or stronger or more fun or dorkier or intriguing than) the other. But that's sexist because I happen to feel all people are people.

Jesus, let me know when you get down from your high horse so we can have an actual conversation.
posted by grubi at 9:21 AM on February 20, 2008


Could the prude and the sexist fuck off to meta and have their utterly boring argument there or something? Cheers.
posted by Artw at 9:23 AM on February 20, 2008


I understand women...on with the pics.

And they wonder why there aren't more women at SF conventions. (See also: Harlan Ellison at the 2006 Worldcon.)

It's a pretty good article, although I wish we could stop calling female fans fangrrls. I think it might be especially true for Supernatural, but almost any recent SF TV show seems to have a predominantly female active fanbase and it's interesting to theorise why that is. (I don't go far enough back to know whether this is true of older, pre-Livejournal fandoms.) It's not that female fandom itself is a new thing, but while Wiscon attendees are majority female, I would guess it's about 60-70% female, which is more than most literary-oriented SF cons but at Winchester con (and in online SPN fandom) it seems closer to 95% female or more.

The fans ponied up $60 for the experience. [...] Buying a gold ticket sets fans back—for a weekend ‘gold pass’, attendees paid close to $400.

And that's why I don't do media cons, at least not the ones with star actor guests. My favourite authors may not be quite as pretty, but it won't cost 400 bucks to go to their con, and I can probably get a photo with them if I buy them a beer and ask nicely.
posted by penguinliz at 9:32 AM on February 20, 2008


And I know you're being, um, sarcastic, Pastabagel, but, you know. Can we make it through this thread without ridiculing female fandom? Please?
posted by jokeefe at 11:31 AM on February 20


I wasn't ridiculing any fan of anything. I'm the first to admit I wrote a B- joke at best up there, so I'm more than happy to tear it apart.

See, the mere fact that there is such an article on "fangrrls" implies not only that girl fans are different from boy fans, but that girl fans are different from fans, full stop. The article's title is directed toward the "Alpha Geeks" (whatever that is). It implies that girl fans must be into the genre for something other than what men are into it for, and because men were into it first, the story leads to the conclusion that girls are going to change (read "ruin") the genre to better suit what they want. That's not my opinion, it's a subtext of the article, if you consider that the article will be read by "an awkward teenage boy with a skin condition blinking rapidly in uncommon daylight, having only hesitatingly surfaced from his parents’ basement," as the article describes the stereotypical fan. This fan has to "move over" - that stereotypical male fan is being alienated from the genre he originally fled to because he was alienated everywhere else.

So my dumb joke draws an analogy to heavy metal, another formerly exclusive province of the acne-addled post-adolescent male, and points out that girls are into heavy metal now, but notice that the linked image I chose was a heavy metal magazine cover touting "the hottest chicks in metal".

Do diehard female metal fans care about who the hottest chicks in metal are? No. Do diehard male fans? Nope. Don't get me wrong, the guys will look at the magazine, but they won't classify those girls as being "real heavy metal". The magazine's existing male readership does, because heavy metal has changed, and the audience changed with it. But somehow those bands depicted on the cover (Lacuna Coil, for example), are much much more popular with girls than bands like Metallica and Iron Maiden ever were in their heyday, despite the fact that those bands were massively more popular over all than Lacuna Coil is now.

So we have an apparent contradiction - if the genre is more girl-friendly, why are the more female fan-friendly acts being peddled as pin-up girls? If the genre includes more women in the audience, why sell it only to men? The answer is because as the genre matures and become embraced by the mainstream, the social dynamics of the mainstream are superimposed on it - the genre does not change society. The social dynamics of the mainstream continue to be largely patriarchial, demanding women looking and acting a certin way and depicting them fulfilling a certain role. Catering to this maximizes sales to males generally (which happen to be a larger demographic that females generally and diehard metal fans in particular).

In other words, when heavy metal began, it was a fringe genre. The same is true of science fiction and horror. Especially in the 60's, science fiction was full of social criticism. Fringe genres include within them counter cultural and subversive elements and overtones. But as those genres become more and more popular, the fringe elements are lost and the mainstream elements are reintroduced in to the genres formula and archetypes and eventually dominate it. So instead of a band holding guitars on the cover of a music magazine, we have girls in their underwear. Heavy metal (at least the kind that Revolver is interested in) is now no different than pop or rap - it is exploitative of women and therefore culturally safe.

The same will be true of science fiction, according to the article. But the article is doing some heavy lifting here, because it is identifying female fans in the context of their role in commerce, i.e. as a marketing demographic. It won't exploit women as overtly as heavy metal does, but it will be similar in that it will not challenge the established social roles for women as nuturing, more emotional, etc.

Now, in my opinion the notion of fangrrls is silly because there have always been fans of scifi who were girls, just like there were always fans of heavy metal who were girls. But those girls who were fans of metallica in the 80's would not have accepted a band where the lead singer parades around in her underwear, because that is precisely the culture that girl was escaping by listening to metal (or punk, etc).

That the genre of science fiction/horror (that's what Supernatural purports to be, anyway) attracts so many fans, including a lot of girls who are otherwise in the mainstream, signals that the genre has abandoned its subversive roots in the interest of a wider audience.

It's not that there are girl fans, it's that there are girl fans who act and behave and consume products the way society dictates girls should. But don't be offended, because the same is true of guys - the magazine expects correctly that its male readers will play to type and buy a magazine with semi-naked girls on the cover.
posted by Pastabagel at 9:34 AM on February 20, 2008 [15 favorites]


My wife (who is a woman) is into geeky stuff. She's also cute.

Yes, on with the pics.
posted by oaf at 9:37 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Could the prude and the sexist fuck off

You acknowledge what he said was sexist, and because I called him on it and speak up for myself as a woman that makes me a prude, meaning ... if I could just get myself fucked by some man, I wouldn't care when someone said something sexist?

Seriously?

Christ, sometimes I really hate this site.
posted by FunkyHelix at 9:43 AM on February 20, 2008 [5 favorites]


That the genre of science fiction/horror (that's what Supernatural purports to be, anyway) attracts so many fans, including a lot of girls who are otherwise in the mainstream, signals that the genre has abandoned its subversive roots in the interest of a wider audience.

This is only even arguably true of media fandom, which real SF fans would argue isn't real fandom. Real fandom is about the books.
posted by Justinian at 9:43 AM on February 20, 2008


So as you can clearly see, I will be spending most of Friday shopping around for a new guitar once I get out of the Emergency Room after having my first Strat rammed up my ass.

See, that's a selling point for telecasters-- their more streamlined heads make for easier removal after an ass-ramming.

posted by COBRA! at 9:44 AM on February 20, 2008


I've always found it interesting that the fanfic world is overwhelmingly, almost exclusively female, yet "traditional" (for lack of a better word) fandom is overwhelmingly male. And I think the two groups come at it from such completely different perspectives that they're unlikely to merge anytime soon.

I'm a male geek, a number of my female friends are deeply involved fanfic geeks, and it's clear that we interact with media in completely different ways. The closest way I can articulate the difference is that i think male fans tend to treat the show as fixed and immutable, to them the show itself is the subject of the fandom. Fanfic people on the other hand seem to treat the show as just a jumping-off point for their real fandoms, which are these collaboratively constructed self-written narratives, that use the show itself as just source material. (The show itself is "canon," the fandom is really based on the various branches from it.) Some fanfic communities even seem to cluster around shows that even the fans happily admit are just terrible -- which they then rewrite to make them better. It's difficult to imagine male fans doing that sort of thing.

I'm not smart enough about gender to try drawing any grand conclusions about what that means about the differences between men and women, but it's some interesting ground to explore.
posted by ook at 9:50 AM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


As a once and future Wiscon-goer and fan of some of the people mentioned in the article, I have to totally disagree that these fans are "acting and behaving and consuming products the way society dictates girls should."

Look at the Women's Work video linked in the article. If that's not critique, if that's not subversive, I don't know what is. Look at fanfiction; it's a completely different way of engaging with the text, and it's dominated by women. It's not primarily about consuming products, it's about creating, and often it's about reading the text in a way that's totally at odds with the producer's intent (sometimes in a gratuitous, simple, "Let's get them in bed together" kind of way, but sometimes in a much more complicated way.)

And actually - the recent Beatles biography "Can't Buy Me Love" argues that fangirl culture is a rather subversive thing, the way it originates in private conversations between friends listening to records and then spills out into the larger world. I think that's a useful idea when considering the science fiction fangirls, except that the conversations happen in Livejournals instead of bedrooms. (Of course, you could argue that even if it was subversive initially, it's been coopted to sell things, and I wouldn't necessarily disagree.)
posted by Jeanne at 9:51 AM on February 20, 2008 [3 favorites]


...that makes me a prude, meaning ... if I could just get myself fucked by some man, I wouldn't care when someone said something sexist?

As I've gotten older, I've gotten more sensitive to both sexism and nuance....but even I have to say that was quite a leap.
posted by DU at 9:55 AM on February 20, 2008


..that makes me a prude, meaning ... if I could just get myself fucked by some man, I wouldn't care when someone said something sexist?

As I've gotten older, I've gotten more sensitive to both sexism and nuance....but even I have to say that was quite a leap.


You need to try harder, DU. Let's look at the equation here: prude = sexually repressed, no? And what's the standard cure that is generally suggested (by men) for sexual repression? Why, a good rogering/fucking etc.

It's not such a great leap, it's the very common subtext of using the word "prude" to dismiss any women who says, "I don't like this."
posted by jokeefe at 10:02 AM on February 20, 2008 [8 favorites]


Look at the Women's Work video linked in the article.

First of all, that video is subversive, but it highlights how conformist and mainstream the show it's criticizing is. You could have culled similar clips from any horror movie or TV drama in the last 5 years. And focusing on women, or catering to women as reasonably intelligent people is not in and of itself subversive. You can have thoughtful, intelligent mainstream culture, which is what this show seems to be.

Obviously I can't speak for fan fiction, because I've never read any of it, but the livejournal posts excerpted in the article are very much mainstream.
posted by Pastabagel at 10:08 AM on February 20, 2008


"Christ, sometimes I really hate this site."

Then maybe you ought to take a break. Lots of people do. I did, and it made this place an interesting one to visit again.
posted by Irontom at 10:09 AM on February 20, 2008


"How about we aim for, at least, taking it as seriously as Star Wars fandom? In other words, open to parody and jokes, but with a fundamental acknowledgement that it matters to the people involved, and that at least a grudging respect should be paid?"

Um… That'd be treating it like Star Trek fandom. Star Wars fandom's for 12-year-olds and jerkoffs.

"See, that's a selling point for telecasters-- their more streamlined heads make for easier removal after an ass-ramming."

If you play based on what's least-uncomfortable to have rammed up your ass, you end up as one of those weenies with a Chapman stick.
posted by klangklangston at 10:18 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


It's not such a great leap, it's the very common subtext of using the word "prude" to dismiss any women who says, "I don't like this."

I agree. And the solution is not to "take a break," it's to challenge these attitudes. Kudos to those who want this site to be better than "where's the pics" type comments.
posted by agregoli at 10:21 AM on February 20, 2008 [2 favorites]


Essays, hell. Gimme pics.

Ugh. It's great that you like cute girls; I like cute girls too. But if you've got no interest in the essays, you could take a pass on the crotch-scratchin' boyzonery and just go google up some pics on your own time.
posted by cortex at 10:28 AM on February 20, 2008 [11 favorites]


I found this article pretty interesting, I have to say. Arguably because of my personal dorkdom, the majority of women I've met in the last five years have almost all had some sort of fandom going on—my sister-in-law's Inuyasha obsession (she dresses up for cons), my coworker's wife lecturing me on the differences between the writers for Babylon 5 (the one episode I watched was apparently by the wrong guy), my former editor's head for horror comics minutae, and all of the fandom vagaries of the women who worked on the video game magazine here before it folded.

I do think it's interesting, based on my sample of about 20 women in casual conversation, that there's a big generational divide, with younger women defining their fandom in a much more "stereotypically male" manner—being "serious" about it, eschewing focusing on relationships for tech specs, being competitive about their fandom—as opposed to the older women who seem to approach it more from a holistic vantage. I'm totally spitballing, but it seems like older women came up through fantasy novels (and I've always thought of there being a general gender divide when it comes to mainstream paperback fantasy being pitched at women and sci-fi aimed at men, though obviously there are plenty of exceptions).
posted by klangklangston at 10:29 AM on February 20, 2008


It's not that there are girl fans, it's that there are girl fans who act and behave and consume products the way society dictates girls should.

Yeah, this is pretty much completely wrong. The female fans aren't 'consuming products the way society dictates they should'; if anything the male fans are the ones doing that, while the women are off doing their own thing. I wouldn't say (and I don't think this article is saying) that girls are muscling their way into what used to be male territory, nor that the male territory has become so mainstream that now even girls can play. The girls are creating their own, different territory which only resembles the male stuff at the most superficial level, and there is almost no overlap between the two.
posted by ook at 10:39 AM on February 20, 2008


Pastabagel: absolutly agreed that the show itself is not subversive in any way. In no way would I expect subversion from a show on a major network, supported by advertising, whether that show's science fiction or not. Everything subversive is in the interpretations created by the fans - I find that incredibly interesting. Because, if we wait for That Perfect Feminist Science Fiction TV Show, it's not coming. It's almost like female fans take it upon themselves to create it, by imposing their own stories and interpretations on the raw materials that are already there.

But, you know, obviously there are a lot of squealy 15-year-olds out there too.
posted by Jeanne at 10:42 AM on February 20, 2008


Let's look at the equation here: prude = sexually repressed, no?

That's not how I've been using it, no. I mean, I love sex, but I don't go to strip clubs. Am I a prude?

But I will admit that sexual repression is a commonly cited reason for prudishness.
posted by DU at 10:49 AM on February 20, 2008


That was an interesting article. Although really, anyone who's been to one of the larger Comic-Con/Wondercon conventions would probably already have noticed the higher numbers of women attendees. Although it's probably arguable that more of the women are there for the more mainstream media fandoms than the comics or more traditional die hard sci-fi genre stuff. I've been a girl in comics for a while now, and while I have about 5-10 close guy friends who read comics and whom I can geek out with on occasion, I do have 2 girl friends who have gotten into comics as well.

Still it seems like there are a lot of crossover brands (Heroes, Battlestar Galactica, Supernatural, the X-Men movies, etc) which appeal to a much broader audience than the traditionally male sci-fi loyal. I just started watching the new (2005-present) Dr. Who series and have plans to get my girlfriends into it. The spin-off series Torchwood features a bi-sexual lead who makes out with half the cast male or female. It's basically slash on tv. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Torchwood audience turns out to be predominantly female. to which I say w00t! may the era of female pandering boykissing begin!
posted by nerdcore at 10:53 AM on February 20, 2008


Yes, on with the pics.

You got it.
posted by grubi at 10:55 AM on February 20, 2008


just go google up some pics on your own time.

Fair enough.
posted by grubi at 10:57 AM on February 20, 2008


What a fucking mess.
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:40 AM on February 20, 2008


I was doing (as a female publisher and fundraiser for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund) massive conventions in the late 80's and early 90s. About half the audience were women. While most of the "alpha geeks"...you know, the mouthbreathers who smell of their mother's basements and cat piss were almost universally male, there were tons of their (better smelling) female alpha-geek counterparts with dragons on their shoulders and Elfquest books in their hot little hands.

Seriously, women have always been a big part of cons and the scifi/comics industry, and I don't just mean the table biscuits in bikinis. Hell, some of the biggest producers and publishers in the sci fi and comics market are women. Women have been at the helms of those companies for years.

This article strikes me as too fluffy. It's got that whole "OMG! Girls!" thing, which bespeaks of a writer who has not spent much time at these shows. Fully 80% of the people who show up to see Neil Gaiman are women. Terry Pratchett has a massive female base. Clive Barker has a huge female following. Star Trek has a huge female fan base.

To suggest that women are new to the convention scene or the science fiction scene is to admit that you know very, very little about the history of these events and culture.
posted by dejah420 at 11:57 AM on February 20, 2008 [4 favorites]


I think I figured out why I've been accused of being a sexist. I said something sexual, not necessarily sexist. And it appears that a couple of folks chose to interpret it a particular way. The problem seems to be that expressing any form of sexuality in a discussion of sex, gender, etc. seems to prompt, in some circles, accusations of sexism (there seems to be a lot of this on MeFi). I can see where you are coming from on that, but you're way off base and pointing fingers at the wrong person.

How much sexism came from the words I used versus the perception of the words I used? Just curious.
posted by grubi at 12:04 PM on February 20, 2008


You posted first in a thread about a topic with a message that conveyed you weren't interested in the substance of the post, but rather, women's bodies. That's offensive, no matter how you slice it. If you don't care about the substance of the post, like cortex pointed out, you don't need to comment about something else entirely.
posted by agregoli at 12:17 PM on February 20, 2008 [9 favorites]


grubi, could you just drop it? Or take it to meta if you're so goddamned curious. The fact of the matter is that no matter how many long, trying, exhausting sexism threads we have here, a person can't make ONE goddamned post about a female-oriented issue without someone prancing in and yapping on and on about whether or not those females are attractive. Goddamnit! Nobody FUCKING CARES what you find attractive or that you would like to see some pictures of what you find attractice.

Goddamnit.
posted by LeeJay at 12:21 PM on February 20, 2008 [25 favorites]


And yes, I had to say "god damn it" that many times. It's the only way to rid myself of all this prudish, repressed sexual tension that makes me respond negatively to sexism.
posted by LeeJay at 12:27 PM on February 20, 2008


I identify as a fangirl, above and beyond a fan, of certain things. I'm a fan of Fassbinder, but I'm a Firefly fangirl. Certain types of fandom are reminiscent for me of my childhood in the gleeful, deliciously hedonistic and non-intellectual brand loyalty they inspire in me. Also, many of the things I'm a fangirl for are targeted at children (Muppets, CS Lewis, Harry Potter). My childhood was so marked by gendering, that any childlike activities for me remain rather fraught in terms of gender, and I inadvertantly identify as varyingly more and less feminine in various contexts, including fandom contexts. For one snapshot of what this meant, I became a feminist the minute I "discovered" science fiction, IN COLLEGE, because it had been so perfectly codified as "not for you, have some Barbies" my whole life, and I had complied.

So, as an SF fangirl who met Constance Penley (the wonderful feminist scholar who did the first research on "slash fiction") and shrieked and dropped my drink, I'll just say pics or no pics, my fandom is purple, throbbing with virility, and bigger than yours, dudes. Suck it.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 12:49 PM on February 20, 2008 [7 favorites]


To suggest that women are new to the convention scene or the science fiction scene is to admit that you know very, very little about the history of these events and culture.

Hear, hear. I was at the 1968 WorldCon and there were tons of women there (and Harlan was already his annoying self).

grubi: I'm not going to call you an evil sexist or something, because you're clearly completely clueless (and that's not an insult, just a description, we're all clueless about a great many things), but please recognize that you are missing something important and go educate yourself if you so desire. If not, fine, but in any case please stop trying to defend yourself in this thread. It's a tiresome derail, and pretty much everyone who could educate you about how sexism works is sick unto death of it after threads like this and this. You might read those and see if anything sinks in.
posted by languagehat at 12:58 PM on February 20, 2008


Hey, seriously, for crap's sake: email or metatalk or something, but if we can drop it here that'd be lovely.
posted by cortex at 2:18 PM on February 20, 2008


I think I find fandom sort of weird and pathetic not because it's a womanly usurpation of the glorious legacy of scifi or whatever, but because the television shows and novels and such that get latched onto are universally balls.

PLUS, there's the teeth-grindingly terrible literary style that most fen affect: verbs bracketed by asterisks, you know, *HUGGLES YOU*, that sort of shit; a sort of clumsily arch faux-Austen narration; and always, always, the lurking spectre of Sueistry.
posted by nicolas léonard sadi carnot at 2:23 PM on February 20, 2008


[a few fuck you no fuck you comments removed - metatalk is your option at this point, sad to say]
posted by jessamyn at 2:31 PM on February 20, 2008


nicolas, don't judge all fandom by the Pit of Voles.
posted by headspace at 2:35 PM on February 20, 2008


grubi (and yes I promise this is my last response to him), I really hope that you got your wife's permission before posting her blog and her pictures in this thread. Because not to do so would be kinda disrespectful, right?

Also, what further puzzles me is that there are pictures in that article. Quite a few of them.
posted by jokeefe at 2:35 PM on February 20, 2008


How about we aim for, at least, taking it as seriously as Star Wars fandom? In other words, open to parody and jokes, but with a fundamental acknowledgement that it matters to the people involved, and that at least a grudging respect should be paid?

If it didn't matter to the people involved, it wouldn't be so easy to make fun of, and that goes for male and female fans alike.

Also, what nicolas léonard sadi carnot said. A hundred times over.
posted by infinitywaltz at 2:47 PM on February 20, 2008


...and always, always, the lurking spectre of Sueistry.

A spectre is haunting Fandom -- the spectre of MarySueism. All the powers of old Fandom have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Trekkers and Whovians, Ellison and Yronwode, New Wave radicals and Gernsbackian police-spies.
posted by Snyder at 2:49 PM on February 20, 2008


haha he thought i was being serious
posted by oaf at 2:59 PM on February 20, 2008


"See, that's a selling point for telecasters-- their more streamlined heads make for easier removal after an ass-ramming."

If you play based on what's least-uncomfortable to have rammed up your ass, you end up as one of those weenies with a Chapman stick.


And now I finally understand the Dean headstock design-- it prevents ass-ramming entirely.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:29 PM on February 20, 2008


::: keeps on walking ::::
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:33 PM on February 20, 2008


The article talks about how most of this geeky culture stuff is created by men. I'm guessing that's true? Don't know for sure. But that has to have something to do with "Hollywood" promotes and nurturing male directors much more consistently than female ones. Similar situations probably exist in all the mediums involved. The world of film, at least, is heavily male dominated. Seems like our images of gender roles in consuming and creating this stuff is a result of who gets the funding from these studios. And they pretty obviously lean towards men. I don't think this is just geeky stuff, either. Seems pretty consistent to every genre.
Many women must want to make movies, or control television shows. But if I stop and think about it, I know that I can name a ton of male directors and only a few female ones. I don't think it's from my lack of trying, and I know it's not some sort of female lack of ability or drive or whatever. Something's up with our mass culture that seems even more behind than the general patriachy. It's great that women get to participate in the fun as consumers. But like... why not more gender balance on the controlling and creative side, before it hits the fanfic circuit? What's going on that there isn't a female Tarantino? Are the schools not training women to drive these projects? Am I just missing something?
I'm fully ready to admit that I'm being sexist by not knowing the women who are creating these things. Still working on the deprogramming, trying to clear out the bullshit.
posted by dosterm at 4:18 PM on February 20, 2008


“I said something sexual, not necessarily sexist.”
Like: smell the glove.

“a few fuck you no fuck you comments removed”
Now that’s sexy.

“I don’t think they even have genitalia.”
So... Goreans?
posted by HVAC Guerilla at 5:34 PM on February 20, 2008


dosterm, that's a huge can of worms you're cracking. No, of course, generally speaking, US schools and the culture in which they exist are not training women to strive for the upper eschelon of talent-based work. That is the general patriarchy, and the media specifically is an ironic and self-propagating cycle of exclusion by tradition and representation, slowly and insistently being penetrated by tough, talented women. There are cues that reinforce male dominance and agency built into cinematic and televisual languages themselves, and all you really have to do to "clear out the bullshit" is start observing how empowered the women you see in media are, compared to the men you see. Who does and who is "done to." But if you want to look deeper into this particular facet of feminism -- women in the entertainment industry -- here's a good book. For women in SF specifically, there's a huge amount of scholarship! Just so you know, film schools today, if they're worth their salt, IMO, teach social justice pretty much at every step of the way. It remains to be seen if our lust for thoughtless pleasures and reactionary narratives of prescriptive roles will squelch all the activism and critical expertise that smart, political, educated people are contributing in increasing amounts to "the industry."

I thought Goreans had genitalia... *checks* (KIDDING)
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 5:39 PM on February 20, 2008 [1 favorite]


Seeing women at cons shouldn't surprise anybody. Half the "geek" stuff that I'm into - Star Trek TNG, Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, etc. are basically soap operas anyway.

And those "action figures" we played with as boys? Dolls. They were dolls. Accept it and move on.

Everybody have a nice day.
posted by Afroblanco at 6:04 PM on February 20, 2008


What a fucking mess.
posted by Pope Guilty at 1:40 PM on February 20


Hail Eris?
posted by adamdschneider at 9:00 PM on February 20, 2008


The closest way I can articulate the difference is that i think male fans tend to treat the show as fixed and immutable, to them the show itself is the subject of the fandom. Fanfic people on the other hand seem to treat the show as just a jumping-off point for their real fandoms, which are these collaboratively constructed self-written narratives, that use the show itself as just source material.

I think this is a real and interesting difference, but I don't think it's based on gender. What you described as a "male" approach to scifi fandom is mostly my approach, and I'm female. On the flip side, I see quite a few men dropping hints about the fan fictions they're working on or declaring that a tv show sucks after Character A dies and from that point forward, their own personal fanon is true and canon is false. I don't understand where those people are coming from, but it is very real to them, and I've learned not to argue with them. Interestingly, fandom discussion threads often have people from both groups talking about the same point, but it's really more like two discussions at once.

I would take some issue with "fixed and immutable" though since storytelling is not really ever that. Retcons do happen, and they don't bother me unless they're badly carried out or just really lame (I'm looking at you, George Lucas). But I do accept that there's a story that was told a certain way, and that story is my starting point for fandom discussions.

I usually stay the hell out of canon discussions, but people interested in these kinds of issues might find those interesting.

As an extreme type of fanfic people's approach, Dollhouse hasn't even started filming yet, but people have started writing fanfic for it.
posted by Tehanu at 9:22 PM on February 20, 2008


I refuse to take female fandom seriously. But that's mostly because I refuse to take fandom seriously. I mean, I'm a fanboy for some things myself, but I realize it's ridiculous.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:22 PM on February 20, 2008


I think I find fandom sort of weird and pathetic not because it's a womanly usurpation of the glorious legacy of scifi or whatever, but because the television shows and novels and such that get latched onto are universally balls.

There is, I think, a huge desire on the part of fandom fans to become the next Big Name Fan, to be 'first!' on board for a given 'ship or show such that all who come after must acknowledge their contribution. So that means for any given show, scifi or not, there is an almost instantaneous rush to fandom, like that claims marking scene in Far and Away. In the initial rush there is little attention paid to the actual quality of the subject matter.

With the internet being what it is, there is more contact between creators and fans now than ever before. Fans can actually influence their shows, interacting with them in a way, and Big Name Fans have the best ability to do so. They are the voices around which certain groups rally.

I am likely wrong about this next point and welcome correction: I place the blame for this sort of behavior at the feet of Television Without Pity. The moment that fans heard not only that the show's creator read their reviews and forums, but had started referring to a character using the same slang that they developed ('Mamatose') something happened and people went bugnuts crazy. Can anyone think of a pre-Carnivale example of internet fandom being acknowledged and their terminology adopted by the show's creator?
posted by robocop is bleeding at 5:29 AM on February 21, 2008


[a few comments removed - in an attempt to re-rail this thread, please take name calling to metatalk or email?]
posted by jessamyn at 7:00 AM on February 21, 2008


Hail Eris?

Oh no, I'm not blaming Eris for shit like this thread.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:45 AM on February 21, 2008


robocop is bleeding - I've heard that Heroes season 2 was a result of the producers paying attention to online fandom, yet more proof that this kind of thing is bad and wrong and can lead to no good.
posted by Artw at 11:17 AM on February 21, 2008


There is this interview in which Heroes creator Tim Kring apologises for the way that Season 2 sucked bigtime. He doesn't say that it was online fandom which caused the problems, but that they looked at what the fans liked in season 1 and tried to copy it in season 2, and it didn't work. In fact you might even say it had a positive effect, in that there was so much criticism of season 2 he was forced to come out and say that they were wrong and how they planned to get it back on track.
posted by penguinliz at 12:25 PM on February 21, 2008


Can anyone think of a pre-Carnivale example of internet fandom being acknowledged and their terminology adopted by the show's creator?

Joss Whedon and other Buffy/Angel/Firefly writers are known for reading fan comments in online fan communities and sometimes joining discussions. Some of what the character named Andrew said on the show was inspired by fan comments that the writers had seen on message boards. I don't know how long TWP has been around, but Joss's comments at the Bronze: Beta go back to 2001. I think Buffy was one of the first shows to have a strong online community and also writers who interacted with that community pretty directly. It's been described by some people as the show that first adopted a multimedia model in terms of its merchandising and online presence.

JoAnn Rowling has a similar relationship with her online fans. She reads their boards, even posts and votes in polls sometimes, has met some of the fans who started the first big fan sites. Actually after some initial failures, Mugglenet actually gets some sneak peeks of stills during the movies' development phases and supposedly gives feedback on new promotional websites in still development. I don't know that any comments have affected the books, but I wouldn't be shocked if fan feedback influenced other things in the Potter empire.
posted by Tehanu at 12:43 PM on February 21, 2008


Dostem - I don't know about film/TV, but this AskMe might be of some help on the literature front.
posted by Artw at 12:44 PM on February 21, 2008


they looked at what the fans liked in season 1 and tried to copy it in season 2

That'd be the problem right there.

(Though I'm more inclined to blame the decent writer buggering off to do Pushing Daisies)
posted by Artw at 12:46 PM on February 21, 2008


A while back I read an article about one of those Fat Fantasy Novel sequences (I'm fairly sure it was Wheel Of Time but can't be certain ) being totally derailed by the writer paying too much attention to what the fans said on his fan sites and fell into a hell of adding more and more sub-plots about they said they wanted ('hey those Dark Princes of Dlork are great let's have more on them' ) without ever tying things up.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 12:59 PM on February 21, 2008


dosterm: The Pink Hat Brigade is a group of female scifi writers who picketed together during the WGA strike (which is the main topic of the article I linked to). One member is former Buffy writer and now co-exec producer of Battlestar Galactica, Jane Espenson. Interview with Jane Espenson in a series of Pink Raygun articles about breaking into scifi tv writing as a woman. Actually hunting around Pink Raygun generally is a good idea for the questions you asked.
posted by Tehanu at 1:04 PM on February 21, 2008


Can anyone think of a pre-Carnivale example of internet fandom being acknowledged and their terminology adopted by the show's creator?

The producers of Xena were known to pay attention to the fandom. They even hired a fanfic writer to write at least one episode.
posted by rtha at 3:01 PM on February 21, 2008


True rtha, I forgot about that. Melissa Good wrote 2 episodes of Xena. One was a season premiere. So that was in 2000, 8 years back.
posted by Tehanu at 4:21 PM on February 21, 2008


Ahem. Women in SF fandom have been going strong for over thirty years.

Yeah, that main article reminded me of reading OMG WOMEN ARE PLAYING MUSIC articles about Lilith Fair. Significant? Yes. Reached mainstream awareness? Yes. First time female musicians had done that? Ah, no. Important as it was, most of the articles ignored female musicians and women's festival history as a whole and reported on that particular fair as if it was the One and Only Ever.

After Eris Asshattery is banished, is when I come back to these kinds of threads. This is a fascinating topic despite the earlier crap.
posted by Tehanu at 4:40 PM on February 21, 2008 [1 favorite]


The only thing I can gather from this article and, indeed, the thread, is that there could be a stark difference between following a genre and fandom.

Seeing that most of my female friends love speculative fiction, I really don't understand why it is noteworthy that many women, in fact, like this genre. (Or it could be that I, perhaps, am invariably drawn towards people with literary interests)

Or, on preview, what Pastabagel said. Hmmm.
posted by the cydonian at 7:54 PM on February 21, 2008


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