On fandom, female spaces and male privilege
February 8, 2013 1:34 AM   Subscribe

"Fandom is one of the few places where you'll actually hear, "Wait, so-and-so's a guy?" And you know, we're kind of used to that." When Worlds Collide: Fandom and Male Privilege by Lucy Gillam.
posted by NoraReed (11 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: This is probably a little too old to provide a good basis for the discussion as presented, but might work as part of a more upated post. -- taz

I'm not stupid enough to get involved in this discussion, but:
Except is there anyone out there who doesn't know that pretty much every other network on television is courting the male viewer? The W-fricking-B is trying to attract more male viewers. I'm not saying they're actively excluding female viewers, unless they're the sort of network that cancels their second-highest rated show because the only people watching it are women, and no, I am never letting that one go, but is it any secret that male viewers are the Holy Grail of television?

Which show is that? I was thinking The Secret Circle, because I know that was cancelled, but I also understand (from snide remarks on io9) it was not very good.
And Supernatural and Vampire Diaries is still going, and those seem to be pretty heavily tilted at female viewers.

And also this article is from 2005, which rules them out.
posted by Mezentian at 2:14 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Interesting, though the quote here is slightly confusing as my first association with fandom is ur-fandom: written sf, rather than the media fandom she talks about.

But yeah, from the point of view of being male, it is so normal to always be welcome anywhere and be the focus of any fandom, that you don't notice it, don't have to notice it, until you come across a group or activity in which you aren't the norm and never mind if that's deliberate or happened "naturally", it's strange and upsetting.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:21 AM on February 8, 2013

I was wondering what show that was too, trying to think of the shows that were really popular in fandom around then. Buffy got sold to UPN, not cancelled, and Gilmore Girls died sputtering in 2007, so they're out. (I know it's an old article, but it rang very true in my fandom experiences, and I've seen the sort of shift she talked about in scans_daily happen elsewhere on a pretty regular basis.)
posted by NoraReed at 2:23 AM on February 8, 2013

I wonder if the show was Angel? Canceled in 2004, and probably had a sufficiently rabid fanbase.
Or Roswell, Charmed, Felicity? Maybe Roswell, I gather all the others died a natural death.

(also: 2004? ZOMG).
posted by Mezentian at 2:28 AM on February 8, 2013

Ohhhh, I dunno. I suppose I'm completely missing the point of fandom by saying this, but is cherrypicking some dickbag on LJ or elsewhere really a worthwhile endeavour? I mean, it was a) five years ago, and b) those guys aren't famous or viewed as ambassadors are they? (so far as I can tell, let the record reflect 3/4s of the links are dead or to closed accounts, so kinda hard to assess arguments on their merits).

Not refuting those guys might well be dicks but I feel like - whilst chauvinism is truly the gift that keeps giving - a) it was five years ago, and I think fandom, and many fandom spaces have changed a whole lot since then, and the discourse has continued developing in that time b) if I spent my time finding dickheads on LiveJournal and why they suck... I mean, that's like shooting fish in a thimble.

tl;dr I think this could be an interesting discussion, certainly, but a short blog post filled with dead links, no contemporary examples or conversations about this (which have certainly happened, hoo boy), no other voices, and rather some let's face it fairly nebulous assertions about fandom, fanfic, and fan spaces. I dunno. I don't think this post does justice to the topic in any way, really.
posted by smoke at 2:32 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

Wow, I'd no idea that "slash [is] mostly a female activity", interesting.

Firefly was cancelled the end of 2002, right? Firefly wasn't Fox's "second-highest rated show", but a rabid Firefly fan cannot be stopped by such trivia.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:41 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Probably Angel. Says it was second highest show at the time, mysterious reasons for canceling. "The show had a loyal core following, but it didn't have a tremendous amount of new audience upside." = Only women watching it, perhaps.
posted by fleacircus at 2:44 AM on February 8, 2013

Wasn't Angel's cancellation a result of in-fighting and power-jockeying among the higher-ups? Didn't one of the main people responsible wind up getting both swiftly promoted and swiftly canned?
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:03 AM on February 8, 2013

Uh. Not saying it's not an interesting topic, but it's a post from 2005. (I thought it was weird to have Stargate: Atlantis used as a relevant example.) Some of the links from the post are dead, other go to discussions so cold they could help stop global warming.

It would be interesting to see more of for example Henry Jenkins' recent work - I've been wanting to get my hands on The Participatory Cultures Handbook, which has a fascinating piece that includes a general overview of the male and female fandom spheres.

To take the gist of it, it's not that fandom in general is more female (though what the linked Symposium post says about a crowd with a 50% female ratio being seen as comprising of a majority of women is true), but that traditionally, fangirls and fanboys have done their fanning in separate spheres. Also, those are simply archetypes - there are male "fangirls" and female "fanboys".

According to Jenkins (+ personal experience), women are the ones who have been writing fic, first as zines and then online, and have developed the Western tradition of vidding. Men have been the ones to delve into the created world, make up their own Starfleet ships and puzzle together meta theories from tiny bits of plot. Women have congregated on platforms like LiveJournal, men have had forums. Again, these are generalizations, of course. But that's one of the reasons why a woman writing in 2005 would claim that fandom is an overwhelmingly female place.

But fandom is ever-changing, and the fandom map looks very different eight years on. It's dispersing and centralizing in new hubs - AO3 is a fantastic alternative to the much maligned FF.net, for example, while the a lot of latest fandom news, fannish creation and the inevitable conflicts all seem to be found on the utterly useless for discussions Tumblr, while people on LiveJournal wish for the good old days to return.

So saying fandom is a "female place" was an oversimplification in 2005, and it most definitely still is today. Doesn't mean it isn't interesting and important to have discussions on how privilege affects people, but I can't help but think that the framework here is kind of... missing?
posted by harujion at 3:06 AM on February 8, 2013 [2 favorites]

David Fury on Angel's cancellation:
The only reason that Angel didn't come back...it's a very simple thing. Because our ratings were up, because of our critical attention, Joss specifically asked Jordan Levin, who was the head of The WB at the time, to give us an early pick-up because every year they [would] wait so long to give Angel a pick-up [and] a lot of us [would] turn down jobs hoping that Angel will continue– he [Joss] didn't want that to happen. So, he was feeling very confident and he [Joss] just asked Jordan, "Like, make your decision now whether you're going to pick us up or not," and Jordan, sort of with his hands tied, with his back up against the wall, called him the next day and said, "Okay, we're cancelling you." Jordan's no longer there and The WB has since recognized...I believe Garth Ancier at The WB said that it was a big mistake to cancel Angel. There was a power play that happened that just didn't fall out the way they wanted it to. We wanted to get an early pick-up, we didn't. In fact we forced them [the WB] to make a decision, and with his hand forced he [Levin] made the decision to cancel us. I guarantee that, if we waited as we normally did, by the time May had come around they would have picked up Angel. I can guarantee that.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:07 AM on February 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

Seem like we are locked on Angel. Firelfy, like Babylon 5: Crusade was doomed before the first episode episode screened.
*shakes fist at the Network Gods knowing what would have happened just after Crusade was canceled.*

So, yeah, my rage is maintained in that front in 2013.
posted by Mezentian at 3:36 AM on February 8, 2013

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