There’s more to this than semantics. Possibly you don’t realize how radical it is to see five guys treat young women with respect, and to demand that others do so as well, but it is. In a world where “fangirl” and “groupie” are routinely used to put down women who are enthusiastic about anything, One Direction stands in shocking contrast to their peers and to the culture as a whole.
Take, for example, Jonathan Heaf, a writer for British GQ, who did a cover story about One Direction for the September issue. He described Directioners as “a spectacle of the natural world—like the aurora borealis or the migration of wild bison“ and as “20,000 wide-open mouths, hundreds of pleading white eyes, 40,000 palms raised skywards, a dark-pink oil slick that howls and moans and undulates with every impish crotch-thrust from their idols’ plinths.”
That’s the kind of thing you’re dealing with as a young female who likes music. An adult male will sexualize you, write about your body as if he owns it, and then, as Heaf did, mock you on Twitter when you point out that he is being, frankly, a sexist pig of the highest order. "I’m still so terrified by GQ’s intense sexualization of young girls," wrote one fan. "ADULT MEN were sexualizing and minimizing children to animalistic wet vaginas in heat. AN ADULT MAN WROTE THAT AND THEN IT WENT THROUGH MULTIPLE ADULT MEN’S HANDS THAT SAID YEAH! AMAZING!" Is it any wonder that young women respond to a group that says, as Louis Tomlinson does in the movie, “This is a partnership between us and the fans?” It’s a big fucking deal.
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