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August 28 2009

Comments about, and by, Joss re: the "fangirl invasion". Newsarama looks at a posited increasing presence of women and girls in genre fandom. Joss is spoken of, and also himself quoted on the issue.

My continuation in fandom is due to a very large extent to the Big Purple himself. I got tired of all the "isn't it weird to be a female science-fiction fan?" long ago. Joss makes it worthwhile. I have an actual file at a comic-book store solely because of him.
All I can say is, it's about time. I doubt I'm the only guy who was tired of genre being something that was abhored by most significant others. Sure, not everyone needs to like it. But cliche dislike was always tad annoying.

Although like one of the comments on the article itself, the timing is suspiciously close to Twilight. At the same time, I think it's hard to differentiate what is leading to what. I agree with Joss that there's simply much better material (production wise) and it seems to be much more accepted by the mainstream now.
I Like "Oh this is a formula for money! We love money!"
Female fans have been in the majority in the Buffy and Angel online fandon for as long as I can remember. I wager it's the same for a lot of other fandoms. This isn't a recent thing.
I have a daughter who is a hardcore, cos-playing, comic con going, fangirl, and it all started with Lord of the Rings. Then she moved on to Buffy, and then some weird anime stuff with weird names like Bleach. Now she's into it all. She buys me my Angel comics.

For me, it was Spike that brought me online, and to conventions, and got me interested in all sorts of other fandoms in my online travels.

[ edited by Xane on 2009-08-28 05:07 ]
Oh my god (just to agree with all of you) the tone of this article annoys me so much. Stop trying to explain the "sudden influx of female fans" of genre fiction. (And, by the way, the term "fangirl invasion"? Really?) There have been women who like genre fiction since genre fiction has existed. There are whole subgenres of fantasy that are dominated by female readers and writers. There are several bestselling female science fiction authors, who have been around for decades.

The difference is that, before, those writers and fans weren't given the time of day at male-dominated events like comic-con... until Twilight, which has been so massively financially successful it can't be ignored.

Where did the female fans come from? We've been here all the time.

/rant
Serenity/Firefly got me online. Been a sci-fi fan since the original Star Trek. I love my Captains. Buffy lead me to Angel to Firefly.
Yeah, I've been a geek (at least in the sense of gravitating toward genre fiction) most of my life, and there were plenty of women writing the stuff before I was even born. The only reason I haven't been to a 'con is the financial constraints of being a student. (Thought the people I know who are regular con-goers happen to be women.)

Also I can't stand Twilight.
All I can say is, it's about time. I doubt I'm the only guy who was tired of genre being something that was abhored by most significant others

I know. I could never get my husband into SF. :)

[ edited by redeem147 on 2009-08-28 06:39 ]
It seems like most of us are in agreement about this not being the big deal the article makes it out to be. The only real affect on my life is that it's become easier to talk to girls about my nerdy interests. I think that's more of social acceptance thing than the girls being fans themselves, though... being fans of something geeky might make them more receptive to geeky things they aren't a fan of.

I said "gorram" the other day, and the girl I was talking to giggled and threw another Firefly reference back at me. That's how I knew things were going well.
*Yawn*. I've been a SciFi/fantasy fan since I was about ten. Which was about a hundred years ago. ;)

But it did take Joss and BtS (mainly Spike) to get me into online fandom.
I'm a girl and I've loved Sci-Fi/Fantasy almost all my life. I think it started with watching my uncle's Star Wars videos and X-men/Spiderman animated tv series when I was about four. (Said uncle is one of the few people I know who watches Dollhouse!)

Online fandom happened in recent years for me though, mainly brought on by Buffy/Angel.

(And I hate Twilight)

[ edited by Shep on 2009-08-28 12:46 ]
Well, girls are really not that far behind the guys on the fandom. Although the article is nice, and Joss comments rock, it's really nothing new. The article fails to notice that it really talks about mainstream fandom, which has really started to happen in recent years regardless of sex. Until recently the scifi/fantasy/anime/whatnot fandom was geeky and teaseworthy, now it's more of a mainstream thing.
I think the problems with this article are exemplified by this comment:

"...the potential sexism of booth babes..."

Potential? Try definite. I fear the authors of this piece haven't given women enough thought.
FWIW the author is herself a woman and has written about genre and gender many times before.

[ edited by The One True b!X on 2009-08-28 16:23 ]
For awhile now my impression from articles such as this has been that the attendance of comic cons in particular by women has increased noticeably in the past generation or so. And that the rise of genre tv and geek culture in general have had something to do with that. I've never been to a con though, so this is all from stuff I read secondhand. It seems to me like whether someone says "oh, we've always been here" or "wow, look at all the women here!" depends on the time scale someone's talking about and the particular fandom they're mostly involved in.
As the article says, it's just become more acceptable in general i.e. less of a geeky thing and more associated with communities (asociality is sometimes a sort of badge of honour for men, we have generations of stoic,"lone-wolf" role models to follow whereas for women it's seen more as a clear-cut failing IMO. So it seems natural that when geeky pursuits acquired communities, more women might be happier pursuing them, or at least happier being seen to pursue interests they might've had all along).

Also, genres are blurring, partly as people who grew up with comics/sci-fi are coming into real creative power so that what would've been "Fantasy" before is now "Sci-Fi and Fantasy" and what would've been "mainstream" now often has a distinctively SF&F feel. I'd be interested to see how many women came to SF&F more from the fantasy side and how many from the sci-fi side (and for men too obviously, to compare) cos I have a hunch that because sci-fi (like science itself) was seen as more of a male area, it might be true that more female SF&F fans started out just as 'F' fans.

And as Joss mentions, comics companies etc. have just figured out how to market to women better. That's also true of e.g. video games too, traditionally seen as for geeky anti-social males, now increasingly thanks to products like the Wii and DS and how they've been sold, a cross-gender hobby and a more social activity with it.
I think that the increase in the presence of female fans might have something to do with the fact that female geeks are starting to push back on some of the sexism which has played a prominent role in geek culture. It's not that the female fandom is new, but that it's more outspoken?
While I do agree somewhat with the article I believe I noticed this a long time ago, much before the bothersome Twilight saga which I am not sure will leave the girls it attracts to branching out into other avenues of the culture so much, but that remains to be seen and I hope to be proven wrong. It has always been gratifying since I was a kid to see strong female heroes and real life females who can enjoy it. It is always great to get more people involved period, be it man or woman.

Little side note when i am talking to someone I don't know that well I will try and drop a nerd comment or reference as a litmus test and see if they pick up on it and take the bait, when it works I get really excited that we suddenly have a lot more to talk about! As a single straight guy the more women who start picking up on my interests is aces in my book. :)
It's not that the female fandom is new, but that it's more outspoken?


I don't know. I've always regarded the Buffy fandom as predominantly matriarchal. In just about every aspect of the fandom be it getting a hold of spoilers, shipping, fanfic, manips, episode debates etc, female fans set the agenda. Curiously not so much in the Firefly fandom I've noticed.
Oh yeah, the Buffy fandom is definitely heavily slanted towards the ladies and always has been. But I'm thinking more about female comic book fans, female gamers, etc, who have definitely been, shall we say, victims of sexism in the past.
Curiously not so much in the Firefly fandom I've noticed.

Firefly being sci-fi and Buffy being fantasy which sort of supports my hunch.

'Twilight' might be a gateway to other vampire fiction which might eventually lead to wider geek culture but to me it seems more like the sort of thing you're really into when younger and then somewhat embarrassed about when older (though full disclosure, I haven't seen/read any of the films/books and likely never will so i'm almost perfectly ill-positioned to judge ;).

That said, i'm not really sure what geek culture is. 10 years ago (and to me even now, since i'm a techy) geek culture was predominantly computers, games (of all sorts) and maths/physics/space. Basically the sorts of things you'd see on Slashdot. Now it encompasses a lot more so 'Harry Potter' is geek culture so's Buffy, Twilight etc. Before long I suspect "geek culture" will just be "culture".

I think that the increase in the presence of female fans might have something to do with the fact that female geeks are starting to push back on some of the sexism which has played a prominent role in geek culture.

I suspect a mixture, larger numbers leads to a "critical mass" which makes it easier to bear the sexism - there's a sort of support system there, especially with the net - and women are stronger and better at dealing with it now. And also of course that there's maybe just less sexism full-stop, seems like we can share the credit around slightly, it doesn't all have to go to women for fighting the fight and pushing back (though i'm still sometimes amazed and depressed by the off-hand, casually accepted nature of the sexism among male geeks, as if women being a bit shit at certain things is some inevitable law of nature).
Oh, yeah, sexism is definitely less common/acceptable for the most part in the geek world. Sorry, I should have mentioned that. It's certainly still a problem and sadly probably always will be, but credit where credit is due: it's less frequent, and a lot of mangeeks have been just as outspoken about it as ladygeeks.

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