Have you ever been wearing a band t-shirt and been asked to name songs by them to prove you’re a real fan? Or said you like a sci-fi movie and were quizzed on your knowledge of the film? How about being tested on your sports knowledge after claiming you like a team? Often when women are fans of something that has a predominantly male fanbase, they are made to prove themselves worthy of being a fan. For some reason, women gaining an interest in something that is typically liked by men raises tensions within the fandom communities. It’s almost as if women liking things that men like is a threat. Fan culture often leads to toxic and misogynistic individuals showing their true colours. With these misogyny ridden fandom communities online, it seems as though there is no safe space for women to openly express their interests if what they’re interested in also happens to appeal to men. 

We are living in the age of social media, and something positive about social media if you’re involved in fandoms is the amount of content that there is out there to consume. With social media, you can connect with other fans to talk about your interests, you can get access to information that may not be available in the original media form, and you can follow along with the lives of the creators of whatever it is that you may be a fan of. It may seem like this is the ideal time to be involved in fandoms, but with the rise of social media also comes some extreme negatives. Social media offers people the opportunity to practice free speech, but many mistake free speech for harassment and bullying. The targets of online bullying within these male-dominated fandoms are often women. Male-dominated fandoms often revolve around gaming, science-fiction or action franchises, or sports but these can vary widely. In these male-dominated fandoms, when women attempt to join the conversation, they are often made to prove themselves worthy of being a fan. Male fans are accepted as the norm but women must prove why they’re a fan of something that is more popular for men. Not allowing women to be an equal part in the fandom as men are can cause women to be forced to isolate themselves from the fandom. They aren’t able to enjoy all of the benefits of online fandoms due to some men who fear that their space is being taken over by women. Unfortunately, these online fandoms take their misogyny much further than just isolating female fans. Their true colours are often shown in the form of toxic masculinity and they often resort to sexist and misogynistic comments and insults. They feel threatened that a woman could be interested in the same thing as them and they attempt to assert dominance to prove they are the better fan. Many of these men feel like there are no consequences to their actions if they’re behind a computer screen. 

Misogyny and sexism within male-dominated fandoms are not only targeted towards female fandom members, but also towards the creators and stars of the content. Media with female-lead characters are always so harshly criticized by male fans. For example, in the Marvel fandom, by far the most criticized character is Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers), along with her film being one of the most hated. While I don’t think it is the strongest film in the series, the hate that it receives is absolutely rooted in misogyny. In my opinion, Carol Danvers has many of the same qualities that Tony Stark (Iron Man) has and yet everything that male fans love about him, they hate about her. People call her stuck-up and rude, but when Tony behaves in the same way he is praised. Brie Larson, who plays Carol Danvers, was victim to one of the biggest misogynistic hate trains I have ever witnessed on the internet because she stated that she wanted to see more diversity within the Marvel universe and men felt threatened by this. They couldn’t handle the thought of a movie being led by someone other than a white male. I hope that in the future, Marvel continues to diversify their content, even if their toxic fans don’t approve. 

Online fandoms will always have their imperfections, but I hope in the future that these social media platforms work harder to regulate the type of content that is produced. Sexist and misogynistic content is produced every day with no consequences, which is why it continues to be made. If some action was taken, maybe there could be real change within online fandom communities. 

About the Author

Hi! I'm Megan and I'm a fourth year English major. This is my first year writing for WEW and I'm really excited about it! Some of my favourite things to do in my free time are watching movies, reading, and baking. My favourite movies are La La Land (2016) and Little Women (2019) and my favourite book is The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls. I'm looking forward to sharing my ideas with everyone and also learning about new topics from the other writers!