Written by Ava Butera
Picture this: You’re having a blast at a concert, screaming lyrics to your favorite songs and someone mutters the wretched term “fangirl” under their breath. Has this happened to you before? Okay, how about this: You hear a group of guys discussing “harder” bands like Metallica and you chime in to mention how you enjoy their music and the group discussion suddenly shuts you down because you don’t look like you would listen to that music. If you’re a female fan of alternative/rock music, it’s more than likely you’ve had to endure a situation like this, or at least to an extent. I, personally, cannot even count the numerous times I’ve been looked down upon by male fans.
When I was thirteen, I began to get into pop punk bands like Neck Deep, The Story So Far, State Champs, and New Found Glory. This was at a time when I was not as into indie music like I am now, a scene that is more welcoming than pop punk. At this point I was super excited to rave about these bands on twitter and attend concerts, however, I felt as if male fans were always looking down upon me as just a “fangirl” because I was a young female in a crowd of older guys. This began to intimidate me more and more as I grew older.
I would be waiting in line with my friends, ready to enter the venue to see All Time Low or State Champs and I would be freaking out about how excited I was to see my favorite bands or how much I loved Jack Barakat (still true, friends!) However, I always felt like someone was giving me a dirty look or talking about me for being “too obsessed” or “not a big enough fan.” There is literally no middle ground here. Finally, this got to me. I hated being looked down upon as just another fangirl. I wanted to abide by the laws of pop punk according to ignorant male fans, or what I thought at the time: be calm, don’t freak out, only go to head bang to cool music and to ONLY listen to heavy music. Therefore, I deleted all of the One Direction and 5SOS from my phone, telling myself it was too uncool and I would be a fangirl and would not be taken seriously by my peers if I continued to do so.
I was a young female in a crowd of older guys. This began to intimidate me more and more as I grew older.
Looking back to that point in my life now, it’s honestly the stupidest thing I’ve ever done! Do you know how many times I would be in the grocery store and hear “Stockholm Syndrome” by One Direction and I couldn’t sing along because it would be “too uncool” or how I could not longer post MCM photos of Ben Barlow from Neck Deep because I didn’t want to be seen as just another female fan? It sucked. However, I slowly grew out of pop punk, because of the negativity the scene seemed to drag along with it. I currently only go to alternative and indie concerts, so I haven’t had to deal with that sort of sexism at shows in a while. To be totally honest, I learned to just not care. I’m going to like what I like no matter what.
Even though it may only seem like female fans are looked down upon in music, this is completely untrue. Female musicians and music journalists alike are constantly faced with double standards and sexism. Female frontwomen such a Hayley Williams of Paramore and Lauren Mayberry of CHVRCHES have spoken out about the unfairness of the music industry. For example, I just read an article the other day about how Mayberry called out a male fan in the crowd because he asked to marry her. Williams also has tweeted about issues like this and also has showed her annoyance with the constant interview question asked to her: “What’s it like to be a female in a band?” As much as we (females) speak out about how unfair the music industry is, the industry will never listen, unless we take a stand and make a change.
Along with that, more and more we are seeing headlines about female fans being sexually abused by male musicians. It’s almost becoming normalized. I constantly am seeing new allegations whenever I read Alternative Press or Rolling Stone Magazine and it’s truly disheartening to see how some artists take advantage of their fans just because they may appear to come across as “fangirls”. Along with this, the majority get away with it because these young fans are too afraid to tell anyone. Whether it’s their decision or not, the abuse is never brought to the attention of the authorities. This is truly one of the worst things I’ve seen and I hope it does not continue to be as nonchalant as it has become lately.
The industry will never listen, unless we take a stand and make a change.
Lastly, another thing I would like to touch on is the lack of females on tour with bands. All Time Low posted a group “end of tour” photo recently, announcing the end of their Young Renegades Tour. If you look at the photo, the tour consisted of all males. When female fans saw that caption, All Time low received thousands of comments back saying that they would gladly join the tour if asked. Honestly, I’m glad the band addressed the lack of females on the tour. Adding more female guitar techs, managers, and merch girls to a tour will slowly but surely decrease the stigma against females in positions such as those.
Now that we live in the 21st century, anyone can access anything and pursue any career path they please. I believe that we will be starting to see more females in the industry in our lifetime than ever before. A ton of my friends that I’ve met through music are planning on pursuing careers in the music industry. Whether it’s singing, managing, promotion, or even sound engineering, females are beginning to take a stand and rise up against the sexism of the music industry. This stand will not only eliminate the term “fangirl” forever but it will also help eradicate the gender gap in the music industry.