By isaac Butler
The Fandom Issue got featured on Metafilter this week and in wading through the comments I found this one from Tubalcain that I wanted to share with ya'll because I thought it offered some food for thought:
What's kind of curious to me is the idea of the "rise" of the female fan. I've been reading Textual Poachers, a sociological look at late zine and early internet fandom from the Eighties and Nineties, and I got the feeling that fandom (and especially fanworks) had a strong female showing already. There were some fandoms mentioned as being heavily male (Twin Peaks, for example) but then there was everything from Star Trek(relatively gender neutral) and Beauty and the Beast (heavily female and apparently romantic in a way not unlike Twilight fandom). It's interesting to hear about different methods of fandom, but sometimes I wonder if we end up erasing the existence of women there by positing this as a continually new development rather than an ongoing thing.
It's also kind of funny that non-creative (in the literal "creating things" sense) fandom is stereotypically feminine, while fans who consume or memorize culture are stereotyped as masculine, especially because that's the exact opposite of how those things tend to be gendered in other places. Of course, I think that's also because we've sort of moved some fanwork into "creative crossover" Pride and Prejudice and Zombiescategories, where it's seen as art in its own right rather than a derivative, while focusing on the worst of stereotypically feminine fanfiction.
I was watching a PBS video on fanworks, for example, and a (male) artist and fanfic writer was talking about his own stuff, which he described as kind of absurdist. Then he mentioned Sherlock fandom, which as far as I can tell is relatively woman-heavy and has a lot of crossover with Doctor Who. He ended up talking about how he had no idea how these people got these ideas, how he had no idea if they were serious or what, and generally seeming shocked by the weirder ideas (in this case, a fanart showing the main characters as a corgi and a llama, trying to kiss, iirc.) What was strange, though, was that he seemed to completely disregard the possibility that they were, like him, doing self-consciously weird takes on a show. It was like the presence of romantic elements totally shut down the option that they weren't being 100 percent squee and serious, which is not at all my experience in most "girl fandoms."