In Defense of the 'Thirsty Fangirls'
The Sexism Faced by Female Music Fans
During a conversation on Facebook a couple of years ago, my friend mentioned that his adult brother had come down to visit. Apparently he was a fan of the same music that I was, particularly Bring Me The Horizon. This should've been brilliant. I had someone else to bond over one of my favourite bands with. Well, once I had passed 'the test'.
My friend's brother took over the conversation, spouting quick fire questions about the band at me. I had to name all of the members other than lead singer Oli Sykes (Jordan, Lee, Matt K, Matt N, easy) and tell him who, according to the song, he used to make out with (Medusa). Was this to weed out the real fans from the posers, I thought? When I asked him, the answer was no.
"Just making sure you weren't one of those thirsty Oli Sykes fangirls," he said.
This 'thirsty fangirl' is usually between the ages of about twelve and sixteen. She loves any or all of Black Veil Brides, Bring Me The Horizon, Pierce The Veil, Asking Alexandria, and the emo trinity, purely because she has a hot lead singer to drool over. She only sees them, none of his bandmates, and none of the music.
She is also imaginary. She exists only as a sexist construct to push girls out of the scene they so love, to warn them that the mosh pit is a boys' ground and they won't be taken seriously.
I do not like to believe that anyone pretends to like a band just for the street creds, and if so, their numbers are far less than that of the diehard fans. I also do not believe how someone can like a band purely for what they see rather than what they hear. To assume otherwise is to assume that most teenage girls are shallow, brainless and simply cannot appreciate the amazing music around them unless some dreamy emo poster boy is making it. That assumption is unrealistic. It relies on lazy, sexist stereotyping that paints every girl with the same brush.
That doesn't go to say that some girls don't feel attracted to boys in bands, however. It even happened to me when I cut my teeth in the alternative scene. If Kellin Quinn or Andy Biersack came on with their respective bands onto Kerrang! TV, my fourteen-year-old self's heart would beat a little faster. And provided you're not sending hate mail to their girlfriends/wives or stalking them in the hope they will marry you, it's okay. For many teenage girls, this may be the beginnings of discovering their sexuality, in a safe, innocent space. But naturally, assuming you're a fairly average human being, we're never normally attracted to someone solely on the basis of their looks. These girls find an attraction in their crush's voice, or musicianship, or lyrics, most likely all three, and I can't personally understand why this goes over some people's heads. And even then, it's not all girls who do this; in stereotyping female fans of music in such a way, we ignore the girls who may not feel romantic attraction at all, or the girls who aren't attracted to boys in bands because they prefer the girls instead. Besides, many young boys, alternative or not, also go through the same phase as they come of age, and they're hardly judged. It's sweet. It's normal. But if the roles are reversed, suddenly it isn't.
Maybe the boyband culture is partly to blame, if we're going to blame anyone. In the mainstream, they're cash cows, groomed, bred and dumbed down for the tweens and teens with pocket money to spend and apparently, absolutely no taste whatsoever. It's condescending at best. Bizarrely, it's a world so far removed from rock and metal, but it still manages to infiltrate our culture, because the bigots allow it to. It's this labelling that, ironically, hurts the bands themselves as much as their fans: just watch the hate comments pile up on a Black Veil Brides video of your choice, and you'll see what I mean. We wrongly assume that teenage fans = bad music, and it does both parties a disservice that they don't deserve. There's enough hate in the world as it is; we don't need anymore.
It's time to give us girls a break. Let us love what we love, and think again before you judge us for it. Let's leave the toxic blend of misogyny and ageism behind in the 1960's where it belongs. Because we, the 'thirsty fangirls,' have had enough.