It seems to me that it is generally socially acceptable for girls to be fans of a musical artist in the US. No one thinks twice if a kid says that she likes Justin Bieber, for example. They may even find it cute that a kid would have posters of him and other merchandise advertising him. Yet, an adult female doing something similar is thought to be weird. While people don’t openly say that this must mean I’m immature, I have gotten statements like, “You haven’t grown out of that?” Of course, it isn’t helped that new young artists are always advertised specifically to young people. The assumption there is that the only market for this type of artist is young people and that young people will buy and buy and buy some more. Heck, Duran did this themselves or allowed this to happen to them. They were interviewed by teen magazines and allowed their image to be placed on everything from kid pajamas to a board game. While this type of merchandise is welcome both then and now, I realize that it doesn’t help to give respect to adult female fans of theirs. It reinforces the stereotype that female fans are stuck in some sort of perpetual childhood. Of course, there are way worse stereotypes.
One of the most common stereotypes I think female fans experience is the assumption that one is a stalker. Rhonda talked about the definition of a stalker in this blog post here. The negative assumption is that female fans will do anything and everything to get to the band. Of course, the negative assumption may not think through the action to answer the question: Why? What purpose would fans have to get to the band? Do those who criticize fans as stalkers think that they are doing it because they are groupies, which I will get to in this post, or do they think they are out to get the celebrity(s) of choice? Of course, it is possible that they just don’t understand why anyone would go out of their way to be near a celebrity. What I find interesting about this stereotype is that I rarely if ever hear it used towards male fans? Why is that? Why aren’t male fans criticized for being stalkers? Certainly, there are male fans who might show up at the band’s hotel or at their studio? Why aren’t they stereotyped in the same way? I also find it interesting that fans will call other fans stalkers. Why use this stereotype? Of course, as Rhonda pointed out in her post, the definition of stalking isn’t really clear. So, if the definition even within fandom or Duranland, in particular, isn’t clear, why use it? Obviously, it seems like people use it because they think it will hurt those who are being called stalkers. Perhaps, they are using it because it is a way to show that they ARE NOT stalkers. It is a way to show that they are different from those other fans. Of course, the same thing happens with the other really horrible stereotype–that female fans are groupies.
A groupie is another term that has multiple definitions. Is a groupie simply a female fan who follows a band or is it a female fan seeking the ultimate autograph? Got me. Obviously, well-known and proud groupie, Pamela Des Barres, wrote about being a groupie in her books. In her situation, it was more of the later definition. Books like hers, I’m sure, does not help the outside world understand that not all female fans are groupies. Obviously, if people believe that all female fans are groupies, they must think that we are in it for sex as opposed to actually enjoying the music. Again, then, I wonder why fans use this insult on each other. Is it just to hurt the other fans? Is it just to show how one fan is different from the other?
It seems to me that when you really begin to analyze these common stereotypes about female fans, they are all really about demeaning women as we are immature, have no life or are just seeking a sexual experience. It can’t be that we are have a valid opinion, in which we believe that someone or something is valuable. It can’t be that we find this band, or any other band, talented. It can’t be that we want to just express our thoughts and opinions. No, the stereotypes say that something has to be not quite right with us. This leads me again to wonder why female fans use these stereotypes on each other. What purpose does it serve? Does it help to destroy these stereotypes or perpetuate them?