Stereotypes about Female Fans

It isn’t easy to be a female fan of a band.  I certainly have experienced some rather unpleasant looks and statements when people find out that I’m a fan of Duran Duran.  Of course, some of those negative reactions are specific to Duran Duran.  In those cases, the people just don’t like Duran so they think I’m dumb to be a fan of theirs.  Yet, beyond those Duran haters, I still get negative reactions for just being a female fan of a band.  Some people assume that this means that I haven’t grown up, at best, and others assume that I’m either a stalker or a groupie.

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? 

-A

11 thoughts on “Stereotypes about Female Fans”

  1. About six months ago, Simon tweeted about his favorite Indian restaurant in London. He perhaps mistakenly mentioned the name and I Googled the location. I already knew where Simon lives, so I calculated the restaurant to be about 3 short doors from his house. While we were in London for the cancelled O2 show I got the idea to take the Tube out to Simon's neck o' the woods and eat at the Indian restaurant. SICK, I KNOW. But hey, you guys can relate, right? Afterwards, we walked in front of Si's house, and my husband took a pic of me. Did I really think I would see Simon? Sort of. Get this; the waiter told us he had been in with the whole family only the night before!!! Was the whole thing a crazy boondoggle? No. Hubby and I both declared the side trip out of central London one of the favorite parts of our trip. We enjoyed walking down leafy Upper Richmond Rd, and Munal Tandoori served the best curry I've ever had in my life.

    I have no bat-shit loss of reality in thinking Simon or John would leave their happy homes for me. Truthfully, I adore my husband, and just happen to have an innocent life-long crush on Duran Duran.

  2. I'm re-reading “I'm with the Band” by Pamela des Barres right now, and while her actions may not mirror ours in terms of how we choose to show our affection for Duran Duran, her passion for music and the artists themselves was the same. That said – the word groupie/stalker came about largely because of the extremes she went to in order to get close to her idols. It does hold negative connotations. But trying to get an autograph or a photo with your fave Duran member hardly qualifies as groupie activity.

    That Girl

  3. Hey That Girl! 🙂

    I read that book several years ago, and of course now it's a little fuzzy to me – but I don't think I ever read her actions as being that of passion for the actual music as much as her passion for the men in the band. I think she liked the music, sure because that's what attracted her to begin with – but I always felt as though to her, the passion for the band member and the passion for the music went hand in hand, with her passion for the men slightly outdoing that of the music… Not that I'm arguing with you, I'm just musing about what I felt when I read the book.

    Like I said, I read that awhile ago and I probably need to re-read it – I might see it differently now, especially now that I've been researching fandom so much. Great thoughts. I really hate being called a “groupie”, mainly because I feel like there's so much more to it than just that. It's not just a degrading term, it's as though it's the least common denominator of being a fan, and I'm more than that, thanks. You can't just use that one term to describe me. Any girl can stand outside a stage door and work their way in and be the token lay for night….I've never done that – nor would I be interested. I want to be in the crowd, letting the music completely overtake any other thought I have. The rest is just fantasy – and not something I'd want to make reality! Sure, the guys are great and all, but I guess I look at it as though I've already got one of those at home (a man)….and he's really more than enough for me to deal with. LOL 😀 -R (oh, that said, I'd really love to get a picture someday. Just one!)

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