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Fan girls and sports fans are one in the same

My first “fan girl” experience was latching onto One Direction’s debut in 2011. The upbeat pop music paired with five striking personalities was enough to reel me in.

A majority of my friends had one or more popular interests that they wholly attached themselves to while growing up. Some focused on bands, like myself, and some focused on actors or soccer players.

At the end of the day, we were all excited about something.

From time to time, I would express my newer interests to the people around me. This was followed by a whisper and an eye roll, mainly from the men in my family.

My initial reaction was to be ashamed. I would see these grown men gather around the TV and chant excitedly, but when I would reference a singer, it was met with an awkward cough.

It wasn’t until I was chatting with friends that I heard one jokingly ask, “Aren’t grown sports fans just like us, but different fonts?”

Merriam-Webster describes the word “fan girl” as “a girl or woman who is an extremely or overly enthusiastic fan of someone or something.”

From merchandise, collectible items and investing copious amounts of money into tickets, both groups do the same things and sports fans are known to be even rowdier. So why do fan girls get more criticism?

In a national survey conducted by St. Bonaventure University and Siena College Research Institute, 70% of Americans are sports fans and 21% of American fans consider themselves “avid” fans.

The statistics go further as 26% of “involved” sports fans check in with sports several times throughout the week, but these statistics still will not lead society to view men and women as equal. This is because misogyny is the root of the problem.

An article from The Guardian titled “The Truth About Screaming Fangirls” included a quote from Allison McCracken, the director of the American Studies Program at DePaul University regarding the femininity behind being a fan.

“Being a fan is very much associated with feminine excess, with working-class people, people of color, people whose emotions are seen as being out of control,” the article said.

This stigma extends to all niches, whether it is sports, movies, music or something else. As long as you are a woman, you must prove that your hobby is valid and that your interest in it is genuine.

This scrutiny does not solely affect women though, it affects men too. If a man has a hobby that is not within the stereotype of “masculine,” society deems him as weird or un-masculine. There is no win.

Today, I am someone who has learned to appreciate the passions that I store within myself. My passion for musical artists and film allows me to appreciate different aspects of life, sparks my creativity and has changed the way that I approach conversations.

Being a fan is not something to be ashamed of, but critiquing someone for being a fan is.

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