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The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Coastal Carolina chapter.

Being a fan of something can be a core part of someone’s identity. Maybe you’re a fan of sunsets on the beach or the latest Hulu hit. The internet has since coined the term fangirl to pertain to women who are, “extremely or overly enthusiastic fans of someone or something”. Typically the topic of over-obsession is a badge fangirls wear with honor, but the name isn’t always meant nicely. Since the 57th Super Bowl on February 12, there has been discourse online over the double standard in fangirl culture.

As a lifelong fangirl myself, I feel as though I have a hill to stand on in this fight. I’ve been a huge Disney fan practically since birth. My Swiftie origins lie somewhere between the Debut and Fearless eras. I was taken by the Harry Styles train the second One Direction pulled into the station. There are too many book boyfriends to name, and don’t even get me started on Star Wars, DC, or Marvel. Even though I’m past my middle school YouTuber phase, sorry Dan and Phil, and I don’t write on Wattpad anymore, (it was a dark time what can I say) these were big parts of my life. I look back on these memories fondly, with an appropriate amount of cringe targeted towards the fanfiction I’ll never claim as mine. 

The double standard in question regards the unequal treatment towards male and female fans, particular male sports enthusiasts. Sports fans typically aren’t ashamed to shout their support from the rooftops, but are quick to judge other fans for expressing similar sentiments for their passions. Predominantly male sports fans refer to it as ‘juvenile’ and ‘embarrassing’. The criticism breaks down their confidence and makes them uncomfortable talking about things that bring them genuine joy. What is the difference between having a Tom Brady poster on your wall versus one with Harry Styles? Where does this double standard come from and what makes it socially acceptable?

“Why are young women screaming at a One Direction concert seen as hysterical but grown men screaming at their inanimate TVs, rioting and causing millions of dollars of damage, seen as part of being a sports fan?”

Lucy Blakiston

Matisse Dupont, an educator and gender consultant, argues that the gender-based disparities within the world of fandom exist because cishet men have largely been considered the standard in most societies. As a result, their interests become the societal norm. Thus, the double standard exists in order to maintain the patriarchy. Female interests are also often pushed aside because they’re seen as ‘unprofessional’. To use the male sport fan example again, these fans are often told that they can turn their hobbies into careers by becoming commentators. Fangirls have, however, proven that they can do the same by starting careers in marketing, graphic design, and writing. Fangirls have also brought about great political change. In 2019, Taylor Swift fans harnessed over 800,000 signatures in her petition supporting the Equality Act. Police departments were skewed towards the public to document any ‘illegal activity’ during the Black Lives Matter protests. K-Pop fans utilized fancams to help protect those fighting for justice. Celebrities have also influenced their fan bases to greatly increase the number of registered voters, particularly during the 2020 election year. Time and time again, they have proved that the double standard only makes us stronger.

“They’re our future. Our future doctors, lawyers, mothers, presidents, they kind of keep the world going”

Harry Styles

Hyperfixations come and go, but happiness has always been at the core of fangirl culture. It gives us a safe place to run to whenever we need it. Last year was one of the hardest I’ve ever gone through, and I took comfort in the newest Harry Styles album, Heartstopper books, and the Obi-Wan Kenobi show. I am a firm believer in if something makes you happy and doesn’t hurt anyone, go for it! This mentality applies to those outside of the online fan sector. If someone has a problem with me posting the latest Taylor Swift update on my private social media accounts, then they can, respectfully, skip through. Tearing someone down does not make you look better, so why do we do it? It’s uncertain if fangirls will ever escape the criticism, but we will keep trying!

Riley Maerlender

Coastal Carolina '25

Riley is a junior at Coastal Carolina University. She loves writing for Her Campus and serving on the chapter's exec board. She also enjoys reading, crafts, and all things pop culture!