OTW Fannews: Defying Expectations

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  • Fandoms have a variety of problematic behaviors, including how women’s participation is welcomed. Sports marketer Amanda Curry complained about the nature of some efforts to reach out to female fans. “Despite their attempts to empower female fans, creating a program that perpetuates the stereotype that women know nothing about sports only further de-legitimizes the vast majority of us that do. Dumbing down sports for women not only makes us feel bad, but it allows others consistently treat us like we’re dumb. This makes it harder to gain respect as a fan, and in my case, as a professional in the sports world…I am a female who works in the sports industry, and I know how it feels to have my opinion rejected just because I’m a woman.”
  • CNN reported on the reaction of Star Wars fans to the bullying of a girl who loved displaying her fandom. “At this new school Layla started coming home more quiet and less of herself, and started asking not to wear her shirts or R2-D2 jacket” her mother said. “The girls in school were telling her she shouldn’t like ‘Star Wars‘ because it’s for boys.” However, after other fans began sending her gifts and messages of support, her enthusiasm returned. “Layla now feels loved and accepted in her stormtrooper uniform, and recently got a chance to meet one of her heroes, Weird Al Yankovic, who has two ‘Star Wars’ parodies in his repertoire. An added bonus…is that Layla enjoys surprising people who expect to see a boy behind the stormtrooper mask.”
  • Henry Jenkins was recently honored by the Science Fiction Researchers Association and used the opportunity to discuss fandom’s history when it comes to diversity. “Those of us who pioneered fandom studies too often bracketed race and class in order to focus on gender, sexuality, and generation. As we sought to validate forms of cultural production and experience that were meaningful to us, we neglected the fact that our own ranks were still too narrowly constituted and that there was more we should have done to validate forms of culture that were meaningful to a more diverse population. However much we might have sometimes felt like outcasts in our own lives, we were still in a privileged position to help inform what kinds of cultural production and reception mattered in an academic context.”

How have you seen fans defying expectations? Write about it in Fanlore! Contributions are welcome from all fans.

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