There is a persistent and wildly inaccurate perception outside of fandom culture that all ‘fangirls’ are white, English-speaking, and approximately 14. The stereotype is particularly prevalent among the sort of anti-fandom internet ranters who use the term ‘fan fiction’ to mean something poorly written.
Despite being the focus of mockery and vitriol, the fandom practiced by teenage girls is valid and valuable. On Broadly, Thea De Gallier discussed ’The Teens Who Write Erotic Metalcore Fan Fiction’, describing Reddit threads dedicated to complaining about ‘poseurs’ who ‘think the genre started in the 2000s instead of in the 1980s.’ But De Gallier describes metalcore as a valuable outlet for teen girls who are struggling with mental illness and alienation. The metalcore fanfiction community provides ‘a form of escapism’ and ‘a sense of community’ for these teens. The bandmembers are less famous and more accessible than pop icons and often interact with their fans on social media, even encouraging them to stay healthy and strong. Being a teen is incredibly difficult, and fandom can be a powerful comfort.
The Broadly article also briefly discusses of one of the major motivators for many fanfic readers and writers of all ages—sexual desire and expression. Musician Ben Bruce, who leads a popular metalcore band called Asking Alexandria, told De Gallier that he finds the sexual attention in fanfiction about him both flattering and occasionally troubling—’Some of the stories get a bit strange, and make me shudder at times, but for the most part I just tend to laugh it off and remember when I was in their shoes. To be fair, I remember thinking plenty of naughty things about Avril Lavigne when I was a kid!’
Of course, it isn’t just teen girls who benefit from community, escapism, and sexual and personal expression! Lisa Granshaw wrote for blastr about a GeekGirlCon panel called ‘Fangirling Over 30’, which she says ‘showed attendees that you never have to stop being a fangirl and that fangirling over 30 is as awesome as fangirling at any age!’
There is “the idea that fandom is a youngster’s thing” and it makes her sad to meet someone who might say they used to be into an area like comics, but outgrew it when they got older, because to [panelist Mickey] Schulz “Why would you quit doing something that makes you happy?” When she asked someone she once worked with why he stopped reading comics even though he loved it and he answered “I don’t know,” she told him where a comic shop was and he began reading comics again. Wohl wonders who those that think fandom is just for kids think is taking care of the executive functions of fandom and doing such things as paying for domain names and server space, organizing conventions, and performing other duties, because it’s not children.
There are fans of all ages working in the OTW, including your just-about-30-year-old Communications chairs! As Schulz says, fandom can make you happy no matter how old you are, and there’s no reason to give it up once you hit an arbitrary age. Tell us your age in the comments or on social media!
There’s certainly no reason to limit fandom to white or English-speaking fans. In an article on ‘sports fan fiction’ for English-language Indian site Firstpost.com, Tanya Kini described her experience ‘discover[ing] the wonderful world of fan fiction.’
Now, two years later, I’m firmly ensconced in the fan fiction world. At any given time, I have about five tabs open in my browser with five different ‘fics’ waiting to be read. Being a huge sports buff, I was inclined to find like-minded people with whom I could discuss how a raucous celebration between two teammates on the cricket field could spur a 1,000-word fic about the two cricketers being unable to keep their blooming romance a secret from their teammates.
Although we’re very glad to hear that Kini is ‘partial’ to AO3 for her fic fix, perhaps the most interesting part of the article is the discussion of ‘prejudice against cricketers outside of [England, Australia, South Africa, and New Zealand] when it [comes] to writing cricket slash.’ According to Kini, the cricket fandom is ‘totally comfortable writing about two guys going at it in the bathroom at Lord’s, but our fantasies leave out players from countries that don’t have white cricketers.’
Are you a fanfic writer from a country whose primary language isn’t English? Or do you write fic about people of colour? Or are you a reader who wishes there were more fic about non-white or non-English-speaking characters? Let us know in the comments!
We want your suggestions! If you have a story you think we should include, please contact us! Suggestions are welcome in all languages. Submitting a story doesn’t guarantee that it will be included in a TWIF post, and inclusion of a story doesn’t mean that it is endorsed by the OTW.