I am a 32 year old woman with posters of Taylor Swift taped to my wall. I know that sounds insane. And what’s more insane is they live on the wall of an apartment I share with my 28 year old boyfriend, who couldn’t be less interested in Taylor Swift or the fandom I so desperately cling to to feel close to an artist I love.
I spent a lot of my 20s thinking that the trends and art people enjoyed were a judge of them as a person. If they loved something that I thought was stupid, that somehow correlated into meaning that that person was also probably stupid. So when I explain in this article the way I feel “fandoms” are perceived by both genders, I am in no way saying either is worse or more at fault for these very backwards assumptions. I think it’s something we as humans confuse, and that itself is not gender specific.
What I do think is interesting about the fandoms on the basis of sex is that a lot of things woman have created “fandoms” around are perceived as shallow, pointless or vein. Whereas hobbies and arts enjoyed by men become status symbols for them across their gender: their preferences of sports teams, if they are Marvel or DC fans, which video game console they use. The interests of men (or things people relate to being “manly”) typically fall under the category of cool. Whereas women discussing their favorite contestant on the bachelor or how cute the new Kate Spade handbag is perceived as vapid and it would be “embarrassing” for a man to take interest in. Inversely, when I explain to guys how I’ve seen all 23 MCU films, I become the most interesting girl at the bar.
With time and maturity I came to realize just because someone liked “The Big Bang Theory” it didn’t mean they were dumb. The even bigger realization came when I found myself having to defend my love of Taylor Swift to people, like a lot. No one should get to assign value to you based on the art that moves you. In fact, if anything the art that moves you should be of interest to people in the regard in which it makes you who you are. I would rather be with a person who was overwhelming passionate about Dungeons and Dragons well before I would want to be with a person indifferent about every thing. So when you attack people based on the things that move them, you are failing to realize that they have something in their heart that matters to them, a lot. And that’s actually a pretty remarkable thing.
I don’t think it’s any cooler to be interested in wrestling than it is for me to be interested in murder podcasts. I don’t believe someone with a stacked anime collection is a better person than a person with a OPI nail polish collection. What I think is important is that all genders make time to understand the things their partners/friends/family love – even if it doesn’t interest them directly.
We have a rule in our house. It’s one for one. I love Taylor Swift so much that I want to talk about it with my best friend. When I see a stellar performance that I think represents why she matters so much to me, he’s the first person I want to share it with. So when I share with him something Taylor, he’ll share Dark Souls Lore videos. Or we’ll watch StarCraft Championships together and talk about European Zerg players. When Taylor releases a new single he insists I use his nice studio headphones so I can hear it optimally, and then still listens to it with me over and over again after. And we celebrated together when he platinumed Dark Souls or when he beats his brother at fantasy baseball.
It’s easy to judge people based on what they are interested in, especially if you dislike that thing that moves them or feel that thing isn’t meant for whatever identity you assign to yourself. And my boyfriend isn’t about to draw a 13 on his hand and hunt down butterfly murals with me. And I am not going to make a character in Bloodborne. But no fandom is better or worse than anyone else’s. No fandom is meant for only one kind of person. So celebrate the Tell All nights on the Bachelor with your girlfriend. And ladies, watch him beat that final boss or stay up even when the game goes into extra innings. Our fandoms are a chance to see the people we love love something else. And I think that’s pretty great.