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The Power of the Fangirl (Part 2)

Women rule modern fandom. 

The idea of a female takeover of fan culture may strike some as odd - the decades old idea of the typical "fanboy" is branded into our cultural memory, but it's true. According to Time magazine, women not only consume genre fiction in significantly larger quantities than men do, but they are beginning to consume media in similarly high numbers. Even media geared towards men, like Marvel's blockbuster hit The Avengers, saw a nearly 50/50 split in the genders of their viewership, while other franchises like Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, and Twilight saw anywhere from 60-80% female viewership. 

Women also participate in modern fandom in a more significant way than men do. I contacted administrators from both Archive of Our Own and Fanfiction.Net (fanfiction/fanart hosting sites) asking about gender ratios. While gender disclosure is not necessary on either of these sites, I received responses  confirming that among those who had chosen to disclose their gender, the ratios were overwhelmingly skewed female.  

Further, some content creators have begun paying attention to legions of female fans - Marvel moved up production on it's Black Widow movie after receiving overwhelming criticism for it's lack of female-headed films. Showrunner Bryan Fuller addressed fears about his TV adaptation of Thom Harris' 'Hannibal' series saying that because of the overwhelming female viewership he'd made the conscious decision not to depict sexual violence towards women. Writer Steven Moffat was forced to address claims of misogyny in both of his shows - Doctor Who and Sherlock. 

I theorize that the reason women's voices are finally being listened to is a) an increase of the numbers of female fans and b) the access to social media which allows them to interact with one another and content creators. Social media is an important tool in the fangirl arsenal - it allows for the sharing of information, of criticism and praise, and of fan works. It gives fans a platform on which they can safely interact with content creators in a way that doesn't immediately paint them as the stereotypical fangirl - to be, for instance a seventeen year old girl at a SDCC panel, asking a question of your favorite actor, your question might be disregarded as silly based on your age and gender. Social media allows for a level of anonymity and distancing from that judgement that I think is extremely significant. 

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