Auto-Ethnography: Gender Identity intersects Fan Identity

Gender refers to how a person identifies themselves, not based on their biological sex. As I identify as a female, I’ve grown up with the expectations of being a female, these can be considered as regulations of the body (Foucault, M. 1975). As a female, I was taught the ‘female expectations’ and how to act in terms of mannerisms and attitude and how to present myself such as through my appearance. These aspects form an identity that through time changes, particularly when it comes to fandom and fan practices and even how I identify as a fan.

One way where my own gender identity has intersected with my fan identity can relate to my association within the One Direction fandom four years ago. The expectations of young girls aged from as young as five to sixteen is to be a fan of the popular boy band, One Direction. Within this expectation, there’s further presumptions of their discourses as to how they behave, dress, communicate which therefore, mostly reflects females and disregards the male fans. This refers to term, ‘hysterical’, young teenage girl fans are mostly associated with hysteria in terms of their reaction to a fan object, it’s been seen with The Beatles and now with One Direction. In the height of my involvement in this fandom, I was never as extreme as the media portrayed One Direction fans to be, the fanbase is primarily female and so the reports on One Direction fans always generalised young females, being a part of that group summary was frustrating as it isn’t relevant to everyone. It’s the extreme fans that create these connotations and it becomes generalised. For myself, I’ve been categorised at this type of hysterical female fan when them practices and behaviours aren’t how I respond to the fan object. I appreciate the creativity and music made by One Direction but don’t get as invested in the fan identity. However, in terms of having a favourite member which is what most people assume about fans in the One Direction, I did participate in this which shows my conformation to the gender and fan identity cross over.

Women are portrayed as fans and readers, which I can relate to in terms of my own practices and identity, girls are present but invisible (McRobbie, A. & Garber, J. 1978) in a way this is relevant in that personally, I don’t go to the extremes and remain more reserved about most of my fan identities, I don’t create things for people to be a fan of, I like to engage as a fan and enthuse over fan objects such as bands and books and TV shows rather than be a producer. On the other hand, the female majority of the One Direction fan base refutes the idea of girls being ‘invisible’ as they go to the opposite extreme to make themselves seen.

 

Bibliography

Foucault, M. (1975) Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New York: Random House

McRobbie, A. & Garber, J. (1978) “Girls and subcultures”, in McRobbie, Angela, Feminism and youth culture (2nd ed.), Houndmills, Basingstoke, Hampshire: Macmillan Press, pp. 12–25

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