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Toxic Exclusivity: fangirl culture against a desire for niche

By Roxann Yus | 12/01/23

“You probably haven’t heard of them”. “Oh, you wouldn’t like them”. “Oh, they’re much too heavy for you”. “This isn’t the sort of music that girls listen to”.

Can you see how one small assumption manifests itself into something greater? Something with misogyny at its core spread by people who wish to uphold a fabricated status to something that does not belong to them. Music is not owned by fans. It is the creation and possession of artists. Our role is to support it, enjoy it, and share it! Isn’t that how cultures begin?

When I think of the true and pure power of music my mind points to tribes and indigenous people, who very often elevate music as a bonding tool. At its core is friendship, love, and legacy; all of which twist and turn into something praised and mocked as culture today.

Culture really is a paradox in western modernity. We constantly search for it yet reject anything that resembles it. We laugh at it, conceal it, and ultimately find ourselves completely alone and isolated. We want to be a part of something bigger, something larger than life itself sometimes, but strive to be unique even more.

This desire for niche infiltrates so many parts of life – music being one of them. Trends are “cringe” or give us the “ick”. But what repels most are female fanbases.

As soon as women are brave enough to voice their enthusiasm about an artist, some men don’t find the artist as appealing anymore. As soon as this female movement grows, for example to the extent of groupie culture, some men couldn’t possibly listen to this artist anymore. How dare they admire an artist with fans like this! How embarrassing! How disgusting that a woman could want and initiate sex, instead of being submissive, pure, and virgin! Yet these women* are a sample of fans who constantly drew attention to artists and uplifted them as a contributor to culture.

This article is especially relevant to me, as well as other women* who are in the heavy rock/metal scene. Arguably Architect’s biggest fan, Roxy, has brought awareness to how stark toxic exclusivity is in the community. Many men take to Twitter to criticise her commitment to the band, but in fact, merely highlight how widespread misogyny in music is.

Fangirl has been an insult in the rock and metal community for much too long. It’s connotated with cringiness, clinginess, and a fake or lack of knowledge of the music and/or band itself. It’s no coincidence that these unjustified remarks are linked to the word “girl”: some men view an emotional attachment to the music/band as a weakness and/or complete falseness. Because women* are brave to be emotional, they’re seen as attention seekers. But emotions are fundamentally human: they’re not embarrassing, cringy, or hyperfeminine. In fact, they are our human resources to create something larger than life itself, such as community and culture.

Women* will always have a place within this culture as supporters, enjoyers and sharers. Let music be cultural, and let toxic exclusivity die.


Edited by Roxann Yus

Cover image designed by Ben Massey

In-article screenshot taken from Twitter.

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