OPINION | Sexist discourse antagonizes women for ‘crazy’ interests

Ritisha Sharma, Intersections Editor

To the patriarchy, there is nothing more offensive than a strong, independent and powerful woman. (Maggie Pasterz)

Envision two crowds of people decked out in merchandise, waving posters and screaming at the top of their lungs for a group of individuals that they admire. One crowd gets called “crazy,” “unhealthy” and “obsessive,” while the other is called “passionate,” “inspired” and “dedicated.” 

Why is that?

What is the major difference between these two groups of people?

Gender.

One group is predominantly female, while the other is predominantly male.

Predominantly female fan bases —  also referred to as fangirls — are usually associated with music groups and are constantly dismissed by society as mindless, fanatical and naive girls. However, predominantly male fan bases, usually sports fans, are praised by society as proud, strong and spirited men.

Both of these fanbases operate in very similar ways, with very similar end goals. Just like how sports teams compete with each other for the Super Bowl title or the Stanley Cup, mainstream musicians compete for Grammys and other awards every year. 

The support for both of these groups is presented in almost identical ways by consuming regular content produced by the group and following its journey throughout the year.

It’s the gender-based discrimination perpetuated by the patriarchy that leads to the different perspectives put on fangirls and sports fans.

This discrimination goes beyond just music and sports.

The patriarchy has belittled feminine interests for centuries. The likes of women hold little to no importance, and therefore they are mocked for their interests in order to keep them from becoming independent and profiting off of them.

This misogyny is replaced by chauvinism when it comes to male interests, in order for men to maintain their stature in society.

These small, seemingly inconsequential microaggressions add up quickly and maintain the tipped scales of gender inequality.

When a man gets mad and screams at a soccer match on the television, he is praised for his passion for the sport. Yet when a woman gets upset about a nomination, she is told that her interest is dumb and invalid.

This trend often continues into larger aspects of their lives. When men are passionate and speak up in the workplace or in a social setting, they are proud and brave, but when a woman does the exact same thing, she is faced with slurs. Instead, women are praised for following directions, completing work on time and being submissive.

Women’s passions and interests are stolen from them, and they are antagonized from childhood. They are taught to play the damsel in distress — locked away in the high tower, waiting for a savior — instead of climbing down themselves. 

To the patriarchy, there is nothing more offensive than a strong, independent and powerful woman.

Women are praised for participating in stereotypically feminine activities such as cooking, sewing and knitting, but when men participate in such activities they are often antagonized.

If a woman dabbles in masculine activities, she is seen as daring because she is trying to climb the social ladder in a man’s world. She is improving herself. However, when a man expresses interest in feminine activities, he is seen as weak because he is choosing to stoop to a woman’s level instead of being a red-blooded man.

This repression of vulnerability and praise for aggression takes men down the road of toxic masculinity. 

Toxic masculinity often leads to men becoming more violent to their partners, both physically as well as sexually, because the only outlet for emotion that they were allowed to feel was aggression. Their partners, often women who have been told by society to be quiet and submissive their entire lives, stay quiet instead of speaking up because of their societal conditioning. 

It is clear that this sexism toward different interests is harmful to both women as well as men. However, as long as the patriarchy maintains its power, this system of microaggressions will remain unchanged. 

It is up to us to encourage little girls and boys to pursue their interests no matter what gender they may traditionally be assigned to. If we choose to support instead of antagonize and belittle, we can ensure a future generation of happier and healthier individuals in a more inclusive and open-minded society.

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