The point at which men feel compelled to make a separate, masculine fandom name for themselves, the better to differentiate themselves from other, presumably female fans inhabiting the same space, is the point at which they feel their gender to be not only relevant to their expression of fandom, but so important that it needs its own word, lest we confuse them with women.
The fact that men seem only to be interested in doing this on entering traditionally or predominantly female fandoms says a lot about the logic behind it. Where fans are presumed to be male, there’s no need to assert their maleness with a masculine name; where fans are presumed to be female, however, they strive to differentiate themselves, not only to void the risk of being mistaken for women, but to rebrand the actual property as being for men.
If such men were genuinely interested in disproving gender binaries and the sort of sexist logic that tries to steer their tastes in other directions, as is sometimes claimed, they wouldn’t feel the need to establish that the thing they like has masculine properties, as though they couldn’t or wouldn’t like it otherwise. This isn’t like the oft-ignored female fans of comics and videogames asserting, rightly, that such things are for everyone, which category happens to include them; it’s men expressly stating that an originally or traditionally feminine property isn’t really feminine, the better to make it for men.
Following this logic, female-dominated fandoms are only worth joining if men can make absolutely sure that their support isn’t confused with female support, or their interests with female interests, the better to assert their more selective ownership of the property. Crucially, this move also has the effect of forcing women to either accept the gendering of the fandom and adopt their own, feminine nomenclature – possibly one the men themselves have created, heedless of the fact that it was irrelevant prior to their insistence that it wasn’t, as per the term pegasister – or to refuse the binary and so have the male term become synonymous with the fandom as a whole, as though male interest is the only kind that matters.
tl;dr: If you’re a guy and your first thought on approaching a new fandom is “how do I make a name that describes my interest in this thing while letting everyone know that I’m a dude”, then do us all a favour and stay the fuck out of it.
conceivablyanyone said in tags: #I think about this all the time #it’s like guyliner or bromance #why is masculinity so fragile that simply being associated with something that girls like is a huge threat to it
I have an answer to this:
While English isn’t a gendered language in the sense of having a gendered grammar, like Spanish or German, we nonetheless have many words that possess both masculine and feminine forms, like actor and actress, author and authoress. Often in these instances, the masculine form of a word is synonymous with its neutral, default or original form, in keeping with the fact that feminine variants were later linguistic additions; often made, it must be said, not just because women had started doing a thing they’d previously been prevented from doing, but because men at the time wanted to establish that female efforts at the same pursuits were different (and likely inferior) to their own.
Thus: women aren’t actors, they’re actresses; women aren’t authors, they’re authoresses, and while some of these feminine variants have more linguistic traction than others – we still say actress, but authoress sounds quaint and sexist – it’s noteworthy that there’s no commensurate tradition for making masculine variants of female forms. Nursing, for instance, is assumed to be a traditionally feminine career, but while we sometimes specify ‘male nurse’ as distinct from just ‘nurse’ – this being a rare professional default with a feminine implication – we’ve never gone so far as to make a whole new word for it.
Which is, I suspect, because there are so few historical instances of men moving into female spheres, rather than vice versa, until very, very recently. But now that it’s started to happen, what do we see? A discomfort with the idea of feminine terminology doubling as neutral. Rather than accepting that words like ‘romance’ and ‘eyeliner’ can be applied equally to men, we’re creating masculine variants whose express purpose is to prevent the traditionally feminine terms from becoming universal. Slowly, surely, we’ve been shedding those early feminine -ess words from the language, dropping them as we’ve come to see the lack of utility (and the surfeit of sexism) in unnecessarily distinguishing gender in such instances, thereby reverting to using the traditionally masculine forms as universal. But now that we have the opportunity to do the same with feminine forms, we’re baulking.
What’s most interesting about this, though, is that in both instances, it’s seemingly men creating and sustaining all the separate, unnecessarily gendered terms: first to deny women full membership of historically male professions and groups, and now to prevent themselves, however ineffectually, from being associated with traditionally feminine concepts.
Because language cooties.
… that is a fantastic goddamn analysis, Foz.
This is a classic example of what I call subtractive masculinity, in which “masculine” is not defined by anything men *do*, but only as “what women *don’t* do”.
So if males (who want to be considered masculine) get interested in *anything* women are known to like, they have to either a) change the thing to repulse women, or b) re-name it so as to claim that *their* thing is a completely different thing than that girly thing.
People brought up in this culture will do this automatically, but IMHO a large reason the culture is still clinging to fragile subtractive masculinity is that it is a *gold mine* for marketing. “Remind males that masculinity is fragile, offer to bolster their gender anxiety — lather rinse repeat, straight to the bank.”