Anti-fandoms: A tool to characterize women
Being Harry Styles’ girlfriend Olivia Wilde, it might seem. And even as she can be the latest, she’s not the simplest woman to go through a barrage of hatred, harassment, and negativity for reputedly no reason. Increasingly, this fixation is directed at women in the world— they are scrutinized, harassed, and policed inordinately, regularly about another personality that their anti-lovers are lovers of. Reporter Kaitlyn Tiffany determined simply this all through the Johnny Depp-Amber Heard trial: ardent, committed lovers of male celebrities become anti-fans of stated celebrities’ partners. Fan research students have started to pay attention. While fandoms create groups based on mutual love, admiration, and cohesion for a text (which includes celebrities). Online groups are increasingly becoming areas of directing focused aggression closer to celebrities, and name-calling is a characteristic feature using aggression against women. The emotional funding that anti-lovers have towards celebrities is similar to that of fans themselves — except that anti-fandoms deliver deep negativity in their foundation. Anti-fandoms then turn out to be a tool to subject women in the world — especially those who are seen to “have it all” or commonly experience a diploma of success that’s not without difficulty attainable. The worst part? Indian Women themselves can be using this.
A study on influencer anti-fandoms in advance this year observed that Indian women’s-dominated online communities that detest influencers purport to do so to name out “fake femininity” — however, the project is ultimately undermined by a failure to boost a structural critique of gender. Instead, the anti-fandom spaces become but another vehicle to boost misogyny and cyberbullying.
Sometimes, anti-fandom is leveraged through plain old gate-retaining and sexism. Consider the #NotMyDoctor second in reaction to actor Jodie Whittaker taking on as Doctor Who. The backlash towards women as Doctor Who played on resentments towards “woke” media — even as straight, white, male anti-fans have become the loudest voices in proclaiming their alleged marginalization by the show and BBC. What makes anti-fandoms such robust mediums for misogyny is their being cloaked in the garb of valid critique. Tiffany stated of the anti-fans of Amber Heard follow a sure playbook common to different anti-lovers: they “subject the women they hate to body-shaming and wild crook accusations, and skewer them using sexist tropes.
The targets in their anti-fandom are manipulative and ambitious, as a rule, but also stupid. They are glamorous and seductive, however also secretly disgusting.” But those blatantly misogynistic narratives justified using progressive stances — many self-proclaimed feminist lovers of Johnny Depp stated that Amber Heard took feminism back, and therefore claimed to be doing a service to feminism by calling her out.
Anti-fandoms then inadvertently constitute a reactionary undercurrent in fan cultures — one which valorizes a standing quo or a beyond where bigotry, prejudice, and conservative norms around gender prevailed. As one pupil notes, “… anti-fans are pushed by a moral economy regarding notions of authenticity, celebrity, and overall performance of gender,” further analyzing how anti-fans become voices for moral policing for women in the world.