Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Perspective: Stop misogynistic shaming of interests

Traditionally feminine interests don’t inherently mean people are dumb or simple-minded for indulging in them.

One of my favorite feelings is when I find an interest that truly clicks with me. Specifically, when it comes to music, I reach for that feeling of belonging. Growing up, I never felt that an artist or specific genre of music appealed to me. My playlists consisted of random songs in English and Spanish, from pop to rock to classical.  

When I rediscovered Taylor Swift in high school and found myself liking almost all of her discography, it was a first for me — I was ecstatic. But that didn’t last long. As soon as I talked to others, I found others robbing me of my joy simply because someone else didn’t agree — or even worse —  because it’s “too girly.” Somehow, “girly” interests aren’t as acceptable.

My expressions of excitement for Swift’s songs and music videos were quickly met with judgment. I am labeled as obsessed and hysterical for simply showing interest in a favorite artist of mine. The judgment leaves me doubting whether to bring up her music at all and feeling self-conscious, even around friends. When I went to the “Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour” movie, people were rolling their eyes or making faces as I sang along in the theater, which I tried to do quietly so as to not bother anyone.

But Swift is not the only topic I avoid. I love fashion, talking about trends, shoes, purses and perfumes. However, I rarely speak about it with other people because I’m seen as simple-minded or shallow. Interests that aren’t considered traditionally masculine are often cast aside as trivial.

I constantly engage in theories and ideas about Marvel movies, video games or anime and receive no judgment, regardless of whether people are avid fans like me or not. I can chew your ear off about the Persona and Fire Emblem franchise, going on for hours about the characters, themes and lessons. Somehow that is more socially acceptable, and I’m never labeled as a crazy fangirl.

Similarly, with books, I speak to people about my favorite Percy Jackson and the Olympians series and its spinoffs. These books are for preteens, but no one ever considers it weird when I speak about it enthusiastically or how happy I am that the author released a new book this year and the series is getting adapted to streaming services.

But as soon as I talk about my love for Jane Austen’s books and the movie adaptations, it’s trampled by criticism. People question why I like these renowned books that are classic literature today. One of my favorite teachers told me Jane Austen’s books were for “silly, little girls.”

And for a while, I thought maybe I was hysterical about all of these “girly” things. From fashion to romance novels and movies to Swift’s music, part of me started to believe that perhaps women do just become more obsessed with their interests. But men also exhibit obsessive behavior without anyone batting an eye.

In my Mexican household, almost all the men in my family yell and scream at the TV when a soccer game goes wrong. During the World Cup, I hear stories of men leaving behind their families, selling cars and wedding rings, or only buying a one-way ticket to Brazil because they just had to be there for the game. Why are they seen as just dedicated and aspirational fans?

Watching my brother buy expensive figurines and cards and men on social media collecting tennis shoes, model cars or other paraphernalia is complimented as “commitment” – not crazy fanboys. They aren’t even regarded as “fanboys,” just fans, but women are seen as “fangirls,” which is also usually used in a derogatory manner.

We have to let go of the internalized misogyny that society holds. Just because someone gets excited or has traditionally feminine interests, doesn’t mean they are “obsessed” and can’t have a healthy relationship with their interests. And traditionally feminine interests don’t inherently mean people are dumb or simple-minded for indulging.

Almost all of us have that one thing that gets us giddy and talking for hours, and everyone deserves to hold onto that feeling. Whether it’s movies, games, franchises, shows, sports or music, if your love or excitement for any of these things isn’t hurting anyone, then you shouldn’t have to apologize for it or be scared of being labeled as hysterical, regardless of your gender.

No one should rob anyone of that feeling we get, of childlike enthusiasm or joy, when we express our happiness about that one artist, movie or franchise – especially not out of misogyny.

Like Swift once said, “The worst kind of person is someone who makes someone feel bad, dumb or stupid for being excited about something.”

Andrea Mendoza-Melchor, a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communication, is an opinions writer.

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