Lately there’s been a trend among the media, feminists, and “geek” sites to claim various entertainment companies are in a ruthless war against its female fans. Now sometimes these companies can make missteps and overlook a fanbase that wants to give them money but are being ignored. I can also attest that the suits can be the last to know the real nature of their audience. They create X to appeal to Y and they find out that X’s appeal turned out to be much broader than they anticipated, and most annoyingly, it can take years for them to figure it out.
But I also think what’s been under appreciated is a huge sea change in how female fans are perceived and catered to. Fangirls really have never had it so good.
Today female fans of genre movies and t.v., anime, comics, games, etc. can find cosmetics, fine and costume jewelry, dresses, leggings, hoodies and sweaters, shoes, handbags and wallets, hair accessories, fragrances, etc.. This wasn’t possible even five years ago. Of course, the success of Her Universe had a lot to do with it. But I would also posit that the merchandising success associated with the Twilight films established once and for all there was a market for young women. Now fangirl gear is everywhere. It’s in Forever 21 and Target. It’s in gift shops. It’s in Hot Topic, where the fangirl gear dominates over the men’s stuff.
I also think that cons now take their female attendees a lot more seriously. I’ve noticed there are fewer “booth babes” at SDCC now, replaced with more wholesome-looking young women. Every major con has an anti-harassment policy. Star Wars Celebration Anaheim had giant “Cosplay Is Not Consent” signs all over the place, even though groping and harassment were never problems that I knew of at previous Celebrations. Now there’s even a con just for “geek girls.”
Not to say everything is perfect but having been in this game for a long time, I have to say, things have come pretty far. Fangirls were practically a subculture onto themselves, a world of zines, fan art, and other fan-made expressions of a fandom because not a lot was aimed at them specifically. I would’ve killed for Her Universe in 1993 or even 2003. I had to buy unisex/men’s t-shirts, caps, and whatever else. I remember what it was like being the only female in the room. It wasn’t bad but it did reinforce the idea that genre was only for the guys. I think the companies, slow they may be sometimes, are doing more to respond to us (some better than others).
When you take a longer view, the better you can appreciate things now.