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Now in our eighth calendar year!
PCR #385  (Vol. 8, No. 32) This edition is for the week of August 6--12, 2007.

"Becoming Jane"  by Mike Smith
Operation: Woronov  by Andy Lalino
What's In A Name?  by Lisa Ciurro
Forgotten Horrors: “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark”  by ED Tucker
Happy Birthday .... Passing On .... Is This Logical?... Barry Bonds .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 27: Delayed Until Next Week  by Mike Smith
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FANGRRL by Lisa Ciurro

What's In A Name?

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” This is a noble ideal, to be sure, but any politician, publicist or overweight third-grader with braces can tell you that words can hurt like hell. Words are powerful.

I remember learning about the power of words in my college sociology class. My then 19-year-old brain had never noticed that men and women are categorized and labeled by words in vastly different ways. An older unmarried man is a happy, carefree bachelor, while an older unmarried woman is a sad, lonely spinster or old maid. Women have to choose between Miss, Ms., and Mrs. when filling out forms, while men – old, young, single or married – always, without hesitation, check the Mr. box.

In the late 1980s, radical feminist Mary Daly published a book in which she reclaimed the words “hag” and “crone” from their former negative connotations and proudly described herself using those words. Has this changed the commonly-accepted usage of these two words? Not really. If I ever called my mother a hag or a crone, I wouldn’t be around to write anymore PCR columns.

What about fanboys and fangirls?

The term “fanboy” has been established for over two decades, referring to fans devoted to comic books, videogames, TV, etc. with obsessive dedication. Though often used as an insult, “fanboy” has been co-opted by mainstream culture, resulting in “Confessions of a Fanboy” movie reviews and The Comic Book Guy character on The Simpsons. Time Magazine did a story a few months ago about the power of the alpha fan, a.k.a. the fanboy. There’s even a movie titled The Fanboys on the horizon.

We women know that the term “fanboy” applies to us too (kind of like the “All men are created equal” bit), but for some of us, it’s not enough. However, the word “girl” has its own baggage. Oftentimes adult women are called girls, without adult men being called boys or guys in the same context. Most women find that annoying, if not downright offensive.

This brings us to Girl Power.

In the same way that radical feminist Mary Daly reclaimed “hag” and “crone” and the Gay Pride movement has reclaimed the word “queer,” female sci-fi//horror/comic/gaming fans have reclaimed the word “girl.” In my internet searches I’ve come across fangirls, fangrrrls (sometimes spelled with 2 Rs, sometimes 3), geek girls, nerd girls, the Yo-Da Sisterhood, the Token Girl Gamer, loner grrrls, guerilla grrls, ComicGirl, girl gamers and girl wonders.

Apparently, female fans of sci-fi, horror and comics DO EXIST; you just have to know where to look.

As with most essays I’ve written, I’m left with more questions than answers. Do fanboys and fangirls like the same things? Do fangirls also hang out in traditional fanboy spaces, either online or IRL, or keep mostly to themselves? Do fanboys ever visit and participate in the myriad fangirl websites and blogs, or keep mostly to themselves? Is fandom different depending on one’s gender? Is it anti-feminist for a 37-year-old woman to gleefully refer to herself as a fangrrl? Do men ever think about the semantics of fandom or is this something only of concern to women?

You can call me a woman. You can call me Ms. Ciurro. You can call me a fangirl, in any of its forms. Just make sure you don’t call me while I’m at home munching popcorn and watching my Stargate DVDs.

"FANGRRL" is ©2007 by Lisa Ciurro.   All graphics, except where otherwise noted, are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.