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Boy Bands and Sexism: Can We Stop Hating Teenage Girls?

GQ recently published an article about One Direction. There's been a lot of angry reactions to the article for a number of reasons, but what I'm interested in is the fact that the article is grossly misogynistic. It objectifies One Direction fans and reduces them to their perceived sexual interest in the band.


"By now we all know the immense transformative power of a boy band to turn a butter-wouldn't-melt teenage girl into a rabid, knicker-wetting banshee who will tear off her own ears in hysterical fervour when presented with the objects of her fascinations. Hasn't this spectacle of the natural world - like the aurora borealis or the migration of wild bison across America's Great Plains - been acknowledged?"


It's like a sexist BINGO card. In two sentences, the author refers to girls as banshees, calls them hysterical, and talks about them as if they were animals instead of people. That's a pretty impressive feat on its own, but don't worry, he manages to outdo himself.

"These women don't care about the Rolling Stones. They don't care about the meta-modernist cycle of cultural repetition. They don't care about history. All these female fans care about is their immediate vociferous reverence."

Yes, if you like boy bands you couldn't possibly be interested in anything else. You think you have depth? No, you just have hormones:

"Inside the venue a hormone bomb has gone off: 20,000 females all turning themselves inside out, some almost literally, to the sight of Harry Styles, Niall Horan, Zayn Malik, Louis Tomlinson, and Liam Payne...an ocean of 20,000 wide open mouths, hundreds of pleading white eyes, 40,000 palms raised skywards, a dark pink oil slick that howls and moans and undulates with every impish crotch-thrust from their idols' plinths. Thousands of female fans caught on the cusp of their own sexual awakening."


Apparently being a 34 year old man and writing about teenagers using highly sexualized language makes you a journalist rather than a creep.

This image was lost some time after publication, but you can still view it here.

I know that this is GQ, and I shouldn't have high expectations. After all, I'm not in their target demographic. That being said, I feel like this article reflects a larger hostility towards teenage girls and media that is made for them, and I really wish we could stop hating teenage girls for liking things.


Sports fans have caused actual riots, but people still take sports seriously. Boy band fans scream at concerts, and suddenly they're "a spectacle of the natural world." Things that are made for women, particularly young women, are automatically given less respect. Girls who get interested interested in comic books or video games or science fiction get called "fake geek girls."

Magazines and television and advertisements tell teenage girls that they should like certain things, and then other magazines tell girls that they're stupid for liking those things. Then magazines publish articles and TV shows run specials wondering why teenage girls don't have better self esteem, like they didn't make it that way.


There's nothing wrong with teenage girls being enthusiastic about boy bands or (heaven forbid) having sexual feelings about the boys in boy bands. There is something wrong with the way that other people react to teenage girls and their interests.

ETA: Apparently some people are accusing me of ripping off Aja Romano's article on the Daily Dot. I strongly disagree, and I think that Aja and I are making different arguments. That being said, Aja's piece is really good, (it's better than my rant) so you should all go read that too.

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