Fandoms—the community of fans of a particular work of fiction, be it Harry Potter or Doctor Who (and even non-British series)—are somewhat notorious on the internet. Say one thing, and an entire fandom rises up as an angry (verbal) mob. Sometimes, fandoms get their shows renewed (sending a ridiculous volume of peanuts to a network got cult-favorite television show Jericho a second season). A lot of the time, fandoms just exist to discuss their favorite books, films, shows, writers, and characters.
And that can be a very positive thing. It can also be a very negative thing. Sometimes, people in fandoms just detest certain characters in ways that seem to be beyond justification.
Unfortunately, though I cannot name a reliable statistical study to prove this, I have noticed that a lot of the targets of this . . . fan-based vitriol . . . are female characters.
I am not necessarily talking about villains. When a character is said or shown or implied to be a rapist or a child-abuser, these are the characters whom we are supposed to hate. Other villains might be those whom we enjoy seeing but still root against. I am talking about . . . characters. And I am talking about female characters.
Depending upon the genre, a female character might be cited as being “annoying,” “having a chip on her shoulder,” or “forced on us by the writers.” Female characters who cheat on their boyfriends seem to get more hate than cheating boyfriends do. When a boyfriend cheats on his girlfriend with another woman, some fans seem to spit venom at the other woman and even at the girlfriend.
I am honestly not sure why female characters are so very polarizing. But I can guess. And, honestly, it is a discussion worth having. Because the things that we say about our favorite shows, whether talking to our friends or on posts to Tumblr, say a lot about us and our society.
First of all, sometimes female characters just make a bigger impact on us, psychologically. Perhaps because (though women outnumber men in …