10 things to learn if you wanna be a fangirl

the fangirl's guide to the galaxy

The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl GeeksSam Maggs, Quirk Books, Out May 12.

Are you a fangirl? Are you thinking about if that’s the kind of term to define you? Do you have a daughter who’s a fangirl? Do you live out in the country and have spotty internet access? Are you even just slightly curious about what happens at cons or on the internet?

Doesn’t matter who or what or where you are, as long as you’re down with feminist geek girls who are forces to be reckoned with. Sam Magg‘s The Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy: A Handbook for Girl Geeks is going to turn your eyes into stars, fly you around the world and take you far into the world wide web.

I do want to add though: as much as I love this book and love the term and what it stands for, any gender or non-gender or whatever you identify as is welcome to be a ‘fangirl!’ Not that I hold the gate or anything, just, I do know you can be a feminist but not identify with a feminine term. So, call yourself what you want to call yourself! For the purposes of the context of this book, I’ll continue to use the term fangirl here.

So, here are 10 things from the book that could set you on the path to fangirl-dom.

1. You do you. What you like is cool. You’re in control.

First off, if someone is telling you what you like is lame, 95% chance (saying this because, well, if you’re into evil things like sexual assault and murder and stuff, that’s lame) is they have some sort of inner battle that’s causing them to say that, which doesn’t have much to do with you, and they don’t have to tell you their opinion on your hobbies anyway. I remember being called a poser in high school because suddenly someone noticed I was listening to different music and dressing differently than I used to. And because she knew the bands I was interested longer than I did, that meant my interests were moot to her. I never quite understood why that mattered. And if I couldn’t take up new interests then, when could I? What do you expect from me?!

Anyways. Cough. A huge part of being a fangirl is being proud of who you are, which Maggs strongly portrays throughout the book. Fangirls are unashamed to dress up in full cosplay and walk out into public. Fangirls play video games for hours on end. Fangirls read a lot. Fangirls are Tumblr queens. I could go on. Fangirls spend a lot of time learning about what they love, I’d say pretty much every fangirl is an expert. So who is trying to tell you otherwise? It’s such a waste of time to feel down that someone called you a geek. Instead, take the time to embroider the term onto your jacket! What you love is special, and you get to decide what you do about it.

Plus, you’re a great force in feminism.

“Knowing that we could basically make our own army, bust down the elitist gatekeepers, and establish our own glorious kingdom (queendom?) of lady-nerds honestly makes me wonder why the hell we haven’t done that yet. We’re getting better at it — we’re taking up more and more space online, we’re fighting back against the trolls, and we’re refusing to be silent. Merriam-Webster even added ‘fangirl’ to the dictionary. We’re fully legit now.”

2. Use your imagination.

So much of being a fangirl is what you can make. Now’s the time to put yourself to work and have fun with it, whether it’s to make a new cosplay outfit, to start a new Tumblr fanpage, to write that first fanfic, to decorate your surroundings to represent you, to make crafts you could sell or give as gifts, and so much more! Plus, it’ll be so satisfying.

3. Unleash those inner sexy thoughts.

If you’re into writing about the stuff you fan over, there’s a market for that. Fanfiction is its own world now, and many use it as a place to let some things free. “No shame, ladies,” writes Maggs. “There’s, uh, a lot of sexin’ up in fanfic. Everyone is boning all the time… Fanfic gives us ladies the ability to write the relationships we want to read about, where your faves are suddenly all about each other, and all different types of relationships — pansexual, bisexual, asexual, all the sexuals! — get equal respect and airtime. In short, if you want to do it, do it. (Hehehe.)”

4. You’ve got a whole vocabulary.

If you’re going to be a fangirl, you’re going to want to know how to talk to other fangirls. It’s okay to keep the Urban Dictionary tab open, no matter what anyone tells you. Every corner of fandom has its own lingo, so here are some words that you’ll have to know that can be used anywhere:

  • Feels – “When something [in fiction] affects you on a deep, emotional level, it’s hitting you right in the feels or, alternately, giving you all the feels.”
  • Done – “When you’re ‘done,’ you just can’t contribute any ore to a particular conversation for any number of reasons. It can be good or bad; context is key.”
  • Shipping – “Shipping is taken from the word ‘relationship,’ and it describes both a romantic pairing and the act of really, really wanting two people to kiss/be together forever/have lots of sex all the time. Typically, fangirls ship fictional characters, but we have been known to ship IRL people, too.”
  • OTP – “That special romantic character pairing that pulls at your heartstrings and floods you with feels in a way that none of the others do? That’s your one true pairing, or OTP.”
  • Squee – “The universal noise of the fangirl, the squee is a high-pitched, often involuntary sound emitted when something is just so awesome and amazing you can’t control yourself.”

5. Embrace the term ‘fangirl.’

Throughout the book, little interviews with famous fangirls split up chapters. Jill Pantozzi of The Mary Sue offered up some wise words in hers: “We’re all fans of something, but being a fangirl means you’re willing to show it, unabashedly and with great vigour.” Which is why I have an easier time calling myself a fangirl than a hipster.

6. Be accepting of others.

You probably sometimes feel like what you love is better than what others love just because you love it so much. But that’s no reason to say that outright to anyone. Don’t be a troll or a grump or an Argus Filch and get snarky online (mostly, that won’t read well) just because you don’t understand something. Recognize that you might not know much about a different fandom, so before talking behind another fangirl’s back about their OTP, take the time to ask questions first. And in general, just don’t talk behind anyone’s back!

7. Get to know other fangirls.

It’s the same for any kind of person: go where everyone goes. If you like comics, go hang out at a comic book store. If you like movies, go to midnight screenings. If you’re real into games, spend time at board game cafes (if you can). It goes on. And if you can’t do that, make the people come to you. Start a book club, fanfic writing support group, movie nights. Or spend some time Googling forums and websites. Fangirls will feel even more powerful when they have other fangirls to identify with, talk to and in general form life-lasting loving bonds with.

8. Buy and support.

A lot of fandom is supported by fangirls. If you want to show that you support someone’s fanfic, crafts or comics, buy it if you can. It means that those who you want to succeed have a better shot at doing so.

9. Don’t let the trolls in.

Trolls are notorious for trying to crush your dreams, to squeeze the ee out of the squee, just for fun. “…There’s a whole subset of trolls that, sadly, is not fictional: the people all over the world who exist solely to spread hate, wretchedness, and gloom across the entire online universe…” writes Maggs. “Knowing the type of troll you are dealing with is key when planning your counterattack.” So Maggs points out a few different kinds of trolls and comebacks a fangirl could use if necessary. A good resource when you feel speechless after someone says something ridiculous or you couldn’t help reading the comments!

10. It’s important to critically evaluate.

Even though being a fangirl is a lot about indulging enthusiasm, it’s important to keep a level head in case something happens in your world. And again, because you spend so much time in it, your voice is valued. “…Being critical of media you enjoy and expressing your criticism in positive and helpful ways is the perfect method to get a larger audience to understand the problems at hand,” writes Maggs.

There you have it! I know this is a lot, but there is so much more information in the book! It’s a great resource. So, go grab it!

Also, Kelly Bastow did the cover and inside illustrations, and you should check out her work. I love her style and was so happy to see her work on this book!

What kind of fangirl are you? Potterhead? SuperWhoLockian? Otaku? Trekkie? Marvelite? Batgirl? Book nerd? Gamer? (Out of these, I’m a Potterhead / book nerd!)

[I received this book from Random House Canada in exchange for an honest review, this did not affect my opinion of the book whatsoever.]

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