Where my Pegasisters At? A Conversation.

CMC_are_about_to_yell_S01E17[1]

Today, we’re trying a different format — a conversation.

Warning: Contains Strong Language and Dumb Jokes

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt: So… Yeah. Female Bronies. They are a thing.

jason_ponybust.pngJason: They are a [redacted]. But seriously, the way they are treated in the Brony documentary is as a parallel mirror image of the documentary’s brony typology of hipsters, moderates, and creatives — with vaginas. Also a minority.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt: Parallel mirror image? WTFuck?

jason_ponybust.pngJason: Oh fuck you.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt: For those of us [me] that still haven’t seen the documentary [I’m workin’ on it]. What do you mean by mirror to the typology?

jason_ponybust.pngJason: So basically, once the documentary established the three types of bronies, it made a point of showing how the typology only represented male bronies. In the doc’s animated segment, a number of female bronies — each a hipster, moderate, or creative — argues for inclusion in the fandom and the narrator is forced to amend his explanation to include them. When I refer to them as a mirror, I mean that, as represented in the documentary, there is no variation in the types of fans between the two genders. That’s weird to me, since I can count at least one type of fan over-represented among women and girls and all but non-existent among men and boys — the nostalgic collectors of G1-G3 MLP.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt:
RainbowDashAlwaysDressesInStyle

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt: You have a point there. That could make for some interesting dynamics, and certainly a new possibility for that typology—Nostalgists (what the fuck do you call someone with nostalgia?). I’m not sure I have heard much talk of this group of people, although I have trouble imagining that they do not exist within the fandom (or even, possibly, their male counterparts). I do like the documentary’s typology a lot… it seems like it might be useful.

jason_ponybust.pngJason: It should be noted that nostalgia also plays a large part in male Bronies’ enjoyment of the series, though it seems to take on a more intertextual form1.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt: Nostalgia for X show that FiM is reminiscient of… nostalgia for a specific time period or worldview or something that might be associated with this, mayhaps. Several people talk about the way the MLP shows a more positive outlook on life/way of being that differs from the ways that they see things before.

jason_ponybust.pngJason: I think the parallels to Star Trek: The Next Generation that some blog commenters are making speak to this. But to get us back to the sistas, should we be distinguishing between these kinds of nostalgia along gendered lines, or is that unnecessary or even wrongheaded?

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt: I guess that is the problem with typologies… nothing is ever so neat. I’m inclined to make the distinction, as I am not sure how well it fits into any of the three categories you mentioned.

jason_ponybust.pngJ:  What would make the distinction clearer to me is whether there was some kind of friction or at least boundary work between fans of MLP from the “old days” and the fans brought in explicitly through FIM.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt William Baer: True dat… I guess the issue might lie in the fact that this particular typology is focusing upon the main reasons that people are drawn into the fandom. I’d imagine that very few people fit neatly into the categories and, should our MLP Gen 1-3 fans be in this particular fandom, they might fit into other categories as well. Also, where would that friction be?

jason_ponybust.pngJ.aegerbomb: I am thinking boundary work comes closer to what happens, since the underlying premise of FIM makes open conflict difficult to reconcile with fandom membership (in fact, I want to make a future post exploring fights in the fandom). For example, the lack of an engaging story in early MLP means older fans fall more into the category of collector of pony figures. This may also align with female collectors often being the craftspeople of the brony community, since they have the experience working with the figures. They aren’t fighting over the division of labor per se–but the fact of a roughly-gendered division of labor is significant.

***ENTER THE DOM***
Enter the Dragon

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK-Money: Ladies and Gentlemen, Dom Tartaglia—folklorist and pop culture deity who happens to be at the same Starbucks as the two of us.

dom

jason_ponybust.pngJrizzle: And guy I want to punch in the nuts.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK-izz-urt: HARD

domDom: Fun fact: Kurt fb messaged me “Fucking look left, dammit!”. Terrified, I looked to the left, and there were Kurt and Jason, now here I am.

Also, just goin’ off, I would just like to brag that I have that limited edition t-shirt of Pinkie Pie as Andrew WK with a nose bleed; that is my greatest brony accomplishment.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt: So Dom, since you are now here. Female brony: brony or pegasis(ter)?

domDom: I find it hard to separate the “creatives” from the Bronies themselves, because Bronies have such an active creative side in the fandom. If the general rule of the internet is “pics or it didn’t happen”, I think the rule for internet fan communities is “fan-art, or it isn’t happening”. So I feel those early 4chan image macros were the first and most notable step in making a community out of a property. Those early creatives were in many ways, the “first real Bronies”.

Now, infamously, those first “mods are asleep, post ponies” bros were deemed, bros- bronies. That’s not to say they weren’t females; who knows who you are when you post as “anon”.

jason_ponybust.pngJ: Oh come on! You know 4-chan is a bunch of dudes!

domDom: Well yes, Jason, it’s mostly neckbeards, but it’s impossible to say it wasn’t ladyneckbeards. What I guess I’m saying is, from behind a username, brony is both male and female, at least to me.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngKurt: That’s a good point, and one that I have seen argued before on several internet sites that I’ve checked out (that will remain nameless because I forget them now). I’ve also heard that brony is a gender neutral term because, apparently, the early 4-chan stuff was under [b]rony and thus it wasn’t actually “bro” somehow.

jason_ponybust.pngJ: Of course dudes would refer to dude terms as the neutral ones.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: Yeah… that’s what I was getting to. It is interesting how charged the term “brony” is in terms of gender. I think “pegasis” is clever, but a little awkward and divisive.

jason_ponybust.pngJ: Also since we know what “pegging” is 😛

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: boom
FANMADE_Atomic_rainboom

domD: Can’t unsee

jason_ponybust.pngJ: But seriously, I don’t think we’re gonna get away from everything that the word “bro” has attached to it. Frat boys, mostly. Brah-nies.

The difficulty for the inclusion of women in the ranks of bronies isn’t necessarily the word itself though, but rather the gendered habitus2 of precisely those 4chan fans from the early days (though the word is probably a good trace of the gendered origins). Those fans produced a strain in the fandom that celebrates a heteronormatively ironic adoration of the show that connects it to largely male interests and needs3. Furthermore, there’s a tendency to understand those male ways of inhabiting the world as being natural and UN-gendered, when they are clearly indices of heteronormative maleness.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: Your mom is heteronormatively ironic.

jason_ponybust.pngJ: She’s IRONic cause she’s [Fe]male.irony-shirt

 domD: getting really tired of spike
kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: Yeah. I’d like to talk a bit more about this “difficulty for the inclusion”… It feels like a really interesting kind of difficulty that is totally there, but, as you said,  more at the level of habitus than anything else. There is a disposition toward things being that way, but a disposition is just that. I guess what I am saying is that there are female bronies, many of them thrive in the fandom, and many people are genuinely encouraging of women in the fandom. Mute point, perhaps.

jason_ponybust.pngJ: But the existence of the term “Pegasister” or any other qualifier (even “female brony”) by itself suggests at least enough of a clash with the standards of the fandom that such a discursive move is necessary. Otherwise, they would just be bronies and not feel the need for qualifiers (as many do, I’m sure, but not all).

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: Yeah… gender is a thing that exists. Even on the internet.

jason_ponybust.pngJ: That’s a bold statement on the internet.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: Perhaps. YouTube comments tend to back me up though… unless everyone has a schlong on the interwebs.

jason_ponybust.pngJ: This place is tits!VentureBros1

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: The viewpoints of people who aren’t dudes would be very beneficial here… this is a bit of a sausage fest (hint, hint, everypony). Hopefully our musings can get something going in this regard. Even numbers-wise, if y’all like that shit, “the” Brony Study (www. bronystudy.com) took a big-ass survey sometime around 2011 and found 14% of their participants were female. I’m guessing the percentage might have grown since then.

jason_ponybust.pngJ: That means 42% of the three of us is female! That’s almost half a boob!

domD: You guys, I have to admit something…

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: Are you 42% pregnant?

domD: Yes, and I don’t know who the father is.

Anyway, some of the debate, at least on r/mylittlepony, indicates that:

  1.  female mlp:fim fans dislike the label “pegasister”
  2. openly male bronies want to call all pony fans “bronies”.
  3. a fancy brony should be called a “pegasir”.

I’m kinda unsure how the term pegasister came to be, if no one likes it.

Pegasister kinda feels like “dudette” to me: it only means “girl version of this guy term”.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: And the term “woman”? The point is not that “pegasister” isn’t somewhat contrived, but that the male term is naturalized and is a male term4.

jason_ponybust.pngJ: The politics of the term is somewhat complicated. On one hand, there are a number of people on Reddit who rail against it on grounds like Dom is saying, that it is the girl version of the naturalized boy term. On the other hand, there was at least one person who said: “To my fellow bronies: Why I’m A Pegasister ( and why that doesn’t mean that I’m a man-hating feminazi ).” She doth protest too much! The unprovoked denial suggests a pre-existing linkage between the term pegasister and “feminist,” at least in some circles.

But overall, I think it’s pretty bullshit that for an ostensibly female property, there’s a term for the female fans that is understood as the female version of the male fan and not vice versa.

kurt_ponybust-150x150.pngK: Yea, verilyjolly_good_show_old_derp_by_johnjoseco-d3e0pv5

domD: Well I think at the end of the day, this show/fandom is about love and tolerance for everypony. And I hope we get to a point where we can love and tolerate each other past gender squabbles and get to the real issues:

  1. What are the actual rules of becoming a Princess? Do you just need a horn and wings? Speciesist much?
  2. Trixie; who really wants more of her?
  3. Remember when Pinkie Pie morphed her face into a gen 3 pony? Has she always been able to do that?!

kurt_ponybust-150x150.png K:

tolerate and love

Shit is speciesist… look at the zebras and bison. Problematic representations much? I do love them though.5

 * * * * *

That’s all folks!

-Jason, Kurt, and Dom

 


  1. “Intertextuality” is a termed coined by Julia Kristeva, linked to work by scholars like Mikhail Bakhtin. In short, it refers to the ways in which different “texts” — for our purposes, any cultural object that can be understood as a bounded thing — influence one another. 

  2. We’re borrowing the word “habitus” here from the work of Pierre Bourdieu (see The Logic of Practice, p. 53), which refers to the embodied predispositions people have that structure how they understand the world and yet are themselves structured by the social worlds they inhabit. 

  3. See the previous post on heteronormative maleness in the fandom 

  4. Kurt is referencing ideas of “patriarchy” –a social system in which men are deemed authoritative–and cultural “hegemony”–the idea that people in positions of power produce systems in which the values that keep them in power are naturalized 

  5. Speciesism, like racism, is the assignment of different values to different categories of beings…in this case different values to different species 

44 thoughts on “Where my Pegasisters At? A Conversation.

  1. I’m not sure if this is gonna be helpful or not, but every source I’ve ever seen has claimed that the word ‘brony’ developed as a portmanteau of ‘bro’ and ‘pony’ as a means to identify a male fan. Soon after this a female fan, supposedly angered by the male driven term, decided that she didn’t like the word brony and created the term pegasister as a way to identify female fans.

    I’ve spoken to many women fans who feel that the term pegasister separates them from the majority of the fandom and they don’t want that, especially in a fandom that’s built around acceptance and equality.

    As to other… questions? Trixie is incredibly popular within the fandom, most fans want more of her. And Pinkie is known for warping reality in whatever way suits her at the time. Think Roger Rabbit in his movie.

    But you guys wanna hear from the ladies. Lemme visit some groups and see if I can’t send a few your way.

    1. That’s pretty much what we’ve been seeing/hearing and I feel the consensus is largely that brony is a gender-neutral-ish term that covers everyone in the fandom (as distinct from the intended age demographic). The debate that goes on about the term is interesting mostly in the way it is representative of a general assumption/equation of brony with straight male-ness (not that people are trying to keep it exclusively make or not trying to fight these assumptions) that do seem (to me at least) to marginalize women in the fandom in some ways. It’s really notable in the fact that, in the documentary, they decided they should acknowledge female bronies not upfront, but at the end and as a protest by female bronies for acknowledgement. It’s really cute and pretty funny, but there is something there and something to it that is more habitus than just history, if that makes any sense.

  2. As a female Brony, I say that the term brony should just automatically include all genders. Girls can be “bros” and the term “dude” or “man” in some contexts are gender neutral. Yes, we may be female, but we enjoy the show just as much as all you men, and want to be included in the fandom as an equal part of the fandom, and not a seperate part that needs a new name altogether. I really dislike “Pegasister” as it doesn’t roll off the tongue like “brony” does, and it’s grouping the females into their own group. Almost seems sexist to me. I am a brony. That is that. No two ways about it and no fancy coating it. Though it has been mentioned by a few friends of mine that if you’re not a “brony”, you’re an “afillyate”

    1. I appreciate your thoughts, Nicole, and they hit precisely at the gender problem I was trying to describe. On one hand, some may see the term “brony” as sexist since it has the word “bro” embedded in it. On the other hand, others may see the word “pegasis(ter)” as sexist for its singling out of female FiM fans as different.

      By the same token, a woman using the term “brony” like you do is implying through your choice that the word is gender-neutral, whereas one using “pegasister” implies in her choice that “brony” is inadequate to be inclusive of her. The existence of a choice is itself indicative of an uneven gender-politics: for example, it’s not even up for debate whether *I*, as a straight male fan, would consider myself a “pegasister.”

      The conversation above suggests to me that the gender politics of the fandom largely favors women’s inclusion through the usage of existing terminology, rather than the more explicit gender-marking of a term like “pegasister.” I wonder if that’s specific to the fandom or indicative of broader social norms.

  3. I think it’s a fandom thing more than anything. I mean there aren’t different terms for male or female Trekkies, all of them are just Trekkies. I’m also not aware of any gendered terms for Whovians, but I’m not really in that fandom. Sadly gamers do have ‘girl gamer’ as a term, and I find this to be atrocious. It seems to me that most fandoms don’t need gendered names because the names they already have are neutral enough to apply to everyone.

    For our fandom, we were unfortunate enough to get a term that (at least on the surface) appears to be highly gender specific. I believe that ‘brony’ was originally started as a joke just like the ‘love and tolerate’ motto. It’s kinda funny looking back at it how much of that early sarcasm has been embraced as genuine. I choose to view the term not as being based off of ‘bro’ as a slang for a man, but off of ‘bro’ as a term of endearment or affection.

    I don’t want to start any kind of sexist riot here, but I have in the past encountered some highly radical feminists (I enrolled in a gender studies class in undergrad by mistake, and DAMN what a mistake) who would rebel against anything that even hinted at maleness. With much of the fandom being younger (17-25) and that being the age when most are prone to radicalism, is it possible that the term ‘pegasister’ arose specifically because some women didn’t want to be included in something they perceived as male?

    It really is an unfortunate dilemma and sadly, one of our own making. It should come as no surprise by now that I support the use of ‘brony’ as a gender neutral term and inclusive of everyone. I don’t really see the sense in splitting people into categories (especially by gender) when at the core all of us are here for the same reason.

  4. Or to put a finer point on it…

    Bronies watch a show with a predominantly female cast, while wearing shirts depicting female characters, voiced by highly talented female actors, and (sometimes) written by talented female writers. I think the idea that we would somehow deign to separate females out of our group is a little silly in light of the above truths.

  5. Even as a male, I never cared for the term “Pegasister”. “Brony” rolls off the tongue easier and I had always taken it to mean “Adult fan of the show”.

    I will admit that among the meetups I went to, I only ever saw two women with us. It really seems more like a male thing, but let’s not be exclusionary. We all love the same show.

    Really, I actually don’t care much for the label of “Brony” outside of it being a short hand for my being a part of the fandom. It’s just easier to say the word instead of saying “I’m a fan of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”. Just like with Whovians and Trekkies (of which I’m both as well).

  6. I consider myself a general My Little Pony fan, from g4 to everything that came before. though I’m male, I know some females that have been collecting since generation 1. The main reaction as the fandom started seemed to be neutral to positive surprise that the franchise was getting such a flood of new fans. For the most part, the MLP fandom was a small, cult circle mainly of collectors though most enjoyed the cartoons as well. So it was quite something to get so many fans, particularly male ones at that.

    For the most part, the pre FiM fandom enjoys g4 and appreciates the depth the new cartoon has. But we feel more than a little overtaken by bronies who have by turns mocked, insulted, or looked down upon the previous fans and dismissing the previous gens as trash. Even now there’s been a bit of a divide as there’s been some heat from both sides.

    still, most fans are content to keep to their own circles and sites and enjoy what we always have, and try to encourage bronies to give the other cartoons a fair chance, as they’d done with Friendship is Magic.

    1. It’s always bothered me how truly horrible some “bronies” have been to the older generation shows/specials and even sometimes collectors. I haven’t seen too much of it personally but I know it happens and especially notice the extreme derision that the older shows are often subject to.

      I personally have watched some of the older shows and specials and actually enjoyed some of them quite a bit. Now not all of them are exactly my cup of tea, especially some of G3, 3.5, and *shudder* newborn cuties, but some were pretty good. I’ve also found quite a few references to the older shows and specials in some pony fan works and got some recommendations to watch older stuff by some other fans so I do think there is a bit of a drive to check out what eventually led to G4 (especially G1). I personally did some research on older generations just out of curiosity and due to some recommendations. Even at a recent meetup some bronies recommended I check out some older generation special so I think there definitely is some respect out there. I think some of the hyperbole against older generations comes from bronies trying to justify their liking of G4 by claiming it isn’t like the “old, crappy, and extremely girly generations.” I also think it’s so prevalent online just because people think the anonymity of the internet means it won’t come back to them or that no older generation fan would ever see it.

      I do think there should always be a level of respect for older generation stuff and especially fans of older generations if not for anything else at least for the fact that MLP:FiM wouldn’t exist if any of them didn’t happen (Yes, even G3.5’s general horribleness led Hasbro to ask Lauren about doing something with MLP).

      1. Thank you very much. The older gens were a bit of a mixed bag, but for those who have an open mind, there’s plenty to enjoy. Even some detractors will admit to liking Wind Whistler, Firefly, and the villains.

        1. I think that FiM has way more in common with G1 than most modern fans want to admit. Lauren Faust even said that she based the models and storyboards off of G1 stuff, so it seems to me that one can’t be a fan of G4 without being a fan of G1 by proxy. I wasn’t crazy about the episodes I watched, but I haven’t been enjoying any of the old cartoons I’ve tried to go back and watch as an adult. I’m sure that for its time and compared to its contemporaries, G1 MLP was probably a fine cartoon.

  7. As a female myself, though I am younger than most female bronies, I honestly identify with pegisister more. I don’t mind being labeled as a brony but it really feels a little odd inside to me… But in some cases it’s easier to say pegisister instead of brony for me. But those are my two cents, I can’t really speak for everyone..

  8. As a female fan of the show, I have to admit that I’ve never called myself a ‘brony’. I do, however, hate the term ‘pegasister’ because it really isn’t very good of a word. I’m a whovian, which doesn’t have any gender specific terms that I know of, so I’m pretty comfortable with that. I’m not sure *what* to call myself. People usually assume you’re a guy online (weird!) and calling myself a ‘brony’ probably won’t help that.

    I’ve always had MLP toys, and while I wasn’t a collector, I did watch the show and really love the first stand alone episode (it’s pretty dark and scary for an 80s show, check it out if you haven’t!) and the movie. Definitely wasn’t a part of the g1-g3 fandom though, since my interest in something is driven by story and not collecting.

    About Jude Gesek’s point about the meetup and only meeting two girls… Here’s a girl’s point of view. The fandom is seen as predominately male, and the tolerance aspect of it means that perhaps some of the people going to a meetup will be… The more difficult to handle. I’m not saying that’s *true*, and I would actually quite like to go to a meetup if I ever find one near me, but as a female you do have deal with awkward guys coming up and talking to you because you both like something and it’s rare for them to have any perceived common ground with a girl.

    Good lord, that sounds awful. But just imagine being trapped with even one guy out of the fifteen that showed up, and you’re the only girl, and he’s really interested in talking with you and you have *nothing* to say to him because you don’t connect, but you *have* to talk to him, because he’s not scary or anything… Just not someone you’d want to actually hang out with. So you try to engage with him a little (don’t want to be rude!) but that always turns out to be a mistake, because then you just can’t get rid of him. He’ll sit next to you, he’ll keep talking to you, and you just can’t join in with all the other guys who are debating what happened during Nightmare Moon’s war or the merits of Equestria Girls or something because you’re trapped in this never ending awkward conversation and OH LOOK I need to catch my bus!

    It’s not fair to the people who actually do go to meetups, because I’m sure that they all have a great time! And I do actually want to help someone expand their social skills, but I don’t want that to be all I do when I go out to hang out with potential new friends. But even though the whole ‘BOYS CAN’T LIKE A GIRLS SHOW!!’ is something that I am *so* against because sexism is sexism, and boys can like stories about friendship with only minimal explosions in it, the fandom is still perceived as awkward. It’s so internalised that any boy who would like a girls show must be weird that you really have to fight against it, and unless you have another friend who’s going to go with you to this meetup… You might just stay away, and avoid the whole situation.

    :I

    It sounds terrible written out, but I’m sure that this has run through a girl’s mind before going to the meetup:

    a) Will I be the only girl?
    b) Will there be creepy guys there, and I’m the only girl?

    It’s a whole ‘nother kettle of fish, and not really what the original article is about, but I wanted to clarify why girls might be under-represented in meetups.

    1. @Wulfae – This feeling of being the only one of a particular gender in a group and the awkwardness of the interactions — the need to in some way be a representative of your group — that sounds and feels a whole lot like the tokenism I feel as a person of color (Vietnamese American). You have this feeling that there’s some duty (as a woman, as a person of color, as whatever) to educate and support, but it’s also taxing and can cause you to avoid such situations.

      It’s a great insight. Thank you.

      1. Somewhat similar feelings, perhaps.

        OTOH, there’s no agony like somebody nice getting totally infatuated with you because you’re a geek who likes the same things he does, and you are the first geek he’s met who’s had XX chromosomes. Especially if he reminds you strongly of your little brother.

        So yeah, if you’re deeply afraid that other people you’ve just met will think they’re in love with you for no particular good reason, this would be the same.

        1. Jason, the tokenism is pretty close. I don’t really want to ‘educate’, but you know… Just showing the guy talking to me how a woman will reply to him sort of counts as that… So it’s closer than I would have thought.

          I do have to agree with Suburbanbanshee. That’s not something I’m looking for, at all. And if this person is a regular with the group, it makes it awkward about attending again.

          1. Yeah, as I’ll note in the future post, I usually mean “educate” pretty broadly—less “here’s a lesson” and more “my feelings and subjectivities exist, mister”.

            Thanks to you both! Gives me a lot to think about.

  9. I really think it’s unfortunate that female fans of the show are so marginalized in favor of male fans like myself. The media latched onto us (males) and always seems to have something to say about us (usually in a derogatory manner) but leaves female fans high and dry when it comes to exposure, be it good or bad. As far as I’m concerned, ‘Brony’ is and always has been a gender-neutral term that could apply to anyone who considers his or herself a fan.

    1. I don’t want it to come across like female fans are downtrodden or something like that — it seems like, on the whole, that the centrality of women to the creation of Friendship is Magic helps to support a pretty gender-inclusive fandom. If anything, I think the underlying premise that this is a girls’ show that isn’t just for girls provides everyone involved greater room to play with existing gender markers in ways that they might not otherwise. As much as I like Beverly Crusher or Seven of Nine from Star Trek, I never identified with them the way I identify with, say, Fluttershy (debilitating social anxiety up in this biz-naz!).

      On the social theory front, I guess what I’m getting at with all this gender talk is that when you become a fan of something, you carry all the baggage of your identity/ies into it, and that includes your and other fans’ pre-existing ideas of how gender works. You cannot help but BE YOU, but gender is part-and-parcel of that performance of self.

      1. Female fans aren’t downtrodden, I’ve never come across a secret fan board where all the girls are planning a revolution or something, but they are ignored in the media. Guys are just the better story.

        What I’m getting from this is that I need to continue to not let outside voices define what the fandom is for me, and concentrate on my own observations and experiences.

  10. I really don’t want to launch into a discussion about the media because, well… I have nothing nice to say. However, the media only reports on male bronies because we’re the ones that cause a scandal. Society doesn’t care if a girl likes a girl show, nor do they care if an adult likes a kids show for their gender. Think about it, when was the last time you saw a news report on 30 year old men liking Transformers? The media only reports on things they think are deviant or dangerous because for whatever twisted reason that’s what society wants to see. The truly unfortunate result of this being that male fans are almost always cast in an extremely unfavorable and inaccurate light, and female fans are ignored entirely.

  11. Danny sent me over. As one of the few girls in our local group that attends meet-ups (there have been times when I have been the only one), I have a pretty good perspective on being a woman in the fandom.

    My friend got me into the fandom, and that was when I first heard the term “brony”. I’ve always associated with that term instead of pegasisters, probably because I have a lot more guy buds than I do gal pals. I also just don’t like the way the term “pegasister” sounds. I never had siblings, but my guy buds are like brothers to me. It makes me feel included when I’m called a brony. I’m not one who likes to be singled out.

    Regarding the fandom itself, I feel very much included. When I’ve been to meet-ups where I’ve been the only one there, the guys treat me with kindness. At Fiesta Equestria and other conventions, we are treated no differently. When my fiance (a brony I met through our local group) proposed at FE with Michelle Creber’s help, it made me feel great to be a woman in the fandom.

    There is one downside though to being a female in the fandom. It seems as if brony drama tends to happen towards the women.

    1. @lilnik900 We really appreciate you coming over and offering your perspective. Two questions: 1) were you a MLP fan before Friendship is Magic? 2) can you elaborate as to what you mean by “brony drama tends to happen towards the women?” Feel free to be as specific or general as you need to, but I’m curious what you mean here. Thanks!

      1. Warning: This is gonna be a long reply

        I wasn’t a huge fan of MLP before Friendship is Magic. I had a few of the McDonald’s toys from the previous generation, but other than that, I was (and still am) a Disney kid.

        Being a woman in the fandom has been extremely unique and different for me.

        The way I got into the fandom was kind of interesting. About 2 years ago, I had met a guy that worked at the Walgreen’s that I frequented. We became instant friends and I had thought he was really cute. I was either a Sophomore or a Junior in high school and he was a bit older. He ended up leaving for a tour in Afghanistan and we didn’t see each other for a year. We he got back, he started working at my Walgreen’s again. Found out he thought about me a lot while he was away and we had a mutual liking. We started hanging out outside of Walgreens and attempted to date. A lot of our hangouts ended on my front porch swing with him showing me characters from the show on his phone. Rainbow Dash and Fluttershy had really stood out to me. At that time, I was big into roller derby (Rainbow Dash’s sporty nature) and was volunteering with Animal Rescue Foundation (Fluttershy’s talent with animals) I finally decided to watch an episode and got into it. Even though things didn’t work out love wise between us, we’ve remained tight friends. After I found out one of my high school buds was a brony, I found the local group and started going to meet-ups.

        After my first meet-up, I decided to host my own. A trip to the state fair. It was a pretty successful meet-up for my first. It was also the day I met my fiance Eric. Things changed for me after that.

        If you guys ever want to do a study on the strength of brony relationships, hit Eric and I up. I’d have to say if anything, our love for the fandom and show has made our relationship stronger.

        Regarding the brony drama, I have been through a lot of ups and downs with the fandom.

        There are some severely socially awkward bronies in the fandom (a small percentage). One of which had stalked me and Eric at a night club, and the same guy stalked us again at Hot Topic 2 months later. The girls in the fandom do have that one downside: We’re girls. We’ve got things that guys find extremely attractive. If you’re one of the few girls in a local group, you’re bound to get hit on by a few men in the group unless you go for something other than men and have made it clear. Some may become stalkerish, others are great guys that have the best intentions.

  12. I think there’s only one issue with being the minority gender at meetups. If you are a young attractive girl, then you are automatically bait for the other guys. Though I’ve had some approach me and make it absolutely clear that they want to be good friends. Hell I’ve even made some of em want to be an older brother to me. But you’d really have that same thing with any fandom really. “Attractive, single female. Tons of single males” It’s the downside to being a girl anyways. The upside? You don’t have as many adults look at you funny when you fangirl over a new toy in Target or whatnot.

  13. I’ll admit I really don’t like the term pegasister but if somebody I run into really wants to be called that I would oblige. Brony just flows easier and I don’t like the idea of females being separated from the community term-wise.

    I prefer brony as being gender-neutral and already have some experience with brother being used on other females. In college I was in a co-ed service fraternity for 3 years that was mostly female dominated so I’d say I’m pretty used to it and it doesn’t faze me at all calling a female “brother”. I don’t like the connotation of the word “bro” but I tend to think of the bro in brony very similarly as to how we consider brother in my service fraternity.

    I do think there are actually quite a lot more female bronies (Or female MLP: FiM fans if you would prefer it) than that survey indicates but there are probably a few reasons for that. 2011 was still fairly early on in the fandom in my opinion and knowledge of the show has gotten out a lot more since then. Like Wulfae and Nicole have noted there might be some trepidation at getting too involved in the fandom (or at the least going to meetups) because of awkward guys looking to flirt too much just because they see a woman who likes something they do.

    I personally have met a lot more fans of MLP:FiM who happen to be women (expect for meetups) than I have men so it might just be there are many more female fans out there who just might not be as active online and just missed the surveys. My personal experience though doesn’t make any real solid evidence because I haven’t been too active offline (or even online) and definitely don’t know everything.

    Also I think a lot of younger (and much closer to the target deographic) fans might grow up and get more involved in the brony community if it’s still around. I’ve actually learned about some much younger (about tween aged) girls who others know about and have been pretty impressed with how into the show and community they’ve gotten or talented they are art-wise.

    As for Trixie, I despise her too and don’t think that necessarily everyone loves her. I know she’s definitely popular due to high profile bronies like Sethisto and Pixelkitties, all the fan works about her, and even the new episode with her or references to her. I just don’t like uber narcissistic people generally so Trixie really rubs me the wrong way. There is some fun stuff with her though (like her design) and I must admit despite my general dislike for her I still enjoyed Magic Duel.

  14. I’m a female fan who’s old enough to have been too old to like G1 (I was practically almost a teenager! Mature! And pink isn’t cool!) but to have loved its exact contemporary with many of the same writers, Dungeons and Dragons (but all the cute animals on that show _were_ cool and made for mature viewers to appreciate! Especially Uni the meh-ing unicorn!) So yeah, it’s not oppressive to women to dislike G1; it’s one of those preference things. It took me a loooong time to appreciate pink, and my mother still thinks I’m nuts to have those pink and purple MLP sheets from Target. (We won’t even discuss her dislike of dark blue as a color… it’s a good thing she’s never seen Luna.)

    There are a fair number of female MLP fans who follow the show but have barely even heard of the fandom. For example, a coworker with kids (a Rarity-like ex-model whose next job will be teaching posture and walking to young models) is extremely into MLP and many other kids’ shows. But she’s never been involved with sf/f fandoms, so she barely knows that brony fandom exists.

    Re: the categories, I was amused to see yet another new popular fandom “reinventing the wheel” because most of the founding members hadn’t been attached to existing fandoms beforehand. Every fandom divides itself into categories, and none of the categories ever describe everyone; and many fandoms are essentially run by women although others are mostly run by men. It never happens the way you expect. (JAG fandom was almost all women for a long time, even though viewership was often pretty male.)

    Fandoms are weird. It is fun to talk about ourselves. Let’s keep on talking.

  15. So I have to ask… none of these apprehensions or fears strike me as being specific to bronies. As Nicole said, those are issues that young women face pretty much wherever they go. I think the much more pertinent question is, do you notice a difference between being around bronies and being in other social situations?

    Based off of what all of you have said, I think it’s pretty safe to conclude that young women feel apprehensive in large groups of men. That makes sense and I can appreciate that sentiment. Let me pose a different question. If we are to accept that as a fact, do you feel more or less comfortable knowing that all the men around you are bronies? How does being around bronies differ from being around sports fans or gamers or… hell, ANY group? Would you attend an office party knowing you would be the only girl? Does the content of the group matter at all or is this purely a gender thing? If you have been around bronies before, do you notice a significant difference between how they treat you and how average men treat you?

    I’m sorry if any of this sounds combative, that is not my intention. I’m just trying to process all of this information against other things I’ve experienced. At BronyCon last year I sat in on a panel for parents of bronies. During this panel a middle aged woman stood up and said that she had dropped her 11 year old daughter off at the convention the day before and had left here there alone. She went on to say that she felt completely safe doing this because she knew that her daughter was going to be around bronies and could not be in a safer environment. Also at every meetup I’ve been to (only about 6 or so) I’ve never witnessed any of the situations you ladies are describing. Then again, I’ve been accused of being overly naive in the past, so maybe it does happen and I just don’t notice.

    1. I would like to say that none of these fears and apprehensions are specific to bronies… And I would like to believe that I’ve overcome whatever conditioning society has forced on me to think that men being interested in girls things doesn’t make them weird. I’ve worked hard to catch that train of thought and strangle it, because no one thinks twice about a girl enjoying Batman: The animated series (so amazing) or Transformers or whatever and GALDURNIT sexism is sexism!

      As I said, I haven’t been to a meetup yet. I’m not active on facebook, and I think all the local stuff is organised through that. My previous experience with bronies is limited to when I see them when I’m oot and aboot, like at Fan Expo (gave them a hug when they asked!), when I saw one at a museum and I complimented him on his shirt, and discussion of how excited we were for season 4 with a random fan on the bus.

      With meetups… I’m old enough that I do go to random internet meetups. I just completed Nanowrimo and I went to multiple meetups. They were held in what I consider to be safe spaces, libraries and the subway, and I was never worried I would be unable to leave if I wanted to, since I got myself there on public transit.

      I did get trapped into speaking with the one guy though… I complimented him on his Fourth Doctor scarf, because I love it when people know what mine is, and I wound up talking to him on and off for the rest of the write in. This wasn’t because I was the only girl, but rather because we shared an interest, but it was still terribly uncomfortable.

      I don’t want to accept as fact that young women feel uncomfortable in large groups of men. I don’t want to believe that women need to ask ‘will he rape me?’ all the time and take precautions to not be assaulted. I’m too much of an optimist to believe that the people around me want to harm me, and I really hope that the same optimism doesn’t lead me into those troubling statistics.

      I would go to the office party, even though I was the only girl, because it would be *my* office, or I would be going with a friend to their office party. I would know the people I would be around, which is different from a meetup when you only sort of know the people, or only know that they enjoy whatever you do that the meetup is about.

      As to bronies… Not having gone to a meetup, I really don’t think that *I* would find any difference, because people are usually pretty fun to be around. There would be the fear of that one guy latching on to me and thinking we were going to be boyfriend/girlfriend because FINALLY he’s found someone else who’s into what he’s into as Suburbanbanshee described, but hopefully I would be able to squash that. It would also be the same thing if I went to a Doctor Who thing, or a Star Trek thing, or a minecraft thing, or something like that. Something where the fans are told ‘THIS IS A GUY THING, it’s all guys on the internet, no girls like this thing!’ and they find one and latch on to her because who knows if there will ever be another chance?

      A convention is a different beast, and the story you tell about a mom dropping her daughter off is interesting. Her daughter must have been mature enough to handle being alone in a large group of people, and likely had a cell phone that she could use to call for whatever help she needed. It’s lovely that she thought that bronies were safe, because for the most part, *people* are safe. But it makes me happy that she wasn’t worried about the creepy bronies being around her daughter, it’s really nice that non-fans can see and understand that liking something not gender specific does not make you dangerous!

      However, these situations are not confined to meetups, they really are part of day to day life. I love to chat with people, and I try to do it whenever I have something to say. It always makes my day when someone talks to me on the bus or waiting in line, it makes the big city seem like a much friendlier place. (I’m Canadian, does it show haha?) However, there is an spontaneous uncontrolled calculation that goes on. Does he look creepy? Will talking to him get me in trouble? Am I in a big enough group of friends that if something does go down, we can either take him or get away? Are there enough people around me that it’s pretty unlikely that anyone will try something?

      As I’m normally traveling with my room mates I feel pretty good talking to people, knowing that if anything were to happen, I have friends who would have my back.

      If you’ve never noticed this, fantastic! You are likely not one of the .5% of guys who need to learn how to read when someone does or doesn’t want to talk to them. Maybe the group you hang out with doesn’t have any of those people in it!

      But there is always a possibility that *that guy* will be there. He’ll focus in on you, because you’re wearing a Luna shirt and he just loves Luna! He’ll come and talk to you, and you’ll say ‘Okay, I’m at a meetup, let’s be sociable!’ but when that wears thin, and you want to go and talk to someone else, he’ll follow. He’ll follow you the whole night, without any actual encouragement from you, only that you reply to him out of some mistaken form of politeness.

      It doesn’t happen every time. And it is less likely to happen if you have a group of friends there with you. But as a single fan going to a meetup, ANY kind meetup, the fear is there, and it’s something some people need to overcome before they venture into the wild.

      1. Thanks for all the insight Wulfae! I 100% agree that women shouldn’t need to question their safety, ever, in social situations. Sadly, at least in my experience, I see them do it all the time. And don’t get me wrong, I completely understand the drive. There are, well not a lot, but a few bad people and they are capable of doing some pretty bad things. Being cautious is good, generally speaking. Maybe I’ve just been on the other side of the calculation more often then I care to.

        It’s a really strange thing when you actually witness those calculations in a stranger’s eyes when they look at you. I’ve seen women on the sidewalk take great care to walk a wide circle around me. I’ve been in an elevator that stopped, and the woman who was waiting for it saw me and said she would take the next one. I’ve had friends tell me that they’re afraid to go someplace by themselves, and while I can understand the sentiment I also can’t help but feel that the entire system is woefully unjust. To women of course because they are potential victims. However this culture of fear makes ‘every’ man a victim, just of another sort. It just feels so… I guess dehumanizing is the best word, when half the population is judging you not for what you have done, but for what you ‘could’ do. What a sad state of affairs we live in when this is the reality of modern interaction. Maybe that’s why I like bronies so much. It may not ‘actually’ be any better, but at least I don’t get that horrible feeling of judgement when I’m around female bronies.

  16. Female MLP: FiM fan weighing in!

    I don’t call myself a brony or a pegasister, but I think that’s because I don’t love fandom nicknames. I just call myself a fan of [whatever], partially because it’s rare that the things I am truly, deeply fannish of even have nicknames for their fans.

    My entrance to fandom was kind of a mix of things: mainly, I started watching because my husband got into it, and because I do have some degree of nostalgia for the original toys from the 80s, (though not the original cartoon — I watched it, but I remember being bored by it.) However, in my (admittedly limited) experience, I’ve found that the more someone I know was into the original toys, the less they seem to like the current character designs, which somewhat puts them off watching the series. I admit that I still adore the design of the original toys, and I sought out a miniature Minty from the blind bags because Minty was the first one I owned as a child — but that’s as far as my fannishness of the earlier generations goes. I never really collected them – I just had five or six of them as a kid and envied my friends who had the attention spans to collect them. I maintained a degree of nostalgia for the original generation of MLP toys throughout adulthood, but never really got into collecting them as an adult, either.

    My current level of fannishness is mainly achieved through my husband’s enablement: because he is a full-on Brony, his enthusiasm ends up encouraging me to do things like buy merchandise that would otherwise only earn an “oh, that’s cute!” from me. Left to my own devices, I’d probably have two or three pieces of merch and call it a day, but somehow I’ve ended up with a bunch of figurines, accessories, and art, and have cosplayed Rarity, all the while not really considering myself that big of a fan. It’s a weird sort of vicarious fannishness, and I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as a BronyWife, since I also regard my husband’s fannishness with some degree of skepticism. (Left to his own devices, I think he’d walk out of the house dressed more like a 13 year old girl than I’m strictly comfortable with!) I know a few others in the same situation: we like the show a good deal, but our husbands/SOs LOOOOOOOVE the show to the point that occasionally makes us go “Dude. Chill out with the ponies already.” (In a loving and tolerant way, of course!)

    Do I count as part of the fandom? I have no idea, but I feel like I’m not an uncommon sort of female fan — the one who watches the show in between marathonning Walking Dead on Netflix while her husband is away at BronyCon.

    1. Dat third paragraph…so glad I asked her to comment here. 😛
      I do like that she lets me goad her into getting so into it and buying so much stuff, though. Makes it harder for her to berate me for it (especially the spending), and makes the snark easier to take. And in my defense, I don’t dress nearly as stylishly as the average 13 year old girl.

      My own take is that I like “brony” – it’s a fun term. And while part of that fun is how it captures the incongruity of grown men liking a girls’ show about cute ponies, I still see it as a unisex term. I don’t think any word’s meaning needs to be bound by its etymology. Plus “pegasister” just sounds really bad.

      I also think any debate about terms is (mostly) just about terms, and doesn’t really reflect any deeper division by gender among the fans. Some people can’t get over “brony” deriving from “bro” and others hate the sound of “pegasister” – or even the fact that it derives from “pegasus” while they relate more to unicorns or Earth ponies. But when the debate comes up, I’ve never seen anyone say, “I’m a pegasister, not a brony, because I’m nothing like them.”

      Also, who else really wants her and her friends to stop talking about a BronyWives podcast and actually start doing one? 🙂

      1. I think the idea is adorable, I’d listen to it. Seriously, the more I learn about this fandom the more fascinating it gets.

      2. Thanks for the comments, Michelle! I’d definitely be down for hearing more BronyWife perspective… And I have no doubt that there are many others that share that sort of experience to some extent. My wife is just confused my relationship with the show, and it isn’t too the “buy all the merch” stage (it might be coming soon though… Lotta cool stuff out there).

  17. I feel that the term brony was originally embraced in response to backlash against male fans due to gender norms which dictate that men cannot or should not like programming targeted at females. The brony label was a way to proclaim that you were a male who would not be constrained by those norms. This seems like a valuable political statement to me. It is unfortunate that it also separates and minimizes women, but I do not know how you could make an organized statement about transgressing masculine norms without adopting a masculine group identity. Can you think of an alternative, or is making such a statement not worth the exclusion of women? Perhaps there should be a more gender-neutral term for the fandom in general, with “brony” reserved for emphasizing gender issues?

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