The next My Little Po-Mo post will be a few hours late due to circumstances I will never reveal. However, I’d like to debut a new feature of the blog: Pony thought of the day! These are just pony=related thoughts of mine. Sometimes they’ll be serious comments about the show or fandom, sometimes they’ll be things that I’m curious about, and sometimes they’ll just be silly, but the plan is to have one up every day that I don’t have a new episode deconstruction.
Today’s thought: Bronies produce a strong reaction from many people outside the fandom, from the incredulous tone of media articles to the sometimes intense antipathy one encounters in YouTube and blog comments. It’s not just that adults are watching a children’s show–large adult followings for Avatar: The Last Airbender, the D.C. Animated Universe, and Pokémon never attracted this much attention. Nor is it that the show has cross-gender appeal–again, not much media response to the popularity of AtLA among girls in addition to its intended boys, though it was enough to prompt the creation of the character Toph to appeal to young female fans (who, ironically, was then more popular with boys).
If you read the articles, it’s more specific than that: it’s that adult men are enjoying a show for young girls. We live in a society that constantly sexualizes women, especially young women, while also suggesting that some things are inherently for women, others are inherently for men, and the latter are always better: Men will sometimes be gently mocked for being too enthusiastic about football, but football itself is still usually presented as worthwhile and entertaining; a woman who likes ballet or musicals is nearly always represented as dragging her male companions to something boring and incomprehensible. We also live in a society that implicitly regards sex as something men do to women, instead of something people do together; the assumption is that men want, and women are wanted.
Thus, for a woman to like something intended for boys is assumed to be innocent except by the most strident gender police: it’s only natural for boy-things to be better than girl-things, and most people don’t assume a prurient interest in women saying that an underage male character is cute. For men to like something intended for girls, however, trips alarms for many people, even some who have managed to resist most of society’s sexist programming. The assumption is that the man already has access to superior boy-entertainment, so what reason is there to enjoy girl-entertainment? That’s where the attitude that men pursue sex comes in: people assume it must be sexual.
Of course, it doesn’t help that a small minority of bronies do have a sexual interest, but it’s a very small minority that’s actually easier to ignore than their equivalent in a lot of other fandoms.
I leave you with this image, which I’d love to credit but I have no idea where it’s from (Sailor Moon, obviously, but who added the text?):