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Defending the place of fangirls in Formula One

Written by Dieuanh Nguyen, Edited by Megan Hill

When paired together, the words fangirl and Formula One do not receive the most positive reaction, in fact, the reaction is notably negative. This is largely because of the stigma around being a girl in a male dominated sport - as well as the already negative reputation of fangirls in pop culture.

On social media, fans can be quick to bash on young girls interested in Formula One, making comments such as “Oh, she must watch Formula One because she finds the drivers attractive”, or “She probably just watches for the drama.” The blatant sexism shown through these comments is not the only problem, though. The content of these comments is usually false, with girls already proving their worth in motorsports many times over.

Fangirls have played a huge role in marketing Formula One to a larger and younger audience in recent years. In fact, it can be argued that without the influence of these girls, the sport would not have been able to reach its current demographic pool.

One example of the impact created by girls can clearly be seen through social media platforms, such as TikTok. Some of the most popular and well trusted F1 content creators are girls. Users such as @f1toni, @f1elly, and @lissiemackintosh are great examples of this. These girls have proven to have massive knowledge of the technical and serious side of Formula One, while also creating fun and engaging content for their viewers to enjoy.

Their influence reaches so far that some Formula One teams, such as Red Bull and Aston Martin, have partnered with these girls in order to market and advertise their teams to the audience new to Formula One.

F1 Elly | Instagram

However, despite the positive impact that fangirls have had on growing the popularity of the sport, they are still not taken seriously and are disrespected. In some cases, girls are thrown insults online through hateful comments and messages.

Through personal experiences and anecdotes from similar peers, comments questioning the validity of a girl’s knowledge and understanding of motorsports are not uncommon. For some girls, it could even be normal for them to receive this type of criticism.

Some people tend to believe that girls are only interested in Formula One because of the physical attractiveness of drivers, and though there are female fans who do fit this description, it is the minority and this misconception should not be used against the majority. Girls are just as likely to be interested in the technical and competitive side of Formula One compared to boys.

Unfortunately, in other extreme cases of disrespect, fangirls were harassed at races. A recent example of this that has come to light is the experience of one girl at the Formula One Austrian Grand Prix: At the race, a girl was sexually harassed by two drunk fans who lifted her dress up, telling her she didn’t deserve respect, just because she was a Lewis Hamilton fan. This act was clearly fueled by sexism, and not team rivalry.

Though the Formula One organization has put out a statement condemning this behavior, it appears that they have taken no action towards actually eliminating this type of behavior. If the abuse and harassment towards fangirls is not put to a stop, then how can Formula One claim itself to be a diverse sport?

Fangirls have had an enormous influence over the resurgence of popularity for Formula One, and they need to be respected for it. They deserve a better reputation than the one that they have been given by the community.

1 comment

1 Comment

Aug 15, 2022

I wish the article would've gone into more detail. It is a very important topic and one which needs to be talked about. Unfortunately I didn't learn anything new.

Maybe this article can be the opener for a series of articles about the changing demographics of the F1 fanbase.

How does F1 compare to other sports? How much has the demographics changed? Which fanbase is generating which amounts of revenue or marketing exposure. Are there any numbers regarding the fanbase of individual drivers and the demographics behind these?

What can be done to limit unacceptable behaviour?

Additionally: Is there more hostility between the fans as of lately in general (again comparisons to other sports would be interesting).

Why are fanboys…

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