Growing up, most people have interests that usually somewhat translate into their teenage years and sometimes even adulthood.
If not the same interest, usually a similar niche or type. It is completely natural and even scientifically recommended to have interests and hobbies.
Why, then, is there an air of judgment around certain interests, particularly surrounding gender?
The Issue of Masculine and Feminine Interests
For years, women’s interests have been ridiculed or mocked. The most recent example spans from tween-agers liking One Direction to older women enjoying Taylor Swift or Beyonce.
While it’s cringe for a woman to listen to an album on repeat and memorize its lyrics, it is passionate and admirable of a man to memorize football chants of their chosen team. While it is embarrassing for women to spend hundreds on Harry Styles tote bags and tour shirts, it is fashionable and cool for men to spend hundreds on football t-shirts in different colors and styles.
When these feminine and masculine interests blur, women are critiqued and questioned about their interest in sports or Quentin Tarantino movies. Asked ridiculous questions such as, ‘well, who plays center mid, then?’. Or told they only feel that way because of their fathers, brothers, or partners. Meanwhile, men who enjoy the more ‘feminine’ interests are labeled as feminine, made fun of, or perceived as less than. Why is gender a focus of these interests?
The real-life example happening right now is the peaked interest in American football. Due to Taylor Swift’s alleged romance with Kanas City sportsman Travis Kelce, some fans have been watching the games.
Many fans are critiquing the Swifties for showing interest in their game, and many people do not believe it is a valid reason to enjoy a game. But why does this matter?
Historically, women who expressed interest or passion in anything other than domestic responsibilities or children were marketed as ‘hysterical.’ Hysteria was a genuinely recognized mental illness that only ever applied to women. For decades, passion was only perceived as a masculine trait.
Something you only had the privilege of pursuing as a man. Otherwise, you were mentally ill and an unfit member of society, which would, in turn, bring shame upon your family. This phenomenon could be the patriarchy rearing its ugly head once again, affecting day-to-day life and ruining something as positive and wholesome as hobbies and interests.
As for criticism of the gender interests intervening, this again is most likely the result of the patriarchy being unable to deal with interests that are not binary to a masculine or feminine person. Patriarchy-wise, as a woman, you are supposed to like what you like, although they will make fun of you for it.
Either way, it is safer to let everyone enjoy what they enjoy. As long as they are not harming themselves or anyone else, it is a healthy, natural, human way to live. People should be allowed to sing their praises and enjoy themselves in a Harry Styles or a football match.