For most of their existence, fandoms—communities in which fans of games, books, shows, or pop culture write and speak together about the content they love—have been traditionally male. At least the men are the only ones who have had any visibility, anyway. But now, women are becoming a visible stronghold in fandoms through media, content, merchandise, and entrepreneurship.
Currently, 85% of consumer purchases are made by women. That’s a lot. Given their spending power, it means something when women enter into spheres they have not previously occupied (or been allowed to occupy, as the case may be). It only makes sense that much of the money spent on fan items is spent by women, and it also makes sense that women are the ones profiting from fan merchandise and clothing.
One of the best-known fan companies run by women is Her Universe, which sells an exclusive line of licensed clothing and items for women. Since 2011, the company has represented one of the loudest voices for women in the industry. The company was even founded by a woman in the industry: Ashley Eckstein, who voiced the young Jedi Asoka Tano in Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Her Universe sells products from Marvel, Doctor Who, Star Trek, and other major fanbases tailored to female buyers. Her Universe receives millions of dollars in yearly sales.
“Female fans are bullied shamefully, especially online,” Eckstein says. “Fandom needs to be inclusive of everyone. Our goal with Her Universe is to create a community where everyone feels welcome.” She also hopes that the company will be able to expand to offer a platform for female fiction writers.
But it isn’t just Her Universe and other indie brands that are now marketing to women. Earlier this year, Hasbro received criticism for not offering toys created in the likeness of Star Wars’ Rey. More criticism was lambasted after an unidentified official from the company said, “We know what sells. No boy wants to be given a product with a female character on it.” Hasbro does now offer toys made in Rey’s likeness, responding to consumers who increasingly want to see more female representation in fandoms.
These days, a majority of people who attend comic conventions and fandom celebrations are women. Products for—and by—women are cropping up everywhere in the market as women make a place for themselves in the industry. That’s progress, folks—and let’s hope we all see some more of it.