The truth is that teen culture is not homogenous—and neither is fangirl culture. Teenagers are complicated and complex, and they behave differently in different contexts. The average teenager who goes to a Five Seconds of Summer concert and screams her head off is actually capable of writing an essay on the political situation in the Gaza Strip the next day. She’s capable of liking Taylor Swift and disliking heels, of deploying a Twitter hashtag or helping out a charity drive, of loving Twilight and hating Fifty Shades of Grey. She contains multitudes.
At what point does the inner life of teenagers, as expressed routinely and normally through the naturally hyperbolic language of Tumblr culture, become accessible enough to the rest of us for us to stop treating them as foreign bodies? The answer to this question affects our ability to tackle the problems teens face fairly and without hyperbole. On the subject of fangirls, it’s even more important to acknowledge that empowered female spaces are what give adolescent women the capacity to fight back against a society that constantly seeks to disempower them, and worse, to sexually objectify them. Until that empowerment becomes the default, it’s probably safe to assume that there’s an entirely different reason fangirls scream: They do it because they know that when it comes to public perception of their identities, they’re fighting a losing battle.