Discriminating taste: maintaining gendered social hierarchy in a cross-demographic fandom

Kyra Hunting, Rebecca C. Hains

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


To explore the role of hierarchical taste culture discourses in cross-gender media fandoms, this article considers “Bronies,” the adult, largely male fandom of girls’ animated series My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. This fandom’s presence has often been identified as a significant gender taste norm violation with positive feminist implications. The authors’ open-ended qualitative survey of 2915 Bronies reveals this fandom extensively uses discourses of “quality” and hierarchical value to legitimate their interest in the series, and that in articulating its value, the fan culture reinscribes taste and gender hierarchies. Our findings show that by deploying masculinized taste norms, Bronies maintain traditional taste hierarchies within their gender-atypical fandom and marginalize the very audience and viewing culture from which My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic originated. Rather than indicating an open-minded, stereotype-defying attitude toward girls’ media culture more broadly, fans often articulate the series’ value by denigrating other girls’ media texts. While unexpected fandoms may support cross-demographic viewing, we argue that these fandoms can nonetheless maintain gendered taste hierarchies that have marginalized women and are not as feminist as they appear at first glance.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)542-557
Number of pages16
JournalFeminist Media Studies
Issue number4
StatePublished - May 19 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Bronies
  • My Little Pony
  • Taste
  • fandom
  • gender
  • girls’ media
  • Children and youth
  • children's media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Communication
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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