When I first started watching CHIKARA, a friend of mine offered to lend me his collection of DVDs so I could catch up. He began going through the storylines, filling in the history, trying to make sure I knew as much as possible about all of it before I got any further into it.
Now, usually I’m a completist. Let’s be real here. Words and phrases that have been used to describe me, with varying degrees of accuracy from people with varying degrees of affection for me, include “obsessive”, “nerdy”, “control freak” – ploughing through dozens of DVDs to watch something I love seems right in my wheelhouse.
I never felt like that about CHIKARA, though. I didn’t need to instantly begin to fill the gaps, to make myself as knowledgeable as possible as quickly as possible, to make myself a “better” or “more real” fan, to make myself worthy of being part of the Chikarmy.
And that interested me from an objective point of view. In my academic life, my thesis was on female soccer fans in England; and one of my arguments there was that in such a macho environment, women find themselves asked to prove their fandom again and again and again, in a way that men aren’t. There are trivia quizzes, there are interrogations of attendance, there are comments about appearance and “which player do you fancy, then?”. Fighting one’s corner is stupid, and exhausting; but so often necessary.
But it wasn’t that way with CHIKARA. I fell in love head over heels and that was it. CHIKARA asks for nothing more from me. The fact that I love it is enough. And it loves me too. Read the rest of this entry »