Awesome teen girls create fandom for British politician

Ed Miliband as Superman

There are few things I love more than articles defending teenage girls

, who, let's face it, are disproportionally disparaged by our society for pretty much no reason at all. And Elizabeth Minkel's latest on The New Statesmen not only defends young women, it also explores a fascinating new Internet subculture: the online fandom for British politician Ed Miliband.

Apparently the Labour leader is rather awkward public figure, which makes it even more charming that a semi-ironic #Milifandom has sprung up to honor him the way fans might honor Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, or One Direction.

Minkel notes that many of the young women participating in this "fandom" aren't old enough to vote and showing their support online is pretty much the only way they can participate in the political discussion.

The fandom's 17-year-old founder Abby tweeted this:

And apparently her strategy is working. The whole thing has been getting enough attention over in England that Miliband was asked about it in an interview. He explained, "I'm definitely blushing now…I certainly wouldn't claim to be cool… I've never been called that."

And Miliband ever reached out to Abby on Twitter:

Minkel writes:

Anyone who's surprised by enthusiasm teenage girls have for political issues probably hasn't spent much time around teenage girls – and certainly doesn't spend much time in the social media spaces teen girls occupy. Politics on Tumblr can turn into a punch line at times, but there's no other place online as progressive and engaged: it's a social network full of women on a mission to educate themselves and others and to collectively fight against the injustices of the world. You can spread a political message with a lecture, or you can do it with a bit of fun and a few animated gifs – or, for maximum impact, you can employ both. The language of the social web doesn't change the substance of its ideas, no matter how foreign these posts might look to you.

It might have all just been a light-hearted joke that led to a great set of memes. Or it might be a way for young people to engage with politics, on their own terms, in their own language. It certainly gave Ed Miliband a chance to become a little more "relatable" – and a little (lot) more charmingly embarrassed that people fancy him. If social media is a democratising force, then kudos to the leader that can embrace it on its own terms – and take on all our heart-eye emojis with genuine gratitude.

Read the full article at The New Statesmen.