So often I’m met by people who feel they don’t belong in the geek community. People who are quirky, different and interesting but don’t feel welcomed, either online or in person. I’m here to tell you – your perceived “geekiness” is not a measure of you as a person, and your opinion is just as valid as anyone else’s despite how much gatekeeping there is. Here’s why…
Picture the scene; I’m sat at a retro gaming event – minding my own business, kicking my boyfriend’s ass on an old driving game. Suddenly my luck turns, and I’m left in the dust – one wrong move and boom, my winning streak is over. I hear footsteps… Someone hovering behind me says “So, who’s winning?” Before I can answer, he continues, “Oh, of course the guy is. Well you know, you are a girl so…”
So I punched him square in the face. (Just kidding.)
I let it slide that time, but he just kept coming back. Whatever I played, he was there telling me how I wasn’t doing it right. Him distracting me made me lose my cool and it was an instant rage quit for me. I didn’t play a single other game and didn’t speak to anyone else that night- I was so ready to go home. All because of his opinion that you can’t possibly be enjoying yourself unless you’re winning, and you can’t possibly be winning if you’re a girl.
Another instance is when I mention in passing how much I love anime, or I love video games, or comic books… and straight away the accusing tone and the incessant questioning begins. You like it… but how MUCH do you like it? Could you recite every characters’ origin stories? Could you name this minor character from this obscure episode? Have you taken in every single moment and read the accompanying books? This is what I would determine as gatekeeping.
I feel like this happens in so many communities – but particularly in the geek community. Could it be that I like these things… but I don’t have the time to dedicate my life solely to learning about the subject with all my other hobbies? Could it be that I nerd out over something else that you don’t like? Or I fluke my way through when it comes to driving games, but I kick ass at FPS (First Person Shooters)?
Oh this obscure reference? You’ve probably never heard of it…
With the rise of geekiness in mainstream community, people always feel the need to check the “validity” of whether you’re geeky or not. I’ve even started my own geek group in my local community, in the hope that we will meet each other and discuss our passions, our visions and our geekiness, without the feeling that we need to prove ourselves. Pay the gatekeepers no mind; they’re not worth the time it takes to try to prove yourself right.
Honestly, I feel people need to be more accepting of fellow geeks, whatever they love. Whether that’s a casual Star Wars watcher, to a comic book collector, from self-proclaimed bookworm to elite video game athlete… Embrace one another’s quirks, expand your own horizons and enjoy our differences. After all, it’s our differences that made us geeks in the first place.
Have you ever come across gatekeeping while you’re branching out into the geek world? How did you overcome it?
9th July 2019
Great post, and a subject I have been intending to write about at some point in the near future as an accompaniment to my responsible roleplaying post I did a wee while back. Not because I have ever suffered from it but because I see it too often and feel like I should announce my position on it as I hope it can make a difference in the long term
9th July 2019
That’s fantastic, John! Will be sure to give that a read
9th July 2019
This is me all over! I feel like I’m a little bit of a geek about some things, but not enough to call myself an actual geek.
I don’t often like to say that I like certain things in case people start asking questions I can’t answer and then think I’m not a ‘proper’ fan!
I’m glad it isn’t just me that feels like this!
9th July 2019
Aww thank you for your comment, Kayleigh. You’re not alone! X
11th July 2019
Oh definitely, being a woman means proving oneself as a gamer, as a geek constantly. It isn’t even just us fans that get it; one of the main DC writers had a guy do it to her on twitter.
Gaming wise it’s less gatekeeping and more sexism – until I walk into a game store. If I go in with my fiance you can bet that they talk to him and not me. Girls, don’t play video games right?
For me the biggest gate keeping is with fashion and companies; the amount of geeky clothing items available for men and boys, compared to women is ridiculous. Go to any UK high street store and you’ll find Star Wars or comics t-shirts in those sections and women get Disney princesses, maybe Harry Potter and on very few occasions Wonder Woman.
19th July 2019
OMG, that experience must have been so infuriating. Made me super annoyed just reading it xD
Also reminds me of this CollegeHumor video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sf0_PnQV3Fs
I feel like I probably have experienced some sort of gatekeeping, particularly as a female, but can’t recall any specific incidents…
24th July 2019
Yes! The questions thing worries me the most because I have a crappy memory, especially for small details like names and things. Someone can say their name and 5 minutes later I’ve already forgotten it.
A wider example is that I love the Marvel movies but I’ve never read a single comic in my life (they’re expensive and I wouldn’t know where to start) so I sort of think does that make me not a real fan?