Nov 17, 2021
7 mins read
You know what I'm tired of? Gatekeeping.
Gatekeeping everywhere. In the arts you have people who want to gatekeeping which genres count as which genres. What painting counts as art and what doesn't. In politics gatekeeping who can vote, who can marry, who gets protections of being a citizen.
Even in communities that have been repressed there's gatekeeping. This is especially notable in the LGBTQAI+ Communities where apparently if you aren't a gay white cis male at every turn there's questions of "is it just a phase?" "are you prove you're bi?" "Are you sure you are trans" I see these comments and arguments pop up constantly online over and over again.
There's literal gatekeeping in our communities. Sometimes it's behind HOAs which are designed to make people pay more for their already overly shitty expensive houses (when they aren't getting bent over by the mortgage companies) which really just has the intention of keeping the "wrong sorts out of the neighborhood" (we all know what this is code for right?). In Texas and California I've seen literal gated communities of otherwise normal neighborhoods. Not upper class, but middle income places that are behind gates because you have to block out the big bad world.
And what's the point? All this work and effort to keep something just for you? You and your chosen people?
It's fucking dumb.
I don't care if people want to keep your little exclusive club of more-nerdy or more-manly or more-gay or more whatever. Inclusive does not mean everyone wants to join up with your view point of the world. It just means they are allowed to explore a part of the world without being harassed by you about how things ought to be.
Let's give an example. Nerd culture, and I use this because there's a very convenient point of time you can point to of when things started to change. 16 years ago (2005/2006ish) I was still made fun of for liking comic books, D&D, fantasy, etc. Then 2008 happened. What was special about 2008? Comic books became cool. Well more specifically comic book characters in the form of two movies: The Dark Knight and Iron Man.
You can argue the popularity of the Blade movies or Christopher Reeve's Superman and the success (for the time) of the first X-Men and Spider-Man movies, but they were isolated successes. Yeah people saw them, enjoyed them. But coming out of Spider-Man 2 2004 I heard some kids who had just sat through 2 hours of a comic book movie making fun of the "nerds" who had been reading star wars novels well waiting for previews before the movie.
It was 2008 when you could really feel the shift in culture, because nobody had seen a dark vigilante that was as believable as the Dark Knight (argue plot holes on your own time), but the depth of the characters, the story, the portrayal by the actors made you believe that Batman was cool. In a strange juxtaposition that same year we had Iron Man, another brilliant billionaire playboy with gadgets who didn't make us feel the nihilistic view that Gotham always presents us with, but we got a cool chill Tony Stark who is as likely to get trashed with you at a karaoke bar on a Thursday night as he is to save the world.
This is the moment that nerd culture really stopped being fringe status and started to become mainstream. The same people who had made fun of me for reading comics in junior high would be at the opening night showings of the new marvel movies and talking about how bad ass it was. We got more and more of these IPs (intellectual properties) in movies but also TV shows (image Arrowverse being attempted in a pre-2008 world), more comics, websites, etc.
This is when the gatekeeping started. It's inevitable in a way that when more and more people wanna join something the people who were already there want to keep it for themselves. This is unfortunately a very humanistic response for over a million plus years when we'd try and protect our food and water for everyone else. A very vocal group of nerds, some might have been picked on, some might just be trying to act like they were to seem cool, started lashing out at anyone who stated "I like Iron Man".
We see this in video games, especially towards women. We see this in medieval martial combat competition (of all places) despite the fact that there are several women participates and one was (idk who it is now at the time of this writing) the reigning world long sword champion.
Every step of the way there's always people who want to keep others out of a culture or community. It's a poison, and it generally only serves to hurt those who are trying to be part of something they think fits them. Rejection is hard. We get rejected a lot in life, rejected by peers, crushes, social clubs.
To be excluded from being allowed to be you? To be told "you're not good enough to my standards to be apart of this?" That hurts. The person broken in this situation isn't the one being rejected, it's the people who do the rejecting.
Let's talk about another example, LGBTQAI+. Where do we even start? Some of you probably remember that about 7 years ago it wasn't legal for same-sex marriages to even happen. Some of you might remember 16 years ago that states trying to pass same-sex marriages were the odd ones. California voted for and over turn it several times because voters couldn't make up their minds. 20 years ago the only time I remember news reports was when someone was killed.
2014 the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was not prohibited by federal law. This is a very good thing. What isn't good is that when people suddenly felt free to express and be themselves there was immediate questions of just how gay or queer they were. This wouldn't be new, I think that most of us know (or experienced this personally) someone whose parents tried to insist it was just a phase or teenage rebellion or whatever.
What was new is it started to come from within the community. Oh I know it probably was there long before, but with the rise of the internet it became an amplified flash point in the community. People coming in and pretty much demanding proof that a bisexual person was actually really bi and not just gay or straight. I'm bisexual, I haven't dated or been with a man in ... five or six years. In most case I don't find most men attractive, there has to be a certain connection and quality for me to actually be attracted to them. What that is I couldn't tell you, it's just something I know when I see it. Does this make me less bi? No not at all. It might just mean my experiences are different from yours. That's okay.
I'm not going to attempt to talk about the mountain of horrific things I've seen said about Trans folk as I can't really do it justice. It's not my place, I'm not trans, and those aren't my stories to tell. Let's just say, let them be who they are and it's none of your business what's under their pants and who they sleep with or how.
This kind of gatekeeping at our levels of our society is exhausting. It's emotionally manipulative and abusive. I'm sure that someone will cleverly point out this isn't new, that blacks have been excluded from just about everything at some point in history. I know this, you know this. What needs to happen though is we need to stop saying "yeah we know" and start doing something about it. This can start by changing how you act towards people, how you phrase things. Saying "This should be the way you write a book" is condescending and insulting. "This is how I write my books, maybe it can help you too since you're having trouble with this," is inviting. I have things I can change I know. Maybe if you feel your own head is a bit lodged up your ass you can find a way to dislodge it and come along with me.
Anyways if you're still reading this rambling ranting rouse of reckless rage I hope you get my point.
Stay hydrated, get angry.