Yesterday, I was procrastinating on Pinterest when I came across this pin:
(Yes, I did go all the way back through my browser history to find that. Also, we’re going to ignore the poor text editing.)
Of course, this is just one of many pictures just like this. If you searched “nerd girl problem” on the internet, you’d end up with a plethora of images very similar to the one above. I’ve seen them dozens of times, and to be honest, I think they’re ridiculous and usually ignore them. However, I came across this one in particular, and something about it rubbed me the wrong way.
But before I talk about this, let’s talk about gatekeeping.
This term has a wider usage in relation to the control of information, but for the sake of this blog post, I’m going to define it in terms of geekdom and the like. Basically, gatekeeping is when someone excludes someone else from a fandom because they don’t meet arbitrary requirements. To use a generic example: “You’re not a TRUE Doctor Who fan if you haven’t seen every episode since 1963!”
Most commonly, gatekeeping happens to women. Thankfully, this doesn’t seem to be as common as it once was, since geekery is becoming more widely accepted in general. However, it still happens – women are called “fake geek girls” if they can’t name every character from the Star Wars expanded universe, or assumed to only be into the Geeky Thing because of their husband or boyfriend.
Now of course, that is completely ridiculous, but again, that’s not the point. So many people have talked about men excluding women from fandoms before, so I’ll save that for another day. Instead, I want to focus on another form of this phenomenon.
Geek girls, we’ve been gatekeeping against our own.
The picture above proves it. Perhaps it’s not as pervasive as other forms of gatekeeping but it still happens. You would think that after all of the fandom discrimination we’ve been putting up with, we’d be at least a little bit more accepting of geek girls who perhaps aren’t as knowledgeable about the same subjects as we are.
We’ve all done this, perhaps not outright, but we’ve all done it. I’m guilty of it too – there was one specific incident a few years ago, when I found out one of my friends enjoyed The Legend of Zelda. Partly as a joke, and partly because I wasn’t sure I believed this friend, I asked her, “Which one’s Link and which one’s Zelda?” (For those who don’t know, the two characters are commonly confused for each other).
I thought about it later, and I felt really stupid. I shouldn’t have asked my friend to prove she was a “true fan,” I should’ve just been thankful I had a friend who enjoyed something I also enjoyed! There shouldn’t be requirements for someone to like something, they should just be allowed to like it.
I get it, sometimes it is frustrating when someone doesn’t have the same level of appreciation that you have for a Geeky Thing. You think that after all of the time and effort you’ve dedicated to learning about the Geeky Thing, everyone else should have to do the same! But instead of completely excluding them from the Geeky Thing altogether – which really doesn’t help the situation at all – encourage them to learn more.
My response to the picture then would probably be something like this: Instead of getting annoyed when your friends think the actors in The Avengers are attractive, start a conversation with them. “Yeah, the way Chris Evans plays Captain America is great. You should really watch the other Captain America movies, you get a better sense of his character and backstory, and they’re great films!”
And you know what? If the person isn’t really interested in the Geeky Thing, that’s okay too. Everyone has different preferences and hobbies. Some people (like me) have an unnatural amount of Pokémon facts stored in their heads. Some people have read The Hunger Games dozens of times, others can tell you everything about the Star Trek universe, and still others are in fandoms no one’s ever heard of, but you better believe they’re gonna learn everything they can about that Geeky Thing.
My point is, ladies, we need to stop the Geek Girl hate. Let’s be welcoming of our friends into our fandoms, and not shove them out because they don’t know everything from the get-go. Geekery is great, because it gives people something to bond over. Let’s not turn it into something we divide over.
Thoughts? Questions? Should I blog about geek stuff more often? Any tips for welcoming new geeks to fandoms? I’d love to hear what you have to say in the comments below!
Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you next time!