Gatekeeping has been a significant topic in pop culture as the nerd world (and the larger society it reflects) grows more diverse. There’s been a backlash against women, PoC, LGBT+, etc. individuals and their inclusion in a traditionally cis-het, white, male geek world.
Even as these populations grow (or reveal themselves, as many have existed since geekdom began), you’ll find endless anecdotes on how they’ve been treated. FLGS employees talking down to women customers, racial and homophobic comments in multiplayer games, and even in-game rape at tabletop RPGs.
We often focus on the flagrant gatekeepers, the people who are unabashedly racist, misogynistic, or homophobic. As expected, even the most ignorant geek has no problem disavowing Neo-Nazis, sex offenders, and the like.
The threat isn’t from these blatant bigots, but instead from geeks who claim, “I’m not like that,” while simultaneously saying or doing things that reinforce the gatekeeping. These self-proclaimed “moderates,” “centrists”, “true liberals,” etc. talk about how they’re the reasonable ones, but then turn around and label people “SJWs” and “snowflakes” while spouting the same rhetoric and myths the alt-right uses.
You’ll find these people everywhere, from convention halls to gaming tournaments, and into fandoms beyond. Often, they’re single, straight white men, probably sporting fedoras (and neckbeards) while feigning some fake academic demeanor (and “chivalry” to any “females” they meet).
There’s always some excuse about how they’re not bigoted, but you are; almost always, these excuses are steeped in fallacy, delusion, and social awkwardness. They poison team chats and gaming tables with insensitive jokes or sexist behavior and then claim to be the victim when called on it.
Well, guess what: to all the fedora-tipping, “m’lady” types, you’re not a “true” liberal. You’re not a centrist. You’re not a moderate. You’re not logical or reasonable or a paragon of critical thought.
You’re an ignorant bigot, just as guilty of gatekeeping as the flagrant ones (if not more so), whether you realize it or not.
“I’m not a bigot because…”
Let’s stop this right there, because if you must explain how you’re not racist? You’re probably racist.
Having PoC or gay friends doesn’t mean anything; it just means they tolerate you as I tolerate my bible-thumping, sexist father. Of course, that’s if they even know the real you and the things you think or say.
Have you even spouted your theories or ideology to them in-person? Or do you save that for the safety from behind a keyboard and a screen name? I’m betting none of you have had the audacity to use the N-word in real life like you do online, or make a joke about transgender people in front of your LGBT+ friends.
If you have to hide your true behavior or mentality from your gaming buddies because “they wouldn’t understand,” then your ideology isn’t an inclusive one, and it certainly isn’t a “moderate” one. “Moderates” avoid extremism, they don’t hide it until they’re on the Internet or with like-minded people.
If you weren’t a bigot, you’d recognize the importance of civility and respect for fellow gamers… whether in-person or behind their back.
“You’re the one causing the divide…”
This, “I don’t see color/gender/sexual orientation,” “you’re the one bringing it up” victim-blaming BS is not a “liberal” ideology or reasonable argument. X-blindness is bigotry because your fellow gamers are different and it affects their lives.
That is why inclusion and representation in gaming keep being brought up!
When specific demographics see just as many people like them among game designers, at conventions, or on the screen? Maybe then we can all “not see X” and get along because the divide will be gone.
Until that point? The logical thing to do is to recognize our differences, listen to the groups affected, and try to fix the disparity. A “moderate” wouldn’t deny and dismiss the experiences of the disenfranchised, and claim they’re the ones causing the problem.
Also, stop practicing mental gymnastics to defend your behavior, claiming “double-standards” when called out by, well… everybody. Whining because you don’t get to use the N-word, have to stop using “gay” as a slur, or because rape isn’t funny, isn’t a “centrist” ideology – it’s a self-centered, ignorant mindset.
You’re like a pre-schooler being told to stop using potty language, share with your sister, and play nicely, throwing a temper tantrum.
“I respect women/African-Americans/LGBT…”
No, you don’t.
You put on the airs of the educated, progressive individual, accepting of everyone. You probably even display some fake Arthurian or Shakespearean Renaissance festival flourish, to show how unique and chivalrous you are.
Then you turn around and quote Milo Yiannopoulos or Jordan Peterson. You spout MRA “Red Pill” garbage about how feminism is destroying masculinity; you can’t even look (i.e. leer) at a woman without being called a creep. “Why would she dress like that if she didn’t want the attention anyway?”
You support hate speech and anti-gay business in the name of the First Amendment. Instead of defending the victims, you champion their oppressors under claims of a “war” on white heritage, Christians, and conservative values. “Just take a moment to talk with that person calling for you to be lynched and burned in Hell – otherwise you’re closed-minded.”
You believe the same myth about how medieval Europe had no PoC, so there’s no reason they should be in a fantasy game based on it. You even present the same fallacious “make your own game” argument, rather than support representation in current ones. “If you want to see black characters, go watch a show set in ancient Africa!”
If you genuinely respected other types of people, you wouldn’t defend hate groups, repeat bigoted nonsense, or try to espouse fake history to protect your precious fantasy worlds. Respect isn’t just putting on airs, it’s believing in the worth of your fellow geeks, including their representation, inclusion, and consideration.
But you’re about as much about “respect” as you are “ethics in journalism.”
“You’re the hypocrite by being intolerant!”
I don’t know how many times we have to explain Popper’s Paradox of Tolerance, but here we go again. For a society to be truly inclusive, you cannot tolerate the intolerant, and that goes double for gaming and geekdom.
- We do NOT have to tolerate your inappropriate remarks or offensive humor.
- We do NOT have to listen to your slurs or rape jokes.
- We do NOT have to accept “both sides” in an argument, when one of them is spouting ignorant, bigoted nonsense that excludes people based on their race, gender, etc.
If you don’t have a valid point, based on education, reason, and empathy? If all you have is alt-right, prejudiced rhetoric? Then you don’t belong here; there’s no room at the table, the raid team, or the con booth.
It’s not hypocrisy or a double-standard – we’re not “discriminating” against you because you have a “different opinion.” We deny you because your opinion is ignorant bullshit and has no place in a civil society (including the geek one).
And no amount of all the fallacious claims above, the “I’m not racist,” “I respect women,” “You’re the one causing the problem,” faux-centrist, anti-SJW, outrage will hide who you truly are.
I keep saying “you,” but this rant actually isn’t meant for you; there’s no way to reason with fedora-tipping, basement-dwelling, neckbeards, and you’ll just brush this off as another example of “the intolerant left” attacking them. You’ll make claims about my identity, political ideology, etc., without knowing a thing about me, or probably just dismiss this article as, “they can’t possibly be talking about me.”
This article is here to unify gamers and geeks and let them know, these fake moderates and wannabe-academicians are not conveyors of “truth” or “critical thought”. They’re just another deluded example of gatekeeping in gaming, geekdom, and society, and we see them for who they really are.
This editorial is a warning shot that we don’t have to accept or tolerate them. Our numbers are larger and growing; our beliefs stronger and more supported in reason, empathy, and civility.
Gaming and geekdom are ours and if you can’t accept concepts like diversity, social justice, and controlling your mouth?
How about you go “make your own” games or “find your own” groups.