Gatekeepers of the Galaxy
There’s no such thing as a fake geek girl
“F*ck you for buying chibi xenomorphs,” read the Reddit notification that blared across my phone’s lock screen. For those of you who don’t speak geek, a chibi is a style of collectible figurine characterized by a large head, squat body, and broad legs, and a xenomorph is the titular monster of the Alien series.
I was bewildered at first, mistaking it for a trending topic. Then I realized that it was a comment on an old post in which I’d shared photos of my extensive collection of figurines and memorabilia related to the Alien franchise.
Normally I don’t engage random rude comments, but today I was feeling feisty, so I told him his opinion of my collection didn’t matter and went on with my life. Or, I tried to. Over the next 20 minutes, the commenter unleashed an increasingly sexist and rapey tirade, blowing up my phone with notifications until I finally muted them. The basis of his at-times incoherent ranting was that my possession of the chibi xenomorph figurines in said collection suggested that I was not a true fan, especially not as a “girl.” And I should listen to him because he’s the “world’s leading xenomorph expert.” (Snort.) And something-something my puss something-something. Honestly, I quit reading at that point.
I was initially a little hot in the face at the random insults, but my anger was quickly replaced by intrigue. I’d finally had the fabled encounter with a particular breed of Redditor I’d been warned about: the fedora-wearing, ultra-sexist, entitled geek who can’t stand that women on the internet don’t conform to their views. Not only that, he was a gatekeeper.
Gatekeeping refers to the practice of ranking fans of a book, movie, game, or franchise as either “true” or not. Gatekeepers think of themselves as bearing the correct opinion of pop culture and insist that others memorize a vast amount of trivia (even if they themselves don’t do so) in order to prove their fandom.
What gatekeeping reveals in its perpetrators is the ultimate attitude of entitlement.