You shall not pass

An exploration of gatekeeping

It doesn't matter how advanced technology gets; there are some things human beings will always do. As Mark Twain famously said, the only certainties in life are death, taxes and gatekeeping.

The act of policing certain hobbies, interests, careers or groups, gatekeeping is thriving in the online world.

If you grew up female and ever dared to stray from your engendered path of taking part in traditionally feminine activities, then you'll know what I mean. Young girls are told that they can't actually be fans of sports, nerd culture or gaming, while they are also ridiculed for enjoying the things that are traditionally attributed to them.

The other side of the gatekeeping discussion is the notion that traditionally male interests, hobbies and professional spaces are seen as ‘higher brow’ than those typically associated with women and girls. Being interested in football is seen as a legit hobby that we, as women, must make concessions for. But a passion for make-up, for example, is childish or even pathetic.

There’s really no one done worse by the system than teenage girls - it really is a lose-lose situation. You either aren’t allowed to enjoy something because of your gender, or you are told that the thing you enjoy is pathetic because of your gender. It really is a minefield.

Gatekeeping at work

Even now as I sit on the fringe of 30, I experience gatekeeping, particularly from a professional standpoint. As you probably know, I run a copywriting and web design company with my other half, Craig. While I have experiences in both disciplines, Craig is the stronger writer and I typically lean into the design and development areas of the business.

Yet most of the time when we meet with a new (typically male) prospect to discuss building them a new website, they will direct technical questions towards Craig, rather than me.

On one occasion, a client rolled his eyes when I was talking, interrupted me repeatedly and even rang me to explain how MX records work… despite me having several years under my belt building client websites, he didn’t seem to understand that I, a 29-year-old woman, could be fully capable of setting up his DNS settings without him losing access to his email. I dread to think how women in actual technical roles deal with this shit (if you are one, hit me up - I would love to interview you about this).

As usual, this issue is a stream of consciousness about something that’s on my mind. I don’t have a real conclusion other than to say to all my ladies/fem-presenting folk that it’s fine to like whatever you want, and you don’t have to justify your interests or give your CV to be respected in your field. Equally, if you are a man, then try to be aware of how you treat women in male-dominated spaces - make them feel welcome and let them be.

As always, you can find me on Twitter @ContentByTheSea or reply to this email to chat in confidence.

📚 Wonderland by Juno Dawson - A fun and sometimes dark story of a young girl falling down the rabbit hole of the London elite.

🎧 Dave - We’re All Alone In This Together - Mercury Music Prize winner Dave is back with his second album and it doesn’t let us down.

📺 Andrew Callaghan and the rest of the Channel 5 team are back from learning how to be pick-up artists… now they’re visiting the Q Conference. Another wild journey - I love this channel so much.

That’s all from me this week! See you next week - don’t forget to pop over to say hello on Twitter.

Enjoyed this? You might like these past issues:

28 July: Recharging your mental battery

21 July: How much is too much to share

14 July: We’ve got to talk about Twitter

7 July: Meet my poison parrot

30 June: Memes are the best medicine

23 June: Backup plan

17 June: The sun always shines on TV

10 June: Practical tips for panicky people

3 June: Sciatica strikes back

26 May: Looking after yourself is hard