When I was about to start third grade, my dad got me a used bike with a fresh coat of paint. A major’s son who was temporarily in the same housing we were in came over and scratched up all the paint, telling everyone that the bike looked “too nice for an enlisted man’s son.” He was not disciplined for it.
That was my introduction to gatekeeping — people deciding that I had no right to speak, to be heard or to even be if I wasn’t on their terms. Sometimes it is because I’m just a kid who lives in the trailer park. Sometimes for other reasons.
I recently had a friend who experienced something similar. I’m quoting him, anonymously, but with permission:
Just shoot me now. Ugh.
Guy on FB talking about a condition he knows nothing about. I point out he’s wrong. He says I am “privileged” and what would I know. I point out that I actually have the condition he is talking about and verify he does not have said condition.
I point out he cannot possibly understand actually having the condition and me as someone who has the condition disagrees with his assessment.
Think that would be the end of it? Think an apology and “hey thanks I learned something new from someone who actually knows? Of course not. I get a lesson in all the illogical facilities he’s been using and now accused me of.
Even a “Look, I have this and you do not” doesn’t help.
Fricking TKX’s insisting they are “kind” to the very people they think they are helping even when those people say directly to them “this is not helping. Please stop.”
Nothing like being told by someone who has no idea who you are that you are wrong about you. lol
My friend has a health condition. Someone else wants to claim virtue for “helping” people with that condition and to claim a deeper understanding of the condition than my friend has. When my friend tells the guy that that guy isn’t helping, the guy’s response is that the guy is a gatekeeper entitled to tell anyone — including people with the condition — what the real facts are.
Often the person who claims to be a gatekeeper claims higher status, often from being an academic or the member of the right social circle. That status entitles them to control and to make determinations that others are not entitled to make.
I’ve seen it in a number of circumstances.
I was about to make a list, and it hit me that there is no way to make a list that doesn’t insult some well meaning person.
So, instead, I thought I’d ask our readers about their encounters with gatekeepers.
Have you ever had anyone tell you that you were not entitled to talk on a subject because you had not passed muster with someone who felt entitled to be a gatekeeper?
Share your story.