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"Gatekeeping" in the therian community
LycanTheory
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Post: #1
"Gatekeeping" in the therian community
A term that I've seen used around recently is "gatekeeping" and I'd like to reach out for some perspective as to what it is and what context it should be used.

Of course, many of us remember the days when grilling went off the rails with some folks and therians were essentially shamed or spoken down to for not rendering a textbook example of how their animal attributes matched that of their 'type. To me, this would probably be the most accurate and prominent example of gatekeeping in our community but more recently it seems to be flung around in a different context.

Most of the more recent use of the term seems to be aimed at stifling logical and intellectual discussion of topics such as the differences between therians, otherkin, fictionkin, ect. Mind you that talking about observable differences between groups of people is not offensive, invalidating or derogatory to anyone, it is simply discussing what one observes.

So... I am minded that more recent usage of the word is an attempt to chalk up mindful observations to a very vague, oversimplified term with a negative connotation because a given individual does not wish to face observations about themselves or their group that others have made.

What do you all think? What is "gatekeeping" to you and what is the proper usage for it?

Lyc

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2021-04-16 22:34
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Alliana
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Post: #2
RE: "Gatekeeping" in the therian community
I think "Gatekeeping" to me would be people shutting other people down, especially if they don't have similar views as the general collective. This could apply to really anything, I think a somewhat relaxed form would be people still welcomed but at the same time corrected for any misunderstandings they may have about the topic (like for instance, pack wolf structure for wolf therians).

Other than that, that's what I think gatekeeping should be like: A chance to inform rather than shut people out entirely. I am guilty of the latter but I am trying my best to change myself, hopefully, we'll never reach that point, and that we treat every new member the respect they deserve.

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2021-04-17 5:11
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DustWolf
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Post: #3
RE: "Gatekeeping" in the therian community
Hey,

I think this is problematic because "Gatekeeping" has an inherently negative connotation. To "Gatekeep" is similar to having a "tribalistic mindset". It's hard to portray it as a good thing when the word itself implies that it is disgraceful and wrong.

"Gatekeeping" in the conventional sense I think is simply the natural consequence of having online therian communities where the majority of members are older teens (like... ages 16 to 24). Since modern society has no satisfying ritual for becoming an adult, people feel the need to draw the line between themselves and "children". This line is the "Gates" being "kept". It is by definition subjective and arbitrary. And needless to say it does not have anything to do with Therianthropy.

It is my hope that this natural tendency can be made into something more productive, by providing people with some kind of rite of passage to fulfil their need to separate themselves from younger community members who are just "playing therian". How exactly to do this however is, shall we say, a work in progress.


All that said, there is something else that might also be called "gatekeeping", which however I see as productive. I believe personally that being honest with yourself is key to understanding your therianthropy. And I believe that a major part in being honest with yourself, is to be able to prove to yourself that your explanation for what you are (a therian?) is justified. The only way I can help someone with that, is by being the devil's advocate and saying that they are not therian or that I don't believe it. This way I provide a symbolic adversary to whom you can explain yourself -- this is an easier way of avoiding bias, than having that same conversation with yourself.

I understand this might be viewed as "gatekeeping" -- though at the same time, it is a positive and helpful thing to do. Both for the individual and for the community as a whole.

LP,
Dusty

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(This post was last modified: 2021-04-17 14:46 by DustWolf.)
2021-04-17 14:43
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Syraphin Faelad
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Post: #4
RE: "Gatekeeping" in the therian community
Gatekeeping generally means you control entry to something. While you (dusty) do get a say in how joins therian guide based on evidence presented to you. You do not govern who is therian or not.

Yes there are thoes who will jump to conclusions with out research or maybe thoes that play along with the idea for what ever reason. And I agree people can be questioned, but out of curiosity or the questioner not because the they are tied to a chair and if their answers dont meet criteria their banished.
Yes theranthropy has a basic meaning that you identify as an animal. Why does it need to be so religiously controlled that people are only considred therian based on one persons opinion. The gatekeeper
2021-04-22 11:28
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Tdae
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Post: #5
RE: "Gatekeeping" in the therian community
It seems like TG staff are doing something right in preventing the dumpster fires that I've heard about in similar communities elsewhere. There is no objective definition of therianthropy, but there must be some standards.
2021-04-22 13:43
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DustWolf
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Post: #6
RE: "Gatekeeping" in the therian community
(2021-04-22 11:28)Syraphin Faelad Wrote:  Gatekeeping generally means you control entry to something. While you (dusty) do get a say in how joins therian guide based on evidence presented to you. You do not govern who is therian or not.

I am the judge of my own opinion though I have no idea why you think I am gatekeeping TG based on who I think is a therian or not? What is this assumption of yours based on? Have you even read my post?

LP,
Dusty

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2021-04-22 16:58
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Jadeeyedwere
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Post: #7
RE: "Gatekeeping" in the therian community
(2021-04-16 22:34)LycanTheory Wrote:  Of course, many of us remember the days when grilling went off the rails with some folks and therians were essentially shamed or spoken down to for not rendering a textbook example of how their animal attributes matched that of their 'type. To me, this would probably be the most accurate and prominent example of gatekeeping in our community but more recently it seems to be flung around in a different context.

I remember those days. Part of the reason why I took so long to find my theriotype. Nothing matched perfectly I didn't take into account that each individual animal/animal person is different than the next. Just because it's "text book" doesn't mean it applies to everyone. It's text book for a doberman to be a serious, fearless, protection dog when it's really quite the opposite for most of the breed. At least the dobermans I have personally met haha! I digress. Text book doesn't make it factual for everything to be that specific way, sure there are similarities but not an exact clone of each other lol!

I personally believe "gatekeeping" is being thrown around too loosely. I have seen it more in the kinnie community when therians and otherkin attempt education. Not even being rude about it just trying to help out. I believe there is a fine line between education and gatekeeping, someone can help educate and be open minded or the person can educated but you'll also hear a lot of "you can't"s and "it's not possible"s (unless of course we're talking about the literal impossible) imo it's not that hard to point someone in the right direction than to shut the "gate" in them entirely not allowing them to learn anything from it.
2021-04-23 13:26
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elinox
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Post: #8
RE: "Gatekeeping" in the therian community
Official Merriam-Webster definition of "gatekeeper" is this: "one that tends or guards a gate or a person who controls access". Therefore, a gatekeeper is someone who controls those who may pass beyond the gate. In the case of this thread, that means online therian communities.

That being said, whoever owns/operates said forum is, by general accepted definition, the official "gatekeeper" of that forum. Logic would dictate that to run a forum, someone must be in charge to make it happen. In the case of TG, the "gatekeepers" would be the mod team because we grant access to new members, deal with problem users/breaking of rules issues, when the forum software has trouble, etc. Someone has to do it, someone has to stand watch at the wall. *shrug*

With regards to the underlying theme of gatekeeping however, people have been using the term "gatekeeping" to discern a good, intelligent place vs. a free-for-all, anything goes type place. A place with rules vs. a whatever people claim is true is true.

It's actually an age-old mentality: we have a place and you want to join our place, so you must abide by our rules, and if you don't like them, you can't come in. It's not a new concept, even here online. If you want to participate, you have to play by the rules of where you want to play. If you don't like that, you're always free to make your own place, behind your own gate. Tongue

Personally, I see the value in "gatekeeping", not as a negative thing, but rather it helps to ensure where I'm hanging out is governed by intelligent, nice people and serious discussions, and not fakers, idiots and people who have nothing in common with me.

The bottom line is the same as it's always been: if you don't like the rules behind the gate, go build your own wall.

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2021-04-23 14:57
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LycanTheory
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Post: #9
RE: "Gatekeeping" in the therian community
(2021-04-17 14:43)DustWolf Wrote:  All that said, there is something else that might also be called "gatekeeping", which however I see as productive. I believe personally that being honest with yourself is key to understanding your therianthropy. And I believe that a major part in being honest with yourself, is to be able to prove to yourself that your explanation for what you are (a therian?) is justified. The only way I can help someone with that, is by being the devil's advocate and saying that they are not therian or that I don't believe it. This way I provide a symbolic adversary to whom you can explain yourself -- this is an easier way of avoiding bias, than having that same conversation with yourself.

My approach to this is much simpler, of course.

I am minded that one of the strongest fundamentals of being a therian is a sense of empathy with how animals might feel and it seems that another common denominator of most of us is that we have the urge to express these feelings in the same way as our theriotypes.

One really can observe rather or not an individual is likely to be a therian or somewhere on the spectrum of animality by considering how they refer to and speak of non-human animals, how someone regards them.

It is much more likely that a therian would regard (at least their own type) as equal to them and afford those of their species some degree of personhood.

If someone claiming to be a therian regards their theriotype as a lesser form of life, they should probably question if they are a therian or if they're just identifying as one.

To me, there is a clear and stark contrast

While that may be a brutally honest opinion of mine which is sure to rub some the wrong way, it is not in any way applying prejudice against an individual by restricting access to anything and yet that very opinion of mine has often been labeled "gatekeeping"

Hence the thread - it seems more and more like "gatekeeping" is being used as a straw man to deflect from a point that one does not wish to consider.

Honesty - if someone does not seem to feel a sense of empathy with animals, an urge to express themselves to some degree as an animal might and they have very little in common with others who do feel these things, I don't see how they can possibly conclude "I am something" when what they are claiming to be, they are nothing like.

We cannot dictate who is and who isn't what but we can make observations and I feel it is critical to state these observations. Allowing someone to shut us down with a buzzword will firmly plant us all in a land of make-believe.

Lyc

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2021-04-23 21:18
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HoneycombPup
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Post: #10
RE: "Gatekeeping" in the therian community
I think that a lot of people tend to use "gatekeeping" as a way to fit into a label that they, by generally accepted definition, do not fall under. Therianthropy is not fully understood and we hardly have a set "definition" for it, however we can definitely tell what isnt therianthropy. Some people just arent therians. Maybe they like animals a lot, but I think most therians would agree that liking animals on its own does not make you a therian. And yet, some people, for whatever reason, want to be therian. Perhaps because they simply think it would be fun to pretend they are nonhuman, or perhaps they want to feel like they fit into a community of people who are passionate about animals, in which case, I understand. But with a thing like therianthropy, you cannot choose it, no matter how much you want to. You either are or you arent. And people dont like being told that. Certainly, theres a vast spectrum of how people experience therianthropy, and I dont intend to claim that there isnt, by the way, but as I have stated, I think most therians can agree that something such as a strong liking for animals, or even a specific animal, does not make you a therian.

I notice this in the LGBT+ community sometimes. Certain terms will be twisted around because people want to fit into it. Whats the point of having terminology and labels if they ultimately have no meaning? When you twist around a definition because it doesnt match what you want it to, whats the point of even having these words in the first place, because now no one can even agree on what that actually means. We have certain terminology and labels such as therian for a reason, and if you dont fit under the label, thats fine, but you cannot force yourself under it and just call those who call you out for it "gatekeepers".

For example, by definition, I am not black. I will never be black. Those who tell me I am not black are not gatekeeping me, they are simply telling me that I do not fit the definition of being black.

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(This post was last modified: 2021-04-23 21:56 by HoneycombPup.)
2021-04-23 21:52
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