Being both a woman and a nerd can be an incredibly irritating experience. From overly sexualized comic and video game characters to the absence of any representation at all, there are many annoyances that go with the territory. Not least of these is the treatment of us by male nerds, including one particularly insulting example: gatekeeping.

Gatekeeping is when someone harasses another person because they do not meet their standards of being a fan of some film, show, comic, etc. It is most common with movie and comic book franchises that could be considered nerdy. Gatekeeping often entails a barrage of obscure questions which the other person is expected to answer without flinching. The questions will most likely continue until one is answered incorrectly. A girl may have read "The Lord of the Rings" five times, but if she can’t speak Elvish, then she is obviously an imposter in the eyes of the guy interrogating her. I myself even have apprehensions about wearing my Captain America shirt around campus because my knowledge of the comic may not be far-reaching enough for some. Of course, this happens to men, too, but it is not nearly as likely that a man wearing a Batman shirt will be stopped in the middle of his walk to class to answer a question about his opinion on the most obscure issue of the comic in the way that a woman would be. There is no danger in having interests that are simply casual rather than all-consuming if you are a man.

This relates to the idea of the “fake geek girl” stereotype wherein men claim that women are only feigning interest in these topics to impress men. These boys whine about wanting a scarcity of nerdy girls and then complain when either they are thrown into the “friend zone” (another dangerous idea) or the girl does not meet their standards. It is most likely a defense mechanism against their own self-imposed beliefs that girls won’t be interested in them because they are nerds. If only these boys could realize that it isn’t their Pokémon card or comic book collection that makes them off-putting — it’s their attitude. So they preemptively attack women with false entitlement and self-confidence. This inflated ego and belief that they hold the rights both to the fandoms they enjoy and the women they want is disgusting. So, ladies, wear your Superman shirts with confidence regardless of your fandom knowledge, knowing instead that boys are simply afraid of you.