Edit: I keep adding more stuff to the bottom as discussion points cross my feed as well as made some clarifications in my original post (it was late last night when I was getting ranted to by a dear Lochacian friend so things got muddy on my end as well.)
I am nearly permabanned from Facebook at this point thanks to the ridiculous reporting attack that went down right after my elevation that followed me onto my new account, but you can’t ban me from speaking my mind on my blog. So sit the hell down and listen:
It is not period to choose sovereigns by right of arms.
I know, I know, “But that’s not what the game was founded on!”
We’ve changed a lot since the 60s. The women aren’t wearing Gunne Sax and calling it “garb” for one, and two, the SCA has developed into a much larger more inclusive society EXCEPT FOR THIS.
I have no issue with heavy combat crown tournaments, but I do think that we’re way overdue to look at mixing it up. This post is about the labels we attach to our tradition, and why they are problematic, though.
No, you are not permitted to get in my face about this. I see you (nondescript you) and the way you’re treating people on Social Media right now and it is not a good look. “You’re not a fighter!” No, I do not fight in the SCA anymore because I do not have the time or physical capacity to do so. I have been authorized in both heavy combat and rapier combat, in addition to being a black belt in TaeKwonDo and having been practicing martial arts in some respect for nearly 30 years at this point. Do not cast aside my “Well you aren’t wearing spurs so your opinion doesn’t matter, you snarky little Laurel”. I see you. If you’re so big and bad, drop the sword and board and join me in the TKD ring. It’s been a hot minute since I fought in a national championship but I can still hold my own. I’ve kicked heads in camp at Pennsic.
Oh, you won’t. Why? “It’s not my element and it’s not fair.” You’re right, it isn’t. Much like heavy combat in the SCA is not the element for most participants, and it’s, indeed, not fair. But it’s also not fair to say that folks should not have thoughts on something when they aren’t combatants.
The Chivalry has the privilege of being the “most equal” of the peerages. I have no qualms saying that out loud because it’s true and I’ve had multiple knights and MoAs tell me the same. When you threaten their elevated pillar over the other bestowed peerages, they back into a corner and lash out like terrified house cats, and this is the reason why. We cannot in good faith offer an egalitarian experience if we do not have ways to make participation equal. Period. That’s it, that’s the tea.
No wait, no, that’s not -actually- the tea. I’m still boiling that water, so buckle up.
“The SCA is really a Victorian King Game and we should continue that tradition!”
Sure, let me, with my 2.5 history degrees, unpack this nonsense.
The Victorians -ruined- the Middle Ages and subsequent modern perception thus. The Victorians gave us the myths of damsels in distress, knights in shining armor, Pre-Raphaelite over romanticism and faux history designed for the purpose of the subjection of women, children, LGBTQ+, and POC. There. There it fucking is, isn’t it? The Anglo-American Victorian Period was rooted in white supremacy, and these “king games” were part of them. We modern classical and medieval historians are still working to unravel myths of medieval individuals not bathing thanks to the absolute abhorrent mess the Victorian “historians” created.
“Tradition” is a nice word that means you’re letting dead people tell you what to do. In this case, the “dead people” in question were using colonialism, white supremacy based on horrifically bad early anthropology theory, and sweeping dead children riddled with tuberculosis out of the gutter after they worked 18 hour shifts for quarter wage to justify the Smithian and Malthusian virtues of classical liberalism’s “invisible hand of the free market.” So maybe, just fucking maybe, we shouldn’t be putting this asinine period, during which the United States still permitted slavery for most of, on its own pedestal. The Middle Ages had their own issues, but we cannot recreate “the Middle Ages as they should have been” while touting that our organization is literally an echo of one of the most oppressive centuries in world history. If any of you supporting this theory have spent more than breathing on a Wikipedia page’s worth of reading on the Victorian period and its treatment of medievalism, you wouldn’t want to be waving this flag. Period. For a group of people who purport themselves to be belonging to an educational group, you’re really bad at educating yourselves.
This brings me to the boiling point before I pour that tea.
What did we do to disabled individuals during the Victorian period? The same thing the SCA is doing now: ignoring them. While care was not exactly great in the Middle Ages, disabled individuals usually found support in the family unit or community. The Victorians would throw them away and lock them up if they could afford it. Otherwise, they were unalived in a variety of ways such as drowning, falling, or just…”He went for a walk and didn’t come home. Pass the tea, old horse.”
The entire premise of the Lochac proposal was to create an avenue to be more inclusive of those that cannot physically fight for whatever reason (update: It was even less rigid, they just asked to be able to choose their own crown formats). Two sovereign nations, Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand, came to an agreement for the betterment of their own kingdom literally on the other side of the planet from North America, that this was what they wanted to do. They proposed it using disability as the example, and suggested that Lochac, being distant and away from the “core” kingdoms of the US and Canada, be a great testing grounds for this new idea, and the North American BoD couldn’t be arsed to give them a better answer than “Not right now.”
Okay but why? Where is the rest of the answer? Is the rest of the answer, “We are going to start developing this so standby”, or is it actually what I think it is, a shrieking harmony of toxic masculinity and ableism disguised as “tradition”? This is not a good look for the United States, but it’s also expected. We’ve managed to really show our asses in the last few years.
If you want the Victorian Interpretation of the Middle Ages As they Should Have Been, then I definitely recommend cooling down the ableism, racism, sexism, and all the other -isms that make it all 100% still Very Victorian Middle Ages As They Were, only with Less Consumption and More Covid. They also wouldn’t stand for any personae from Ireland, Italy, or Eastern Europe. In fact, Jewish personae need not apply either. Orthodox, Catholics and Jews go home, totally. The problematic term “Anglo-Saxon” is also 100% Victorian, and was used then, as it is now, as an avenue to promote white supremacy to support colonialism.
Or, you know, stop using the Victorian excuse. I’m sick of it, just tell us you don’t want to be inclusive of disabled individuals and would rather have the whispers of racist dead white men in your ears telling you what to do than make a fresh attempt at being inclusive.
There’s a good chance most people pining for the romanticized Victorian Middle Ages have no idea what they’re espousing, but they need to knock it off.
That, my friends, is the hot tea.
The SCA is in trouble as it is on the recruitment and retention front, a great deal of this has to do with the le Ancien Scadien Regime touting their sad devotion to their ancient traditions, but also because of inaccessibility, racism, and just you know, wow, there’s a lot of Nazis. White supremacists are not as dumb as we want them to be. They see and hear this “Victorian King Game” and connect the dots of all the points I made above, and we all know how they feel about the disabled, queer, and POC folks that already struggle to be seen in our game. We should stop inviting them to play. I had hoped they would have all left to go to the SMA, but alas, we have so many missing stairs newcomers are falling to their demise before reaching their AoA.
Either we’re an inclusive society that wants to recreate the Global Middle Ages, or, we’re a pseudo-Victorian society upholding dangerous ideals disguised as a historical education society.
Choose wisely, SCA.
Addendums based on what I’m seeing on Social Media, since I can’t post. I’m updating as I see more talking points.
I think that Milpitas should let Lochac give it a shot. If it doesn’t work, then we go back to heavy combat crowns. No harm, no foul. But the Palatine Barony of the Far West and Western Seas has a rotation scheme for choosing their baronage. I fail to see why this can’t be implemented as a crown format either. Nobody says it will never be fighting again ever, all folks want to do is make the experience more inclusive, which I see a lot of push back on in the form of “The SCA doesn’t have to be everything to everyone.” Um, that’s literally what inclusivity is. That’s a fancy sentence for, “I don’t want somebody disabled in charge for 4-6 months.”
I should note that the Palatine Barony is starting to fall apart with lots of inactive pockets due to a lack of support for the military community from the SCA as a whole but *sips tea* I know jack about that, I suppose.
I also see a lot of very odd mental gymnastics in regard to, “This is what we were founded as, therefore…” by the same people who will argue tooth and nail about interpreting the US Constitution and what the Founding Fathers would have wanted. This is only coming from the Americans, not the Australians, Kiwis, Canadians, or Europeans. In my opinion, it’s the same thing. If you can argue that the interpretation of the US Constitution should change with time, then SCA Corpora should be given the same respect. Don’t say, “This is how we did it in the 1960s” for the SCA, turn around, and argue about making the amendment for term limits for Congress in the same breath. You look dumb. Also, so are term limits, but this is an SCA blog, not a political one. Anybody who follows me on FB has gotten that well-documented screed enough.
The whole thing is a power grab, period. Not by the Chivalry, but by older members who refuse to let go. It’s like watching a professor who should have retired 20 years ago continue to hold onto a chaired seat just to refuse it to a younger generation who challenged their scholarship.
DEI is not just about BIPOC and LGBTQ+ members, I can’t believe I have to keep repeating this because it makes me sound whataboutist, but that’s just the Diversity portion. The I means Inclusion, and Inclusion means EVERYBODY. The E means Equity, and that means allowing everybody the chance to be given accommodations to sample all that the SCA has to offer. When the DEI office got slammed for having a roundtable talking about the military experience in the SCA because the panel was not visibly queer or POC, I got angry for obvious reasons, even as a member of the queer community, coming off of the massive struggle we had moving between 3 kingdoms in 2 years. But why is disability always on the back burner? Why is it always skirted when it comes to site accessibility and event options? When I mentioned having accessibility porters at events, folks who need assistance loved the idea, and then I got able-bodied folks telling me they didn’t want to “waste” their time at the event carrying other people’s things for them. Oh, okay. I am not disabled, but I do have chronic illnesses that can make my event experience less-than-fun, so usually I just don’t bother going. With Jeff being as sick as he is right now, we aren’t going to events anytime soon anyway, because I can’t trust people to help him if he needs it if I’m busy, or mask up near him while his immune system recovers from chemotherapy. This argument just cements further that the SCA is not a club for those that need an extra hand once in a while, and that is upsetting.
“You’re attacking the chivalry!” No, no I’m not. I’m attacking inequity and exclusion based on bad “traditions”. I didn’t badmouth the Chiv at all other than repeating words they have already told me: They are the most equal of the peerages and that they carry the most clout. This was by design in the game. Toxic masculinity does not define the Chivalry, it defines the systemic issue. If you hear the phrase “toxic masculinity” and assume “Chivalry”, then that’s indicative of a whole other problem entirely, isn’t it? Toxic FIGHTERS that bad mouth the other paths are another issue entirely, and they rarely wear chains.
“We need martial leadership for wars!” Okay, I agree. Then make non-war reigns non-martial crowns? Why can’t the Sovereigns be on the field at Pennsic for the champions battles while the Heirs visit the A&S Display to support their populace? Hell, I’ve had sovereigns express dismay at missing so much other stuff at wars because of, well, war. That tells me that we need to stagger things better.
“I don’t want my non-rattan community to become toxic like rattan has become, and the toxic people from rattan will just go into rapier, etc.” – Actually, this one makes a lot more sense to me and I’m glad someone brought it up. Again, I need to reiterate that not all fighters and especially not all chiv are toxic. The system is what breeds toxicity, but all competitions do this. Training on the national level in TKD wasn’t exactly free of drama, toxicity, or the like, I think it’s just human nature. Which is grossly unfortunate. I’ve been in and apart of enough A&S competitions that have gotten so cutthroat I could only imagine what adding crown to it could do. Still, I think that non-martial crowns should still be experimented with.
No, this has nothing to do with me planning to expatriate to Aotearoa New Zealand. I’m doing that because I want distance from the US and the inevitable trauma of losing my husband sooner than later.
“If you don’t like it, leave.” What, and miss _THIS_?
I just heard from a Lochacian that one of the reasons why they pitched this is that they have less fighters than they used to, but an active and large populace as a whole who are doing amazing things. So it’s issues of burnout with the current fighter pool as well as the desire to try something new to be more inclusive. Likewise, I’ve had ‘Strayans offering me beer all day and I’ve already lost that drinking game before.
“We should just abolish crown tourneys.” – Now we’re talking. Or, we can do something crazy, and medieval: A REPUBLIC.
On CTE and TBI: We are not talking about this enough. I’ve seen what happens to athletes in multiple sports with CTE. Please, PLEASE take this into account. It’s one of the reasons why Jeff decided he didn’t want to fight as much anymore. But we also need to approach this in a way that we don’t make the fighting community think it’s an insult or that they’re all just going out there and getting their bell rung. I’ve gotten popped in melee as well as singles, it happens and normally we just shake it off without thinking of the consequences. The same in TKD. “Well I just saw Tweety birds, better shake it off and get back out there.” AYEEEEEEEEEEE what are we doing to ourselves? Can this be solved with calibration? Maybe. Can it be solved by eliminating head contact and more active marshalling? Yes, but that requires having everybody on board, and head shots are sort of part of the game since it’s a fast kill. There may also be padding solutions, but as we’ve learned with the NFL, no amount of padding will make this perfect. Reduced contact is the only answer.
Members of Lochac have clarified that they did not ask for a specific crown format or with disability in mind (which is what another Aussie told me, which might still be a catalyst of course), they simply asked for the variance that says they can choose the crown format they wish, and the US BOD just struck them down without any clarifying questions or the like. I think the insta-denial is the issue here more than anything. The BOD could have gone, “What do you have in mind?” or “Can you provide us with more info?” And instead chose not to.
I made a separate post about my Accessibility Porter idea here: https://annasrome.com/2022/12/16/my-accessibility-porter-idea/
I just want to point out that the bulk of this post is about white supremacy echoed in terminology and practice and so far, not a single message or comment I have received about this has been about that. If you are one of the offended that read that and get upset, you may be telling on yourself.
I really really hate insults like, “Stick jock”, “wire weenie”, “garb nazi”, and “service junkie”. Stop that.