Thoughts on the Peerage Announcement and the Reaction Thereto   5 comments

(Posting this here today rather than Facebook.  Tomorrow, Facebook.  Because I’m pissed, and rather ashamed that some of these people fight for my King.)

I’ve seen a whole lot of butthurt coming out on my friends list, not just from the “People who are on my friends list because they’re in the SCA” but from people I consider genuinely good friends, since The Announcement.  I’m a little dismayed because I thought that shit died 10 years ago.  But I guess not.

A lot of the butthurt seems to come from negative anecdotes, so I’m going to argue largely via positive anecdote.  If the only hard data available (the census) isn’t convincing, then anecdote is what we have left.

If there were not fencing in the SCA I would not be here.

In my first year of marriage, my wife and I needed a social activity.  We were spending all our time alone together and just about to kill each other.  I liked fencing, and knew of this SCA thing where I could fence.  We showed up to a Kappellenberg meeting and liked the group, felt really welcome, and found out Kberg only had heavy practice.  So I went to heavy practice and tried it.

I could not sit at work the next day.  Two squires, at least one a squire of The Super-est Duke of Atlantia, both since become knights, basically spent practice ass-wrapping me.  It was the most douche-y, dick-tacular thing I’ve ever seen.  It was a bright shining “Go the fuck away, new person” message from two guys who never, as far as I saw, bothered to actually show up to any of the other Kappellenberg activities except fighter practice or do a damn thing in the SCA out of armor (still, even as Knights).  Armored fighting was not, as far as I could tell, actually part of the SCA.  That experience is why I’m still really reluctant to fight sword-and-board (love polearm, will fight spear, but not really cool on sword-and-board) despite some pretty awesome experiences with other sword and board fighters.

But those early experiences are what Atlantia’s and the SCA’s armored fighting community is to a great many people who show up.

This inevitably leads to newer members wondering why our kings come, exclusively, from that community, and when they express this opinion in public they receive a great deal of reasoned response explaining the foundations of our tradition, but always one or two absolute douches chime in insulting fencers as a class.

Since my time in the Order of the White Scarf, two kings of Atlantia, both super dukes, have both said “When you need shit done, you find a White Scarf.”  In Atlantia especially we have, as a community, set the standard that an Atlantian White Scarf is an Atlantian who fences, not a fencer in Atlantia.  You serve Atlantia.  Is there the same expectation in our armored community?

In our barony, when shit needs doing you get a fencer.  Ruairc, a Free Scholar, answered Her Excellency’s call to autocrat a small baronial event.  Adelric, a previous autocrat of Ymir and current baronial seneschal, is a squire, true, but came to us as a fencer first.

And yet, because of the innate hostility towards fencers I, now in my position as a leader in the rapier community, find myself apologizing for the treatment and the attitude and the words of our armored brethren, and then in the next breath asking those same newcomers, who are feeling unappreciated and unloved, to chip in and be Atlantians first, do service, and give back to this Kingdom, despite the words of the armored community, and to pick up spears and fight for their Queen’s honor with the Queen’s Spears. Today we leaders in the fencing community again have to make apologies for the attitudes and words of our fellow Atlantians, who happen to fight in armor, and again we ask our newer fencers to help us make sure Serf’s Uprising runs smoothly, Ymir runs smoothly, the barony runs smoothly, and the youth of Windmasters’ are welcome into the SCA.

Lastly, we are an historical recreation society.  We celebrate the historical accuracy of our garb, appearance, food, behavior, and love.  Yet central to it all is the list field, where two very modern sports happen – Armored Combat and Fencing.

Fencing has spent its life making great strides towards historicity.  We replaced our epees with rapiers; replaced Olympic technique with the teachings of historical masters like Di Grassi and Capo Ferro; we’ve added cut-and-thrust so that we can more fully practice the historic exercise of arms.

Ass-wraps aren’t historical for armored combat.  Face thrusts are (see Jeu de la Hache or Talhoffer for more information).  Which one gets banned at Crown?  Rapier’s more and more about period style.  Armored is more and more about who can survive the most concussions and rotator cuff tears.

In the face of rapier’s increasing historicity I’ve even seen the incredibly specious claim that rapier was the weapon of ruffians and knights didn’t use them.

Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, as knights and nobles of the 16th century, were expected to know how to use those “car antenna” hanging on their hips.

The chivalry, it has been said, feels itself to be “First among peers.”  It should be.  But just as one earns, by his own hand, the title of king, the chiv must continue to earn their primacy. Rapier has been getting shit done and making the SCA a better, stronger place, with fresh energetic blood serving in all areas of our society, and our work as a community is being recognized.  Rapier has not been making entire swaths of newcomers feel unwelcome, unappreciated, like second class citizens, or like punching bags there for the entertainment of the squires.  Try saying “Thank you” instead of “Fuck you.”

Posted August 23, 2013 by Wistric in Musings

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