Between the Medieval and The Modern

April 9, 2013

Fly Your Geek Flag Proudly!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 9:21 pm
Tags: , ,

CTRF09_538There’s an article making the rounds on my Facebook feed today, So I’m marrying a reenactor. At least four people I know have posted it and I just saw it posted on another reenactor’s blog.

*sigh*

I’d like this article a whole lot better if the first half wasn’t all about how horrified the author was when she found out her crush was a reenactor, and about how ashamed he was about the hobby when on their first date, after four drinks, she blurted out, “Have you ever done reenacting?” “When Daniel confessed, my gut reaction was, FREAK!!!” It annoyed me when the author almost broke her arm patting herself on the back for being broad minded enough to agree to marry “a freaking reenactor.” Describing her lone trip to a renaissance faire as a “freak show” didn’t help my mood either, as she managed to insult two of my favorite weekend activities in a single article.

Now I ask you, what is wrong with reenacting? Is there something wrong with learning skills like how to build a fire, tie knots, do woodworking? Is learning to sew/mend your own clothes somehow objectionable? Do people object to learning how to safely handle firearms? (While I’ll admit that I’m not a fan of guns, I heartily approve of firearms education. The one common thread that runs amongst all my friends that I consider to be responsible gun owners? They are all reenactors.) Is spending time outdoors with your friends wrong? Or is it the time spent teaching children (and adults) about history that’s the problem? Maybe it’s the fact that reenactors actually spend time remembering our military veterans, or regularly volunteer to march in Memorial day, Fourth of July, and Veteran’s day parades? Would someone please tell me, what’s so objectionable about reenacting?

I’ll tell you what’s wrong with reenacting. NOTHING.

But the thing that bothered me the most about this article? The shame. The author describes a “clandestine” world of reenacting where everyone seems to be ashamed of their hobby. “Most reenactors who give a damn about their reputation outside the battlefield are mighty hesitant to reveal their historical alter-egos.” “It’s definitely not something I go about broadcasting,” Daniel says today. “There are a lot of negative stereotypes out there that give the hobby a bad name. You don’t want to be thought of as some unreconstructed, gun-loving nut trying to refight wars.”

I won’t deny that there are probably negative stereotypes about reenactors. My question is, why does the reenacting community allow these stereotypes to continue? Why would you let someone make you feel ashamed about something that you love? Do you know what it’s called when people try to make you feel ashamed about doing or being something that doesn’t harm anyone else?

It’s called Bullying.

And that’s probably how all this started. At some point in the past, some high school kid probably decided to taunt some other high school kid because they had an interest in history. And because the bully was probably a popular kid and the target was probably a nerdy kid, the mocking spread. I’ve seen it before. It happens to just about any hobby or interest that is even slightly nerdy or geeky.

How do I know? I am a geek and a nerd. I am a reeanctor. I attend renaissance faires. I love Star Trek and Star Wars and own costumes for both. Yes, I sew costumes and wear them on days of the year that are not Halloween. I read comic books. I ride a motorcycle. I play with swords. I read fantasy and science fiction. I am college educated. I am overweight. I am a woman. These are all things that someone, at some point, has tried to make me feel ashamed of. And you know what? There’s no reason for me to feel ashamed about any one of them.

Maybe it’s because my first experience with shared public geekery was as a member of Star Trek fandom (where William Shatner legitimized bullying Trekkies in his Infamous 1986 Saturday Night Live sketch, something for which I have never forgiven him). Or maybe it’s because the only people who have ever tried to make me feel ashamed about the things I love doing are people that I have come to realize are bullies. Or maybe it’s because I’ve been spending time reading inspirational quotes on Tumblr that remind me to be true to myself, stand up for myself, and be the best person I can be. But any time I see someone duck their head and mumble about a thing they love, it makes me angry.

So what to do?

You stand up for yourself. You take back the thing that you love. You refuse to allow anyone to tell you that your hobby is anything less than awesome. Fly your geek flag proudly! I love this quote from Simon Pegg (Scotty in the new Star Trek) about being a geek:

1BeingAGeek

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Relevant link -> Contact Hypothesis – The idea that positive personal interactions are one of the most effective ways to overcome prejudice.

March 19, 2013

This is why we can’t have nice things

Filed under: Uncategorized — Frau Magda @ 8:10 am
Tags: ,

scrooge-mcduck-christmas-carol2I know a lot of people who work as rennaissance faire entertainers and historic interpreters. Almost every time I mention paying admission to an event or museum, someone always pipes up and says, “You should have said something, I could have gotten you in for free!” Even though I am perfectly capable of paying admission. It happened again this weekend when I was in Jamestown for Military Through the Ages. Wanting to show that I financially supported the museum, I mentioned to someone that I’d bought an annual pass, and they immediately started giving me tips for how I could have gotten it half price. *facepalm*

Now, I can sometimes understand why people make this offer. Some of my friends who work the renaissance faires actually are poor college students. But I’m 47 years old. It’s been a long time since I was a college student. And some of my friends who are performers or self-employed live pretty hand-to-mouth, especially when the economy is bad. But I make good money at my job. I don’t need free admission to events. I can afford to pay my own way in and am happy to do so because it supports institutions that I think are important. Institutions that need to make money to stay open. So why do my friends keep trying to save me money that I’m happy to spend? Don’t they understand that if these events don’t make money, that they will eventually stop happening?

WTF people. Seriously.

Maybe I’m feeling overly sensitive because we just got the news last week that the the Higgins Armory Museum is going to close. And I’m feeling guilty for not renewing my membership and supporting the museum the past couple of years. Or maybe it’s because while I was in Williamsburg I picked up a book about the founding and I’ve been reading about how John D. Rockefeller Jr. spent millions of his own money during the Great Depression to create Colonial Williamsburg. Solely because he loved history and thought it was a good idea to try to preserve it. He’s the same guy that built The Cloisters Museum in New York City (I think we would have gotten along famously!).

So I’m going to come right out and say it. Reenactors? You guys are penny wise and pound foolish. You pay hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on your kits, but you begrudge historic sites and museums that let you come play on their grounds the price of admission.

Admission to a weekend reenactment event is usually very inexpensive. Do you know what it costs to attend a science fiction convention? I’ve seen weekend membership rates that range anywhere from $60 (Arisia) to $200 (WorldCon). And that does not include the price of your hotel room. An annual pass to Jamestown cost me $35. I’ve spent that on a good meal. Heck, I’ve spent that much on a bad meal. An annual pass to Colonial Williamsburg cost me a mere $64. I could spent that in a single trip to the bookstore. I consider the $5 to $15 to get in the gate at most reenactments to be a complete bargain.

Seriously folks. Compare the price of admission to what you spent on your kit. How much was the wool for your clothes? How much did you pay for that gown or uniform? How much were those hand made shoes? What did you spend on that sword or rifle? How much for a full suit of armor? Those cooking pots? That tent? How much was your cannon? If you’re doing modern era, what did you pay for that machine gun? The jeep? So why do you begrudge spending the price of a movie ticket to support a historic site?

And yet, I’m sure there will be people who will keep trying to get me into events for free. Get a clue people, if you’re at a fundraiser to keep a historic site open, the last thing you should be doing is letting extra people in the back gate for free. You should be encouraging your friends to support the site. Because we want them to stay open.

Relevant to your interests – Save the Higgins

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