Misconceptions

EndOfMayBack from five days on the road. And working my ninth or tenth day in a row today. Not as bad as it seems since I only work part time, but I’m tired. I’d hoped my brain would be refreshed enough to do some quality writing today, but I fear that’s not going to happen. Just a blog post today, nothing thought out. You can tune out if you want. I won’t mind.

I keep running into things that should be dead.  Stupid ideas are the real zombie plague. A braying jackass can spout crap and five years later it’s common wisdom. Oh Internet, you were the chosen one. You were supposed to destroy ignorance, not spread it. We thought you would kill the old-wife-tale syndrome with the speed of rapid communication, shining a new light. Instead you just showed us that the darkness can outrun the light.

The world of swordplay, as I’ve said before, is essentially geeky. Like it or not, we share some of the bad sides of geek culture. We immediately devalue the attractive. “Pretty” is an insult. The outcast mentality stunts our ability to appreciate things. We come from a bitter soil, and we think it normal.

I was at a boardgame convention, and I wouldn’t be surprised if someone told me less than two percent of the attendees were women. I’m sure it was quite higher than that, but I wouldn’t be surprised to hear otherwise. Think of yourself as a man in that community. You are surrounded by friends. You all enjoy the same things. You are all nice, open minded guys. You aren’t sexist or racist or age-ist at all. You just all happen to be middle-age white guys. Not your fault. It wasn’t planned this way, and you would honestly love to have more women or people with different social backgrounds as part of your group. They just don’t seem interested, and you can’t figure out why, so you don’t worry about it.

No harm, no foul. Right?

Think of yourself as the young teenage male you , if you are a middle age man currently. You like boardgaming. You wander by a convention and look in the window. The entire building is full of middle-aged women. Not a man to be seen. It feels…weird. You have a very slight preference to not enter the room. It takes an effort, but you step in anyway. It’s not bad once you are inside. Everyone is friendly. A couple of people make cracks about you being not a real gamer because you are a cute young boy, but it’s just humour and you laugh along. There is only a minor twinge inside.

The minor preference to not attend another event stays minor,  but presented with other options, statistically…the gaming world will always be middle-aged white women. Not from any intention on anyone’s part, not from actions that drive anyone away, but only from slight preference for people to be somewhere else. Most people have a slight preference for not being the outlier in a group.

But hey, if you announce a women’s only swordfighting class, that’s sexist, right? Giving special treatment or recognition is against equality! It makes things worse, you idiot! Equality is the goal, and we need to act as if that is the standard to make it happen. No special treatment!

Equality is a lie.

Preference has a momentum.

I suppose I should say equality is not a behaviour, it’s a result. Preference is one of the behaviors that skews against the result of equality. Effort needs to be made to overcome the momentum of preference, or the result will be inequality.

This isn’t psychology or political correctness or any other thing you might be tempted to call bullshit, but good hard physics. Math. If you want equality in your organization, you must put energy into making it happen.

So, ranting aside?

If you are a different gender than me, you are welcome at Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly. Doubly so if you think your gender isn’t fixed.

You are welcome if you are a different sexual orientation than me.

You are welcome if you are a different skin colour than me, or even if you spell it color.

You are welcome if you are from a different culture or country.

You are very welcome if your body doesn’t work the same way as others, and you want to fence because of the extra challenge.

I will put effort into advertising and attracting you to our school, as soon as I can figure out a way to do that is clear and attractive. I would love help.

 

13 Comments

  1. You should write more posts when you are tired! Profound words there.

  2. Hey DRP, are you familiar with the Geek Social Fallacies? Sounds like they tie in nicely: http://www.plausiblydeniable.com/opinion/gsf.html

    • I thought I was, but then I read the link. Interesting read. I don’t agree with all of it, but I have observed all of it at one time or another…

  3. Excellent.

  4. Good luck! Not sure how it happens …..
    Though I have to say I looked around my early morning class one day and it was an odd experience – Middle aged lady, queer 20 something, 6th Dan martial arts teacher, 2 acupuncture students and a homeless kid ……
    And no, I do not advertise.

    • It’s a nice feeling. I love where my classes are right now, the school is wonderful and has a vibrant energy that just soars. All my wondering in this post is just a concern for how to make sure that continues into the future.

      Plus I want to have another “Boys versus Girls” melee night with huge, equal numbers on each side, because fun.

  5. Following on our conversation in-person. I think what you might have an issue with marketing in general is an issue of definition of product. E.g.

    Academie – big, professional, ‘a taste of the rennaisance / middle ages’.

    B&I – competitive, to the max WMA environment. For the competitors

    Valkyrie – ….? small, cliqueish? (perception wise maybe?)

    So, perhaps define the product further and finding the message will be easier.

    Or go the other way – define the need that you want to fill, then alter the product and advertising to fit the need.

    • Awesome feedback Tao, just what I was looking for. …Cliqueish? Ouch. But admittedly possible. We’ve been brainstorming on these ideas a bit, but I think it’s time to really hammer it down.

      • I don’t think it is – but I’m part of the group (sort of) 🙂

        Yet, we have old members who have been around for a long while, and few new members. That could easily be construed like that. Even if we do go out of our way to include people when they come in I think.

  6. Excellent stuff – well written – good points – make a D20 charisma roll.

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