Issues within the SCA
I am a reader on the Grand Council email list. If you are not, and you are interested in the goings on of the Society, I highly encourage you to do so. The best way to describe the GC is that it is a Council made up of people across the various Kingdoms that are tasked by the BoD to work on specific topics of interest to the Society.
The recent tone of the discussions has been a bit scary honestly. It appears that the Society is in deep trouble if changes are not made within the next 5-10 years. I doubt most of the Society members even realize this. Among the things that are likely to lead to its downfall are the 4th Peerage (Rapier, and other martial arts such as Siege, Cut and Thrust, Archery, Equestrian) and same-sex consorts. The smaller yet equally important issue often discussed seems to be the SCA’s decline in anything resembling a historical group.
Now add all these together and it appears (or, how I interpret it) that leading blame for all of this is rattan fighting. Whatever argument there is, it always leads back to the problem is rattan fighting.
- I can’t be a King/Queen because I don’t fight with rattan – I want an A & S King/Queen
- I can’t be in a Peerage because I don’t fight with rattan – I want my group to have its own Peerage
- I want the SCA to be more historical and do away with rattan and have real swords
The same-sex consorts issue is indirectly related specifically to rattan fighting as they are wanting to fight for their real inspiration in the Crown Tourney.
The more I’ve thought I had an opinion on any of these, the less I realize I do. The fact is, either way, whatever you say about it, someone is going to accuse you of being ignorant, homophobic, elitist, period snob or any other number of things. Since I do not have the best debating skills and often put my foot in my mouth, I’ve decided against actively participating in these discussions online with the exception of this place where I can type out my thoughts as I’m mostly talking to myself here anyway. I hate that I cannot express myself that well and it ends up making people mad.
Then again, these are fairly intense topics and I’m not sure there is anyway to discuss any of them without making ‘someone’ upset. And people are hot on these issues. And that is why some are saying it’s going to tear the SCA apart.
I’ve been in the SCA since around 2000. I started out at fighter practice. I didn’t realize there was much else to the SCA until much later. My passion was and has been rattan fighting. I have been a paid member off and on throughout that time. I’ve taken a really long break due to injuries and this year was my first year back of actively participating. I attended several events this year and volunteered at each one. I just recently received my AoA.
I want to be a long-term member of the SCA. I have aspirations of becoming a Knight, winning a Crown, teaching skills I learn to others, serving the Kingdom and Crowns and learning a lot. But, from the sounds of it, there may not be an SCA down the road. I know there are many splinter groups that have been formed because people have been unhappy with what is going on.
And that seems to be the first answer someone will give they read someone saying they are unhappy about something. “Well, you can always go off and purchase your own insurance and start your own group” or “Well, maybe you should be playing with a group more suited to your needs”. I really don’t know if they are right or wrong in saying those things.
Is it wrong to want the SCA to be historical?
That’s what I’m starting to wonder. People will always remind you about the ‘Creative’ part of the SCA. When I first joined I joined in a Barony that was very big on the historical aspect. People worked hard to have accurate armor, encampments, personas. Many of the people in Stromgard have been awarded for their accurate displays. So, I grew up in that atmosphere.
Coming back this year after not having been to event in over seven years was a culture shock. So much has changed. People walking around in street clothes, late period Captain Jack Sparrows, Steampunk – it was more like going to a Ren Faire with the exception of Sport of Kings which was a very period sort of event.
I wonder if the SCA needs to start making decisions about what the group really is. Is it a historical education group? Is it a big medieval party? Is it more Ren Faire now? Can it be both historical and party? I don’t know anymore.
The fourth Peerage is an interesting discussion. I’ve read that the Order of Chivalry will in no way accept them into their Order. I don’t think they should have to, but then, that makes me an elitist. I’ve read that adding more Peerages makes the SCA even more non historical. I sort of believe that, but then that makes me period snob.
The Census results indicate that people want the Rapier group to have recognition, but aren’t sure just what. The way I interpreted those results were that the longer a person was in the SCA and the higher the Office they held, the more they were inclined they did not want additional Peerages, even though they did seem to want them to have some sort of recognition.
The Order of Chivalry doesn’t want the Rapiers, nor does the Order of the Laurel. I had not idea that the Laurel admitted fighters into their order for their ability to teach/research their fighting. There was a Rapier Laurel in Lochac recently. But it was not for his Rapier skills that he was admitted.
I don’t know the answers anymore. I just know that people are really hot on all these topics. It’s even gotten heated on the GC list. People are passionate about what the SCA is to them. I get that. I’ve been guilty myself of indicating other people’s opinions weren’t important or were wrong. And that is really wrong. I don’t want to be that person. Everyone’s opinion is important.
The fact remains though, something needs to be done. I want the SCA to continue and its sad to think its going into a downward spiral. Maybe something else will rise from its ashes if it does fail. But will it be the same group that the Founders thought it would become? Probably not. In fact, I keep hearing people say they’ve talked to the Founders and they are unhappy with where the SCA is now. That’s a sad thought too.
It will be interesting to see what happens. My goal is to push forward on my Path. Have fun at the events that I go to. I want to continue to pursue my studies of the Pelican and Laurel even though I have no teacher and I want to get involved in learning how to teach and share my interests in the SCA. And hope that in the next 5-10 years, there is still an SCA to do that.