And, as I was trying to write sequentially, two negatives surfaced first because they occurred on Thursday. One involved fencing which will be touched on in a different blog post, and one involved people. As I have done for many posts before this, I have debated posting anything about this which has delayed my recap of Battlemoor as a whole. However, I have decided that I should post because...
This type of thing should not be minimized or kept silent.
It is silence that allows these things to occur repeatedly. It is silence that really breeds the fear and anxiousness. Knowledge is power, and this power is potent. It is a power that the whole community needs to have so we can protect each other.
On Thursday night, at a crowded, bustling party, someone roofied a woman. She stopped breathing.
Thankfully, there were several medical professionals nearby and she was able to get help. She is doing alright, physically. (I will not presume to speak of her mental state as it was not me in this situation).
Unfortunately, the SCA no longer feels as safe as it used to. I mean, I have always been wary at larger events like Pennsic, or even Estrella - events that draw people to them from outside the SCA who may not hold onto our ideals of chivalry and honor. Even at these larger events, I felt confident enough in my strength and independence that I am have not been afraid or too wary of strangers.
And, at an event like Battlemoor, which is a mere ~1000 people strong, it never really worried me. I was never afraid of walking around alone in the dark, or setting my drink down to go to the bathroom. Now, while I still will defiantly assert that I'm able to take care of myself, I give the side eye to unknown people. I guard my drinks more carefully, and I may or may not have walked clutching my knife, alone in the dark.
That someone would do this to a person makes me sad, and very, very angry. I don't want my girlfriends to be afraid...not in mundane life, or at an SCA event, or ever. I don't want to see the already fragile bond of trust shattered, yet again, by another sleezy man (which, sadly as it is assumed). I don't want us to have to grip our belongings so tightly that it seems like we are desperately holding on to whatever dignity we feel that we have left. Dignity and self-respect should be a right, not a conditional reward for "staying safe" or protecting ourselves. I don't want women to feel that if they make that one mistake, set their drink down, look away for a second, maybe even make a poor choice in friends, that it is their fault and they are no longer "strong" or "independent" or "respectable" or "smart".
I have been there, continually asking myself, "What if I had just done something differently?" or "Why did I do the stupid thing that all my women mentors always warned me about?" Each discretion, mistake, oversight or piece of misguided trust that I have made over the years comes back to haunt me in a series of ever growing questions. I knew the "rules", I was told how to protect myself. Keep myself "safe". And yet I "broke" them, over and over, sometimes even unknowingly. I've been told, "well if you had don't X, Y, & Z, that wouldn't have happened."
What about the other person involoved? What if they'd been taught to be a decent human being? That it was not "natural" or "normal" to do what they did for revenge, pleasure, or some extremely misplaced sense of "what's right"? There are two people - TWO PEOPLE - at least, involved in any interaction. Why is it that the women are always the ones being held accountable?
Now, I understand that there are lines. There are certain situations that are clearer than others. For instance, going for a run at 3AM in an area known for predators. Or accepting a drink from a total stranger at a frat party from a college that was notorious for sleezeballs. But hanging out in a place where you know the majority of the people, where it's loud, yet crowded and well lit, and where you're surrounded by your friends? Excuse me if I let my guard down a little and trust in the people around me.
Sadly, now, many won't. At least not for a while. Hell, I had a friend refuse a sip of the cider that I had clearly been drinking out of myself which was in its labelled bottle. This type of fear is nothing to dismiss or minimize. It is very, very real. And that fucking sucks.
Additionally, shit like this also affects those of the male persuasion. I feel like this is going to be very controversial, but I think it's worth noting. Guys, who are good people, are now being forced to live under the shadow of awful people's actions. Their trust, and their sense of self-worth may also be damaged because now they feel that they not only have to prove themselves, but stand up for their gender. They question their friends as well. And they may feel that they are not doing enough to prevent these things from happening. Maybe, in a way, that is good. Everyone SHOULD be more diligent, more aware, more cognizant that the world - even our small SCA corner - does contain shitheads.
Those shitheads can just go fuck right off. Let's hope I never find out who you are or find myself in your vicinity. And yes, that was a threat.