The baby steps we take eventually become huge platforms for change.
I saw that quote on the Stonewall Facebook page recently and it summed up why I keep addressing issues of inequality in my hobbies. One of the reasons I started this very website was to provide a platform where people felt that they could write about things in their hobby that mattered to them.
On the weekend I had a weekend off from photographing LARP and instead chose to go and play some instead. I headed off to an airsoft event to be a Separatist soldier for the weekend and honestly, I had a total blast. I loved almost every second of it. However there were some instances that made me want to come home and write articles about how we could be better as a community.
And then I had a moment where I wondered what the point was in writing about these things. Why bother? Why not just ignore the people who have difference ideas of ‘fun’ to me and get on with having my own fun? It certainly seems like the obvious thing to do and it is a way of getting through life with as little disruption as possible.
But the quote above, it’s spot on for me. It might be a baby step (and actually, relatively easy) to get the vast majority of LARPers or Airsofters to respect women (or gay people, trans people, people of colour, whoever) but it has implications for the bigger picture. If every hobby cleaned up its act and made this behaviour socially unacceptable then you’d soon see a difference in wider society. The baby steps really do become a huge platform for change.
So much of the problematic behaviour I see in the LARP and now the airsoft community is what I call ‘latent sexism’. It’s just ingrained behaviour that people don’t mean anything by usually. They’re not meaning to pick on me because I’m a woman, they just do it because that’s what society has taught them to do. When you pull someone up on their behaviour and explain what they did, they usually don’t even realise they did it. It’s the easiest kind of problematic attitude to overcome, it’s just a case of talking to people and making them understand how their words and actions can unintentionally affect other people. We can do that here, on this site.
Every person who becomes aware of the challenges that some of us face on a daily basis is another soldier fighting for our side in the war. They are the people who then go on to challenge problematic behaviour amongst their friends or the general public. They become the people who stand up for their friends and then for people they don’t even know. They are the people who help to make problematic behaviour so unfashionable that it just doesn’t happen in our communities anymore. And that surely has to be a good thing.
Expect posts about my experiences from the weekend to be forthcoming…