Imagine you loved a period of history, and so you design a game set in said age. You want it to look perfectly period looking in your fantastic venue so you set fairly high kit standards – but you can help players by having a lot of support and links to making and buying suitable costume – sorted. But then say you disallow female longbow users – because “well, that’s just silly – you had to be trained with the longbow since you were 7 years old – they only trained boys because only they would eventually have the upper body strength to draw one! If you want to play a longbow user then you have to be male or pretend to be male.” Really?
First – it’s not re-enactment, it’s fantasy roleplay.
Second – your male archers were not in fact trained since they were 7 years old. They are normal people in costumes with a vast range of physical ability.
Third – you are not using real longbows – because that would kill people.
Other things I find ridiculous – a friend of mine is a very accomplished horsewoman, she does tourney and jousts. She wanted to join a society that do such things but was disallowed because there were no female knights. I should point out at this point that she would have been head to foot in full protective and very real plate armour… how would anyone know her gender!? I also like to think modern people watching this spectacle would merely be impressed by the skill of anyone performing it.
Say for example your event bars women from playing a certain class… are you aware that you are specifically exploring issues of sexism on purpose? What is your reasoning? Are you happy to explore other issues too – especially if those minorities are present in game? I have played games set in historical periods where ethnic minorities would have been treated appallingly (and not just judged by colour either). Irish, Chinese, Native American and black people in a Western era for example. But what if you had someone from that minority want to play – would they be barred from playing roles disallowed them if they were living in that historical period? And can you understand why by placing these historical ideas on the present you might be excluding people? Wouldn’t it perhaps be more fun for them and make for great roleplay to allow them to play a gunfighter? Or any other role that they wanted? Wouldn’t that be nice?
Sometimes it is easier to place yourself in their shoes by a direct example and here is one for you. It’s not extreme example – in fact this happens alot in reverse. “I am running a fantasy event based on the Amazons of the Alexandrian period. Men of course must be serfs, farmers and craftsmen OR it’s fine to be a warrior if you pretend to be a woman. There will be plenty for the men in camp to do as healers, religious types, sages, cooks etc. You could even be a noble man sent as a marriage prospect to one of the warrior Queens! Oh and we are always after more men-of-ill-repute for the Queen’s hareem.”