torsdag 17 augusti 2017

You don't need my approval

Hi, I'm one of the highest ranking larp feminist in Sweden*. And you don't need my approval to be a larp feminist. You can do your own thing and that thing is very seldom reliant on whether I like it or not. Do you take a risk of me disapproving if you don't check with me? Sure. But you are a grown up and you will just have to take your chances. I'm not your feminist mom (ok maybe to some of you I am).
Wanna check with me anyway? I have a donations account. All donations go towards a full plate armor, and maybe coffee now and then.
You mainly need my enthusiastic consent if you wanna to do stuff to my body (or my body of work), because bodily integrity is totally a thing.
To quote Elin Dalstål, take risks, play boldly.***

I don't wanna be friends**

I think we try a little too hard to all be friends in the larp sphere. And we really don't need to be. Now, not needing to be friends with a another larper, another larp critic or another larp feminist does not mean we have to be enemies either. Sure it's a human instinct to want to have friends that share some of our passions. But that does not mean we need to be friends with everyone who shares our passions. Few things can be as grating as someone who shares our passions "the wrong way".

I think that diversity in feminism is sometimes hindered by us wanting to be liked by our peers, maybe even be friends with them and how we sometimes mistake the social fall outs as being the same as ideological fall outs. Social fall outs happen because if life.
But feminism is not about being part of a special social circle made up of other feminists. Some changes sure are easier to make happen if you are part of a group, but to engage in group actions, you don't really need the group to be made up out of your personal friends. You don't even need to like the other people as long as you agree on ideological principles.

I have friends I disagree with on an ideological level (as long as they are not racists, transphobes or woman haters) and we are still friends. I have people who I agree with on a ideological level but that I don't have the energy to have any kind of relations with. I'm one of those people that don't see love or care as an unlimited resource. There are only so many hours to a day, days to a year and there are only so many social energy points I can give out in a day. First and foremost I owe those points to my children and my partner. I have a line of work that take a lot of my social energy points since I work with humans. Then I have close friends, and some people who I've taken a special interest in.
When those social energy points are gone, they are gone until they are refuel.

The demands for emotional work are already high on women.
The demand is even higher on emotional work and ideological "purity" on female feminists.

I am not pure

We can demand that to be a feminist you need to be in favor of the equal rights of women (since that is the basis of feminism). But to demand that female feminists are absolutely adherent to a standard, they might not even know you are holding them to, will end up with you punishing them for existing and surviving in a patriarchy. This is in part linked to my term PreUtopian Feminism which has to do with merging ideals and Utopian dreams and utilizing practical pragmatism to get forward towards a better tomorrow without burning out. This can be a way to avoid being crushed by demands to live like you are already in the utopian tomorrow. PreUtopian feminists believe in a better tomorrow but they allow themselves to live today and utilize tools and accept that they will find them self in circumstances that might be less than perfect.

And also like Elin Dalstål says "Self Care comes first"****.

I'm not here to be pleasant. And neither are you.

I'm just a person, a woman in the patriarchy. Basically surviving can be kind of activism some days and often leaves me grumpy and unpleasant. Every other kind of activism is extra. And I don't like when I have higher demands placed on me to also be emotionally available to a wide network of friends, to stay very informed on all kind of social justice categories outside of intersectional feminism (which are valid and important but there are other activist that are better at them.) I don't even know if I'm a intersectional feminist since I focus on such a narrow field as larp feminism, and by proxy those hobbies near larp. Well that and countering ableism as much as I can.

So how do I handle these perceived higher and higher demands, and from in my turn putting too high demands on my fellow larp feminists? How do I release them from the fear that I might disapprove of something they do or don't do?

By running away from them.

I feel some are trying to make me play nice and adhere to the way they think I should be. And I will probably never be that.
They are welcome to my events, they are welcome to take part my freely published thoughts (I'll try to be better at not just having them on social media). But maybe they don't need access to me on my private social media. Maybe they don't need to know the ups and downs of my daily personal life. I don't hate them. Some have disappointed me, but that probably had to do with me having the wrong expectations on them, and I will get over it as bleakness and time creeps in.

Let's just be feminist colleagues? Ok?

* The way to be highest ranking is by inventing your own category and ranking system.
** Lady Gaga - Bad Romance
*** Elin Dalstål  Play Boldly
**** Elin Dalstål Self Care Comes first

tisdag 15 augusti 2017

Facebook groups for larp activism

This post is just a list of different facebook groups where different kinds of activism is done in the larp sphere.

You feel weak, like you need support.
You need to unite, but with whom?

Gender Separatist groups

Larp Women Unite - International
This is primarily a group for Nordic larpers, but all nationalities are welcome. The main purpose of this group is to be a place for people who in part or completely identifies as women or who are interpreted as women by society.

Your are welcome regardless if you are a larper or thinking about joining the community. The group is a feminist group but does not demand that its members see themselves as feminists.

If you are trans or non-binary and your pronouns or name could be misinterpreted, you may find it easier to contact an admin or admins with a request to join the group - just to avoid confusion. You are welcome here.

National Groups:
Larp Women Unite - Sverige (Sweden)
Larp Women Unite - Danmark (Denmark)
Larp Women Unite - Norge (Norway)
Larp Women Unite - Suomi (Finland)
Larp Women Unite - France (France)

Larperinnen aus dem deutschsprachigen Raum (Germany, not a LWU group)

Non gender separatist group

But what if I don't fit the demographic for any of the LWU-groups or if I want/need to join a group which is not gender separatist?

Larp Feminists Unite - International

This is primarily a group for Nordic larpers, but all nationalities are welcome. The main purpose of this group is to be a place for people who in part or completely identifies as feminists.
Your are welcome regardless if you are a larper or thinking about joining the community but you need to be interested in larp.

Larp Feminists Unite - Sverige (Sweden)

Swedish version of the above. Started first by Karin Edman and Bim Åkesson Schär.

"Ett support och planeringsforum för lajvfeminister av alla kön. ...Karin Edman är huvudadmin och sköter administreringen av sidan tillsammans med Bim Åkesson Schär. Föreslå gärna medlemmar, men fråga dem först om de vill bli medlemmar.

Efter en idé av Bim Åkesson Schär i april 2017."

Larpers BFF (International, Knutpunkts-based, not an LWU group)
"What if, discussions on difficult issues started with the intention of creating solutions and understanding, maybe even friendship, rather than to sort out who's "right" ? Maybe that's a tall order as forums on the net fairly often tend to bring out the worst in people, the ones focused on the grand activity/hobby/interest of larp not being an exception. But still - on the official No hate day - This is what we propose.
The goal of this group is to take on the life and death questions of love, sex, life, despair, abuse, violence, gender, norms and much more.
The deal is this: Any person can become a member. Your gender, nationality, skin colour, function variations, socio economic background, sexual orientation and all that are totally uninteresting for your application.
Awareness of the sometimes stigmatised, under privileged and triggering aspects of some of these things (and what they entail) is very much of interest. Not that you need to know anything about it really. As long as you are willing do be kind and openminded and here to share and learn along with equals."

HBTQ- groups for larpers

Larp Women Who Likes Larp Women
For female identified larpers who are interested in dating other female identified larping women.
H*bbits and Other Fagg*ts

"A group for Nordic larpers who aren't the gender their parents first assumed, who (among other things do or would) enjoy fucking people of the same sex, or who don't want to fuck anyone at all."

torsdag 3 augusti 2017

Leaving someone alone.

[the following blog post relates to social interaction and can be very relevant for those of us who do a lot of activism or are very passionate about a subject]

I was asked today what my thought are about when I have a falling out with someone in the social circles of larp and get asked to leave them alone. After how long time would it be ok to send the other person a message? Would it be ok for example to send an email after two years?

I initially misunderstood the question, which we discovered after a while but I find this to be an interesting subject. I have, in the course of my feminist activism on social media have people ask me to leave them alone, or to have minimal contact with them, or to not speak to them at all. This does not mean that they are anti-feminist or anything, usually it has more to do with personalities or methods clashing or me doing things I felt were right and just but which hurt them on a personal level. The more you interact with people, the more likely it is you will also have had negative interactions with them.

Now, unless they are a member of a forum I admin and my job as an admin warrants contact with them I have this approach to respecting the request of no contact:

I will not initiate any contact with them, not in public spaces, not at parties or conferences. I will not send them messages in social media or via mail. I will avoid commenting on their comments in social media. I will not let outsiders mediate between us, unless I am certain the offer to mediate is made on request on the person who requested to have no Contact with me.

If I am invited to a larp Group with the person, I will decline, possibly giving an explanation to the person inviting me of where me and the other person stand at the moment. I would possibly go to the same larp as the other person, depending on how large the larp was and the physical space where it would be held. I would however not leave a larp if the other person signed on later than me. But I would be very aware of respecting the physical space of the other person and not engage in contact.

If the other person was forced to have Contact with me I would try to keep that Contact brief, non dramatic and to the point. I would try to not take advantage of the situation to sort out our differences. If the other person said that they would like to use the contact to also work on our relationship I would try to be empathetic towards them, if I had the emotional and mental energy for them, otherwise tell them I was happy to do so at another time.

If the other person sent me some kind of message online or sent a mutual friend I would try to be in a good headspace when accepting the message and if the content was that they were ready to end the "no contact" I would try to find out if they wanted to talk about what happened or just move on with our lives. If they wanted to talk I would be honest with what I would need for it to be a good talk.

I find to be asked to leave someone alone to be a very reasonable request. There are very few people that we absolutely have to be in contact with. To respect someone's request to not contact them is to give them space and time. You might think that if you just got to talk to them and explain what you really meant or what you really think they might be able to see you differently. But by respecting their request for no contact or minimal contact you are giving them the gift of having a bit of integrity.

When they feel ready, they might contact you.

Now my brain does work in the way that if there has been enough time and the person I'm leaving alone isn't someone I had a lot of contact with it is very possible that I might get an email after two years and be like "" I'm sorry for that but we all age and my memory isn't what it used to be. Which can be a good thing for some people.

Now I know it can be rough to know as a larper and/or a nerd that out there is someone who dislikes you. And it's ok to mourn the relationship if you had a really good friendship going. But the way I see it ignoring their request is about you and not them. And you can handle it. It will all work out in the end.

It has to.

onsdag 2 augusti 2017

Agressive feminism

I'm sometimes accused of spreading aggressive feminism. Depending on what you count as aggressive, you wouldn't exactly be wrong. There is a lot of anger and negative emotion that drives me forward, but I try to use those emotions to make real change, material and practical change in the communities where I am active, which is mostly "Nordic Larp" and the Swedish larp scene. I myself don't really care about why people do things as long as the end result is beneficial to as many as possible. Some of us are driven by love, some by anger, some just cant stand the situation as it is any more. I'm driven by mixed emotions but negative emotions sure is what gives this engine it's turbo setting.

I've been wronged. And so have so many of my friends.

Growing up as a woman in the patriarchy is rough, and I often feel that the bullying I went through as a child has made me involuntarily masculinized, in such a way that I brought negative macho traits into my personality. I had to find a way to get through my early years and survive physically and mentally.  Reading a lot helped, as did watching fantasy and science fictions shows and movies. But growing up nerd without any close female friends also landed me in male dominated environments most of the time. I saw myself as a feminist early on and did hang out as much as I could with the few women I could find in the computer nerd environments where I did find a few friends in my late teens.

I don't think I made a lot of new female friends until I started larping in 2002 and in the beginning I was an odd bird out in the local Vampire larp. I looked like a woman but I acted a lot like stereotypical man. And female presenting individuals are not supposed to act like that.
I have felt many times that what I have done that lead to me being called aggressive would not have been judged as harshly if I had been perceived as a man by my peers. But as I am a woman I am expected to do emotional labour among other things. I am supposed to care about other peoples emotions and reactions to what I say. I am supposed to adapt my language to who might be listening. If someone tells me my opinions hurt or upset them, I am supposed to say sorry and soften my opinion and redact what I said.

Some of the most physcally threatening situations I have ended up in have been because I have refused to back down in defending myself and my integrity or the integrity of another person. It seems a lot of people of all genders think that if me and them just talk things out in private, I will see their point and change my mind and tell them so. But I see what I see, I know what I know and I will tell it like it is.

It reminds me of the Star Trek Captain Picard who when interrogated for days and asked how many lights he saw.

"There are four lights"

And if that is aggressive feminism, I can't help you.

And for all those women out there who are like me, don't let people calling you aggressive stop you. If they want to stop you, they have to actually stop you. Think through what you said or what you did and imagine the same words or actions coming from someone who is seen as male. Think, would your peers call him aggressive?

fredag 19 maj 2017

A critique of "gender neutral larps"

Original Swedish text below.

Some larps and larp designers try to "solve" gender equality by making their larps gender neutral in one way or another. Some examples of solutions I have seen have been the following:
  • Women and men exist in the game World, but they all have the exact same resources and face the exact same challenges as a member of any other gender.
  • There are no genders, or only one gender in the game World.
  • There are men and women in the game World, but all the written roles are written as gender neutrals without reference to their gender identity, pronoun or any specific reproductive organs, such as an uterus. This does not mean they are agender, mostly once they are cast they get the same gender as the player in the Eyes of the other players.

[a photo of a classroom in black and white. The tables are empty but some people have gathered at the back of the room. You can mostly see their dark shadows.]My critique is this: With these methods it becomes harder to tell stories about real World sexism and feminism and that erases not only womens experiences and historic roles but also the stories of anyone who is trans and/or non-binary and has had to struggle with the gender binary wiev of the real World.

The gender Neutral character also becomes mostly "male" because we were all raised in a World where the cis-man (also, a White cis-man) is the norm.

I have tried to work with this by either Writing character who have a gender identity of their own or what I did for Witches of Ästad Farm, where I wrote all the characters as female and then rewrote them after casting, having a look at what "social gender" the player had asked for their role. I did demand of the players that they choose female or male, because I wanted to portray the way the society of Swedish 1940-ies desperatly pressed everyone into those strict gender roles.

En del lajv och lajvarrangörer i Sverige "löser" jämställdhet genom att införa könsneutrala lösningar. Exempel på sådana lösningar kan vara att kvinnor och män förvisso finns i lajvvärlden, men har tillgång till exakt samma resurser och ställs inför samma utmaningar.
Andra kör med att det inte finns några kön i världen, eller bara ett kön.
Ytterligare andra kör att det finns både män och kvinnor i spelvärlden men att de skrivna roller som skrivs skrivs könsneutralt och att inget rollerna varken hänvisar till en könsidentitet eller till reproduktiva könsdelar som rollen ska ha (som tex livmoder).
Jag har dock kritik: att det med dessa metoder kan bli svårt att göra berättelser just OM sexism och feminism och att det inte bara raderar kvinnors livsvillkor utan även raderar de med transerfarenhet och ickebinära och deras upplevelser av att möta ett binärt könsrollstänkande.
Den "neutrala" karaktären blir oftast "som en man" i mina ögon då vi är uppväxta i ett samhälle med cis-mannen som norm.
Jag har försökt lösa det genom att antingen skriva roller med en bestämd könsidentitet eller som till "Häxorna på Ästad gård" skriva alla roller som kvinnor och skriva om dem efter castingen utifrån vilket kön spelaren önskat på sin roll.
Vilka är era egna tankar?
Vilka olika lösningar har ni sett?

onsdag 26 april 2017

Anmälan till Häxorna på Ästad gård är öppen till den 7 maj.

Jag och Linda har nu öppnat anmälan till mitt lajv Häxorna på Ästad Gård.

Här finns anmälningsformuläret: Anmälan Häxorna på Ästad Gård 2017
Här finns hemsidan: Häxorna på Ästad gård
Här är hur vi jobbar med funktionsnedsättningar och tillgänglighet: Tillgänglighet

Anmälan går till så att man fyller i en anmälan och skickar in. Den 7 maj på kvällen stänger vi den egentliga anmälan. Har vi då fått fler anmälda än sovplatser på Ästad 4H kommer vi att lotta med så kallad "viktning". Detta innebär att dels kommer de som anmält sig under första veckan (innan söndagen den 30 april) samt internationella gäster att ha större chans att bli dragna i lotteriet. Detta då vi dels vill premiera de som är entusiastiska och anmäler sig första veckan utan att utestänga folk som fått höra om lajvet först nu och att vi vill kunna ge internationella gäster svar så tidigt som möjligt om de behöver göra resplaner och beställa biljetter.

Vi kommer att kontakta både de som fått och de som inte fått plats så snart som vi gjort lottningen. Vi förväntar oss svar från er på det kontaktförsöket. Själva castingen kommer att gå långsammare men man kommer inte behöva betala 1100 kr förrän man har sin roll.

Tveka inte om ni har bekymmer, ju tidigare vi vet desto lättare är det att lösa. Vi håller på med en ansökan till Larpfund om vi kan få ca 5 biljetter för halva priset.

lördag 22 april 2017

Some arguments for more lesbian romance in larp

I want to write about one of my favorite subjects: Lesbian romance.
And I want to connect it to my main hobby. So I will try to write a little bit about why there should be more lesbian romance in Nordic Larp, or in any kind of larp.

Although I have encountered lesbian romance in the 1980 is Just a little lovin'(1) , after the catastrophy at Landsväg(2) and in another world during the height of armed conflict at WarHeart(3) I still think there is too little lesbian romance and lesbian eroticism in the larps I play. So to encourage more lesbian romance in larp I organize larps which feature lesbianism and I write about it and make it a subject to explore by other designers and players.

I enjoy the company of women. I think women are sexy and exciting and intelligent.
Here are some good things about larping lesbian romance:
  • Inclusion: Lesbians are larpers too, so it's nice to feel normal, wanted and included in your hobby.
  • Shared experiences: Many women enjoy playing closely with people of the same gender.
  • Emotional labour: Many women have been brought up to be able to speak about emotions which makes consent negotiation much smoother between them.
  • Trust: Many women have an easier time trusting other women which makes intimate play much easier.
  • Counters hetersoexism: Since we are brought up in societies that expect heterosexuality from us, larping lesbianism can be a way to explore other romantic and sexual feeling within ourselves and broaden our alternatives.
  • A sensory experience: larping lesbian relationships can mean a chance to experience a romantical closeness with other female bodied individuals.
  • For straight male larpers who try crossplaying(4) lesbian romance can both feel more relaxed and also frees them from the stereotype that a female character is defined by her relationship to a man.
Some arguments for designers to include lesbianism in their writing

  • Women's stories are important and valid.
  • Lesbian stories are important, valid and relevant. In our world lesbians are oppressed both as women and as homosexuals. Larp stories can both touch upon this oppression or choose to leave both the patriachy and heterosexism behind.
  • It can be a way to explore deeply feminist subjects.
  • Have a presence of lesbian characters in works of fiction opens us up to understanding and compassion for a marginalized group.
  • Lesbian designers get to write about sexuality and relationships who are relevant to them.
  • Every time you include lesbian characters there is a chance you might at least educate a larper about lesbianism, and you might even help someone come out of the closet.
  • When you are writing larps about historical events the inclusion of lesbianism will both increase the your knowledge of the history of lesbianism and will also give a more true reflection of the era you are writing about.

(1) Grasmo & Edland
(2) Sortti, Carlslund & Sjöberg
(3) Berglund et al

(4) Playing a character of another gender than your regular one.
A swedish sex-ed magazine from 1933.
This issue is about homosexuality.