In my experience a lot of people who write about larp approach it in an intellectual way, while people who are more interested in the physicality and/or sensuality of larp instead organize work shops where they instead show other larpers what they mean. I enjoy doing both, an also I reach different people in organizing work shops and writing in the blog. I have also spent a lot of time since the summer of 2014 to battle sexual harassment and rape cases on a policy level and to support victims on a community and on a personal level. That has taken a toll and I would like to explore and celebrate the more positive sides of larp as well. Less focus on what we don't want and more focus and what we do want.
My name is Karin and I have organized sensual workshops both about the positive end of the spectrum with Asmr for larp, the negative end with my Torture Workshop and the more neutral workshop about using Tactile Touch in larp. Tactile touch is when information is transmitted by touching some thing or person or being touched by a thing or person. Tactile massage is a Swedish massage form that is very light and soothing.
As you might realize I'm a sensual larper. You might not think so if you have met me as a sniper staking out a small village, covered in mud, reporting in after my four hour shared shift with my team mate. But what is a sensual experience? The night chill, the straining of the eye to see movement down in the village and the feeling of cold mud against my skin that dries and cracks is also a sensual.
This blog post can apply to other genders but I myself am woman and I also enjoy writing about and for women. The blog post does not apply to all women. If you are not a woman and still identify with what I write, I think that is great.
I come from a Swedish larp tradition where we mainly write our own characters and decide our own relationships. The few larps with prewritten and casted characters I have been to have been so called Nordic Larps such as Just a Little Lovin' (2011) and Coven (2014).
The validity of enjoying yourself
We all have our own reasons for enjoying larp. Some of these reasons that have to do with how our bodies relate to interaction with others seems to be taboo to talk about, or if you talk about them you are not supposed to do so in a public or semi public space. Sexuality, sensuality and even the physicality of larp seems to be some of these taboos to some people.
I am interested in sensuality at larps. I think there are valid and useful things about sensual larping, sexually charged larping, erotically charged larping and romantically charged larping. I think that there is no shame in also experiencing an echo of what you are playing in your own body. Some some like to play sexual characters and map that characters sexuality away from their own, some map it after their own sexuality. Most Swedish larpers I have talked to about this subject never even thought about having a character with another sexuality than their own before I asked. And all of this is ok and valid.
To me the whole selling point of larping is the physicality of the experience. There are other ways to role play that are less physical than larp. Certainly there is still a sliding scale of how physical different larps are, and the same goes for sensual romantic play. It can be as unphysical as letter writing and long bouts of eye contact that still leaves you tingly all over. Or it can be as physical as real making out, tongue and all. And it is not unheard of that larpers then moved into the realm of real sex and even having long committed relationships after meeting at a larp. And as long as this happens with enthusiastic consent I am fine with it. We only have one life and we deserve to enjoy it.
Now I would like to say something about how women are more often than not raised to put the needs and wishes of others before their own needs and wishes. We are taught that to indulge in what makes us happy and tingly all over should come with a tint of shame. This manifests in many ways and when it comes to physicality it also comes with how the female body is critiqued and must be constrained, covered and controlled. Women are held to higher moral standard than men and their behavior and words are very closely monitored.
Another thing I have realized is that a lot of men, and some others as well, confuse experiencing sensuality and romantic or sexual tension with another larper has to do if that larper is conventionally good looking or even exeptionally good looking, I have found that this is often not the case. It can be easier if the other persons looks are acceptable to you but to me and many women I have talked to it has more to do with how you play the character, smell, eye contact, how the physical interaction is working out, how the larpers do their characters body language. To me it can be a certain swagger to the shoulders, a way to clench a jaw line, an arm around my waist, calling me an in game pet name.
And I want to say:
You deserve to have more than an ok larp when you spend time, work and money on larping. I think it is ok to leave gameplay that is not enjoyable for you, steering away from it. If you choose to off game with the people it is not working out for and you find another way that is more enjoyable to you, that's great but I know it is not possible for all larps. It's ok to choose to steer towards the kind of things you like. It is ok to put yourself first.
It is ok to state your wishes and preferences clearly, because how would you otherwise attain them. If you can accept a no you don't need to apologize for your desires.
It is ok to want to touch other larpers and to do so according to consent and it's ok to want to be touched and experience that. You play at being a goddess, a concubine, a lover, a fearless warrior queen and you can find and deserve to find coplayers who will move with you to attain that which you truly enjoy. And I know we can both have that play with each other and we can help members of all genders to both explore their own desire and acquire the skill to play these kind of relationships at a desired physical level at larps that allow it. I know I enjoy the prolonged,
For a woman in a patriachy it can be a very liberating thing to ask for one what one wants and then greatly enjoy herself, and I as a feminist celebrate that.
Further subjects for the future
- About larp attraction and how it correlates with beauty norms.
- Prolonged romantic tension and bleedhunt.
- Bleed during the game as a desired state.
- Norms about hooking up with coplayers.
- "It's even more intense because we know its not real"
- Getting to experience deep emotions without having to be responsible.
- Sexually charged larping and feminism
- "Romantic play as a gendered phenomenon"
- Have a finnish person guest post about norms about romantic play as pre-written characters in Finland.
- Have some guy guest post about body image.