tisdag 12 december 2017

The "physicality of larp" manifesto

In which I argue that without physicality a role playing event is not a larp.

Background to the manifesto: I have come across larpers who design games and then call them larps, because this is the gaming culture they grew up in and learned their trade. Calling it a larp they might get acknowledgement from their peers and also makes it easier to make other larpers try their game. I find this lacks a connection with gaming and role playing history as we rename and rebrand other games or forms of role play as larp. We don’t need to call a game or a role playing event a larp to make it valid. Other forms of role play is valid and entertaining and can tell a variety of stories. But they are not larps and don’t need to be larps.

Intro to the manifesto: Not all good things are larps, larps are not inherently good things. People can larp their way through things that are not larps, or even role playing games. A Role playing experience does not need to be a larp to be valid. Not every role playing experience a larper creates is a larp.

Larp will not save the world.

The Manifesto

A larp is an live action role play event that uses physicality as a way to tell a story and/or give the participants a physical experience. Physical experiences can teach on multiple levels, beyond the cerebral stimulation of an intellectual exercise.
Just as cooking a meal for the first time teaches us things about the recipe using more channels than reading the recipe or talking to a chef or a friend about cooking the meal.

To larp something is to use physicality and role play as a way to enact something.

A larp does not have to involve more than one person, but it needs to involve at least one person, who uses physicality to explore and experience.

“Internal play” might happen at larps, but is not an essential part of larping. Internal play lacks the physicality I argue is an essential part of larping. Without external expression of internal play there is no physicality.

What is physicality?

Physicality is experiencing things first and foremost with your body and senses and not only with your mind. Physical interaction between human beings also takes more than mere communicating information through speech or written information.

The physicality of a larp will not be and on/off switch but a sliding scale. I am arguing a larp needs have enough physicality for it to even be a larp, but I am not saying it needs to have everything listed below.

I will now give examples of physicality.

Physicality of the senses, sensuality.

Looking at many different things and people, not merely pictures or representations of these things or people. Perceiving them with your eyes.
Touching objects and people, perceiving them with touch. Being touched by objects and people, perceiving them as pressure, heat, cold, movement, vibration, texture, pain.
Tasting things and people, perceiving them with taste buds.
Hearing sounds made by objects or by other people or animals, perceiving them with your ears. Acceleration and falling might also fall into this category due to the workings of the inner ear.

Physicality of physical expression:

Relating information about in game events and facts through speech that is formed by what kind of character you are playing. Speaking as your character and not as yourself. Using a body language designed for the character that is not your own.

Physicality of bodily functions:

Eating in game food fitting the setting and the character you play when your character is hungry or choosing to stay hungry because it connects you more with your character. Eating food that fits the larp event. If the participants cook their own food it can be an exercise in physicality to cook the food using fitting methods and utensils.

Going to your characters in game bed when they are tired or postponing going to bed due to the characters having duties. Bathing and showering as your character in a bathroom that is in game or choosing to stay dirty because this is what the character would do.

Physicality of the expression of emotions.
Crying with fluid leaving the eye. Laughing audibly. Showing emotions with your face, relating feelings your character is having or is trying to make other character believe they are having. Showing that your character is experiencing a stomach ache or shaking hands of excitement or anxiety. Having cold sweats or simulating these with other liquids. Being drunk or simulating drunkedness.

Physicality of the body.

Either playing your body type or using physical representations that other players are is sensually able to experience. Such as using pads or prosthetics or a binder to change the gender expression, perceived weight or mimicking a pregnancy of a certain stage. Also simulating a menstrual cycle or tending to a real menstrual cycle using “in game methods” could fall under this.

Physicality of intimacy: Playing on attraction and desire for a character that fit your character sexuality, their sexdrive and their social standing. Seeking physical closeness with the person they desire and striving to enact (out of game consensual) intimate acts using the systems in place for doing so (these might however be void of physicality).

What is not the physicality of larp?

Any meta technique that removes the physical element of an interaction. (this can still be a part of the larp but not the physicality of it) such as resolving conflict through rolling dice or exchanging battle values or playing out intimacy between characters using a non touch technique.
Eating food that is not a part of the larp event, such as power bars at a dark ages fantasy larp.

Finding your out of game partner and being intimate with them when your characters are not intimate.

The grey areas of physicality.

Being dressed as your character if the clothes are something you would normally wear.
Being dressed as your character in clothes so comfortable you forget about wearing them.

Saying things your character would say, but without emoting them differently than you yourself would.

Any visible disability that you might have that you choose to not incorporate into the character. It will affect your own experience of the physicality of a larp while others will attempt to see it as an out of game circumstance.


Larping outside of larp

To larp something is to use the physicality of the body in a physical space and use role play as a way to enact something as someone other than yourself. You can larp your way through menial tasks of your everyday life, imagining you are a maid in another age and adopting the physical characteristics of the character.

You can also larp your way through some board games, although parts will still be representative and not larped.

Non larp role playing events might contain parts that are “larping” without that making the whole event into a larp.Larping can be an ingredient that does not turn the whole event into a larp.

There is also the larping happening outside of larps that is done at so called pervasive games. A larp can also have a possibility for the larpers to leave the larp event and go out into a non larping area for some pervasive gaming. This happens at city based larps such as Vampire where a venue might be fully in game but you can take your character out on the town and play with a smaller group of larpers.

Also there is Alternate Reality Gaming in which might fall under this or under the next title.

Being at a larp without larping

I argue that if a person is merely looking at other people larping, even while dressed in character clothing (clothes donned for the event that are not a part of your everyday clothing) then they are not larping. This is because this lacks the element of role playing. Internal play does not count, as it is merely Shrödingers larper.

At games where certain bodily needs are cared for out of game, I argue that a person seeing to that need, is at a larp but is not currently larping, because of the agreement that such bodily needs are managed out of game.

At Alternative Reality Games, you are usually not donning a character, and is not role playing and I would say not larping. But you might commit to doing physical actions that you would not do outside of the missions of the ARG , making the game have the element of physicality, if not role play.

Larping is something that some participants do during the whole larp event and that some participants start and stop, even if they are not removing themselves to an out of game area. I think this is the reason why some people have a need for out of game spaces while others find them less needful even if they might be practical for other reasons.

A brain in a jar has no physicality in its experiences.

fredag 15 september 2017

Support your local larp feminist

So after over three years of working with Larp Women Unite I notice and come in contact with other female outspoken larp feminists who have hit the same wall as I have done and suffered.

The first part of this post will be about recognizing some of the symptoms and to get some researchable names for different conditions and phenomenon. The other part is what you can do for yourself, some advice from me and finally what you can do for a friend who is suffering from feminist burnout. Here and there throughout the text I will refer to the local larp feminist as "she" but the content is for any gender identity.


Part one - Recognizing what is happening

Feminist Burnout: You can suffer burn out symptoms from doing activist work. You spend a lot of time on it. You might not notice the change you are causing. You might feel alone, shunned and hopeless. Symptoms can come in all kinds of forms but usually you suffer anxiety, have trouble sleeping or are dead tired all the time. There can be bouts of crying and feeling really hopeless about everything. You might wish you never became a feminist an long for days when larp was just "something fun" for you. You might need a break from the fight and that is ok. Make sure you have some other things to do that is not tied into you activism and maybe tell your close friends that you are "off duty". I even have people who fill in for me in the admin groups I'm in.

Compassion fatigue
One day you feel meh. Or you feel anger that you are doing "all the work" while "no one else is listening or fighting their own fight". You feel "screw them" and "whatever". At the same time you can feel deep shame that you really don't care and you no longer feel pleasure from doing what you used to love. Compassion fatigue was originally researched in nurses and social workers. It mainly manifests in larp feminists that work with traumatic episodes, such as workings with victims of trauma such as out of game rape in a larp context or a former abusive spouse. It is also known as secondary traumatic stress.

Wikipedia says:
"Persons who are overly conscientious, perfectionists and self-giving are more likely to suffer from secondary traumatic stress. Those who have low levels of social support or high levels of stress in personal life are also more likely to develop STS. In addition, previous histories of trauma that led to negative coping skills, such as bottling up or avoiding emotions, having small support systems, increase the risk for developing STS."

The Female Gender Role
In most countries women are expected to make others feel loved, accepted and welcome. If they are granted power they are more expected to use that power fairly and justly and to be more informed about social justice politics. Women are supposed to be both knowledgeable and skilled in the so called "soft values". A woman is expected to suggest and not demand and to be modest and if she is sure of herself, not show it. A woman is expected to smile more than a man, and to show at all times that she is not angry and that she is no threat.

Emotional labour / Emotion workWikipedia says this:
"Emotional labor is the process of managing feelings and expressions to fulfill the emotional requirements of a job.  More specifically, workers are expected to regulate their emotions during interactions with customers, co-workers and superiors. This includes analysis and decision making in terms of the expression of emotion, whether actually felt or not, as well as its opposite: the suppression of emotions that are felt but not expressed." (read more here)
When the same thing is done privately it is called emotion work, but in the larp community a lot of functions can be seen as jobs. Larp Organizer, community organizer, safety host, ombudsman etc. When you are the local larp feminist, over time people might see you less as a human being and more a s a person who has the "job" of being the local larp feminist. This can be especially difficult because if you are a woman, then you are fighting for your own rights to participate fully in the larp hobby, so you WILL have a lot of emotions on the subject.

Genderlect and sociolect.There is a thing called sociolect , it's about how members of different groups speak or are expected to speak. A common clash is when neurotyphical middle class white feminists encounter members of the working class and or feminists from other ethnicities. Often they are very preoccupied with the "correct" way so things and might feel attacked and uncomfortable with other ways of speaking and writing, even when it is done in the same language. They might want to "help" you by correcting you language so that it becomes more "effective at conveying you message". What really should happen is them learning that there are many ways to communicate.
Genderlect is when you look at how different genders are expected to sound and write. In many cultures women are supposed to use more softening words and speak about how they "feel" and not about how things "are". If you deviate from you genderlect people might see you as being aggressive or timid depending. People deviating from their genderlect will suffer social punishments for this.

Social media overwhelming / entering radio silenceYou might feel your heart race every time you phone says it has a message for you. Or you dread what the person you are having an online discussion with will say next. Maybe you start feeling like you don't "deserve" to be seen on social media. You stop posting and start lurking. Maybe you stop using your accounts at all. Maybe you close them down. Sometimes this is a good coping strategy, like the "Tap Out" described below. But if you notice that you or a friends suddenly dramatically changes their online behaviour, something might very well be up with them emotionally.
Or they could just be at a larp.

Part two - Supporting yourself / supporting the suffering

Radical acceptanceThis is a technique I didn't want to use at first. But I have found that sometimes it is the only thing that works. I stop what I'm doing and I kind of "look up" either mentally or physically. Then I say to myself: "It is what it is". Then I make a decision if it is something I have the time and energy to work on right now or if I should just go do something else. The something else is sometimes a simpler project, sometimes something that recharges my batteries. I've used radial acceptance for my body issues, for relatives illnesses, for bleed after larps, for doing a brain scan or a breast scan or for going into doing a test I am afraid I will fail. Or simply accepting that there are people out there who hate me and want to harm me. Some for valid reasons, some not so valid.

Take care of the bodySleep, eat things you enjoy, work out by doing cardio or lifting heavy weights. Also drink a glass of water when you get overwhelmed, maybe a cup of tea if that is you thing. A very basic thing can be go take a pee.
Taking a hot showing or a long bath might make muscles you didn't even recognize were tense lighten up. If you have energy to be social, call a friend or meet some people over a board game.

Tap outYou never have to stay online. You never have to hang around a space that feels unsafe for you. You don't need to go to a specific larp if it's not giving you what you need. You don't exist for any one else's pleasure. When the dark wave hits of self loathing, confusion, anger and maybe even flash backs for those of you who have suffered trauma like sexual abuse, rape and or/being beaten. You can practise self care and unfollow that thread o facebook, leave that instagram beef or quite simply ask the person talking to you to please leave you alone. If the interaction is online you don't even have to say you are leaving, you can just leave after you said your piece. (I call those "post and run" for those days when I don't have the energy.)

Choose a small, measurable goalI chose to work with larp feminism to follow the principle of "think globally, act locally" or the Swedish proverb "dig where you stand". Sure it's hard to be a prophet in my own home town, having heated discussions with people that could probably help me with my "larp career". To do this I often try to write down or say to myself what I want to achieve and what I will count as success.
"I want them to add a ingredient list to the home page" or "I want at least two other people to mail them about removing the rape joke" "I will go get the guard if there is another issue".

Ask for and accept helpIf you feel all alone in a discussion but maybe you notice you are getting some likes. You can maybe PM those people and say that you do feel alone. Beware of not starting a so called "dog pile" where there suddenly are a lot of people against one other.
Or maybe you are feeling like the worst person ever after having a disheartening back and forth with the organizer to your favourite larp. PM a friend you trust and ask to vent. Don't carry it all inside of you. Maybe write on your FB wall that you are having a bad day and would like some kind of encouragement. I often ask for "describe me with a gif" of "give me weird compliment".

Using mantrasHere are some mantras I use to self soothe or disengage and manage my energy.

"What other people say about you does not define who you are." I've also used this one to comfort people who have been threatened to that rumours will be spread about them
"People have many opinions" - just a statement to remind myself that is just all it is. Opinions.
"He's just wrong." - I use this when someone is using a clearly faulty logic or fact. I try to not engage or just engage on a basic level, like countering them. You can't join every argument and when people are wrong some other larper will often engage them.
"But he has a JOB!" This one I credit Christina Bodling. This is when others claim we can't expect some guy to act as a human being because he doesn't know better. If this individual has an employment he clearly knows enough to get hired and acts well enough at work to not get fired. So he should be able to act well enough even in the larp community.
"If they want to stop me, they are going to have to stop me." This isn't so much for when I'm nearing burn out, but more for when I'm getting back up. This is for handling people who are "warning" me about doing something that I truly believe is the right thing. I often use this mantra to give myself courage to ask for straight answers like: "What are your rules about male and female toplessness at the larp?" or "can you explain to me exactly why you don't think me, Johanna or Mia who applied for the character of the General would do the role well enough. Can you be concrete and specific?".

Focusing on your ethics

When there is a lot of critique against you and you are feeling the pressure pound down on you, walk trough your ethics in your head. You can understand and sympathize with the feelings others are having, while still following your own ethics. Maybe go through your ethics again. Are they still your ethics.

Forgiving yourself
So maybe you fucked up, I truly and deeply have from time to time. And maybe you feel like you don't deserve love. But a lot of feminists have very high demands they place on themselves. If you are also raised as a girl you are also under pressure to please other people and make them feel good about themselves. When demanding change in tightly knit communities you will often be seen as a trouble maker and sometimes you will be a trouble maker. Even if you have a set of ethics you are pleased with there will come times where you afterwards look back at your actions and feel shame of what you have done. When this happens, see that you stop the behaviour, back off, offer an apology and if welcome offer reparations that a possible for you to do. But try to move on. Maybe not immediately, but sooner or later. Especially if the people you acted badly towards have moved on.

Helping your friend

Let them know you are thinking of them.
Recognize when they seem tired and hopeless and express this online or in body language. Don't wait for your friend to ask for help. Throw them a PM or a text message mentioning "hey I saw what you wrote on FB, how are you holding up" or if you know they don't mind the phone, call them. Maybe offer to feed them their favourite food, at their home or at a restaurant.
Don't think they know you like them, tell them, especially when times are grim. Some people really really appreciate silly little gifts. Send them something nice in the mail. Named or anonymous.

Explicitly invite them to things.
When you are the local, vocal, larp feminist you can often feel like a hated outcast in your own community. Sure a lot of people send love your way but it can be hard to take that to heart when there is so many aggressive messages sent your way. You are made feel unwelcome and that you are "destroying the community" and "hurting people". This can lead to a reaction where you withdraw from even the social circle's where you are welcome by the organizers. So it can be nice and validated to be told "we especially want you to be here/there" even if they might not be able to make it due to time or exhaustion.

Don't hold them to impossible standards.None of us truly know everything that happens to another person. So when you local larp feminist either messes up, seems to be overreacting, seems to crack from something "small" happening, that can probably come from being under a lot of pressure for a long time. She might be getting straight up hate mail and threaths. Maybe she recently lost a close friend who said she was to "angry" these days or that they were "afraid" of her. Or maybe when she stays friends with "the wrong person".
Remember that she to grew up in the patriarchy, she didn't come to you from an alien planet where all genders were treated equal. Getting rid of internal misogyny is an on-going work and I don't know if there is a human born today that will get there in their life time.

Don't overestimate their strength
We have a cultural narrative of the "strong female protagonist". And I myself have often been told that the people who hurt me the most had no idea they even could hurt me, because I seem like such a bad ass. This is in spite of me being very open with being a vulnerable, emotional human being. They will crack and they will stumble and they will have bad days when they never want to larp again, or talk to another larper ever again. That is not because they hate you specifically, but because hey have been lead to belive "everyone" in the larp community hates them.

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 "who...is...this?" 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 https://nordiclarp.org/event/just-a-little-lovin/
(2) Sortti, Carlslund & Sjöberg http://beratta.org/landsvag/
(3) Berglund et al https://nordiclarp.org/wiki/Krigshj%C3%A4rta_(Campaign)

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

fredag 21 april 2017

En lite guide till kvinnlig nördvänskap

Jag och Susanne Vejdemo på "Thule: Skuggor i snön"

Många så kallade nördhobbys är mansdominerade även om mycket gjorts de senaste åren för att bredda nördbegreppet så att även mer traditionellt kvinnodominerade hobbys ska ses som nördiga. Detta leder till att många kvinnliga nördar "vuxit upp" i en nördhobby omgiven av män med ett fåtal andra kvinnor som de ibland dessutom förhindrats från att skapa egna relationer till och/eller sett som hot och konkurrans.
Som kvinnliga(1) nördar vill jag föreslå att vi behöver aktivt bestämma oss för att ha en grundläggande lojalitet till varandra. Vi behöver göra ett aktivt val att känna igen oss själva i andra kvinnor, att sätta oss in i andra kvinnliga nördars erfarenheter. Vi behöver också träna på att göra detta över tid. Då vi har vuxit upp i en mansdominerat samhälle har många av oss internaliserat att det är vad män tycker om oss och andra som har ett högre värde.
  • Vi kan både rekrytera andra kvinnor in i våra hobbys genom att visa och berätta för de som är intresserade och se till att när det kommer nya kvinnor till våra kretsar, gå fram och presentera oss och visa ett intresse för dem som personer.
  • Vi måste stoppa oss själva när vi märker att vi ser andra kvinnor som hot eller konkurrenter. Konkurrenter om vad? Vilka begränsade resurser är det vi tror att de kan ta ifrån oss som inte andra nördar kan ta ifrån oss. Försök att utvärdera situationen och se om ni kan bli vänner istället.
  • Vi måste se upp så att vi inte dömer kvinnliga nördar hårdare än vad vi dömer andra människor.
  • Vi måste se till att inte ha högre ideal för nördkvinnor att leva upp till än vad vi har för andra nördar.
  • Vi ska inte kräva mer av en vänskap med en kvinna än vad vi kräver av våra vänskaper med män.
  • Vi ska inte förvänta oss att kvinnliga nördar ska vara bättre på att utföra emotionellt arbete (2).
  • Vi ska inte bedöma eller kritisera andra kvinnors utseende, kroppar eller klädstilar.
  • Om en kvinna kommer in som partner till någon vi redan känner och den relationen sedan tar slut är det lättare för henne att fortsätta i hobbyn om vi inte behandlat henne som person X partner utan bekantat oss med henne. Om hon slutar komma till evenemang kan det vara schyst att höra av sig och visa att hon fortfarande är välkommen och att hennes hobbyutövande inte behöver hänga ihop med hennes relationsstatus.
  • Det finns även nördhobbys där det görs intiativ med separatistiska träffar, antingen bara för kvinnor eller för kvinnor och ickebinära (3). Dessa träffar är jättebra tillfällen att möta andra, bygga relationer och lyssna på varandra utan att män kommer "i vägen".
  • Försök se till att bereda plats och talutrymme även för nykomlingar och andra kvinnor så att inte samma personer som brukar ta upp mycket av taltiden (oftast samma män/pojkar) dominerar.
  • Jag vill också slå ett slag för att inte förutsätta könet, alla transfeminina kan behöva din grundläggande lojalitet oavsett om deras könsidentitet är kvinnlig eller ej.
  • Förutsätt inte heterosexualitet. Försök inte genast sammanföra singeltjejer med singelkillar i hobbyn. Dels är inte ett hot mot dig eller din eventuella relation med en man för att hon är singel, det är en sak mellan dig och din eventuella partner. Dessutom, om du är kvinna kanske hon är intresserad av dig? #thelesbianagenda
Vi ska dessutom inte låta vad männen i vår omgivnings säger om andra kvinnor påverka vår egen syn på de nördkvinnorna. Istället ska skapa oss vår egen uppfattning om dem. Vi ska anstränga oss för att bygga våra egna relationer som inte går via män.
(1) Transkvinnor är kvinnor.
(3) Ickebinär: kan den person kalla sig som identifierar sig som mellan eller bortom kvinna–man-uppdelningen av kön. Ibland används ”ickebinär” som ett paraplybegrepp för olika könsidentiteter som inte följer tvåkönsnormen. Ickebinär betyder inte samma sak för alla som definierar sig som det. En del är både tjej och kille. Andra befinner sig mellan de kategorierna. Många ickebinära är inget kön. En del ickebinära vill förändra kroppen med hormoner och/eller kirurgi. (http://www.transformering.se/vad-ar-trans/ordlista)

onsdag 8 mars 2017

Elaine Boström: Den osynliga sexismen

Detta är en gästpost.

Om den största betydelsen för män i mitt sociala liv är vilka romantiska möjligheter de har med mig. Vad för feminister är då egentligen mina manliga vänner?

Vi lever i ett patriarkat där männen sätter reglerna och dikterar hur saker (och kvinnor) skall se ut. Ett patriarkat där jag känner mig sexig i en klänning men tvekar att ta på mig min kostym för att jag kanske framstår som för bossig, såvida jag inte har en snygg urringning.
Ett patriarkat innebär att män är normen och får makt av sina egna stereotyper. Om en man är kvinnlig anses han som udda och bryter mot normen, eftersom kvinnlighet är något undergivet och svagt. Något hos män som skall ses ned på och skrattas åt, medan manlighet hos kvinnor anses som tufft och tomboys är något bra. Så länge männen gillar det. Så länge det bara är lite trotsigt, för är det makt inblandat blir det för farligt och måste spottas på. Det är en struktur som skadar både män och kvinnor.
Det här pratar vi redan om, både i sociala medier och i fikarum, och en del män (och de flesta kvinnor) jag känner arbetar med att förändra det.

Men det finns en del av patriarkatet som vi inte pratar om så ofta, ibland känns det nästan som att det finns ett slutet avtal där allt annat inom feminismen är accepterat men att just prata med män om kvinnors sociala makt kontra deras tillgänglighet är tabu. Ursäkterna haglar och de går in i defensivt läge. “Ja, men så illa är det inte”, “Jag vill bara ligga” och “Det är väl inget fel med att jag tycker hon är attraktiv” är några av argumenten jag fått höra. Och nej, det är inget fel, men när det byggs upp en social struktur kring vem som är liggbar eller tillgänglig där män ger den individen bonusar och tillgång till sociala event, då är det det ett problem. Speciellt i fall där mer etablerade kvinnor blir ratade, även av monogama män.
Det här är en del av patriarkatet som även det angår mina vänner och allierade, för det är fortfarande patriarkatet som styr de icke-separatistiska sociala kretsarna och nätverken genom social agens.

Jag var till patriarkatets gunst senast för några år sedan, jag hade just flyttat till Göteborg. Jag var fräsch, ny och intressant. Ung, snygg och knullbar. Jag blev inbjuden till allt, fick romantiska inviter. Jag fick njuta lite av att patriarkatet gillade mig. Gratis drinkar, fikor och massvis av spel i lajvet jag var med i.

Det finns ytterligare exempel från andra kvinnor i mitt nätverk som visar på detta som ett faktum, att "nya" och "tillgängliga" tjejer i olika kretsar får alla de goa bonusarna som patriarkatet så fint bjuder på. Bjuden på fika, inbjuden till fest, meddragen i sociala sammanhang och lajvgrupper, inbjudan till spel och lajvplotter. Gärna romantiska.
Men så snart du som kvinna får lite makt byts du ofta ut mot mot en ny kvinna och göms i ett skåp. Om du som kvinna har makt eller är "uttjänt" så blir du utskuffad och (medvetet eller omedvetet) mindre uppmärksammad och får inte de goa bonusarna. Det hände när jag började vara feminist.
Jag började bråka, ifrågasätta, säga att saker inte var rätt. Jag blev inte lika liggbar. Det läskigaste av allt för dem var väl att jag hade all rätt att ifrågasätta och även hade makten att göra det. Jag slutade få inbjudningar till fester, inte heller blev jag meddragen på lajv. Romantiska inviter och plotter var inte att tala om längre.

Och det var inte random douchebags eller sexister som behandlade mig så här. Det var hela mitt nätverk. Både lajvare och vänner. Allierade och bekanta.
Män som kanske då, men främst idag kallar sig själva feminister. Män som jag nu kallar mina vänner och allierade. Som är uppe på murarna och skriker, men skulle behöva glasögon för att se de strukturer som de är så inkletade i. Män som fortfarande inte ser vilken makt de sitter på och hur de liksom resten av samhället förbrukar “nya” och “unga” kvinnor. Män som tydligt avvisar etablerade kvinnor till förmån för nya och tillgängliga. Män med social agens som utesluter sina upptagna, osnygga och besvärliga kvinnliga vänner och ersätter dem med potentiella tillmötesgående älskarinnor och flickvänner. Män som inte vill förstå eller se att de har den sociala agensen i större delen av mitt nätverk. Män som klagar och ser ned på andra män, men själva begår förtryck i patriarkatets namn.

Männen som jag mötte när jag var ny i Göteborg finns kvar, fler av dem kallar jag mina vänner. De har större nätverk och nya kvinnor.
Men jag är inte tillgänglig längre. Enligt patriarkatet uttjänt och makten över mitt egna liv slåss jag för varje dag. En kamp som kommer att bli svårare nu inför mitt kommande moderskap, det kommer trots allt vara synligt att jag redan är tagen. Jag har redan märkt skillnad på mängden kommunikation som jag får driva jämfört med hur mycket jag fick gratis innan. Det får mig ibland att undra om det enda jag var bra till var att vara en potentiell älskarinna och inte en vän som många uttryckte.
Den enda patriarkala bonusen jag har att se fram emot är att jag kanske har lättare att få vårdnaden i en eventuell vårdnadstvist, tack vare att stereotyper säger att män borde jobba och inte anses lämpliga att ta hand om barn. Det är ju trots allt kvinnans roll.

Det står en stor jävla elefant i mitt eget vardagsrum och den heter patriarkatet.
Vi skall inte prata om alla elefanter i världen, just nu det räcker med den här. Vi behöver ta bort känslan av tabu kring ämnet och prata om rädslan många känner över att ens ta upp detta med sina manliga vänner. Och vi måste göra det. I våra egna kretsar. Som kvinna skall du inte behöva vara rädd för nästa kvinna som kommer in i din krets, den rädslan kväver kampen om lika stor agens och skapar en fiendskap mellan kvinnor. Som man skall du inte ens tänka tanken att skapa denna typ av socialt förtryck.  Vi måste tillsammans våga ifrågasätta de sociala strukturerna som i många fall är satta av män med hög agens, även om det blir jobbigt, även om vi får ligga mindre. Vi måste våga förändra och ifrågasätta våra sociala normer, för förtryck kräver strukturer och skapar makt för de som tillhör normen men behöver också någon som är tyst och inte säger emot.

Och till er män som läser det här och känner igen er, ni kanske rent av får en liten klump i magen. Sluta sopa den osynliga sexismen ni utsätter era kvinnliga vänner och bekanta för. Vi är mer än objekt för er uppskattning. Vi är mer än våra kroppar.
Och jag tänker inte hålla käften längre.