Hot! Weighing in on the Progressive Community

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I consider myself a “progressive” reenactor. The units I belong to generally label themselves as such, as do the majority of the reenactors that I consider to be my friends. There’s been a lot of talk in the last few days about the progressive side of the hobby, and I felt that I should probably weigh in, so here you go:

For one thing, I feel that there has been a bit of a misunderstanding of what “progressive” means within the hobby. Many people, including the author of the original incendiary article that prompted the recent hubbub about the progressive movement, seem to consider it to be the new word for what used to be called “hardcore” reenactors by friendlies and “stitch nazis” or “thread counters” by enemies – i.e. the reenactors that go as far as possible to be accurate.

I would argue that this is at least partially incorrect, which is the source of some of the general misunderstanding.

Progressive reenacting is, to me and most of the “progressive” reenactors I know, defined as creating and maintaining your impression based on the most up-to-date information and research available from primary sources, and changing it when new information comes to light.

15449890029_c1ed093e6a_kI consider myself a progressive reenactor because I keep myself constantly updated on the most recent research and I adapt and adjust my impression based on any new findings. I base my impression entirely on research, rather than on what might seem obvious (but is incorrect), comfortable, convenient, or cool.

That said, I machine sew the long seams on my garments for my impressions that are from the pre-sewing machine era (they’re invisible once it’s assembled). I have a camera bag full of modern camera equipment hidden somewhere in camp. When it gets too cold, I do sometimes go sleep in my car. I am not a “hardcore” reenactor (though I used to be moreso) but I am a “progressive” one.  And the reason for that label is that my impression is based on current research, not on conjecture.

A lot of people have been claiming that progressive reenactors are bullies, misogynists, and generally unpleasant. I disagree. Are there jerks within the progressive community? Absolutely. But there are also jerks within the “mainstream” community. There are assholes everywhere, as they say. I do think that a lot of what is meant as helpful advice is sometimes taken as judgmental criticism by those it is directed at, and since progressives tend to dispense a lot of advice in the interests of improving the overall accuracy of the environment in the hobby, they end up being seen as the most critical.

15048755224_765818448f_kAs for the charge that progressive units tend to be misogynist and sexist – this one I will flat out state as wrong. As you know if you’ve been reading this blog for awhile, I’m transgender. I used to “galtroop” on occasion, but I largely participated in the hobby as a woman, and mostly within progressive units, before I came out.  Not once have I ever been made to feel unwelcome by any of the progressive units that I have associated with.  To be honest, I’ve never really been made to feel unwelcome by anyone, but I’ve seen a lot of vitriol spewed online from both the progressive and mainstream sides of the hobby, regarding the participation of women in the hobby.  I don’t really feel that any one side is, as a whole, worse about it than others.  Specific individuals?  Sure.  But whole swaths of the hobby?  That’s a rather broad brush you’ve got there.

The hobby does have something of an issue with cliquishness, which is to be expected of any hobby with such a large number of participants from such a wide range of backgrounds.  I think that that is ultimately what needs to be addressed more than anything, and this is what I want my readers to think about the most.

As reenactors, we are more alike than we are different.  We all share a love of history and a desire to recreate it.  Each and every reenactor has a unique set of reasons for participating in the hobby the way they do, a particular set of goals they want to accomplish with said participation, and a distinct set of motivations behind their participation in the first place.  And you know what?  That’s why we have all different kinds of units and events.  Some reenactors reenact for the experience of feeling like they’re in another time, others reenact because they want to educate the public about history, and yet others reenact because they are interested in furthering research in the field of material culture within their chosen time period.

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The thing is – there’s really no “right” or “wrong” way to reenact, in my mind.  There are merely groups and events that you may find yourself incompatible with.  Don’t like to run around in the woods and sleep under the stars?  Don’t join a unit that makes that their modus operandi.  Don’t like to burn a bunch of powder and want to focus more on education?  Join a unit that has a similar focus.  Now, there are some basic guidelines that you may want to follow, no matter what period you reenact or what your goals are, but in general, the key to enjoying this hobby is to find “your people”.  Seek out those who have similar goals within the hobby, and focus on them – and let everyone else do the same.  Don’t look down your nose at someone who isn’t up to your personal standard, because that’s what it is – your personal standard.  And don’t look down your nose at someone who is above your level of attention to detail.  Let. Eachother. Be.

I generally prefer a fairly high standard of authenticity within my impressions, so I look for units with the same attention to detail and largely ignore those without it.  Likewise, I avoid the big events where the focus is more on large scale spectacle (which I don’t care much about) at a macro level, with less attention given to units members and camps on a micro level.  They’re just not my cup of tea.  Do I think that those events should go away?  Hell no!  Because there’s clearly a lot of people who do enjoy them, and who am I to deny them that?  Likewise, I’m glad that events like that have started to have a section of the camp setup that is specifically for more progressive and campaigner-style reenactors, as there’s no reason that we should be unable to participate either.

In short:  relax, enjoy yourself, make room for people who are different than you, and stop paying so much attention to everyone else.  Focus on yourself and your own participation in the hobby and you’ll be much happier.  If everyone did this, the hobby would be much more enjoyable for everyone, so why not start the movement with yourself?

 

23 Comments

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  1. Excellent post, I have shared.
    Regards, Keith.
    woodsrunnersdiary.blogspot.com.au

  2. I don’t remember signing up for this blog (brain death, no doubt), and was surprised when it appeared in my inbox, but after reading this, I have to say I’m glad I did something right in my zombie state by signing up for this blog.

    Excellent post.

  3. Thanks for sharing the links to History and Ancestry – it’s nice to see such a rigorous debate! I found the original blog post somewhat confusing (as my impression was that progressives were, on the whole, more friendly to galtrooping and women’s roles in general), and the comments respectful even when disagreeing vehemently; the comment on how women who don’t galtroop are sidelined raises some important points on both sides. And you make a very good point yourself about the meaning of the term “progressive” – I’d hate to see it turned into an insult or diluted.

    I’ve seen a lot of similar, though shorter and less passionate, posts over the years, and often the discussions in comments (or, as here, in the original post) go to a place that makes me uncomfortable – the implication that the people who want to go the extra mile are creating some kind of unreasonable standard. The solution given is usually that people need to stop having these standards, rather than that specific guidelines for addressing inaccuracies need to be created. It starts to feel like people aren’t just objectionable for bringing up inaccuracies in a rude way, they’re objectionable for caring beyond a certain point in the first place: “progressives need to accept this and move on”. Just disagreeing that certain practices are difficult or expensive is apparently bullying and shaming. And overall, these discussions tend to hinge on events vaguely described from one perspective, or else complete hypothetical events/accusations, which is the opposite of productive.

    I don’t strictly reenact – as I did at Ticonderoga, I tend to dress up and wander around reenactments or related events. I have to say, I frequently have issues that I would expect the hypothetical bullies to have a problem with (dress is a little late for the setting, shoes too early, stomacher and cap are crap, nothing fits quite right, shift sleeves too short, etc.) and have never experienced anyone other than myself remarking on them. And I look very young, timid, and easily cowed! Which isn’t to say that everyone else is lying, but I do think that the problem is exaggerated and largely passed around via word-of-mouth rather than experienced. While people seem to feel they’re taking the high road by not naming those who actually indulge in over-criticism, in fact they’re just creating an atmosphere where doing research and trying to improve your accuracy is a warning sign and something you need to apologize for. Give names, and it becomes an issue of specific bad behavior that can be addressed.

    WHAT, I just wrote you a novel, very sorry!

  4. Thank you this is a great article!!

  5. Thanks for keeping this conversation going! I don’t think we disagree on much; if your argument is that there are good progressives, well, then nothing you wrote seems to contradict what I wrote. =)

    I am adding you to my blogroll, if that’s OK.

  6. I’ve only been doing this for 3 years and not one “progressive” person has made me feel like shit. More often then not the main streamers have made me feel small for not conforming. “Why are you eating peas and rice, we got Domino’s coming” “you know they got stainless steel kettles” “why are you cooking on that rusted out bent shovel, we got a real frying pan”….Things got so bad in my unit that the “progressive” bunch had to form their own facebook group and set up their own cooking fire. Bullying goes both ways

  7. Very well written and excellent synopsis of the hobby. I wish these views were more prevalent.

  8. Excellent points–it does seem a shame that so much of the negativity come down to “you like something different than I do; you get something out of an element of this hobby that I don’t.” I personally find research and that constant improvement and striving for better in my own kit gratifying; like you, I recognize that not everyone is going to geek the same way I do. I like and value hand-sewing; I do it often but not always. My standards are mine; yes, if someone asks what’s “right” I will share my view, but I’m not in the business of pushing a higher-than standard on people who aren’t interested. And you’re spot-on that no matter where you go in the hobby, at any end of the spectrum, there are a) jerks and b) people who are not jerks but are having bad days. Let the negativity roll off as best you can, avoid it where it’s endemic, and have a good time. We’re here to have fun, right?

  9. This was a good post and I appreciate your explanation of your perspective.

    (And my apologies in advance to everyone for this being so long!)

    Personally, I’m waiting to run into more “progressives” who are of similar mind as you describe. Granted I say I haven’t encountered a lot of people (progressive or otherwise) I’ve gotten to know well yet. From gut first impressions and reactions of people I’ve talked to, It especially seems for AWI, those who’ve I’ve encountered who’ve given the most vehement objection to my playing a soldier, have identified themselves as “progressives”.

    Now, I only speak specifically from my own experience and that has been that this hobby has been very hard to “break into”. Most of my experiences in trying to find a unit, have not been positive ones. Part of my problem is geographical location. I’m in western NY and there’s just not a whole lot of AWI people (or events for that matter) around me.

    My second thing is I’m a female veteran of a modern conflict who is permanently mobility impaired. The role that makes the most sense to me, to play is a wounded soldier. (Besides that’s the role I want to play!) Now, I’ve had all kinds of people who’ve listened to my ideas and the perspective I’ve studied this war from and they almost always find them fascinating. I’ve had several offers to join “progressive” units, that is… until they find out my gender and the role I want to play. Now something is tragically wrong with that picture.

    Thirdly, comes my area of study. I study history from a sociological, anthropological, religious and even psychological vanish point. I’m working on a master’s degree in clinical social work, with a specialty in trauma studies and war is a great historical topic to study from the stand point of psychology. A lot of interesting studies about human behavior during times of war came out of WWII. Drop what we’ve learned about warfare from psychology into various historical contexts with differing sociological forces at play and the behavior of people during the Civil War or the American Revolution makes more sense. Now I realize this is way outside of the realm of what most reenactors study. That’s not lost on me. What I see come up frequently though from visitors, or even others interested in general history are sociological, anthropological, religious and even psychological questions.

    I’ve watched this happen and even attempted to answer people’s questions in these areas on “progressive” forms and gotten my head bit off. One question I’ll give an example, had to do with the British army stipulation that grenadiers had to be six foot high or over. Now anthropology tells us that people in the 18th century averaged about 4 inches shorter than we are today. Army records are good for anthropological studies because they usually record heights and weights of soldiers. But “6 foot” in the 18th century was not the equivalent of 6 foot today. A “foot” was only about 10.5 inches and their “inch” was about 3/4 of what our inch is today. Convert that “6 foot” grenadier to today’s measurements, he turns out to be about 5 foot 4 inches give or take a couple of centimeters.

    Now when I explained that and how it fits perfectly into the anthropological record and the statistics that had been “number crunched” about the late 18th / early 19th century British army. (If I’m remembering correctly? I think it’s something like 85% of the army was under 5 foot 6 inches high and about 130lbs.) I was fanatically told by several people that because I wasn’t using period sources, my information could not be historically correct, even though I had showed them “period information” that explained that the measuring system had changed about 1740ish and changed back to what it is today in the late 1790’s. Interestingly though for surveying land and measurements of weight, the system hadn’t changed. (So the 130lb soldier was still 130lbs.) So now converting British requirements for joining the army you had to be over 4 foot 10 inches high and generally (it was quite rare) to get someone over 5ft 10 inches high.

    Add to this another anthropological fact that most modern people aren’t aware of – prior to the 20th century, people entered puberty an average of 4 to 5 years later than we do today. Average age of menstruation before 1900 was 17, today it’s 11. Boys enter puberty later than girls and human beings can grow until they are 21. Take that information and plug it into light infantry statistics. These were guys generally between about 16 and 22 years old. 4 foot 10 inches or so, seems extremely short to us, but they were in light infantry because they were smaller and they were faster (and their weapons were shorter). Why were they smaller and faster with shorter weapons? Because conceivably many, if not most of them had barely started puberty.

    Here’s one example of in order to “get a more complete picture” you’d have to pool information from multiple areas of study. Also, here’s an example of areas of study that I wouldn’t expect most people to know, yet my experience with a lot of “progressives” has been that they won’t believe me because it’s not “period sourced”. Well, it’s not period sourced because to them, a 5 foot 16 year old British soldier that had just started puberty wasn’t all that uncommon; so why would they record it? How do we source this though, by what skeletal remains tell us. (Another interesting and maybe useless tidbit of information, 1st century Jewish men were about the same size.)

    Now that’s just one rather simple example. Now when you start getting questions about the prevalence of violent crime committed by soldiers in the AWI (loot, burn, rape, pillage) that’s a whole other ball of wax that again, you’d have to draw on various areas of study to answer why the army records of these types of behaviors was so low. Was it really that low or did they just not record it? (No, it really was that low and there were several sociological and religious factors as to why that was.)

    Sociologically speaking, at least from the vanish point of the British, that answer in part, can be extrapolated by studies done in WWII and what they learned about unit morale. Armies with high morale have fewer incidences of crime against civilian populations.

    So what constitutes high morale?
    1. soldiers feel adequately equipped to fight the war.
    2. They trust their leaders. (Leaders have their welfare in mind, life means something, soldiers aren’t just expendable cannon fodder, and their psychological / moral health is important to their leaders (which carries into crimes against civilians is not acceptable))
    3. Soldiers trust each other.

    So what did the studies from WWII tell them was the first and easiest way to spot that morale is problem? The answer: When leaders start to see “situational homosexual behavior” among the soldiers with each other. Why are they engaging in this behavior, because they are afraid, feel doomed and are using sex to comfort themselves.

    (Now – damn who studies this stuff? I know, but that’s what they discovered out of several studies done on unit morale in WWII.)

    Now go back and look at court martial records in both British and Continental armies. There are very few (court martial for homosexual behavior) for either army, but there are more for the Continental (at various points in the war) than the British (for the whole war), and now you know why. And now you also know why it wasn’t uncommon (fort Ticonderoga for example) to stick 6 redcoats in a bed together (to keep each other warm) and not think to question what they may or may not be doing? Goes back to morale, when psychological needs for security are met, soldiers don’t use sex as a means of warding off an overwhelming sense of doom.

    Now the whole homosexual lifestyle – that’s an entirely different set of studies. So yeah, I get it though, what reenactors (besides maybe ones like me who study psychology) research this stuff? (And yes, the first time I’ve shared this unit morale study information (out side of academic circles in psychology) is here.)

    So, back to the original question of the prevalence of violent crime in the AWI? The vast majority of excessively violent, immoral and ruthless behavior was between colonial civilians; patriots and loyalists against each other. Even at that though, much of that was revenge driven (you burn down my farm, I burn down yours).

    Comparing the behavior of the two armies though to what happened in say WWII? Both were amazingly (according to our current world view at least) well behaved. Again though, in order to understand why that was, you have to be able to draw from various areas of study and some of those answers you can’t get from period sources, because no one in the 18th century did any studies as to why Continental soldiers most commonly absconded with farmers fences; not to say prevalence of homosexual redcoats? No, we have Sigmund Freud and later history to thank for those sorts of studies.

    Now the other major sociological event that impacted the lack of violent crime in the AWI goes to “the first great awakening” (Which was a religious revival that started in the colonies in 1740 and spread to England.) John Wesley, the most well known preacher of the first great awakening and members of his Methodist movement did a lot of letter writing. They wrote to people in the colonies and they also wrote to soldiers in the British army.

    The soldiers who were first stationed in North America seemed to be the ones impacted the most by the first great awakening. One of the major Methodist ideas states the people are to be the ministers to each other and not wait on the parish preacher to attend to their spiritual needs. Education was very important in the colonies, which apparently impacted the soldiers that were stationed here before the war started. We see this in that one “grass roots” program they started among themselves was a literacy program. They also started temperance movements to deal with drunkenness and “war funds” to care for widows and orphans. These programs carried on to greater and lesser degrees by the crown, into the Napoleonic wars. Many of the soldiers that came at the start of the AWI noticed this difference in their fellow comrades. I think it’s “Sargent Lamb” makes a comment about it. He’s surprised at the numbers of soldiers he’s encountered that he considers to be quite moral.

    Also we see an upswing of people who go from “patriot” to “neutral” or even “Tory” in the few years just before the war. My speculation to that is that those writing to others in the same religious movement would have also been made aware of this revival’s presence in the army. I encountered one book, where a woman was doing a history of her family and town and she goes back to the AWI. She states this religious revival so impacted the town that most refused to take up arms, not because they disagreed with the patriot cause of “no taxation without representation” but because they stated specifically they didn’t want to kill British soldiers. My point of speculation here is that they felt it would be more of an offense to God to potentially shoot a brother in the Lord, than to fight over issues of earthly rule.

    So that’s been my experience, when I’ve encountered certain “progressive” people, that when they can’t answer a question, (because that’s not something they study) they get snitty. Why get snitty over something I wouldn’t expect them to know, because a lot of people don’t study from this angle. And that’s OK.

    Don’t ask me about weapons and when which musket was developed and who’s is most historically accurate, because beyond the basic information, I have no idea. What did green mountain boys wear in 1777, or when did so in so’s rangers switch to green jackets?? I aint got the foggiest clue! LOL. That’s not something that interests me and so when someone has asked something like that, I just tell them – “I’ve heard that guy over there talk about weapons and he knows a whole lot more than I do, so I’d suggest you go ask him.”

    So again, sorry this is so long, but that’s my perspective on where I’m coming from in this whole thing.

    • You are generally going to find more resistance to galtrooping among progressive units, yes, because of a few things. 1. Many progressive units are portraying specific, and often small, units in which each soldier was a known entity and, as far as we know, confirmed as a man. So, there’s not as much leeway for the “disguise” argument. 2. Progressive units are more concerned than most about the unit’s appearance, and the vast majority of galtroops do not pass very well much closer than 20 feet. There are some that do, yes, and they might have better luck with some units, but the reality is that most do not, and since most progressive units want people to look accurate from a distance considerably closer than 10 feet, it’s an issue.

      I’m not entirely sure what point you were trying to make with your research about trauma, war, sexuality, etc, though. Can you explain it a bit more…concisely?

      You also mention that you’re of limited mobility. The vast majority of progressive units tend to be very physically active ones. That’s not to say that there isn’t potentially room for someone with limited mobility (heck, our sergeant severely sprained his ankle at an event and we carved crutches for him that he used all weekend once), but it does limit the roles – you’re not going to be out running around a battlefield, for instance.

      However, your post in many ways actually is a great example of one of the main points I make here: that the way to enjoy reenacting is to find a unit that you fit well with. In this sense, whether progressives allow galtrooping or not is irrelevant. If you want to galtroop, there are units for that. If you want to hang around camp instead of fighting, there are units for that. Progressive units just may not be the right fit for you. Just as you wouldn’t send a non-religious kid to a super Catholic school and then expect the school to never mention religion to your kid, reenactors need to find units that fit with them, rather than trying to change units they wish they fit in with. Does that make sense?

  10. A thoughtful and balanced commentary! I hope everyone reads it Wilson!

  11. I enjoyed this article it was well balanced. A little oil on the water, as it were… I haven’t had the Bully experience but I have noted the cliques and elitest attitudes. My feeling is that this is how humans are wired. It wont change but it can be made better if we are aware of it and make consious efforts to arrest it.

  12. Wonderfully written and nicely articulated, thank you! I agree wholeheartedly, no one should use ‘progressive’ as an epithet or consider all progressive reenactors to have the same views. In regards to misogyny and sexism in relation to the term ‘progressive’, I have never experienced any issues in person when working with my own group or any others. Some very knowledgeable people can be more brusque than others would wish, but then again, so am I, and that is fine. However, everyone seems to get bolder behind their keyboards…. I have seen a genuine question posed to a page considered as and using the word ‘progressive’ and seen that question answered with a variant of (not a quote) ‘well if it has to do with breasts then it doesn’t matter if its period accurate or not’. This statement was then defended as ‘just a joke’. Um, no. Not acceptable. Ever.

    • Baron Stewben (never was a Von)

      Wilson-
      This was exceptionally timely and well-written. Thank you for an essay that provides more light than heat.

      In my experience, there is a foundational concern that separates “mainstreamers” from “hardcores/stitch-counters”.

      Hardcores move to the continually unfolding historical record like Mosquitos to a bug zapper on a Louisiana August night. Regardless of age, gender, ethnicity or income, hardcores are totally jazzed when a new and previously unsuspected element of 18th C life comes to light through archeology or publication.

      Hardcore thought goes like this(supposing for sake of argument that said hardcore is fascinated by a certain unit or historical events at site @@@@@@ or year Yyyy

      “If I can match the fork in my kit to a fork found in a camp at a dig at @@@@@ yesterday…. I’m on it. How cool would it be to use the same fork on the same site?!?!?!”

      While we are each constrained by geography, ethnicity, gender as outward markers, nothing requires us to limit our personal interests or historical adventures. I would be very deeply interested in experiencing the daily life of a slave at Mount Vernon as revealed by archeology. I’m visually the whitest kid you know, but I could truck garden, weave cloth, cook & do some basic animal wrangling without either putting on blackface or making light of how much slavery sucked. I am drawn to the historical record & would have no desire to compel the daughters & sons of slaves (or real former slaves- there are a crapton of them on earth of late) to validate my “inner slavitudeness” or my tendency toward whatever.

      Conversely, Mainstream Reenacting attempts to bring selected elements of history to the modern participant.

      The mainstream reenactment community is governed by mutually approved concession.

      The modern mainstream reenactor draws justifications from the historical record and resources from the modern world with a view toward consensus.

      They just frankly are not the same hobby. Ironically, my friends who can travel at peace through both cultures tend to be hardcores, not mainstreamers or “progressives”. Progressivism is an “unhappy” amalgamation of consensus, vendor/event availability, interpersonal relations and visual factors. (where “unhappy”= not optimal, or not blessed by “hap” or “luck” or “good fortune” as opposed to bummed out or sad).

      A hardcore response to a debility might be use modern medicines, a hotel room & supportive devices in the field while selecting events and activities where the barrier remained a part of the modern reenactor, but did not undermine that person’s own historical experience.

      So, a fragile Type 1 diabetic or stage 4 cancer survivor might need to maintain certain modern norms, but could participate in camp & field life as able when present in camp & field. A bilateral amputee might choose to stay in camp with period supports,might crew a jollyboat/canoe/pirouge or run a historically immersive sutlery or trade demonstration. The hardcore response is “what period activities can I do with honorable excellence befitting myself, my friends and those who suffered of these conditions in my chosen historical area of interest”.

      The mainstream approach (using myself, not you, dear reader) would be: hmmm… I’m a not quite pudgy 55 year old with sometimes debilitating Crohn’s Disease, 8 skull fractures modern meds and mediocre eyesight….hmmmm….. I want to portray one of Morgan’s Riflemen. They were young men, and pre-arthritic as heck. I will need, comfortable camp seating that fits in the Prius, a wall tent because I have some trouble stooping, a camp cot, because my spine/skull sux, a cooler for my Ensure/Gatorade, glasses because my eyes are wonky & I don’t want to miss seeing the battle and of course.. Beer & steak because it’s the weekend (oh wait- steak sends me to the ER) okay- hotdogs for the kids.

      Are there period & hidden modern remedies? Yup, but it’s MY weekend.

      Bad approach? No. Evil? No. Historically derived? Doesn’t matter…..different intended outcome.

      So asking a hardcore about breasts in ranks, modern glasses, driving into camp to pack in/pack out, playpens in tents, hidden coolers… It’s all the same answer. There were period ways these issues were addressed….let’s explore together.

      The mainstream approach? Buy the cheapest crap someone will be bothered to sell you so you can get out in the field & the unit commander can boss you around faster.

  13. My interactions with the progressive community have primarily been through the Internet. I know some progressives like you and Marc as friends, and others like Chris Cameron and Roy Najecki as passing acquaintances, but mostly I know about progressive reenacting from “progressive” FB groups, from individual units’ posting on their own websites and on social media, and from what sites like Fort Ti (which seems very progressively motivated) post.

    My impression is of a movement that’s going in the right direction and doing a lot of good work. But. Far too many of the people who are most vocal and, by default, represent this community are snobs and bullies. Yes, all social groups will have such people in them, but groups that want to attract more people to their ranks will squelch such people and make it clear that they do not speak for the community.

    In the progressive movement, I see (at least online) just the opposite happening. People who don’t post any of the hateful, demeaning, belittling content themselves effectively support those who do by doing nothing to rein them in or attempt to counteract their message by assuring other readers that these folks don’t speak for the community or represent the sentiments of most progressive reenactors.

    I’m still looking for a route back into the 18th century reenacting community after many years away, but I’m taking careful note of which units have some of these offensive and unpleasant people in them, because no way do I want to have anything to do with them.

    If my choice is between a company that are doing everything about their impression right but are run by a bunch of self-righteous jackasses on the one hand and on the other a group that has huge iron pots on the fire next to their immense kitchen fly filled with plastic coolers but are friendly and welcoming, it’s no contest at all which I’m going to go with.

    • Baron Stewben (never was a Von)

      Two assumptions to consider. 1) what if neither group are jackasses? 2) If one group tells a new person to buy thousands of dollars worth of gear that they have known to be poorly designed & over-priced since the 1980’s & the other group helps the new recruit build an inexpensive, accurate & versatile kit that uses documentation available since 1974….who’s the meany?

  14. I was also under the impression that “progressive” reenacting falls somewhere between the campaigner/hardcore crowd and the mainstreamers. I would identify as progressive, if pushed to pick a particular reenacting camp and stick to it, but I don’t think I’m either a stitch counter or a “Let’s order Domino’s!” type.

    As far as attitudes towards women, I galtroop (for a host of reasons I won’t bore people with here). I have to say that by and large, the progressive/campaigner guys I know have been more accepting, in some ways, than the mainstreamers. With the progressive crowd, my experience has been that once you demonstrate that you know what you’re talking about and are invested in having a good impression, they’ll generally be supportive (even if you’re “galtrooping”). It can take some more time to break into those circles (I did it through Facebook conversations and meeting people at events), but it’s possible to do it. But when a mainstreamer decides that women shouldn’t take the field, no matter what, even when they claim a historical basis for that view, that’s often not what the real problem is, because if historicity were the issue, they also wouldn’t be camping in tent city, eating hot dogs and potato chips and drinking out of a stainless steel mucket. For those guys, it’s often much more about preserving the boys’ club, as if reenacting is some kind of an Elks lodge in fancy dress.

    I’ve met some blatantly misogynistic campaigners, of course, and I’m fortunate to have attended events with mainstreamers who are great folks and very supportive (and who served as my gateway into the hobby), but a good chunk of the most virulent misogyny I’ve encountered online has come from firmly mainstream reenactors. Of course, people always talk a good game on Facebook or wherever- I can count on one hand guys who’ve given me a hard time face to face, but in each of those instances (just to throw some anecdata in here), one of which included physical bullying, it was a mainstream reenactor, not a progressive or a campaigner.

    I personally will reenact with just about anyone, if there’s an event I want to go to, and make adjustments accordingly. I don’t go to some huge event and expect everyone to be historically perfect down to the last button, and I don’t go to a progressive event and whip out my cell phone. I suspect that if everyone just took a deep breath and dialed back the rhetoric a bit, we’d all enjoy the hobby a lot more.