Should Historic Reenactment be P.C.?

Can reenactment groups be both politically correct and historically accurate?

There is a proposal before the SCA (Society For Creative Anachronism) to allow same sex couples to enter the competition for a chance to be the royal couple.  This proposal brings into question the heart of what reenactment groups do—be as historically accurate as possible.  Can a group consider itself historically accurate if it allows same sex royal couples when no such monarchs existed?

Do we strive for historical accuracy even if it means being discriminatory?  How can groups be historically accurate while being politically correct?  Or do you sacrifice one for the other?  What is the higher goal, historical accuracy or being inclusive?

And how accurate is historically accurate? We make a lot of concessions to the “modern middle ages”. We communicate via email, our newsletters are on line, our cooks use gas or electric stoves and our seamstresses sometimes sew on sewing machines.  In the martial arts historical accuracy is sacrificed for safety. The armored combatants use flexible wooden swords and the fencers wear masks.  The occasional pair of sneakers is worn by a medievalist with aching feet.  So why not allow same sex couples to rule? 

This is a hobby, should we take it so seriously?  For those groups who consider themselves educational organizations and give lectures and demonstrations there is more reason for them not to play so loosely with facts.

 I realize there are more questions than answers in this essay and that’s because each group must decide for itself the answers. The answers will be formed in part by mundane laws, the moral compass of the group’s members and the group’s definition of historically accuracy.

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Thomas Nathan January 02, 2013 at 04:35 PM
@ Chris My answer is still the same - these are adults playing dress up for the day. I dont really care who they include or dont include that is their choice. Do we really care that when people dress up to play fake soldier they are integrated or not? Do we care if the nationality of their opponents is correct? These are guys who dress up and play in the woods. Let them do whatever they want.
Frances Avnet January 03, 2013 at 02:56 AM
Tom, If the adults were just playing dress up for the day, there wouldn't be an issue. Keep in mind that sometimes a group will lecture at a library or give a talk to a classroom full of children. Even if a group appears at a festival there still is a strong educational component present. People will come up to ask questions about pirates after my pirate group preforms. They expect us to know about how the weapons were used, what pirates ate, did they really say Arr? With such expectations, can we as reenactors play with facts?
Frances Avnet January 03, 2013 at 03:06 AM
Now for an update: the SCA's Board of Directors has decided that competitors for the royal couple must be couples of the opposite sex unless current royalty has elected to permit the competitors to be of the same sex. Basically they are allowing each individual "Kingdom" (The SCA has divided the U.S. into several different "kingdoms") to decided for themselves.
Chris Wendt January 03, 2013 at 11:17 AM
So the SCA has decided to adulterate their own standards of authenticity by implementing democracy among their Kingdoms? How anachronistic.
michael mirra January 08, 2013 at 02:42 AM
I don't think pc means to distort historical recreations. If some groups were discriminated against & excluded, that is accurate to portry things the way that they were when portraying history. The historical presentation is pc in that it portrays the event in the exclusionary reality that existed & therefore portrays the people in the past as the exclusionary people they were. I wouldn't worry about people feeling slighted. I think the people that are portrayed in a bad light are the exclusionary people being represented as the exclusionary idiots that they were. Display them as the bigots they were in a true representation of the times that is recreated in the acting out of the times being portrayed.


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