Tuesday, July 02, 2002

I need to exorcise an old demon here. I recently realized that I'm still very angry about something that happened years ago at my first Pennsic (about six years ago). I made the mistake of camping with the group known as the Tuchux . They are a fringe group, not really part of the SCA. At the time, I really wanted to get involved in the SCA but I only knew people in the Tuchux. They are not an historical reenactment group. They are loosely based on one of the Gor novels--The Nomads of Gor, I think, but they pretty much just make up the rules as they go along anyway. They have, let's say, a very "Taliban-like" attitude towards women. During events like Pennsic, women (or "wenches," as they are called) are not allowed to leave camp without an escort. Wenches are expected to wait on the men (or "dogs"). New members are subjected to hazing. People can be "bought" and "sold" as slaves. Needless to say, my first Pennsic was a NIGHTMARE.

  • Firstly, being new, I did not have the right clothes. One of my more benevolent clanmates, bless her, lent me some garb to wear, but I still got picked on a lot, and unlike people in the SCA, who would offer help to someone in less-than-acceptable garb, some of these people were cruel along the lines of high-school mentality.
  • Most of the dogs and even some of the older, established wenches expected me to act as a subordinate to them, follow orders and perform the more menial tasks around camp, such as cooking and cleaning. Wait, this is supposed to be my vacation, right?
  • Because he was new, my SO was put on guard duty most of the time. And even if he did have some time to spend with me, he did not qualify as a suitable escort, also because he was new. And because I didn't know that many other people, I was stuck in camp most of the time. There I was, at Pennsic, with a campground seething with nearly 10,000 people, merchants, and activities, and I was not at liberty to discover it.
  • And, just to make matters worse, I got severely sunburned.

So, why didn't we leave immediately? Well, we had no place else to go, and even if we did know anyone outside of Tuchux camp, it was too late to uproot our tent and move it elsewhere. This was our vacation--what else could we do? I literally BEGGED the chieftan, with tears in my eyes, to let us go out and have some time to ourselves, but he was completely insensitive to our problem. His answer was "these are the rules and if you don't like it, tough." However, let me just qualify it by saying that these were his rules. I spent the week watching these "rules" be violated by others with impunity. There were double standards, subject to the whims of those in power. I saw exceptions being made, but he was not going to make one in my case. We packed up in the rain and left before the week was over. I was angry at myself for being taken in like that, and I will never forgive the Tuchux for ruining my vacation. The let-down feeling we had lasted for a long time--even to this day.

If you ever talk to a Tuchux about their little "game," they'll tell you it's all in fun. It's fun for the "established" members at the expense of their underlings, submissives, and any new people they manage to rope into it. I admit that not all of them were a**holes--some of these people were really nice and would've made good friends, and it really hurt to have to break things off with them. But there were some who went too far. This is not just a game for them--this is the way they are all the time--mysogynist, chauvenist, cruel. The Tuchux give them an outlet.

Recently, I was confronted by a couple in the Tuchux who are good friends to the SO and I, but I could not deal with their passive acceptance of the Tuchux order, especially from another woman. Whenever she said, "oh, it's all just a game, it's all just for fun..." it invalidates me. It's as if my painful experience never happened and it was all in my imagination. I do not think that it is right or healthy for a group to exist with rules like that, even if it is just a game. Even pretending to have attitudes like that towards women--I think it's wrong.

There, I've said it. Now, maybe I can move on. It's amazing that we did make it back to Pennsic after all that. We found another household to camp with the next year, and actually had a good expierence. Now this will be my sixth Pennsic. Only 32 days until land grab...

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