by Meg Floyd
In the wake of the Presidential election and many of the conversations I’ve been seeing on social media lately, as well as disturbing news stories, it’s useful for the community to ponder the question–who is HEMA for?
Everyone. Full stop.
Trans people, atheists, Christians, Muslims, gay people, women, white people, brown people, pagans, cisgender people, Jews, men, polyamorous people, monogamous people. Weak people, tall people, strong people, short people, fat people, skinny people. Democrats and Republicans. Even people who like to wear those silly pumpkin pants. People from more than a dozen nations who speak more than a dozen languages. All of them. I’ve fenced at least one person who fits every single descriptor I just listed, and guess what, it makes not a damn difference when they’re fencing. We’re here to fence, not engage in identity politics. Or at least we should be.
I can think of one group of people not welcome in our essentially anti-authoritarian, egalitarian community, however. Racists are not welcome here. People who believe that their subgroup of people (whatever that group may be) deserves more air time, more privilege, or has somehow a more legitimate claim to the historical legacy of European manuals than anyone else because they somehow have stronger or closer ties. First off, that’s a crock of shit. Second off, fuck off with the identity politics. If you want to engage in some kind of romantic destiny-fulfillment of your ancestors, do it on your own time, not inside of HEMA. By the same token, if you want to engage in name-calling witch hunts via social media, don’t do that here either. No one elected you the morality police because you disagree with someone else’s politics.
I believe this community is mostly made up of good people–foul-mouthed and anti-establishment as we may be. May we ever remain the wild west of fencing, where you can hit hard and wrestle, where authority does not outrank fighting ability, and where soap-boxing does not overcome a free and open dialogue in the scholarly pursuit of historical study of fencing manuals. (I appreciate the irony of me soap-boxing here when I say that, but indulge me. It is an op/ed.)
Be strong, HEMA. Our community shall endure.