Not Just A Bar Wench

Live Action Roleplay (LARP) allows for the breaking of gender barriers, opening up roles that would be considered “male” to women as well. This is especially interesting in LARP with a historical base; women can be knights, important religious figures, and take up leadership roles without any prejudice. In most LARPs (in particular the bigger ones) there is a strict rule against any sort of sexism and prejudice. A lot of people who find themselves immersed in LARP often forget the genders of others and instead focus on the characters themselves, and their personality and actions.

There are some difficulties for women doing the hobby as well. Due to the majority of the players being male, there is a lack of easily sourced soft kit in women’s sizes, or a lack of kit that isn’t for the stereotypical “medieval bar wench”. Often women have to make their own kit or look into custom made kit, which can be incredibly expensive.

And whilst there are rules against prejudice, it still sadly occurs, however the situations are usually isolated. Once when I was making a speech in character, someone in the crowd made a loud sexist comment. There is also a minor problem with slut-shaming female characters.

Within the LARP community, there are several groups and organisations who promote the awesomeness of women in LARP, for examples there are Ladies Who LARP and Girls in Armour (a Danish feminist movement). The inclusivity of LARP has vastly improved over the years, allowing for people to create characters that are a different gender from themselves. Transgender or genderfluid people are accepted into the community, as well as those of all types of sexualities. Ultimately, in LARP everyone is allowed the same opportunities to be epic.

What on earth is LARP?

LARP stands for Live Action Roleplay. Think Dungeons and Dragons, but you get to physically play and dress up as that Knight, Paladin or Priest. The weapons are made of foam and latex painted up like real swords. I won’t get into the nitty gritty about skills, but they are written to fit what normal humans can do physically. So while a human can’t produce a fireball, you can use a beanbag to represent one.

One of the LARPs I attended down in England has an average attendance of around 2000 people. Imagine it: 2000 people in a big (and slightly muddy) field, dressed in fantasy clothing, setting appropriate tents surrounding, giant communal firepits blazing, in character restaurants, bars and shops, and of course the bars and musicians, singing songs of the setting, their music floats across the atmosphere. It’s like being on a film set.

Words: Corrin Motion


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