Being a woman at LRP

I can’t write authoritatively on the experiences of all women at LRP. Previously I’ve written about being a photographer at LRP, and now it’s time for me to write about my own experiences of being a woman at LRP. I also want to say that this isn’t any slight toward PD, aside from anything else Matt is one of the few people I have met who works tirelessly to ensure absolute gender equality at the events his business runs. I’ve been assured my experiences are comparable to the experiences of women who attend all kinds of games from all different producers. I am not alone here, others are experiencing similar things.

Last year I was introduced to the concept of being ‘LRP fit’. Fortunately I didn’t hear it fall from some utter Neanderthal’s mouth, but I believe the first time I heard it was when another female crew member moaned to me about it. I laughed about how it was such a silly concept, made a comment about how I’m sure the seemingly brighter-than-average LRP community wouldn’t be so crass and then I more or less forgot about it.

LRP is a friendly hobby. People are largely very welcoming and inclusive, especially when you’re on crew. People are right when they say it’s like having a huge extended family. However people are also very intimate with each other. In many cases this is because they have known each other for years, but I found the general expectation of regularly touching people you don’t really know to be a bit much. Now, I love touching people. Human contact is a huge thing for me and in all honesty my favourite evening would probably be cuddling a good friend on the sofa in front of a film.

But generally I am also a misanthropist and hate almost everyone on this planet. I have a general distrust of people and this reflects on how much I want to touch people and be close to them. Unfortunately this distrust is relevant to what I’m writing about here. One of the reasons I largely distrust and hate men in particular (although please… I’m not a misandrist, I’m a misanthrope…) is because it seems almost impossible to be friendly with a man without him eventually asking if you can go out with each other or have sex. I am naive in many respects – if someone acts like my friend and seems to have all the qualities of a friend then I generally assume that they want to be friends with me rather than get into my knickers. When I find out that in fact they were sneakily trying to get into my knickers, it upsets me, it makes me feel slighted and to be honest, it puts a scar on my heart.

It’s not personal, I just probably don’t trust you if you’re a man. I am more likely to be open to touching people who are much older than me, in stable monogamous relationships (or who are ethical non-monogamists with a side order of radical consent), have daughters or are generally exceptional human beings. I’m sorry, it’s shit to be a young man. But that doesn’t mean I have an equal opportunities touching policy.

I am not alone here. There’s a great theory that circulates – ‘Schrodingers Rapist’ – you never know if a strange man is potentially a rapist or not and so you’re wary of them (look it up, I’m not going to go into the subtle nuances of it here). I’m going to coin a new term here – ‘Schrodingers toucher’. When you are a woman, you never know if a man is hugging you because he wants to be your friend, because he wants to have sex with you or because he wants a chance to legitimately feel up your boobs. Perhaps we could also have ‘Schrodingers LRPer’ – you never know if someone is chasing the ‘LRP fit’ until they prove definitively one way or the other. Unfortunately it’s far easier to be a dick than a decent person. Sexual innuendo and casual flirting also falls into this area. If you’re not 900% confident that the person is ok with you doing it, then do not do it. Mostly I’m not ok with that – just for the record. Sexual banter often makes me feel very uncomfortable and I think you come across like this:


So I guess what I’m trying to say is, even if I’m letting you touch me in some way, it doesn’t mean that I’m entirely comfortable with that. I generally let it happen because society says you’re a bit ungrateful if you don’t let it happen. As a man you have to remember that you are almost always the one in the position of power. Before you initiate any kind of touching with a woman who is barely an acquaintance just think twice. Perhaps forget initiating it and see what she does first. I like touching people. I don’t like touching everyone. And you shouldn’t expect that I want to touch you just because I touch others, or because others touch you.

Throughout last year I was also dating another crew member and people generally knew that. It also gave me the confidence to say things like ‘I’m sorry, I already have a partner that comes here and I’m not comfortable with adding another one’. Having a ‘line’ to feed people when they hit on you is really helpful. Although people understood I was in some kind of open relationship (and thus could date anyone I wanted at any time) it gave me an easy way to brush people off without having to give more precise reasons as to why I wasn’t interested in them.

However word got around at the first event of 2014 that my partner and I were on hiatus from our relationship. I’ll be honest, I was still quite emotionally fragile from this happening. I was looking forward to seeing my friends at the event, but at the same time I was extremely sad inside about now having the companionship during the event that I enjoyed so much. I was hoping that one would cancel out the other, but when people worked out that I wasn’t returning to the tent every night with my beau it seemed that I became a target.

I say ‘target’ because it’s true. I could also have used the words ‘fair game’ or any other nasty way of describing something that people are trying to trap. And yes, trap feels like the optimum word here I’m afraid. If guys hitting on me last year had worn me down, nothing had prepared me for what it was like to essentially be ‘single’ at a LRP event. It was a torrent. And it doesn’t stop at the events either, I also get people chatting me up on Facebook and even by sending me messages to my business emails. I am not safe anywhere.

Now, I know that there is a very standard way to think of women who don’t want this kind of attention. You’re probably thinking I’m ungrateful and that I should be really pleased for the attention. Possibly you’re even rolling your eyes and thinking about how much you’d like the attention. You might even be criticising me in your head – if you know what I look like – and suggesting I’m making it all up because I’m a pretty average human being. This is what happens when you’re ‘LRP fit’. Basically being LRP fit means that you’re a reasonable weight for your size, aren’t disfigured in some way and have half a non-broken brain. Let’s be honest, it’s a pretty fucking low standard. LRP fit means that you might not be considered ‘fit’ in wider society, but because women are traditionally in such short supply in geek culture, it means they’ll settle for something average so that they’re in with a chance of a fuck. You’re essentially a trophy. And they don’t even like you that much

Imagine how that feels for a moment. Should you be honoured to have been selected because you’re not fat and not ugly? Is that really a compliment? I mean you have to remember that these guys probably know nothing about you, they know very little about your interests, your hobby… your brain… all they know about you is what you look like and that a few weekends a year you enjoy being someone else. Possibly because you’re fed up of being treated like shit in the real world because you’re a woman.

So now I guess you’re maybe thinking ‘well, perhaps you are just more attractive than you realise and maybe they read your blog and so also enjoy your big juicy brain. Stop being so ungrateful.’ I can see your point. I mean, I think I’m hot, the beau thinks I’m better than average (although refuses to commit to anything more specific than that) and I certainly do have a helluva brain on me. But alas, if it were true then surely I’d also get regularly hit on by people in other social circles. I don’t. It’s also interesting because I actively go against societal norms with the way I look, which means that an even smaller pool of people find me attractive in general. I shave my head, I don’t wear make up, I don’t shave my leg or armpit hair and I generally make no effort to be ‘feminine’ or similar. In fact unless you’ve seen me go out running in the mornings at a LRP event, you’ve probably only ever seen me wearing men’s clothes or occasionally leggings. So you’re really trying to tell me that this small group of people who might find me jaw-droopingly attractive just all happen to be LRPers who converge on the same system? I’m sorry, I’m just not feeling it. I am LRP fit.

What irritates me most is the way that this caught me by surprise. It took a long time to settle in to the crew environment, I’m not the kind of person who just fits in. I’m socially awkward, I’m introverted and I don’t like large groups of people. But I want to further my creative career and so I knew that I had to bite the bullet and do something like this. Over the past year it had become a ‘safe’ environment for me. One where I could go and know I wasn’t going to get hassled as much as normal but all that changed as soon as I effectively became single again. Once where I could genuinely be myself and at the same time just enjoy some photography that was fun.

For the more observant amongst you, you’ll notice that time in has happened and I should now be taking pictures in a field of LRPers. I’m not. I’m still sitting on my sofa at home in Banbury, 20 minutes away from site. Yesterday the last straw happened. The one that broke the camels back.

You see, I got an email from another crew member at midday yesterday while I was at site. I picked it up thankfully while I was surrounded by some good people (yes, they’re currently ranking amongst those rare humans that I hate marginally less than most others) and I managed to have a joke about it. But it stung more than I let on and last night after going home I ended up cuddled up on the sofa in floods of tears with probably the closest thing I have to a best friend while he reassured me that it wasn’t me being an idiot, but in fact everyone else is more or less just shit.

I’d like to list some key phrases that came out of my mouth last night on the drive back from site and during the reassurance-based-hug-fest that followed:

  • I wish that I could just go to site and take pictures without worrying about being hassled because I’m female.
  • I wish that people would get to know me before asking if I would like a relationship.
  • I wish that people would stop assuming that I’ll have sex with anyone because I am ethically non-monogamous and identify as single.
  • I wish that I didn’t feel obliged to touch people.
  • I wish that I didn’t feel obliged to let people make sexual comments towards me.
  • I wish that I didn’t have to dress in nondescript clothing to try to prevent drawing attention to myself.
  • If I could put on ten stone in weight for an event and then lose it straight afterwards, I would.
  • I sometimes want to deface my body and face to the point where no one would consider flirting with me. Just so that I can concentrate on doing what I’m there for – taking photographs.
  • I just want to feel emotionally safe while on site.

The email that I got yesterday triggered that last point.

I got an email via my business website from an anonymous crew member. The email stated that he had seen me around, found me ‘hot’ and was therefore emailing me because he had a proposal. The gist of it was that he would like to pay me money to have a secret relationship with him because he doesn’t have a good relationship with the woman he is about to marry.

I’m going to write this in a paler colour here, because I feel that I should provide some explanation as to how he might have come to these assumptions.

I’m a very self aware person. If you know me then you probably already know this. I have a massive amount of natural curiosity and this has led me to being the person that I am. I’m a political activist, a feminist, I’m sexually liberated and above all I’m in an ethically non-monogamous relationship. That word ethical – it’s absolutely crucial to me. I made the decision at some point over a year ago that I didn’t want to let people into my life who were less ethical than me when it came to their relationships. Yes, I’m taking the moral high-ground here because I decided to stop having affairs with people and generally being an insensitive person.

He’s got the idea that he might be able to pay me to have sex with him because I was told about a website called SeekingArrangements. Although it’s clearly primarily targeting the ‘sugar daddy’ market if you look at it, it was mentioned to me that actually bright young women can often find benefactors on these sites. People who will sponsor them through their education if they like – perhaps buying books, art materials or helping out with the bills when times are hard at university. In return they enjoy the young woman’s company, perhaps they might go to an art gallery together, a lovely restaurant and so forth. Often these guys are people who are successful businessmen who have not had time to have a family and who want to spoil someone and help them out. Of course it runs right through to the other end of the scale where it’s just like seeing your favourite regular prostitute for a quickie in your office. But I was interested – although I was sceptical about the whole thing and almost certainly would have not involved myself in such a relationship. I was curious. And actually, I’m academically interested in the power balance in academic and artist situations, with benefactors and patrons. It’s a topic I’m considering for my PhD – but that’s a long way off. So I had a profile on this website – and it specifically said that I wasn’t interested in any sexual relationship of any kind for money.

I’m telling you this so that you can understand that there was a reason for his assumptions and so that I can’t be accused of not telling the whole story.

So anyway. This crew member made a huge assumption. He made the assumption that I would be willing to have sex with him for money when it suited him and that presumably I wouldn’t tell anyone else on crew, or his soon-to-be wife.

Do you know what the worst bit is? It’s the anonymity. If he’d approached me in person I’d have said ‘I’m really not interested, don’t ask me again’ and walked off. But he sent me a specifically anonymous email from an account that he has made in order to find people to cheat on his wife with. I know this because I’m smart and I used the power of the internet last night to work backwards and find him in various places.

Having him anonymous is intimidating. Last night I felt like I wasn’t going to go back to site today – even though he specified that he wasn’t there this weekend. I then decided that I wouldn’t be going back to Empire at all, because the risk of emotional damage is far too high. And then of course I had to wipe out Odyssey too – my favourite – because all I knew was that he was on crew, I didn’t know if that only meant Empire or if it meant Odyssey too. And then it dawned on me – he could easily attend other LRP’s too. He also noted in his email that he was local to me, so it meant that there was a high chance of him attending any LRP that I went to in the future.

Fortunately I had a decent human being on hand to tell me that I should blog about it because I’m such an intelligently brilliant writer (nb: may or may not be true) and that instead of hiding away and trying to find a new hobby (where it will probably happen again) I should make people aware that this shit is happening and it’s the reason why I’m now scared to go back to LRP – and thus still sitting on my sofa watching the rain hit the glass.

However. This guy, clearly he assumes that women are dumb. I mean firstly he’s pretty confident that his soon-to-be-wife will not notice that he’s having an affair (pro tip – we almost always know). Secondly he assumed that I wouldn’t work out who he is. Well, I’m afraid I’m not as dumb as you thought James (not his real name – the one that he used in the email). Because in fact I have worked out what your real name is and I do know who you are. I know who you are on crew and what you do.

This is no idle threat. I do not take kindly to being sexually objectified in this way. I do not take kindly to people having such little respect for me that they assume I’m happy to play ‘the other woman’ at their convenience. I do not take kindly to being turned into a sex toy for your use because I’m LRP fit. I do not take kindly to being made to feel so emotionally vulnerable and scared when doing something that I absolutely love that I currently don’t ever want to do it again.

I will work out who your future wife is. I will contact her. I will tell her exactly what you have done. Not today, not this week. Maybe not this month. But at some point, sometime in the future, perhaps when you’re married, she will find out. She will find out how little respect you have for her and how you cannot be honest with her. I hope she chooses to do the right thing with that information. I hope she chooses to be brave.

You see, what you don’t realise, James (not your real name), is that I had a really hard choice to make two years ago. I met this wonderful man who just lit up my life in a way that had never happened before. He showed me that it was possible to live a brilliant, ethical, non-monogamous life. I had a very hard decision to make and I asked my monogamous partner if we could open out our relationship. Unfortunately I lost my partner – someone who I loved deeply. And cared about. And who I so desperately wanted to be with. But at least now I can live honestly. It’s not been easy. In fact it’s been really hard. But I have worked really fucking hard to get to this stage in my life where honesty is everything to me. You should try it sometime. But I warn you, it’s hard.

And from looking you up on the internet, James (not your real name), I can tell that you’re a bright person. Brilliant in fact. Better than average. So be better than average. It’s hard, but the rewards are worth it.

I’m going to wrap this up now, because I’m already hovering at around 3500 words. Congratulations if you’ve made it this far.

I believe there is something in LRP called Rule 7. Something about not being a dick. Apply it ruthlessly. Please.

(With special thanks to some exceptional human beings in my life. Simon, Kol, Illiani, David for being good eggs and Andy for pretty much being my surrogate Dad at events. As well as the ever present feminist support network in the Monster Hut. You guys are the reason I’m about to get off my sofa, get into my car and drag my ass back to site. Just in time for lunch. Not to mention Matt, who has created an environment where I feel empowered to speak out about this without repercussion. Because it’s just not acceptable.)

  • New LRPer

    You write extremely eloquently and persuasively. As a new, and somewhat naive, LRPer I was unaware that these problems ran so deeply. The sexism I have witnessed first hand on the field at Empire has been rare and almost always swiftly dealt with. Most of the time, people nearby will step in and put a stop to it. I was aware that there was a problem, but I was under the impression that it was slowly, but surely, being dealt with. I had no idea this sort of extreme behind-the-scenes sexism was going on and that people were disregarding the rights of others to this degree. Perhaps I am lucky enough to only frequent less morally repugnant parts of the field, or maybe my naivety has prevented me from perceiving things properly. In truth, the story that you’ve told here makes me sick to my stomach. This sort of thing should *not* be happening, least of all in a community that claims to be inclusive and progressive. Thank you for blogging about this and drawing attention to an issue which is too often swept under the rug. I feel ashamed of my ignorance with regard to this phenomenon. Thank you for sharing this with the internet so that people like me could be helped to understand the true gravity of the situation.

    • Charlotte

      I would like to impress that this kind of behaviour in this extreme certainly is *not* normal for a LRP. When I recanted this tale to crew on site yesterday the general view was that one of utter shock that such a message would be sent in a close ‘family’ like the crew. Certainly it was suggested that a person who felt ok sending such messages would not be a person who would fit in long term with the crew (many of who are *actively* feminist like myself and work hard to eradicate this kind of assumption about what women will or won’t do.

      I’d also like to point out that from what I can gather, PD is the most progressive LRP company in the respect of trying to eradicate both in and out of character sexism. I have never met so many wonderful people who make no judgement about me being a woman and the role I choose – it is a shame however that there are such individuals within the system.

      • Ali

        For not sexist, I’ve found PD events much better than average for all kinds of people-phobia (fear of any quality that makes one different – race, disability, sexuality, or liking my little pony)

        Props for being brave here. No, really. And you didn’t slap him either, which possibly would have been my response.

        My experiences have been distinctly positive – some of the most respectful and caring people I’ve met have been LRPers. Were such a thing to happen around me, I’d like to think the chap in question would be in receipt of a handful of Vikings carefully explaining to him how he’d let the side down. Ours, which is also theirs. That being nice people vs gits, not girls vs boys.

        Please keep coming, the rest of us aren’t this guy.

  • exlrper

    I am so sad this stuff is so entrenched. (the stuff that keeps me too afraid to lrp because I am akward .. Was single … And know less and less safe people every season) is still out there. Even though I am probably not ‘lrp fit’ i am bigger, older and more akward. I still am scared. I stay on my own surrounded by strangers, unable to get help for ME and not my characters. Thank you for pointing a finger at it. I feel I am silly to think it mostly.

  • Graham Tunnicliffe

    Hiya, I was directed to this blog on my Facebook page. I don’t know you, I do know that occasionally I turn up in one of your pictures and you always make me look good!

    I read all of this and I am so sorry that you have had to put up with that sort of bull. I am genuinely ashamed that there are human beings out there who are comfortable making other human beings feel that way. But I am happy that you have better people around you to help.

  • Areal Femenist

    ‘One of the reasons I largely distrust and hate men in particular (although please… I’m not a misandrist, I’m a misanthrope…) ‘

    By this statement alone, you are a misandrist. You yourself stated you hate men in particular, if that is indeed true that it makes you a full and dedicated misandrist.
    Chill the fuck out.

    • Charlotte

      My apologies, it was poor wording.

      I meant ‘the particular reason that I hate many men’ rather than ‘I hate men in particular’. I see how it was ambiguous and I will ensure I more thoroughly check my proof reading next time I’m writing a 3500 tirade having been in floods of tears all night.

      Trust you can see the difference. Hope next time you have the guts to post under your real name.

    • Freya CM

      THAT is the point you take away from this, person who can’t spell “feminist”? Really? I mean, *really*? That she needs to chill out about how she feels after being treated like this? I don’t know what your personal malfunction is, but you really need to shut up.

  • Helen

    I am so very glad you wrote this and im very proud you did so. I am also glad there were people to help you. Thank you for writing this.

  • I know how you feel and its rubbish that any of us should have to be subjected to this behaviour. After being referred to as “the only female in the bar” one Thursday night a couple of years ago at odc I pointed out that I wasn’t – this sort of comment makes me feel horrid because apparently I was the only one recognisable as such. I am also “lrp fit” I get unwanted attention on the field and little to none off it. The worst part is how I always feel powerless at the time when I receipt of such “compliments” and wishing I’d at least slapped the offender after for objectifying me and disrespecting others around us. Half way through I was so angry that you didn’t want to come back. That you felt that way. A few events ago at empire someone apparently offered to follow me to bed to keep me warm, yes probably in jest, but nonetheless. At the time it was mentioned I sleep with a sharp and it wasn’t advised. I can’t help but think this is the best thing said because it put the individual off and hopefully spread a rumour. The reason for it was due to a male lrper taking advantage a few years earlier and it helped me sleep at night with or without my partner being in bed beside me. Your experience is one that should never happen as is mine and many others and I agree PD do a lot to stop it. I’ll be seeing someone at GOD to advise of my experience with the individual – even though it was a few years ago now – because I know they help crew and I’m only adding to the problem by not saying anything. So in the long and short Thank you for giving me the push, it will be hard, but it will be right.

  • Paul Donovan

    This was an awful story to have to write 🙁

    I can barely comprehend the levels of courage it must have taken to write it and then also come back to site. Very much respect for you.

  • Kat

    Oh how very sad.

    I kinda liked to pretend I was the only one who thought of Shroedinger’s rapists, that my experience with men meant I was paranoid as all hell, but evidently I’m not. Evidently there is something in it.

    I’ve spent a good 18 months planning my larp calendar to avoid one such male. One who took a rejection of my advances as an invitation into my workplaces, telling my staff that I hated him as he left presents for me. He harrassed me by text, constantly, insisting he only wanted to be friends (a feat now known to be impossible as our entire friendship was only a means for him to get some non-ethical non-monogamous loving on his terms. No friend tells THAT many lies. Anyway, I digress…). Then I stopped avoiding Empire and had a bodyguard or two for an entire event, subtly covered with some wish washy plot. Those kind folks gave up a weekend of their time for me. Forever grateful!

    Now I’ve built up the courage to wonder round Anvil sans bodyguard, and am considering attending the lrp he runs again. And I regret deeply that I stopped. That I had to show everyone how much it scared me.

    But maybe, just maybe, speaking out will stop it.

    Because for all this time I just thought it was my piss poor bad luck 🙁 🙁

    • Kat please do. If it’s the same person as me the person will never step anywhere near a pd game again at the minimum.

      • Kat

        Unfortunately I suspect it is NOT the same person. This one is a player. I’d love a world where NEITHER played PD ever again!

        The worst part is the number of larpers who’ve closed ranks to protect him. I get the impression they think I’M the bad person because somehow being a non-monogamous female means I deserve to be treated like dirt. Maybe someone would like to prove me wrong here, but it’s certainly the impression I’ve been given. From male and female larpers alike!

        Now I’m happily monogamous I don’t mind it so much. There is a lot to my story I haven’t made public and I never will make public, so judge away. But your story really hit a nerve, I had no idea it was a widespread thing!

        And “larp fit” is a hideous, hideous term 🙁

        • Sasha H

          Kat, please never think you are the one at fault. You absolutely do NOT deserve to be treated like dirt and I can assure you you are not alone on the field. There are many people of both genders and a great many identities who will NOT tolerate bullshit like that. I know you probably wouldn’t know me from any other face in the crowd, but please know I would step up to help you – or anyone else – without a second thought if I saw someone dealing shit like that, and I truly believe that so would every larper I know and have the pleasure to RP with.

  • littlest jane

    You are beautiful – as a person, a female and a lrper. You still shouldn’t have to put up with that kind of behaviour and I hope you have spoken to Matt about it – I luckily enough have an andy and so any of that rubbish ended years ago (though I do not think I even hit the lrpfit standard these days luckily- I went through a lot of it as bike fan as well).
    The worst of it is there are many younger women out there, probably going through this on their own and not realising that the majority of lrpers do not think it acceptable either. In some ways we need to open this up more and make it so no one is afraid of being at an event, or has to worry about going back to their tent alone.

  • Debbie

    I am sorry you’ve been made so uncomfortable by certain LARPers, and in particular, Nasty James. He sounds like a louse, and I hope he read your blog, I hope he is worried sick about it.

    There are a couple of points that I would like to make though. People are not going to stop flirting in any and every sense with you, unless you tell them you don’t like it, and yes, people are going to ask about your romantic status, because human beings flirt all the time. They flirt in the office, they flirt in the toilets, they flirt on their way across the parking lot, and by heck as like, they flirt at LARP events.

    There is no universal rule of appropriate behaviour, or even empath – if only there was! One girl finds a pushy bloke creepy, another finds him gratifying. No-one else is responsible for the expression of your boundaries, and while some should be obvious, many aren’t… There is a reason why humans learn the word ‘No,’ so early. That is the one signal everybody understands, even if they pretend otherwise. We cannot make others empathise with us or even respect us. But we can damn well make them hear us. .

    Wishing you peace of mind, and all the very best

  • BookWyrm

    Wow, I had to check that you weren’t in New Zealand.
    I have not experienced much sexism (and what I have seems to be mostly just typical clueless young man stuff), but I was blown away with how touchy feely they all are!
    I’m a bit older and a bit larger, so I don’t really worry about the young boys trying to get in to my pants, but I had to make it very clear… I am not comfortable with being massaged, touched or sitting on anyones knee. I don’t think there is anything wrong with it, it’s just not my cup of tea.
    I wonder what it is about Larp that makes people so touchy feely?

    • Charlotte

      Apparently in Scottish LRP they aren’t so touchy feely. Not sure if that’s a thing that’s specific to Scottish LRP or just Scottish people.

      But then again, the sheer volumes of Iron-Bru that he drinks on site does seem to be seeping slowly into his brain.

  • Paul T

    Im glad you found a way to get back on site and back to taking photo’s and twice as glad you found the time and effort to write this.

    One of the first things I do after each event is to check facebook and browse the various photographers sites and see what else was going on in the field while I was off doing my thing. while reading the part about you not returning to empire I was rather sad. While im almost certain Ive never spoken to you in a field or out of one for that matter. You would have been missed.

    Now if only I could help do something about it all :/

  • Lynne Morgan

    This is just awful on so many levels. I remember a few years back, discussions about IC rape at one particular event (not PD) and was horrified at just how many people, all guys, who thought it was acceptable although thankfully, many more were opposed to the very idea. I’m pleased to say I haven’t heard any such thing for a long time.

    Thanks for taking the time and courage to post this Charlotte and for taking your courage in both hands and returning to site. It is never acceptable to have to justify spurning the advances of some low-life whose social skills are so pitiful that he has to turn to predatory behaviour. They’re little more than bullies and a bully is weak and a coward; two things you most certainly are not.

  • Mary

    Thank you for having the courage to write this.

  • I wanted to say something. Then I wanted to do something. Then I decided to link your horrid experience to something I failed to do this event. It turned into a blog. I hope you don’t mind.

    • Paul

      I also witnessed that policy being mocked and did nothing – other than file it away as something to give in feedback to PD.

  • Tim

    Hi I am a married bloke who at times has been single at larp events. Tbh I have never seen them as places to meet someone generally because I am so covered in rubbish and tired etc that I am not feeling in anyway attractive. I also generally have an issue with hugging as I am somewhat uncomfortable with this. Anyone who knows me knows I tend to to do a side on one armed hug to avoid contact with both men and women unless you are a close friend. I find it very sad that boys make you feel that way, a real man doesn’t. I would like to think all people are comfortable around me. However larp seems to attract a lot of people who have many problems and therefore they struggle with relationships of any type on the field and I would warn anyone male or female of this. This is true of a lot of hobbies though. Always report this behaviour tell people you are not comfortable hugging I do and above all don’t let others intimidate you I guess..just my fairly simple thoughts on this…please no one be offended I am not the best with words.

  • Doug Hare

    Paul T – I think we can help do something. Spread links to this blog. And be more willing to tell other men that their conduct is inappropriate.

  • Mark Kuggeleijn

    What a truly fucking awful thing for him to do. I’m really glad you had the courage to speak up about it, more people need to know that a) this kind of thing happens far too often, and b) it’s not acceptable in any way.

  • Lyn

    Hi Charlotte,

    A friend linked to your post to help describe why she no longer does LRP fests. To be fair, the lady in question is both young and beautiful, and undoubtedly gets way more hassle than I have ever had anywhere in my life. However, this was my response to her:

    ” I can honestly say I have not only never seen any of this but have also never experienced any of it. Maybe because I have never been single in all the time I have larped (not that I imagine that makes any difference at an event the size of Empire), maybe because I am so old I don’t even qualify to be LRP fit. Or maybe just because I’ve not stood in the sort of places where idiots like those mentioned in Charlotte’s deeply depressing story actually hang out. OR maybe it’s because, as an older male friend once told me, I have a scary aura that sticks out several feet around me and scares men off. Who knows. The only way to combat this is to speak out and act against it. Don’t walk away, fight back.”

    Charlotte, if I ever do see this behaviour at PD, I will call it out, and I will report it if I don’t see appropriate responses to the calling out. On a more personal note, if you do come back to Empire, please at any time you need somewhere to go in pace, or you need someone to back you up or protect you or make you feel safe, please ask for Sherard Hall in Wintermark, and ask for Brand or Tuija – that’s my partner Matt and myself (I may or may not be there, I’m debating not going for health reasons) – and we will look after you. I promise you my partner is the most decent gentlemanly bloke in the world and will back you to the hilt if anyone is hassling you.

    I’m so sorry your events were spoiled for you by this person, I really hope you manage to get hi comeuppance sorted out. No-one deserves to be hassled like this.

  • Mark Wilkin

    Thank you for speaking up about this , it makes me sad that all the women I know who bring so much to these amazing events that I go to have to wade through this crap all the time. I hope we can make it better and stamp this shit out.

  • Law

    The fact that due to the actions of certain individuals you have had to walk away from your passion of Photography and Roleplaying at these events is utterly disgusting.

    I am very sorry you have had to come to this decision.

    As a guy I cannot easily relate to your experience, but I can thank you for your truly amazing photos and the obvious dedication and time you have put into them.

    You will be sorely missed.

    • Charlotte

      Fortunately I picked myself up and came back to site, and now I seem to be working on a load more other projects. Unfortunately Matt won’t let me leave. 😉

  • Pingback: What the Hell | Lair of the Jiggybeast()

  • Hi Charlotte,

    When I started reading this I didn’t know where it was going, I foolishly assumed it to be a standard rant about sexism at LARP. It wasn’t.

    I feel as if a little something has died inside me, particularly about my hobby and the people who inhabit it. Reading the comments made me more so.

    In person I doubt we would see eye to eye or even be friends if we met. But, you have my sympathy.

    I want to say more, but I don’t think this is the forum for debate.

  • Lyn

    OMG I just realised you’re the tiny little girl who was stood on the IC field gate in the rain ALL DAY on Monday, you were so lovely and smiley every time I trudged past you with yet another load of kit to take back to our trailer, I stopped and spoke a couple of times to thank you and say I didn’t know how you guys do it, now I’m even more grateful. You did all that while feeling THIS upset. You are clearly a better person than I, I would have stayed at home and cried into a single malt.

  • Alex Mitchell

    I am honestly speechless. You seem from this post like a quite interesting person to know, and it’s a shame to have such a person be marred by so many bad experiences from people who really should know better.

  • Si

    Hi Charlotte,

    I’ve read your article and blog as a whole and had some thought’s.

    The actions by James (not real name) are pretty deplorable, the term LRP Fit, likewise I find rather childish and insulting. I hope you are able to come to terms with it and recent history doesn’t impact your hobby going forward.

    However a couple of things earlier in your article did strike me as worrying though. the major one being this:

    “even if I’m letting you touch me in some way, it doesn’t mean that I’m entirely comfortable with that. I generally let it happen because society says you’re a bit ungrateful if you don’t let it happen. As a man you have to remember that you are almost always the one in the position of power”

    Sorry but if someone’s doing something you don’t like, then tell them, you’ve got to be responsible for articulating when something is not acceptable. They should then respect your response and act accordingly.

    Saying a man has to remember he’s is in the position of power is, quite frankly, outrageous. Social interactions dont work like that, men aren’t in positions of power, they’re finding their way in the world just like you are, trying to make friends, connections, interact socially. I think most people would agree its hard to know you’re doing something wrong if you’re not informed.

    You also mention the “great theory that circulates – ‘Schrodingers Rapist’” As a man I find this offensive, it’s far from “Great”, the notion that just because of my gender I’m a potential sexual predator! That women who don’t know me should potentially fear me. That’s gender stereotyping as bad as “girls in shorts skirts are asking for it”. People are people no matter what their gender, their are good ones, cruel ones, generally mostly confused and looking for direction ones. Trust me as a guy i cringe at morons who wolfwhistle at girls in the street just like you. But extreme feminist thinking is just as bad as chauvinist thinking and is a serious road block to equality.

    From reading this post and the rest of your blog, it seems you’ve got a rather low opinion of the male gender. It’s your right to feel that way, but since you put it out into there I felt the need to respond from the other side so to speak. Personally it got me rather angry, enough so that i went away and tried to articulate my thoughts for your consideration.
    I guess I’d ask you to try and keep an open mind, judge people on actions not on their chromosomes. Being male doesn’t make someone a shallow nasty person, being human sometimes.does. Thats unfortunately the world we live in and it’s not going to change if we allow the actions of a few to cloud the perception of an entire gender…

    I realise you’ve had a crappy weekend, I do have sympathy for what you’ve been through. I hope you understand that these points aren’t personal attacks against you, their honest responses to issues I think are really serious.

    • Charlotte

      I’d really, really, really like you to read this blog.

      And then I’d like you to read this.

      As a friend on my Facebook feed pointed out. If you knew that 1% of M&M’s were poisoned, would you be wary of eating any at all? How about if I told you that around 5% of M&M’s were poisonous?

      • Si

        Not all men are M&M’s some are gummy bears…

        Seriously though I’ve read the articles. you’ve clearly got a very set ideology of “Man bad” based on what i presume is experience. That’s fine, but expect people to rationally challenge your preconceptions when you voice them.

        Nice to see you came back with reasoned responses (sarcasm). Seriously if the argument is there’s a % chance that strange x could be a rapist so why take the risk, I suggest you never cross the road or drive in a car, both of which have a higher risk of fatality if the office of statistics is to be believed. Yes my argument is hyperbole but be honest so is yours.

        I wasn’t defending people who’s actions are uncivilised and moronic, I’ve said yeap some people (including men) do very bad things, what they do is wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated. However I’m pointing out that I find some of your arguments as bigoted and sexists those a misogynist would make… By the way you’re not describing how you yourself are sick of men, you’re promoting examples that compare men to games of Russian roulette and poison. I think you’ve made my point for me.

        The bigger part of my post was, that you should tell people if you are uncomfortable. Communication is the key to most problems in life, dont let them hug you, instead shake hands, wave, pat on the shoulder, whatever works. Standing there letting them hug you and disliking it isn’t fair to you or them……

        Again What happened to you this weekend SUCKed, was out of order, bad, terrible. I’m on your side and hope it all gets resolved. That doesn’t lesson the point that, I believe people who discriminate or have preconceptions about a person, based solely on gender, are part of the problem not part of the solution….

        • Charlotte

          Actually, I don’t have ‘man bad’ ideologies. I have lots of wonderful male friends, more than I have female friends. I have a particular problem with patriarchal society.

          Part of the patriarchal society that I have a problem with is the fact that many guys feel the need to jump in and go NOT ALL MEN! It might not be all men that are doing the rotten things, but it’s pretty much all women that are suffering due to it. So excuse me while I get a bit fed up with it all.

          As to your point about touching, I completely agree with you. I should absolutely not let people into my personal space if I don’t want them to be there. However the society we live in as conditioned us to think that we have to put up with behaviour like this because we should be grateful for the attention. I did directly address this culture of being called ungrateful in my post. My apologies for not writing the same thing twice.

          My reason for posting the two links was that there are people out there who have explained the concepts that I wanted to address far more eloquently than I could do in a comment reply. However instead of reading them and educating yourself, instead you felt the need to DEMAND that I answer in my own words and EXPLAIN to you directly how I felt. But of course my feelings aren’t valid here, because you’ve already told me that how I feel is wrong.

          Once again I’m going to link another cartoon. Mostly because I like cartoons. Please tell your mate in St Albans to stop writing abusive and sarcastic comments.

  • Si

    As a side note, No idea who you think i am, I’m random guy x who’s responding to what he’s read on your site, in the comments section provided. Seriously I dont know anyone in St Albans, friend or enemy. I don’t know you in real life and my only basis of knowing you is what you’ve written on this site.

    Clearly this conversation isn’t being taken as was intended, I never “DEMAND”ed anything from you, I was hoping you might be open to an alternative way of thinking, YES to challenge some of your statements and convey that some elements of your article came across as negative and offensive.

    I’m an equalist, I believe in individuals and actions, in rationality, science and generally not being an arsehole as much as possible. I’m not blind I’m aware there are many despicable men in this world, who have done vile things, thats very clear and I’ll continue to do what I can within society to support groups like Amnesty that can makes changes that benefit both genders.
    But yeah I do take offence when blanket comments are made that in theory include myself. I’m pro free speech and just in the same way I’d defend your right to make this article, I feel I’ve got a right to express that offence in a calm and rational way. the fact of my gender should null and void my comments.

    I’m sure this final message will be regarded as a man butting in, defending the defended etc etc. If so, then so be it… I wish you well for the future in life, studies and career. Take to heart what i said about communication, dont be afraid to break societies perceived rules for your own well being. To those others reading, I’d ask you be open minded about people in general men and women and if you can dont prejudge them before you know them..

  • Lyn

    Charlotte, I don’t know if you’re aware, but what happened at the weekend seems to have inspired a whole lot of people right across the UK LARP community to actually talk about this sort of thing in public on social media and as a result, I think the person who was bothering you is likely to find they won’t get away with this sort of thing in future – nor will anyone else doing anything similar. Suddenly there is an awareness that this is happening that wasn’t there before. Respect to you for speaking out where others didn’t.

    • Charlotte

      Thanks Lyn. I’m aware that lots of people have read my blog and have come forward to various organisers about experiences that they’ve had in the past.

      I hope that it provides a starting point for talking about things that happen behind the scenes, because although my experiences are very mild, other peoples are not.

      However I can’t help but feel in some ways I’ve unleashed a bit of a monster. Some people are *not* talking about it constructively in my opinion, but you can’t control these things once you’ve set them off.

  • JaredNZ

    Thanks for sharing this Charlotte. Your great photos regularly pop up as far away as NZ (and on my tumblr). Your story has been seen in our community nzlarps and I can tell you it is a concern for us that the same thing doesn’t happen here. Sad thing is, I suspect that it has. But it is something that we won’t tolerate. And your article has placed the issue into the mind of the community, so we can be alert and aware.
    Rule #7 – don’t be a dick – in my mind really rule #1. Along with rule #2 – see rule #1.
    @bookwyrm – yes we are pretty huggy. In my mind it is a nice thing and shows trust and our caring nature. I really hope this trust is never betrayed.
    (Larper, GM, Husband, Dad, Geek)

  • michael b


    Fair play for writing this. It takes guts to tell people how it is and quite frankly people telling you, you are in the wrong for writing it. Really you call yourselves feminists and free people. Yet you don’t want someone to write how they were mistreated what in the blue f***! Seriously I support the fact you wrote this not as a man, not as a larper. But as a human being who believe in equality for all genders. “James, utter idiot. but it will come out one day what you have done.”

    I hope that in the brief passing’s I’ve had with you Charlotte, I met you on y2e1 for the photo shoot with the four navarr. (I was the fat one of the group.) I hope I never caused you to feel any negativity or cause for concern and treated you with respect as I wish to with all other people. I will be honest I’m not a feminist, I’m a human being who cares that all people live free and equal. Therefore my only wish is to put your mind at ease and hope you will continue to put this out there that all people can see it and remember to treat each other with respect. If you don’t feel I’ve given you that respect for what ever reason tell me please!

  • KS

    I’m female, and I would like to say I’m actually very much agreeing with everything Si says on this.

    Charlotte, what happened to you was absolutely appalling and I admire your courage for speaking out on it. I hope you never have to go through anything even approaching it again.

    What should not happen now, however, are man-bashing social media witch-hunts. As an aside, women can sexually assault people too.

    Personally, I’ve never had anything I would consider sexual harassment at LARP. I have played several systems over the course of 20 years. Of course, what I would find offensive and what others do is an incredibly personal thing – I might just shrug off a comment but another person might be upset by it, and vice versa.

    I think what I’m clumsily trying to say is that sexual harassment should not happen to anyone, male or female. Ever. But tarring all men with the same brush is alienating some of the good people who can help the fight against the bad ones.

    • Charlotte

      I’ve not engaged in any ‘man-bashing, social-media witchhunts’.

      In fact if I saw them, I’d be the first person to very vocally criticise them.

      • KS

        Understood – but the cynical side of me reckons they will happen.