Recreational Medievalism covers a range of hobbies and groups including the Society for Creative Anachronism, Renaissance Faires, and other such things.
The SCA is the largest and most common medieval activity group and has a strong geekish culture which crosses over with Science Fiction Fandom, technology, etc. The SCA has roughly 50/50 participation with regards to women, and women hold many leadership positions in the organisation; sometimes it is refered to as a matriarchy. However, there are still issues of sexism to be addressed.
- Women's activities within recreational medievalism may be constrained, overtly or covertly, by real or imagined, present, or historical gender norms.
- Power structures within the group may make it hard or impossible for a woman to lead without a man by her side (eg. SCA expectation that Kings and Queens are male/female couples, although there are small positive changes regarding this issue).
- Medieval events offer an environment which exaggerates gender differences, in ways that may make some women uncomfortable
- There may be an expectation that women dress sexily (low-cut bodices, etc) or participate in sexual or romantic activities (flirting games, hand kissing). This is an example of a Sexualized environment.
- Some groups (esp. re-enactment and metal weapons groups) have far more men than women participating. It may be hard for a women to participate in such a group without a man (eg. husband/boyfriend), or she may be taken less seriously and assumed to only be there because of her husband/boyfriend.
A number of issues are specific to, or most common in, combat-related activities such as SCA armored combat or fencing:
- Combat activities may be crafted for a narrow range of body shapes that are more likely to be found among men than women.
- People doing combat may assume that participants lack psychological barriers to doing so (barriers that women are more likely than men to have learned).
- Many teachers may not know how to teach women successfully.
- Men who organize combat-related activities may overlook women for opportunities, recognition, or awards in this area.
- The Armored Rose - a classic book on women SCA fighters
- Sword Maiden - a resource for female fighters in the SCA
- Tribe.net - SCA women fighters
- "The Iron Rose: Women Warriors, Past and Present" A set of web links to information on women warriors - Stefan's Florilegium