One of the aspects of this that annoys me the most is the idea that one of the most farby, inauthentic things a unit can do is to put a woman in a man’s uniform and role. It seems to be one of those things that will “torpedo” a unit’s reputation no matter how authentic they are otherwise. However, today I will not be talking about that, what I want to talk about is the fact that many women get turned away from units that are already farby, on the basis that putting a woman in a uniform is farby.
Based on my own experiences and those I have collected from other female reenactors, here is a list of things that are, apparently, less offensively inauthentic than a woman in a uniform:
As an alternate point of view if men started dressing as women on the re-enactment field would we have a problem with it? Planet earth depending on what country you are in has different reactions to “what is appropriate” now and historically. I personally feel that there has been documentation of women doing the mens thing through history and some countries just seem to like revealing it more than others (I don’t know who’s toes specifically it tromps on) but there have always been a minority of women in history who “Played the man” - whether their fellow males were aware of it or not - and I take my hats off to the girls who did manage this. Also I take my hats off to the ones that we actually hear about and finally I take my hats off to the men who went along with it all. Men get a **** of hard time now and through history too - not being able to show their emotions, etc etc . I’m not specifically on anyones side in this debate. The fact is we are re-enacting things that happened in history and we are trying to show something for either our own enjoyment or educational and historical reasons etc. Obviously if you are going to dress in male gear as a woman it helps to have some documentation on why and also it helps that you explain this to the general onlookers. Men it helps if you research women who fought etc through history. I find historically that Russia seems to be the least freaked about women dressing as males and doing mens things and England, France and America being the most freaked out about it. Thats based on what I personally have observed and not total concrete evidence.
We can swing the whole other way and say there is a whole lot of portly old men who would never have even made it to a battlefield, glasses wearing, hearing aides etc. What are we trying to do here?
On the whole scheme of things our hobby doesn’t save the planet or feed the starving or anything quite like that but it does enrich culture and remind us of where we have come from and perhaps where we might be going .