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Pamela Muir




Location: Arlington, VA
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PostPosted: Fri 15 Dec, 2006 5:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gentlemen,
Thank you for your responses thus far. You have echoed some of my personal thoughts and guesses. These symbols. colors and decorations were meant to display wealth and status and had personal significance as well, such as religious or heraldic symbols.

I’m finding it quite interesting how open you are to the return of these fashions. I realize I’m not talking to a random sample. I suspect your interest in history and therefore your understanding of fashion cycles makes you more open than the average “man on the street.” I’m pretty sure that if I went into a biker bar and asked these same questions I’d get very different answers, though I’d probably see a lot of heart tattoos.

But I also think as a group you are much more secure in your masculinity. This hobby influences our perceptions on what it is to be a man and a gentleman. You also are aware of the “sexiness” factor. Ssssh, don’t tell anyone, but a man in armour or medieval or renaissance clothing or even just a handsome man with a sword in his hand sets my heart a flutter. No wonder I spend so much time here. Wink

Please keep the responses coming. I’m truly enjoying the male point of view on this topic.

Pamela Muir

Founder/Lead Instructor
Academy of Chivalric Martial Arts


"I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight." ~Steinman/Pitchford
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Nick Trueman





Joined: 27 Mar 2006

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PostPosted: Fri 15 Dec, 2006 6:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi

Thought I would add my bit. A belt a modern macho man would not be caught dead wearing! But obviously good enough for the viking/rus warrior who was buried with it at Birka. This is a repro of coarse but is modeled from the original bronzes.

viking/steppe love hearts!



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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Fri 15 Dec, 2006 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting thread, everyone. I've given some thought to this, and for me, I view period fashions much differently than modern. We can't apply the same standards to both periods, because they are so different.

For example, I love transitional armour and would love a kit with a bright, velvet-covered breastplate (and scabbard), perhaps multi-colored, and a huge colorful crested great helm. My favorite sword grips are red and blue. I just got the Edward III sword with gilding and rosettes on pommel and guard, with a garter etched on the blade. Happy In my modern life, I'm not flamboyant at all, and dress in boring basic solid colors. I don't care for velvet clothing (unlike George Costanza, I have no desire to be ensconced in velvet). I'm not a bright-color, flowery kind of guy.

"Back in the day," decoration and color were symbols of wealth which were important socially but in battle could have meant the difference between being killed and being captured and ransomed.

As for security in masculinity, I think sword-loving men have to be a little bit secure since some people assume there is some Freudian fear of inadequacy that drives us to collect long symbols of power....

In the case of fashion, I don't think that security in masculinity has as much to do with liking period fashions as the ability to appreciate another culture and to the ability set aside modern preconceptions.

Happy

ChadA

http://chadarnow.com/
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Steve Fabert





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PostPosted: Fri 15 Dec, 2006 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pamela, your question is producing some entertaining responses. I especially enjoyed the pic of the biker in a leather skirt. I will add a comment or two, though they may not be as entertaining as some others.

Fashion in clothing assumes a level of wealth that permits the wearer to choose among an array of options. The clothing of the American West was originally almost entirely functional, based on leather and denim. When jeans were first sold they were worn only by people who couldn't afford anything better. It is now considered chic for urban types who have never done physical labor to dress like cowboys as a fashion statement. For a short time it was fashionable to wear fringed buckskin jackets, like a member of the Lewis and Clark expedition. But these fashions have not been limited to one gender.

Today clothing and accessories are most often selected to gratify a self image and to project an assumed social role. Even our choice of vehicles serves the same function. No tough guys in hybrid cars, no playboys in minivans, no business suits in pickup trucks. What is appropriate for one person's station in life and peer group may be entirely inappropriate for another.

Odds are good that these motives were present in medieval times as well. Articles of clothing and even tools might have carried a social significance that we can only guess at today. I think especially of the fad for long pointed shoes in the 15th Century, which carried over into the design of armored sabatons. Without knowledge of the fashion in civilian shoes, a person could spend a lifetime trying to determine the practical purpose for those long pointy armored toes - (horse ticklers?? or maybe knight versus knight cockfights?).

I have always been impressed by the fondness for cloisonne and knick-knacks apparent in Viking era weaponry. Little boar figurines on helms, and just plain pretty hilts and pommels, seem to have been preferred by the rich and powerful. I wonder whether Viking men were more colorfully attired than their women, or whether they all were fond of these ornaments?

I don't know that there are any strong gender based preferences in weaponry. The attempts to produce 'feminine' firearms in the past century have all generally failed, but sales of apparently Freudian overpowered guns have done well in the male market. Could it be that some of the weapons choices of the middle ages were determined as much by the desire for a macho image as they were by practical function? I think of Conan-sized swords . . .
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Michael S. Rivet





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PostPosted: Fri 15 Dec, 2006 10:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a point my wife came up with. Or maybe I did while we were talking about this. The notion of flamboyant colours, combined with complicated embroidery and so forth as a sign of wealth has come up several times. However, the industrial revolution made mass-produced patterns and colours in textiles available cheaply enough for everyone. Was there, perhaps, a knee-jerk response by the rich that resulted in more staid clothing? An expensive, well-tailored suit can still draw attention, give a fellow an aura of wealth and prestige, but it's a lot harder to pull off that kind of look on the cheap.
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Richard Fay




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Dec, 2006 1:09 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:

For example, I love transitional armour and would love a kit with a bright, velvet-covered breastplate (and scabbard), perhaps multi-colored, and a huge colorful crested great helm. My favorite sword grips are red and blue.


Hey Chad!
Me, too! Wink

I actually tried to cover my coat-of-plates in bright red leather (chrome tanned-not historical, but pretty), but I made the mistake of storing the red leather with some cheap black pigskin, and, alas, the black smudged onto my red leather! I ended up using the red leather for the cover material of a pair of splint vambraces and rerebraces. I also used a bit of the red leather to redo the grip on my MRL Patay; the red looked much nicer than the standard black. I would absolutely love a nice coat-of-plates, covered breastplate, or brigandine with a velvet cover in bright red or blue!

I have used a basic flower motif on simple hardened leather poleyns I made that I attached to padded cuisses. I made the poleyn out of two layers, and let the thinner inner layer stick out from the edge of the thicker upper layer. I then cut the thinner leather in petal shapes. I was inspired by poleyns that show up every so often in some of the Osprey colour plates. I'm not sure if they are purely historical, but they look nice.

I have made one gambeson in a dark blue canvas (Wal-Mart special- no choice of color, but it was a steal!), and another out of a pale green. I would never wear pale green in "street clothes" (although I have been known to wear bright red and blue), but it looks fine in a gambeson (and a bit more colorful than undyed cloth).

Unlike Chad, I think I would wear velvet, as long as it was done well. I could see myself dressing like Frodo Baggins, with a velvet vest and coat.

Stay safe!

"I'm going to do what the warriors of old did! I'm going to recite poetry!"
Prince Andrew of Armar
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Fri 15 Dec, 2006 2:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I tend to push the limit of " normal " clothing as I like some flamboyance in what I wear or what could call stealth flamboyance: I wouldn't wear a cape as normal everyday wear but I do wear at times a long floor length black leather coat of trenchcoat or duster that sort of " bellows " behind one sort of cape like and I also like a nice walking stick. ( My back that occasionally locks up also gives me an excuse and icy side walks in the winter. )

Also have a bit of a walking stick collection some of which I bought, others I made myself out of rosewood and moose antler and I had a few customs made. Sort of my " stealth sword " or sword substitute.

Oh, I'm having a " Matrix " like leather great coat custom made.

You could say I like designing a variety of stuff. Razz Laughing Out Loud

Also I have a modified Medieval type pouch that I designed as an inside the pants wallet and wallet holder.

All of the above not so obvious that it will draw exaggerated attention but a way of doing things my way.

The kilt thing I don't think I could pull off unless it's a traditional plaid kilt as that seems to have a built in " Macho " factor but a leather or kaki one just look like your wearing a dress ! Funny how in the context of a film like " Gladiator " Russel Crow didn't look " feminine " at all.

Dresses for men could become the fashion in theory but it would have to grow from a few brave first adopters to a large plurality of men: A bit in the way that women can wear trousers without it meaning anything about femininity or masculinity ! At least not in " western " societies after 1930 or so.

So Pamela you really opened up an interesting subject ! What would we wear if we could do it without getting some funny looks from the regular folk out there or were really bold enough to not care !? Probably choose what we really like instead of conforming to the mid range of socially acceptable stuff: knights to Ninjas to movie characters. Everyday Halloween. Razz

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!


Last edited by Jean Thibodeau on Sun 17 Dec, 2006 10:23 am; edited 1 time in total
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Vincent Le Chevalier




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2006 10:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Speaking about colors...

I was watching TV this afternoon and there was a rugby match (Sale-Stade Français), and the players of the Stade Français were wearing pink shirts, which is a rather unusual color in sports shirts (especially in rugby, a sport that includes some rather vivirilections Wink ).

And then I remembered seeing them with flowers as well Happy Here are the said shirts:

pink shirt
flowery shirt

Well I'm not too fond of those colors, but then I dress mostly in dark blue or gray so it's not really my style. However I do prefer sport shirts with heraldic colors, which pink is not.

I looked a bit around on the web about those shirts and they seemingly sparkled some debate among supporters... I even found some articles in english about those:

http://sport.guardian.co.uk/columnists/story/...?gusrc=rss (explaining the marketing behind)
http://www.theeastterrace.com/pink.shtml (a rather extreme point of view, well, I hope... Such sentences as "a pink shirt [...] is clearly not something a normal, healthy club would wear" I find disturbing)

It's quite possible that other sport teams have played in pink already, but that's the most recent example I know of. We'll see in a few years if the idea spreads...

Regards

--
Vincent
Ensis Sub Caelo
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Pamela Muir




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2006 10:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Gentlemen,
Thank you again for all of your responses. I am very interested in your thoughts. They have been interesting, enlightening and entertaining. A rugby team using pink and flowers?! Cool

This morning, at mass, I was thinking about the religious side of this topic and how little it has changed. We had flowers on the altar, a stained glass heart and the priest was wearing pink robes for the third Sunday of Advent.

Pamela Muir

Founder/Lead Instructor
Academy of Chivalric Martial Arts


"I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight." ~Steinman/Pitchford
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Elling Polden




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2006 11:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ah, the joys of gender and group identity...
-Elling, Sociology master student

(Enter academic rant mode]
What you wear and how you wear it is a classic example of presentation of Self.
In short, people relate to the world around them in terms of "mental objects"; That is, a idea or concept, or symbol that has a sett of characteristics and a set of properties. A typical example could be a socker ball; Round, alternating coulours, soft, kickable.
When you interact with the world, you descions are based on reflections over this mental image: According to my knowledge of socker balls, what will happen if i kick it?

The same goes for people; Young children learn the "properties" of the individuals around them; Say, mother will not give us ice cream, while grandma will.
Again there is a mental reflection; If I do this, how will person X react?
The people you relate to in this way is refered to as the "Significant others"

This is just the primary stage, however. The big break comes when you start forming a notion of the "genralized others"
These are the "Everybody else" in "Everybody else gets to..." or "Everybody else thinks that..." of teenage rethoric.
Basically, you learn to relate to large groups people at once, by forming mental objects that contain groups of individuals rather than one. The question becomes "How do The Others look at me if i do X"

At this point, the Self starts to form. Essentially, you chose what image you wish to present to the others; A conform member of society, a member of this or that sub culture, a Sucsessfull and attractive person, and so on.

For instance, I could decide to be a rocker. I would make sure that people notice that I'm a rocker by wearing black jeans, a band t-shirt, and a leather jacket with a Metalica patch on the back.
At the same time, I would actively avoid the symbols of identities I do NOT identify with.
I would, for instance, not wear baggy jeans, huge dollar sign bling-bling, and fake diamonds in my ears, nor would I wear a white shirt and tie.

In this fashion, what people are wearing is deterined (partly at least) by what image they want to project.

Sometimes, people want to project temselves as flamboyant, wealthy and sucsessfull: modern day rappers are an example, though they are put to shame by 16th century Landsknecht Mercenaries Razz
At other times, moesty and temperance are seen as the main virtues, like during the 13th century, or in protestant northern europe.
Comonwealth and post-resturation britain is a case in point.

Western capitalist society has its roots in pietistic religious groups, where modesty was a virtue; aside from religious issues, Someone who dresses extravagantly is, in essence, not spending his money on important stuff, like reeinvestment.
Thus, the simple black suit became the sign of a propper and thrustworhty buisinesman.
Unnessecary frills became signs of vainity, which where in turn frowned upon.

So bascially, the swings in male fashion are also swings in the attitude to vainity. It was ok to be a vain yuppy in the 80's. When the economy colapsed in the late 80's the yuppy lifestyle became associated whit the folly of the previous years, and presto, male vainity is out again.

It came creeping back with the new milenium, along with pastel colours...

Take the case of the introduction of the concept Metrosexual, for instance.
(Which, as it happens, yours truly wrote his batchelor thesis about...)
The word was fist used in a essay by gay journalist Mark Simpson in 1995, to describe the "dream man of market consumerism": A self concious urban male with the same consumption pattern as a woman. He is a "Metrosexual" because he is in love with his own urbanity and sense of style. Actual sexual orientation has nothing to do with the issue, since he is primarily in love with himself.
The posterboys of Simphsons metrosexuals are, in the later days, the "Queer eye for the straight guy" crew.

Hey, wait? Aint a metrosexual suposed to be a straight guy who's in touch with his feminine sides?
Not as it started out.
However, after the word had been more or less forgotten for years, it was picked up by Euro RSCG, a major marketing firm. They adopted the term, redefined it to something fewer people would object to, and in february 2003 sendt a repport about their finds in their latest survey to lifestyle journalists world wide, proclaiming that the future man would be a metrosexual.
The report shows absolutely nothing that would support their claim; It shows that men are generaly positive to womens liberation, but it does not show any correlation between this and consumer patterns. (or anything else for that matter)

So, the purpose of the metrosexual media campaign is clearly to legitimize male vainity. (And to earn loads of money on consultant fees from companies that want to learn about the new trend). The trend is there, but , at the end of the day, its about vainity rather than feminine values.

[exit academic rant]

Bottom line is, in some periods it was OK to be flashy and flamboyant. In others it was not.

Personally, I like being flashy, but I'm more inclined to classic style, beeing quite resentfull about fashion.
After all, history shows us that it can never be trusted.

"this [fight] looks curious, almost like a game. See, they are looking around them before they fall, to find a dry spot to fall on, or they are falling on their shields. Can you see blood on their cloths and weapons? No. This must be trickery."
-Reidar Sendeman, from King Sverre's Saga, 1201
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Shamsi Modarai




Location: On wuda bearwe, under actreo in þam eorðscræfe.
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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2006 1:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for starting the topic, Pamela. This is a subject that has long fascinated me. I used to frustrate all my friends in high school by constantly refuting their ideas about what was "supposed" to be masculine and/or feminine by explaining to them that nothing is inherently either. Gender is mainly a social construct. (Many of them had never even considered such an idea before.) Anyhoo....this thread was bringing back a lot of memories of the days where I used to tell straight guys that it was *ok* to wear have a hand bag, man-purse, whatever you want to call it, because their was nothing inherently feminine about such a thing. (In fact, historically, men used to have more "purses" for carrying their money than women!) Big Grin

Whatever influenced it, I really do love the amount of artistry that went into a lot of the war-gear of Celtic and Germanic warriors. The designs are gorgeous yet "manly" (whatever manly means). I think that such time and effort going into the weapons and armour (of the early Anglo-Saxon cultures at least) had to do with the concept surrounding feoh, which referred to portable wealth carried on one's person. Weaponry was made too look so pretty because it was the main way a warrior showed off how wealthy he was, just like the dandies of later periods did with their clothing.

Personally, I think men (and women) of today should dress however the heck they want. In college I used to walk around campus with a cloak billowing out behind me. I used to wear my Elven archer outfit (completely with leather bracers) and even my medieval dresses to class sometimes. One time I even wore a leather mask. Then again, it did help that I had mostly medieval literature, history, and art history type classes at that time, but still. I got plenty of "oh no its the crazy girl again" looks from it. Razz


Pamela Muir wrote:

Ssssh, don’t tell anyone, but a man in armour or medieval or renaissance clothing or even just a handsome man with a sword in his hand sets my heart a flutter. No wonder I spend so much time here. Wink



Ahem. I agree most whole-heartedly. Wink A man with just about any weapon makes me drool. Why do you think I surround myself with warriors all the time? Because they are delicious. "You will taste man-flesh!" is my battle cry. (If you are reading this my dear Ricky....yes, I mean you when I talk about crunchable and tassty, Preciouss.) Razz

Wa bið þam þe sceal of langoþe leofes abidan.

~ The Wife's Lament
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Pamela Muir




Location: Arlington, VA
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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2006 2:45 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Elling,
Thank you for that very thoughtful post. Geek that I am, I really enjoy someone else's academic rant. I'm glad that I started something. Big Grin

I'd like to ask a favor from all of you. I'd like you to post images of your favorite heart embellished armour, swords with floral designs, lacy and colorful historic garb, etc. I think it would be fun to see lots of these images gathered in one place. Cool

Pamela Muir

Founder/Lead Instructor
Academy of Chivalric Martial Arts


"I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight." ~Steinman/Pitchford
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Sun 17 Dec, 2006 7:22 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pamela Muir wrote:
Hi Elling,
Thank you for that very thoughtful post. Geek that I am, I really enjoy someone else's academic rant. I'm glad that I started something. Big Grin

I'd like to ask a favor from all of you. I'd like you to post images of your favorite heart embellished armour, swords with floral designs, lacy and colorful historic garb, etc. I think it would be fun to see lots of these images gathered in one place. Cool


If you remember the " armour job " I did with Photoshop on your picture I don't think it made you look masculine. Wink

A little Joan of Arc(ky) maybe but not masculine. Razz Laughing Out Loud

So, right back at you: A woman in armour who likes swords and is actually scary good with swords or any other weapons is HOT to me. Wink Laughing Out Loud ( Well there was Xena Warrior Princess and Gabrielle was sort of cute too and became more and more weapons competent as the series evolved. O.K. not very realistic fighting, but it worked for me as fantasy. )

Well, you started it. Wink Cool

Oh, no pictures yet but I am adding some decoration, engraving and inlays, to my OlliN sword project: Lettering and wolf motif. ( Sorry. no flowers involved, but decoration certainly. )

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Pamela Muir




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2006 3:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jean Thibodeau wrote:


So, right back at you: A woman in armour who likes swords and is actually scary good with swords or any other weapons is HOT to me. Wink Laughing Out Loud ( Well there was Xena Warrior Princess and Gabrielle was sort of cute too and became more and more weapons competent as the series evolved. O.K. not very realistic fighting, but it worked for me as fantasy. )

Blush Blush. Thanks Jean. You made my day. It's been a very long time since I've been called "hot". My weapons are much prettier than I am. Happy And I certainly do remember your "armour job". That's on my "When I Win the Lottery" Wish List. Laughing Out Loud

Pamela Muir

Founder/Lead Instructor
Academy of Chivalric Martial Arts


"I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight." ~Steinman/Pitchford
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2006 4:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Pamela Muir wrote:
Jean Thibodeau wrote:


So, right back at you: A woman in armour who likes swords and is actually scary good with swords or any other weapons is HOT to me. Wink Laughing Out Loud ( Well there was Xena Warrior Princess and Gabrielle was sort of cute too and became more and more weapons competent as the series evolved. O.K. not very realistic fighting, but it worked for me as fantasy. )

Blush Blush. Thanks Jean. You made my day. It's been a very long time since I've been called "hot". My weapons are much prettier than I am. Happy And I certainly do remember your "armour job". That's on my "When I Win the Lottery" Wish List. Laughing Out Loud


It's been a very long time since I've been called "hot". Well if that's 100% true your husband deserves a surprise elbow shot to the foating ribs. Wink Laughing Out Loud Guys, keep deluding themselves that: " Well I don't have to say it. She knows ..... doesn't she!? "

Guy's vanity is being told how big and strong they are: Same thing / different insecurities. Razz Laughing Out Loud

And I'm glad I made your day. Big Grin

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Sam Barris




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2006 6:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

This is an interesting question. I’m going to take a slightly different approach in attempting to answer it. Please be patient with me. I remember someone mentioning in an old topic that the simple, utilitarian tastes most modern people have in reproduction weapons would most likely have been very out of place in the period from which the original weapons were drawn, or at least might have indicated a certain lack of disposable income. Until very recently, the question of ornamentation vs. utilitarianism was simply one of wealth. Those who could afford frills displayed them openly, male and female alike. Even in some of the most disciplined military orders—such as the samurai—weapons, clothes and hair were extensively decorated to indicate social rank and wealth with no doubts cast upon the masculinity of the individual swordsman. The dress and arms of a Renaissance gentleman show a similar taste for flair, with ruffles, lace and ornate rapier hilts as standard issue to members of the higher echelons of society. Even the Spartans allowed themselves fancy hairdos before a battle. Long hair was manly, once. Like a lion’s mane. Now it brands a man as some kind of hippie. Or worse (in society’s eyes); as effeminate. As for modern military uniforms, I can’t agree that they fulfill the same purpose. True, they’re sharp looking, especially when you’re talking about something like Navy choker whites, but they’re very male uniforms for all of that, in the modern sense of the word. Their purpose is to accent (or create) the rigid, square aspects of the male form that became synonymous with the very ideas of masculinity and strength with the rise of industrialism, Cartesian thought, and modernity in general. Look at the basic body shape suggested by a Marine’s dress uniform, then look at the body shape suggested by Gothic armor. Subtle differences, no? People were allowed to have rounded edges back then, as in fact people do. To us, roundedness goes in the pot with flowers as something that signifies softness and femininity, which are still (sadly) equated with physical and mental weakness in our society—no matter how much social equality the West has gained over the past century or so, we haven’t quite made those final philosophical leaps. And if the modern military could construct people using nothing but geometric planes and right angles, it would do so without hesitation.

So let me run a bit farther with this. We have the Scientific Revolution. Occurring at roughly the same time, we have the rise of several religious denominations and schools of philosophy that stress utilitarianism and the idea that the entire universe is a giant machine. Not organic. Not alive. Just cogs and wheels and gears and math. The players here are men like Calvin, Descartes, James and others. From these philosophical seeds, modern industrialism takes root. To be a manly man now one is required to be either a mighty captain of industry or a stoic (and silent) factory worker. The adoption of an almost entirely mechanistic, urban way of life leads to a mechanistic, urban ideal of manhood. Plain square buildings are in. Domes and arches are out for the most part, no matter how structurally sound they might be (with the exception of structures built with some ceremonial intent). In short, the entire Western concept of aesthetic beauty—balance, form, grace, proportions, etc—is almost lost to society as a whole, and I wouldn’t say that it’s been entirely recovered even now. Things now are blocky and ugly because industrial development becomes tantamount to progress and national strength.

Now let me get back to the use of arguably “feminine” decorative motifs. Drab practicality, at this point, had been more or less accepted as the ideal of manhood. A sharp divide has therefore been drawn between domestic and professional life. It was always there to some degree, but this is in many ways a sharper divide than those two worlds had ever known previously, thanks to new technologies and social development. All things not considered sufficiently practical are essentially banished from the domain of the man (industry) and relegated to the domain of the woman (the home). In the social lens of the time, masculinity equates to strength and spartan utilitarianism—that is to say, things that are perceived as being useful—while femininity equates to things that may have been valued by Western culture of previous centuries, but then came to be seen as being either decadent and impractical (at best), or useless and immoral (remember that there is a religious aspect to this trend as well as an economic one). America was in large part established by Puritans—a mostly joyless lot to begin with—and we’ve never quite shaken their influence. Also, long ago we defined our national identity largely by acts of rebellion and disdain against old world traditions. For these reasons, America was probably hit at least as hard as everyone else by the overall die-off of publicly acceptable masculine expressions of beauty, perhaps even a bit harder.

On a side note, the rise of industry and decline of aristocratic rule also led to the standardization of pretty much everything, including military arms. (The smallsword seems to have resisted this effect better than most, perhaps because of its continued use among aristocrats, perhaps due to its double-identity as a piece of male jewelry?) But that’s another issue entirely.

The issue of economics (which is just as valid if not more so than the gender studies approach I’ve taken) has already been summed up perfectly by the comment about how color is cheap fashion-wise because technology has given us the ability to make it cheaply money-wise. That observation is spot on. A purple silk shirt would have been the epitome of aristocratic fashion in certain past times and places, precisely because purple dye cost so much to make. Remember the phrase, “born in the purple”? The Byzantine Empire took that literally. There are hundreds of examples of this principle in action.

As far as my own taste in weapons and decoration, it all just depends on the weapon. I admit that I prefer to eschew excessive bling. I’ll wear color happily, but usually in very dark shades and more often than not earth tones, dark greens and burgundy (unless I’m in my whites, of course, then I’m shiny with gold pins and stuff). With weapons I prefer the more subtle beauty of form and proportion to ornate gilt or other adornment (I believe that Albion’s Munich will fulfill this ideal nicely, as an example) but I have no aversion to floral themes, hearts or even butterflies. As long as they’re tastefully done and contribute artistically or symbolically to the overall effect of the weapon’s appearance, I rather like them. In all of this may I demonstrate a small degree of the bias I’ve just railed against, but I am undeniably a very atypical male for this age of the world, particularly for my current profession. I also love poetry and classical music. These things have fallen out of fashion for men as well. I’d say overall that it’s a tragic loss to my gender as a whole.

On another side note, I find women who are comfortable with weapons (or any women who defy the steryotypes by developing and enjoying their own physical, intellectual or emotional strength) absolutely irresistible. Like I said, I'm atypical... but perhaps not so much in this crowd.

Pax,
Sam Barris

"Any nation that draws too great a distinction between its scholars and its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards, and its fighting done by fools." —Thucydides
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Shamsi Modarai




Location: On wuda bearwe, under actreo in þam eorðscræfe.
Joined: 25 Nov 2006
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2006 3:27 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very fascinating post Sam! Happy

(Ok....sorry if the following makes no sense. I just got back from a really long flight and I'm tiiiired....)

While I like women with weapons (heck I am one), I must say that I have a problem with the idea that a woman with a sword (or whatever weapon) has to be a hardened arse-kicking warrior princess with an attitude in order to be counted as "sexy." For example: the narrowly averted disaster with Arwen in first part of the Lord of the Rings movies. The makers of the film thought they had to make her more appealing by not only having her wield a sword (which I didn't have too much of a problem with), but also by changing her overall attitude to be more aggressive, etc. Yes, I realize that Arwen in the books was relegated to a very minor role, as were most of the women. (Again, I honestly have no problem with that! In fact, I much prefer tales like Lord of the Rings which tell about the bonds between men!) I also understand that to use a weapon one must have some degree of agressiveness. I guess its the fact that so many of the so-called sexy warrior women really just seem like men in a woman's body to me. I feel that a woman should be able to use a sword if she wishes, but should still be able to do some embroidery or other domestic or "effeminate" pasttime---as well has have a kind and caring heart---without being considered "matronly" or un-sexy.

Sorry for getting somewhat off-topic (though still on the topic of gender)......I guess I've just had some negetive experiences in some of the role-playing/sword fighting groups I've been in. The only girls who were able to "make it" so to speak were the ones who acted just like the guys (meaning that they seemed full of testosterone and slaughtered everything in their path, including little ol' me Razz ). I on the other hand, merely wanted to practice with swords so that I could better myself technically, not so I could beat people up! (Of course, this problem might also have had something to do with the nature of the groups I was in....they were full of college guys.) I have a very soft-heart and can't bear to hurt anyone if I can help. I also become afraid very easily in large melee situations and feel the urge to run and duck for cover. Nevertheless, I still love swords, and not just to look at! But I also have a very strong maternal streak and I find that I cannot bring myself to have that "attitude" of physical violence. I suppose I am a normal, if somewhat un-sexy woman in that sense. Razz


Ok....rant over....you can get back to the main topic at hand! Big Grin

Wa bið þam þe sceal of langoþe leofes abidan.

~ The Wife's Lament
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Pamela Muir




Location: Arlington, VA
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2006 4:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hi Sam, Thank you for your thoughts. I appreciate the military viewpoint.

Here's a link from myArmoury's albums. This is quite similar to the sword that got me thinking about this and wanting to hear the male point of view.

I'd love to see pictures of your favorite pretty pieces.

Pamela Muir

Founder/Lead Instructor
Academy of Chivalric Martial Arts


"I need a hero. I'm holding out for a hero 'til the end of the night. He's gotta be strong, And he's gotta be fast, And he's gotta be fresh from the fight." ~Steinman/Pitchford
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Jean Thibodeau




Location: Montreal,Quebec,Canada
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PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2006 4:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Shamsi;

I think I understand what you are saying and my bringing up Xena didn't mean that she should be the one and only model for a woman warrior or simply a woman with weapons competence.

If you watched the series at all ( I have no idea if you did ? ) Gabrielle the sidekick is very much the girlie girl but learns to fight quite well ( Within the context of the fantasy, not in the real world sense. ) with her staff and towards the end of the series is portrayed as being skilled and brave. On the other hand she still retains a strong moral centre and has great difficulty dealing with killing. Xena on the other hand used to be ruthless and cruel ( Back story: She was truly evil ! ) and finds killing much too easy to do and her journey in the series is one of a form of repentance and regret trying to find a kind of salvation.

In any case, an interest in weapons and competence in the use of weapons is not the same as liking violence or carnage and this I would say for everyone here male or female.

Oh, I don't think any of those who practice with weapons here are in the slightest interested in hurting people and not respecting your training partners means practising alone.

Now your experience with a group that sounds very immature and amateurish, not to mention testosterone poisoned. Eek!

As to the morality of fighting and killing, it's all in the why: Protecting your home and family is very different than killing for the sake of power, wealth or worse taking pleasure in slaughter.

O.K. I may have also gotten side tracked and I'm overthinking this but the sexy woman warrior thing would be more interesting in a character otherwise very feminine.

So maybe I'm clarifying things here or hopelessly messing it up. Eek!

You can easily give up your freedom. You have to fight hard to get it back!
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Shamsi Modarai




Location: On wuda bearwe, under actreo in þam eorðscræfe.
Joined: 25 Nov 2006
Reading list: 16 books

Posts: 110

PostPosted: Mon 18 Dec, 2006 5:15 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oh Jean, its ok.....I also should have clarified. I didn't mean to say that I thought anyone on this board had that opinion that I was ranting about, only that I've seen it constantly re-appear as a rather annoying cliche in movies, books, etc (aka the hot chick in leather bikini that somehow fights and doesn't get a scratch on her.) It therefore sometimes filters down into the fantasies of the previously mentioned immature college guys whom I used to fight with. (They only liked the "tough" girls that they could hit really hard! I really did *not* fit in with that at all!) You are completely correct that my experiences with (full-contact) fighting have been "testosterone poisoned." I only hope that I have a chance to learn how to fight safely and not just get knocked around some day. Happy

Sorry to be confusing......like I said I just got back from a very tiring trip to the UK. I probably ought to go get some beauty sleep. Wink

Wa bið þam þe sceal of langoþe leofes abidan.

~ The Wife's Lament
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