Author's note: This essay arose out of a discussion in my philosophy class at the University of Memphis. The discussion, about Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex and John Stuart Mill's On the Subjection of Women concerned societal standards and roles of women. While by no means exhaustive, I have attempted to present a fair, balanced view of women in Amtgard. The basis of this view came from the numerous (fifty-five!) responses to my queries about women in Amtgard posted to the Amtgard mailing list, the House Lionesse list, the Far Woods message board, and the Amazons' list. I must give my heartfelt thanks to all the men and women who responded to my query. While you are too numerous to thank personally in this essay, you know who you are, and I am eternally in your debt.
Amtgard is a unique society unto itself. We are a group distinctly apart from mundane society. Our composition reflects this difference. Women are, in many cases, a minority in Amtgard. However, despite this disparity in numbers, many women have taken on the mantle of leadership and served as monarchs, regents, prime ministers, and champions. On the other hand, most women in leadership roles — not all — serve as regents and prime ministers, not as monarchs or champions.
What character traits are admired in Amtgard women? Women tended to name such qualities as self-confidence, charisma, and strength of character. Men also admired these qualities in females, but also tended add qualities such as softness and grace.
Some women complained that they were treated differently as fighters: some men simply would not fight them, apologized for killing them, or "went easy" on them. Some men admitted to qualms about fighting a woman, even though in the context of battle it is appropriate. Another complaint from some is that women who prefer fighting to other activities are unfairly stereotyped as "butch" or overly masculine in bearing.
However, many women point out that Amtgard is far more accepting and egalitarian than mundane society. Women of alternative lifestyles are more accepted in Amtgard than in mundane society, a point greatly in Amtgard's favor. Other women, though, point out that a double standard still exists: women who have many sexual partners are deemed "sluts," while men with many partners are "studs."
Women do achieve much in Amtgard. Currently women make up 20% of the knights in Amtgard, according to the Interkingdom Knight's List. In the areas of leadership, service, and craftsmanship, women have proven themselves to be the equals of men in Amtgard. And though there is only one female Knight of the Sword — so far! — women take the field with much enthusiasm and prowess.
In conclusion, I must say that though women have accomplished much in Amtgard, there is still much work to be done.
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