Sometimes when I talk to people about House Morrigan, they want to know what the point is. Several people have made the argument that having an organized womenís group is an admission of female weakness, that if we were strong, we wouldnít need any extra support. There isnít a support group for skinny white boys, so why should we need one? And at the time this was first suggested to me, it seemed sensible enough. Itís an argument you often hear about any minority group that decides to pull together for mutual support.
So I thought about this for a while, until it occurred to me that the kind of support House Morrigan offers to women in the game isnít really much different than the kind of support fellow male players offer each other. That isnít to say that all the men in AMTGARD are conspiring against us. And Iím not suggesting that they get together at events and go to the secret boy-cave where they encourage one another once safely away from any women. But it doesnít take long to realize there are more men than women out there on the field. And especially in parks where there are only one or two fighting women (not uncommon) the scene can quickly become a boyís club. And even if it did nothing else, I think the household would be doing a service solely by serving as a reminder that yes, women do play this game too.
When I first started playing, there was never any doubting that women could fight. I started up at Eagleshire in the Emerald Hills and had the benefit of seeing several good female fighters on a regular basis. At the time House Morrigan was running a womenís fighter practice. This was especially good for me because Thursday nights were a much easier time slot for me than Sunday afternoons. So I hit those pretty regularly. There were a lot of cool people there and a strong focus on learning and training. At the time I had no idea just how great those practices really were. Even later when I joined the house, I didnít fully appreciate what had been done for me. I was never particularly intimidated about fighting men, and it seemed like the practice was designed to break women into fighting without having to deal with that intimidation. I didnít really need that, but I have since come to realize that there were hidden benefits to those practices too. For one thing, I was surrounded by good female role models at a time when I was initially figuring out the game. There was never any room to doubt the appropriateness of my wanting to fight. A lot of women step into this game with the thought that it is a manís game and they donít belong. I was lucky enough in my experiences not to have to deal with that. How could I know just how lucky I was to be able to make all the stupid newbie mistakes that newbies do without using them against myself as proof that I wasnít meant to be fighting?
Also, bringing so many women together for fighter practice brought out certain differences in the ways men and women fight. I still recall Moogie explaining that women have a lower center of gravity and tend to throw their power shots from their hips instead of their shoulders like men. Sounds pretty basic, but then I think about all the bullshit I was probably saved by not trying to learn the basics from some tall skinny guy who loves throwing power wrap shots over peopleís shoulders and has reach the length of my entire body.
At womenís fighter practice we went over fighting strategies that were effective for us to use. We also talked garb. Armoring a woman is a little different than armoring a man. We talked about the ways we were treated on the field. It was an incredibly positive experience. Plus the emphasis on learning seemed to really stick with me so when I did get my ass kicked on the field I saw it more as a challenge to figure out than something to be upset or mad about.
Morrigan wasnít just a presence at those practices though. They were out in force every week at the park. Bitch Squad became a recognizable threat. And they pushed the newer women fighters into different fighting situations to help them grow as fighters. Quite commonly Iíd be in a ditch battle or chilling on the sides for a bit and Moogie, Squeak, and/or Nique would point out some local badass and tell me ďHey Avice, go fight that guy.Ē Now some people can be a little less than eager to go spar with random newbies. And being a newbie, how could one ever know who was up for that kind of thing, or who would be a particularly good fight. But having older AMTGARDians looking out for me I didnít have to worry about dragging some poor shmuck away from the fighting he really wanted to do just to blow all my shots and leave me thinking nothing works. And I got to meet and fight a lot of different cool people.
House Morriganís efforts toward my early AMTGARD life have been itís strongest impact on me, but working with newbie women is not the whole of what we do. Throughout my time in AMTGARD, the house has been a great network for learning new things and working out problems and concerns that exist for women in the game. I also see House Morrigan as a source for men who are learning about fighting with women. Newbie guys, and guys from kingdoms where there arenít many or any fighting women often have a problem when they encounter women on the field. At my first event there was a guy who declared having a problem with women fighters. Moogie organized a tourney-style stomping of his ass by all the newbie girls she had been training who were there that night. He didnít win a single fight. I think the house has done a lot for representation. AMTGARD can be a great game for women. House Morrigan does a lot to ensure that that remains the case. We havenít done as much the last few years, but I see us coming back. I am eternally grateful for my past experiences with this household, and expect more good things to come.
This page last updated 07/11/00
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