First point: No one *deserves* to be stalked or sexually harassed. I think we can all agree on that.

Second Point: Silence is not consent.

Third Point: There isn’t a place where any of the above doesn’t apply.

A good site for dealing with the identification and dealing with Stalkers

Now you purists, that blog entry is over. For those who come for my rambling posts, let’s get started.

I love renfaires, otherwise I wouldn’t work or attend them. I love bawdy humor, codpieces, bodices and sexy, historically-inspired outfits. I have been known to (with permission) leer a time or two and yes I know more sausage and pear jokes than an upstanding citizen should. Beer should be its own food group (and if you believe this man, it is) and I understand that when I go to the renfaire that I am functionally putting myself on display.

Let’s go back to point #3
The first faire I ever worked was teeny-tiny and much-beloved. It doesn’t even exist any more. But it was a breeding ground for Trouble (capital T)  Drug use went on, underage drinking and plenty of partner-swapping. And it seemed to all be consensual. Then the layers started to peel back. I found out years later that one of the fight group’s de facto “leaders” was stalking and not-so-hands-off , approaching the 16-year-old boys I’d brought in as “squires.”   When you work at a renfaire, your gender, sex and permissibility should not be factors in whether or not you can work the faire. In some cases people haven’t been caught …yet. And no one should have to put up with that work environment. Someone getting grabby and creepy, well that is your gut telling you that it’s creep and wrong.  Don’t care if people tell you that the person is “harmless” or “Doesn’t mean anything.” Feel free to re-quote that if you need to slap someone for doing this.  Bawdy does not mean disgusting or sexually forceful.  And as someone who, to this day regrets NOT saying something, if you see someone you think is underage and making a bad decision-say something. You may be reviled, but you weren’t complicit in an act of possibly illegal (and immoral) activity. (Your mileage may vary, I am willing to take the hit of being “an asshole.”)

Point #2 Silence is not compliance/consent
Working the fests, you do have to be nice to the customers. It’s an observation in retail that often customers victimize workers because they know the employee’s job is to be nice to them, and those customers are willing to gamble there is an ineffective boss who won’t follow up. There are jerks who say stupid things and sadly, being an ass isn’t illegal. In our own group we’ve had stalker experiences and had to handle them. I would like to point out, two genders, equally obnoxious.  In most cases a menacing member (usually the partner of the stalked party) will have a nice “conversation” with the offender-sometimes in character, sometimes breaking character. There is an escalation-and there are many great sites on how to handle this. But again I point out, that you could be wearing a codpiece the size of a humpback whale with marquis lights spelling out “This is it!” and you do not have to put up with unwanted touches or attention.  But if you are, tell anyone and everyone and if you need to, break character and pull out the “magic talking box” and snap a picture. Chances are, this is not the first time it has happened and maybe you can stop the chain.

Any ambiguity on that point? Let’s dispel that.
I do have costuming that invites “controversy”, shall we say. I wear bright colors, I work in a place that serves alcoholic beverages and have to get on stage and do a physical activity. I have, in fact, been stalked a number of times-at the faire and not.

Some people have been stupid enough to say to me
“What did you expect…(rationalization here)” Or “You aren’t THAT attractive.” I wish I could line them up and administer a running Three Stooges slap with nail-laced two by fours. You could say I have strong feelings on the subject.   Yes, you are in the public eye and yes, you are expected to be flirty, fun and shooting out that good energy to *everyone.* (Although I admit I struggle with the ones who smell like pee and I did get fleas from a hug once-True Story) But you are at the fest to have fun, and share that fun and be part of an escapist fantasy where theoretically people can let it all hang out. And I won’t lie, a lot of interplay crosses the Politically Correct line, rolls in the dirt a bit and then shakes off like a wet terrier. But it shouldn’t be uncomfortable or hurtful. You shouldn’t be made to feel less than human for the sake of a few bucks.  Or after-hours where your time is your own-ESPECIALLY then. Referencing my earlier comment in this post, being consensual is everything. I don’t think very young, very young at heart or impaired people count as “consenting”  if all the facts are not out there.  I’m not asking you to be the morality police, but I am asking you to be AWARE and use the Golden Rule.

So why did you write this entry?
It’s been foremost in my mind since I’ve started the blog but speaking with my co-founder I was told
“Stalking/predatory people = bad, I think we’ve got it.”
But if that were true, I wouldn’t still keep hearing stories or getting called an asshole. I write this blog so that maybe some of the people reading it are saying “Okay then, I’m not alone.” Or “whoah, I did NOT sign up for THAT.” And if you want to, email me and ASK me about my own experiences and I will reach out to you. As recently as last week someone posted in a forum and asked if bad things happen after hours and I was *appalled*  at how many were dismissive or disbelieving that anyone would DARE ask such a question.  Nope, shit happens at the renfaire and in some cases is more insidious because it’s dressed up in fancy duds and romance.

I hope that someone, somewhere did get a nugget of good from this or may want to add one in the comments. Thanks for reading J