I write to you today on the matter of Inspirational Equality, the removal of the four words “of the opposite gender” from §4.B.1 of Corpora. Good rules stand on their merits. Bad rules are like bad friends: One is likely to defend them long after they have outlived their purpose. Therefore, let us for the sake of argument assume that those four words are not in Corpora, and that we are considering adding them:
First is the subject of enforcement. All rules must have some manner of ensuring obedience, or else they exist solely to undermine the validity of the other rules. For ideas on how to go about this, we can look at a body that has been dealing with the problem of determining gender in sporting events for decades: The Olympics. An in-depth analysis of the International Olympic Committee’s attempts to ensure gender accuracy can be found here, but in short: they gave up. There is no way to enforce this rule because there is no reliable way to test for gender – a host of genetic and hormonal factors come into play before we even begin to contemplate how to rule on the transgendered.
But we are Chivalrous, right? Let us assume for a moment that this rule requires no enforcement other than Chivalry itself. Wouldn’t the Chivalric answer to the question of who inspires you be “Whoever inspires you”? Indeed, I find the Chivalric response to this rule to be one of defiance: You grab your sword and shield and fight for your inspiration, and see whose sword swings true. This rule stands in opposition to our ideal of Chivalry.
It also stands in direct opposition to the fundamental conceit of the SCA: You are who you say you are. I am a Sixteenth Century Muscovite Pomestnik, granted Arms by the Tsar. Yet, mundanely, I have no reason to believe I have any Russian blood at all. I could just as easily have chosen to be a Fourteenth Century German Lady, and under no other circumstances would this affect what is available to me. Indeed, without looking up my mundane name, you would have no idea whether I am mundanely a man or a woman: Why should that dictate who I can rule with as Tsar? Doesn’t it contradict Corporate Policy XIII?
The SCA, Inc. will not discriminate against any member or participant on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, age or disability.
Unenforceable, Unchivalrous, Discriminatory, and disruptive to the Dream? Why would we want this rule again?
On the face of it, one may assume that this rule would enforce Authenticity (though one wonders why we would so specifically enforce Authenticity here) - that allowing same-sex consorts is just pandering to political correctness. Yet Charlemagne was King of the Franks alongside his brother. Whatever one may choose to ignore or follow from his rule, one cannot seriously suggest anything done by Charlemagne was non-Period. Likewise the Kingdom of Sparta was ruled for hundreds of years by two lines of Kings in a diarchy. One can accuse the Spartans of many things, but not political correctness.
How would this rule affect the relationship between the Royalty? Clearly Charlemagne’s co-ruler was his brother, but isn’t it likely that, by requiring the Royal Pair to be of opposite gender, that we are setting them up as a romantic pairing? That seems rather unfortunate, as two of the best Reigns I have seen involved a King and Queen who were each married to other people. Didn’t a recent King of Lochac reign with his mother? And yet, in Seven Kingdoms, this rule actually prevents some married couples from reigning together. Awkward enforced romances are no match for the real thing.
Ask yourself, in all seriousness: If this rule were not already in place, is there any likelihood you would be campaigning for its addition? No. This rule is unenforceable and stands in opposition to our Chivalry, to our Dream, and to our policy of non-Discrimination. It does not belong in our Society and should be removed immediately.
Yours in Service,