Sunday, May 26, 2013


Yesterday I went paintballing for Iolo's stag.  I have only been paintballing once before but it is an activity that I deeply love; the intense mix of competition, teamwork, strategy, and reflexes is amazing.  It can be a frustrating activity at times of course because paintball courses have two groups of people on them.  One group is using crappy rented equipment and the other group is using high end personal equipment and it turns out the good guns are a *lot* better than the crappy guns.  That disparity aside it is still a great time though the games often run to extremes; sometimes you get killed in the first ten seconds of the match and sometimes you get to play Rambo and mow down swaths of enemies.

Most of the matches my team lost or tied and my personal performance was reasonable though certainly not special.  I got my Rambo moment in though and it was a glorious, if futile, effort.  The referee had called one minute remaining so I decided to charge and do some damage (or, more likely, get killed right away.)  I ran up to an enemy building and then along it blasting randomly through the windows.  Somehow I managed to kill both people inside the building and then the one hiding behind it without being touched.  Suddenly I found myself behind enemy lines and I was able to take out another three enemies who were facing 90 degrees away from me and weren't even aware their position was totally compromised.  I got six kills in fifteen seconds and then ran out of ammo just in time for the game to be over and declared a tie.

I will let you decide for yourself if racking up a bunch of kills in the final seconds without influencing the game result is something worth bragging about.  I sure felt fifty feet tall and made of steel though.

One thing that bothered me was that the groom was dressed up in a crappy wedding dress as a form of humiliation.  This is standard for stags of course as the job of the people along is to get the groom stupid drunk and make him do ridiculous things.  Watching Iolo run around a paintball course with a wedding dress wrapped around him was pretty funny I must admit but he took it in very good humour and made the best of it.  The trouble is simply the assumption that it is utterly humiliating for a man to look like a woman.  If people were trying to humiliate a bride they would not put her in a tuxedo because it is not traditionally humiliating for a woman to want to dress like a man.

This troubles me.  I didn't say anything about it because I didn't think that it would really help anything and it might make the situation really uncomfortable.  I wanted Iolo to have a good time at his stag and since he appeared to be amused by the whole dress thing I just let it slide.  I suppose some folks might argue that it is gender nonconformity that was being mocked here rather than femininity but I don't think that is true and moreover that isn't better, just differently bad.  It does irritate me though and I wonder how much of a fuss I should make over such things.  Being female or feminine is not shameful and I wish I felt easier about publicly calling out sexist behaviour to help reinforce that notion.

1 comment:

  1. I had a good time, except for the four or so times I stepped on the hem of the dress while I was running.

    As far as it goes, it was an interesting experience for a few reasons:
    - This sort of clothing is not even remotely comfortable for most active movement. Women who are "dressed to kill" will likely be first up on the menu when the zombie apocalypse comes.
    - The sheer number of catcalls and whistles I got was kind of silly. I took it in good humour, but I don't have to take it every day, and I can appreciate how frustrating it could get.
    - All of the "humiliation" behaviour came from men. A few women smiled, but none of them said anything.
    - I honestly would've felt better if I'd been dressed in rabbit outfit or something else equally ridiculous.
    - A number of comments were from men who thought I was celebrating my divorce.
    - I am pretty sure that a number of people chose other targets because they did not take me seriously.
    - Unlike in online gaming, I was not once called a "faggot" or a "homo". (One kid asked if me and my brother were getting married, but I think it was an honest question from a ten year old, and not intended to be a slur).

    - Some men are jerks.
    - Most people were amused.
    - The sample set I was working from was extremely self-selecting (mostly men, many of them "weekend warriors", some women, mostly the mothers of boys not old enough to drive themselves).
    - Dresses do not lend themselves to combat simulation.