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Mon, Sep. 8th, 2008, 09:36 pm
dawnd: poly, SCA, and under-25 social networks

Hi folks:

I just wrote this stuff for a local list, in response to a post regarding resources for under-25 polys. I thought some folks here might be interested, since it touches on poly and SCA. Enjoy.

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Hi [list host], hi everyone:

I'm glad to get the information about the resources aimed at the under-25 crowd. More resources is a good thing. I never object to adding more information and more resources to what's already out there. :^)

[The OP] says she's not interested in debating age-limited social networks, which I can understand if it's something she's been challenged on repeatedly. So what I'm writing here is not offered as "debate," but as my personal reaction to the phenomenon of age-limited social networks, spurred by her post in particular. I'm not expecting an answer (since I haven't posted it where she hangs out), but if it gets back to her and she DOES find she has something to say, I'm happy to listen.

[The OP] mentions that she runs a "poly social club" on campus at [her university, which happens to be my alma mater], and for me that inevitably brings up memories of my own time running a "social club" at [my alma mater], a quarter century back. In my case, it was a branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism. One of the things I loved about the SCA was the diversity of ages. The SCA had been started only about 15 years before I arrived on the scene, and mostly by college kids. So there were a lot of folks about 30-35 years old at that point. There were also many folks older, and many younger, including small children. It was a true cross-section, although true to its roots, there were already many "colleges" (branches located at real world colleges and universities), and a high proportion of college-age participants. Because we were a campus club, we had to follow the rules for campus clubs. But I don't recall there being a great hoo-ha about us trying to *exclude* those older than we. To the contrary, we had a good working relationship with our campus sponsor, and sought his advice on matters of importance. We also did whatever the hell we felt like in our meetings, by and large. Our interests were not the interests of those in the surrounding "province"--and that was perfectly OK with both sides. We did our stuff, they did their stuff, and we all met at the larger gatherings, where everyone played side by side, contributing to the whole. Eventually, some of "us" morphed into some of "them," and new college age folks came to take our places as we got older, graduated, and developed new interests. It was a pretty natural process, and it continues to this day.

I can't help but contrast my experience there with what I've seen of the TNG [The Next Generation] phenomenon. It's like the younger folks in the scene have felt compelled to put a big "Keep Out!" sign on their clubhouse, and institute sekrit handshakes and the like. And while I don't begrudge them their space, I do kind of begrudge them their attitude (which might be summed up as "you old people are kind of icky"). And I look back at the SCA groups, and wonder why that model won't work here. Is it that sex screws everything up (pardon the pun)? Is it that the kink groups largely did not *start* on campus, as did the SCA, and therefore the younger folks feel compelled to "stake out their territory" more forcefully? Is it that in the SCA, the ASSUMED standard of behavior was knighthood and chivalry (gender not relevant)? Is it that our external culture is becoming progressively more youth-oriented, and without the traditions of "respect for elders" inherent in the SCA, the younger folks simply see no point to interacting with the elders in the community? Or one of my favorite wonderings: Is it that we've become used to unnaturally age-stratified groups, by the 12+ years of education where we're surrounded by two groups--1) peers of all exactly the same age, and 2) "authority figures". So anyone significantly older is automatically, and perhaps subconsciously, someone to be rebelled at, not someone to work beside, and with?

I don't know. I just know that I experience a certain sadness whenever I see the metaphorical "Keep Out!" signs. I'm sad when the youngest and the brightest head off into doing ONLY their own stuff, and don't bring the youth and vitality back to the broader community. I think it weakens us all.

Then again, I always have been a "why can we all get along?" girl. Why should this topic be any different? ;^)

YMMV, offer not valid where prohibited by law, yadda yadda.

Dawn
aka, Mistress Eveline of Shoreham, OL
PS: Go Kates!