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The Emerald Hills is Wrong
[10/21/2002] [Randall]

The great thing about the Emerald Hills is how much they care about things. The second oldest kingdom probably goes on more about less than any other land. One day it might be a discussion of slavery, while the next it might be an argument over who can vote. Whatever they talk about, it's always a riot and a lot of fun to read; these people are e-Samurai to the core, except they're pretty much always wrong.

Remember that time they fought for the rights of all people to vote, even if they don't actually play Amtgard anymore? Wrong. Remember the whole slavery thing? Wrong. They were even wrong via proxy, as I proved in an earlier article, when Forest fought the Amazons at Clan, although any excuse to fight the Amazons can't be all wrong. And who can forget the controversy of how many knights is too many?

Ok, maybe they're right on that last one -- or maybe I just don't want to get beaten to death by their Circle of Knights, who outnumber me by fifty-seven to one -- but there is a topic that they're so manifestly, objectively, and without a doubt wrong about that I can take a stand on it, knowing that I'm fighting the good fight.

There's nothing wrong with a wet t-shirt contest.

I know, I know, I've heard all the arguments; it's sexist, it objectivies women, there's children present, and so on, and so forth, yadda yadda. None of those arguments really bears any weight, and I'll prove it.

First of all, these contests invariably take place at camping events where there are few, if any, children present. The hosts take responsible steps to make sure that everyone present is over eighteen before the festivities take place. And since no self-respecting Amtgarder does anything at an event before the afternoon rolls in, there really isn't enough lighting for any kid to get a glimpse of anything that might spoil his poor child psche.

There's always the possibility that a Wardancer or two might see the boobies, if they're still awake after having to go to their 7 AM tournament, but we can't protect everyone, now can we?

Then there's this sexism rubbish. It's not sexist; it's capitalism. If there were really a demand for wet crotch contests for guys, they'd exist. The demand doesn't exist, so men keep their pants dry. Conversely, if there wasn't a demand for wet t-shirt contests, they would not exist. The only reason the subject is even moralized on in the first place is because there's a demand.

There's also the problem that a good deal of the people in the audience are women, too. We can't help it if breasts have such universal appeal. It's not sexist; it's the marketplace of ideas at work, where only the popular and wanted thrives. Impose a puritanical tyranny on the masses if you wish, but don't pretend you're doing it to save women.

And even if it were sexist, who cares? Men and women can do a lot of the same things in Amtgard, but they will always be different, never equal. If a wet t-shirt contest is sexist, than so is the high standard set on sword knights -- after all, it favors men over women. Of course, we all know that the alternative (lowering the bar) isn't an option. Instead of trying to force everyone to be the same, which is impossible, we should celebrate the differences.

Naturally, we shouldn't pigeonhole people into different roles, but I don't think that's really a problem. Do women seriously believe there's a lack of positive female role-models in Amtgard? How many women can you count who are knights, who run for office, and who fight? I'd wager that they severely outnumber the wet t-shirt gals -- and I'd wager that the wet t-shirt gals often are knights, or run for office, or fight, and so on.

And what's this about objectifying women? Poppycock. This sort of display empowers women. Who is the center of attention? The women. Who manipulates the crowd? The women. Who gets all the applause? The women. The degree of control over the men who make up the crowd is so great that one could probably charge for these contests; indeed, I suspect the only reason they're free is because of the generous nature of the contestants and a few pesky state laws.

In the end, it's not women who are mistreated by these contests but men. Women have names, power, attention, and glory as a result of spilling water on their shirts. If a man did that, he'd be laughed at -- and all the men who watch the contests are nameless, powerless tools. Even the men who orchestrate the wet t-shirt contests aren't really in charge; after all, without a beautiful woman, they've got nothing, and they know it.

In the end, the fact that they're even talking about this makes me love and cherish the Kingdom of the Emerald Hills. Since Mia Star and Malice won't shut off their idiocy on the northwest lists and every other kingdom is boring themselves to death discussing corpora issues or 6.1, it's nice to see interesting discussion somewhere. For their discussion of breasts, the Emerald Hills deserves nothing but the highest praise, and our eternal hopes that they'll see the light.

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