Amidst all the weird, non-historical programming that the History Channel is bringing us daily, there is one weird, half-historical show that I’m actually excited for: Full Metal Jousting.
The show fuses modern metal armor with the medieval rules of jousting, creating a totally awesome spectacle I will definitely be watching. (The show has already started, but I only found out about it today.) I love jousting. When I go to a ren faire (the Renaissance Faire, for all you non-rennies), even faires that follow the formulaic three-show storyline, I go to as many jousts as possible. (Although when I do go to storyline jousts, I miss having all the other tournament games that don’t involve fighting each other.) I know they’re staged, and that no one’s actually getting hurt. I don’t particularly care. Watching a joust is exhilarating and fun, and the only time when screaming things like, “Your blood will water the grass” is at all an ok thing to do. The show is championship-style, with a cash prize for the winner.
My first hesitation about the show is that jousting may not be as amazing on TV as it is in person. Sitting outside in garb, with a hundred other people who are also screaming “Your blood will water the grass” is a very different experience from lounging on the couch by yourself. Of course, that’s the same difference between seeing any sport in person and on TV. I just hope that the History Channel adequately translates jousting to TV (something I imagine is difficult).
I’m also a little disappointed, though completely unsurprised, that there are no female jousters on the show. I realize that it could be asking too much of History to feature a coed jousting tournament when there are plenty of people who refuse to acknowledge female athleticism. And History definitely seems to want to market this in a macho kind of way. Which I get. But in real life (real life being, of course, the world of historical reenactors) there are female jousters. Plenty of them. There are even all-female jousting groups like Mounted Fury.
I don’t know what the casting call for these jousters was like, or what the audition process was like for the show. I have no idea if History tried to include female jousters or not. That isn’t really my point here. I’m just disappointed that, once again, an area where women are actually prevalent participants is being portrayed as an all-male zone.
I know that if there were female jousters on Full Metal Jousting, what everyone would say to discredit the female jousters would be: Are they strong enough to compete with the others? Should they change the rules to make it easier for women? These are the questions that still haunt any discussion, intelligent or otherwise, about coed sports or allowing women to do things like try out to be Navy SEALS. Because, as well all know, all men are big muscular giants and all women are teeny little flowers. Never mind that in the “real life” world of jousting and swordfighting, women and men compete together, in both staged jousting and real swordplay.
(In case anyone doubts those statements, the North Carolina Renaissance Faire has for years included a female knight in the jousts. Bat Cat and I also used to be involved with the European Medieval Arts of Arms group, who do actual period swordfighting. Women and men fight and rise to the rank of knighthood together, and no one seems upset by that.)
So, while I will give Full Metal Jousting a try, I know that the world of jousting that the show is portraying is only a limited one. And, as much as I might enjoy it, I won’t be able to help thinking that I might enjoy it a little more if it better represented the whole of jousters.