In short, the topic arose when the subject (again) came up about same-sex monarchs. I won't go into my thoughts on that at this time, but one of the arguments that comes up every time this subject is broached is that of historical accuracy and lack of historical same-sex peers (as partners) as precedence.
There were some very good arguments made about how much of what we do really has no historical precedence at all. Some of what we do is part of our SCA conventions/traditions (such as our Kingdoms and the fact that women can fight for Crown) and some of it is based on modern necessity (sneakers, modern eyewear, wheelchairs, restricted diets... even things that are a result of personal finances, such as substituting cheap cotton or synthetic fabrics when our persona would have worn wool or silk). There were some very well thought out posts much earlier on the lists about these things and I think they made quite a few people, myself included, think further about the whole topic.
Eventually, however, this topic digressed and a statement was made that corporate should impose more strict historical guidelines. It was also suggested that we should no longer claim any historical base because we do not have a set of standards beyond the Attempt at Pre-17th Century garb and that we should drop our classification as an educational organization. Eventually, one poster stated (after several-rounds back and forth with people) that corporate needs to set the tone for the rest of us in terms of accuracy. (Note, I have no issues with someone have their own opinions about these things, I just happen to feel differently and want to put my thoughts here.)
Many, myself included, disagreed strongly the idea that we should have a list somewhere that says you cannot "play" unless you have X, Y and Z in your kit.
As I said on the list, I have done other forms re-enacting. I was an American Civil War reenactor for many years and actually was starting to get involved in 1812 at one point as well. These groups can be great to observe or be part of... but I really felt that there was something missing (for me), when I attended these events.
Despite my love for history, those Living History functions had little appeal for me in the long run. Why? What makes that and the SCA so different? I still strive for accuracy in what I do in the SCA. If anything, it is even more difficult to do now as there are no fashion books I can buy for the time periods I choose to recreate.
Part of it, for me, is something one poster mentioned during this debate. And this is our ability to use Experimental Archeology in what we do. For some time periods and cultures, you are pretty much limited to this. I think it is wonderful to be able to cobble together the bits of information that you can find and come up with something you think is more then feasible and present it to others as your interpretation of whatever the item or custom was. Hopefully, that engenders further conversation with others and maybe, just maybe, we, as a whole, get a step closer to the truth of the matter.
So yes, I love that, but what really makes the SCA for me, is the people. I love to come home from Pennsic excited about all of the wonderful things I saw, and learned and actually tried! It leaves me energized for months afterwards. Never once, in my years as a CW reenactor, did I come away from any event with that feeling. The ability to learn so much is exhilarating. And, it is also just as exciting to help others learn something new and progress on their personal journey within the SCA.
Most importantly though, it is not just the Laurels and the master artisans and teachers that can leave you with that energy to take on new tasks. It is just as exciting to see someone new who is proudly displaying or talking about their new found skill or creation.
This environment exists, in large part, due to the Society's policy of inclusion. Everyone is welcome to come play and, unlike similar hobbies with a historical basis, there is very little you need to do to start playing. You can just borrow something from Gold Key and attend an event. And best of all, you don't even have to do all your research before going to that first event! You can dive in and learn as you go! And yes, you may never choose to delve entirely into creating a persona, because there are so many other aspects to this organization and not everyone is required to do all of them. As I have said before, that person in the cobbled-together garb might actually be the hardest working person in the local group, because running events might be their forte.
Additionally, I do not think status as an education organization should be revoked because a newbie is taught to make their first tunic with a borrowed sewing machine rather than by hand with a bone needle and linen thread. The initial investment in time and money is minimal and that makes the hobby open to so many more people. I think this policy of inclusion also alleviates some of the newbie anxiety about whether they are "doing it right". We are still constantly educating ourselves and others, and do not need a set of standards that says what is, or is not, acceptable education.
Do I think most of what we do is Living History? In short, no. There are too many modernisms floating around, and, in fact, we do not portray history, but rather a collection of historically based (some more so than others) personas who have come together under fictitious kingdoms' banners. Do we, however, selectively represent parts of history? Absolutely. Are we historical reenactors? Absolutely. Do we educate others? Absolutely.
I also said, several times, that historical accuracy should not be enforced by the SCA corporation, but rather, it should be nurtured and encouraged by the SCA populace. If you want too see people take steps towards more accurate clothes, culture, camps, then TEACH it. Help others work on their kits. Help run better events. Do your best to present your own best representation of history and be known for very much enjoying what you do and that more than any imposition of corporate law compel others to take the next steps themselves.
(For those who care, I have a couple other posts with my thoughts on generic garb, anachronisms and authenticity here: A mix of random blathering, some of which is relevant now )
(And because I also can't drop this one, I do have to note that some of the other arguments from the "against" consortium are really surreal... in fact, I really love the one about two Dukes fighting for each other, over and over, and never let anyone else have the fun of sitting on the throne. Really people??? First, the current Monarchs would have to allow it to happen - and I can only hope they would have sense enough not allow them to fight at all - and secondly, they would have to win. Every. Time. Come on folks, I think there are more interesting things in the world over which to create conspiracy theories...)