My dear friend Catherine McClelland is an incredibly talented young woman with skills ranging from costume fabrication, food blogging and amateur photography, to actual sword fighting in armor! With her small frame and pleasant New Zealand accent, she is the epitome of dainty and badass and inspires me everyday.
Her strong interest and knowledge of fantasy and history led Catherine to find a creative niche in LARPs joining The Society for Creative Anachronism. Through this group she’s perfected her seamstress skills, making all her own period costumes and has become a talented, trained sword fighter.
On a recent trip to fight practice, she encountered a little girl who was thrilled to see a lady-knight. The young maiden was quickly hushed by her brother who insisted that girls can’t fight. The heartfelt and encouraging dialogue to follow had me in tears, so I had to share.
In almost a perfect script of female empowerment, Catherine helps the young maiden verbally teach her brother an important lesson:
So I pull into the parking lot at Midland Vale fight practice, and a little girl and her brother are watching the bouts from the sidelines.
I get out of the car, still in a skirt and high heels. The girl heaves a heavy sigh and looks over at me and says, “I wish I could fight, but I can’t, because I’m a girl.”
I say, “Why can’t girls fight? I’m going to go fight right now.”
She gives me a [patronizing] look.
“Girls can’t fight because they’re weaklings,” her brother pipes up.
So I start putting on my armour, and their eyes go wide. Greaves, cuisses, brigandine, spaulders, gorget, and they’re both drinking it all in until the brother finally can’t help but ask, “Are you REALLY going to fight with the men?”
I said I was, and the girl suddenly blurts out, “Girls can do ANYTHING.”
And she tells me that her name is Pura and she’s 9 years old but she’s a princess and not a REGULAR princess, but the Princess of Fight! She loves to fight and she’s not afraid to stand up for herself. She’s writing a book that’s 101 pages long, and it’s about a princess who slays a dragon with a golden sword. She’s going to fight just like that princess, and kill all kinds of monsters, and save people at the last minute.
“And,” she says, almost out of breath from her speech, “I’m so glad I met you, because you prove that girls can do anything.” By this time, I’m armoured head to toe and have my helm on and sword in hand, and her brother doesn’t say a word in protest. I can see on his face that he really wants to ask for one of my practice swords, but I hand it to Pura first and tell her the rules (Don’t swing it at your brother, or your bike, or my car.)
I’m just about to head in for my first bout, so she offers me my sword back. “Maybe next time you visit, I could help you with your armour. Or you could teach me.”
She looks around and then leans in to whisper: “If you ever have to fight to the death, you count me in.”
Welcome to the East, little one. You’ll do just fine.
Catherine, you are my hero and thank you for continuing to prove that girls really can do anything. <3
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