The Morris Ring. An organization that’s been irrelevant to any non-morris dancer, largely irrelevant to any side in the United States, and irrelevant to many dancers in the U.K., for a simple reason:
They don’t allow women.¹
This comes up again now because of a recent Ring newsletter, containing a motion to, shockingly, allow women dancers.
I’ll let y’all breathe for a second. I know it’s a lot, here in the year of our lord 2018.
The newsletter has been making the rounds some on morris Facebook, with gasps of awe, commendations, and the like. Many people are applauding the Morris Ring for simply being less shit than they always have been, which, let’s face it, is all we can really expect in the context of a group of shitty men. “But look, they’re apologizing/making (small) changes to their ways/listening (to small bits of what we’re saying)” — an all-too common response these days, as men realize that sometimes there’s backlash, and try to hide between making the bare minimum changes available.
In defense of allowing women to dance and be affiliated with the ring, they offer:
The acceptance of female musicians at the 2011 Mendip (Clevedon) ARM in response to the Equalities Act being an obvious example. It upset a few but this change enabled several sides which had had female musicians for quite a while to ‘constitutionally’ remain in membership rather than having to live a lie.
That’s 2011. Seven years ago, the Ring wouldn’t even allow women to play for Ring sides.
The changes to the Morris Ring […] will also demonstrate to all that the Morris Ring is a proactive, forward looking, encouraging organisation
lololol. Can you imagine having the audacity to claim that opening your boys’ club to allow women to take part, in 2018, makes you proactive? Forward looking? Encouraging?
I won’t believe that the Morris Ring is encouraging of women until I see their programs doing outreach to women, hosting women-only dance spaces, and generally addressing the harm they’ve done for the entirety of their existence up until now.
Comments by the Squire
Honestly, this is surprisingly solid.
Ed Worrall writes:
However Leicester’s proposal has brought into focus that we face a crucial point in our history. Are we willing to fully share what we are and what we believe with all in Morris, to fully contribute to the continuation of a living tradition, or do we turn away and accept decline and irrelevance?
As you may know, if you know me and my friends, I (we) am (are) ALL ABOUT the “living” aspect of living traditions. This is far from a feminist treatise, with beauties such as this justification for the constitution being the way it is:
The original constitution referred to the Morris Ring as an association of Men’s sides. This reflected the reality of how independent clubs of the day were.
However, Ed seems to have his ‘ead on relatively straight in terms of “if the Morris Ring doesn’t accept women it will die.”
Questions and Answers
Here are some pullquotes. I thought they were particularly telling of the Ring’s culture.
Q. “Would this mean the end of Ring Meetings?”
A. No. Ring Meetings are open for all Morris Ring Member clubs to apply to attend. They would still happen.
Q. “Would we be forced to invite sides to our events we currently do not?”
A. No. Events organised by clubs are completely under their own control. This would not change.
Q. “Would this affect the Morris Ring’s membership of the JMO or our indemnity insurance cover?”
A. No. Neither would be affected and there would be no change or break in your insurance cover.
Imagine thinking that accepting women might affect your insurance.
Standard stuff about how voting, etc on the proposed amendment will take place.
I don’t mean to crucify people for remarking on the enormity of this proposal. Truly, it is a huge change for the Ring, to consider allowing women.
Pausing to let that sink in, again.
I am writing this because I don’t want anybody to make the mistake of thinking that the Ring has made amends, or that they are in any way subscriptant to modern feminist thought.
The Ring is an old boy’s club who may happen to value survival over their misogynistic ideals.
You can read the newsletter here. The relevant bits are in pages 7–12.
- this is true, as of this writing