#EFFYOURSTEREOTYPES: Challenging the perceptions of Female Airsofters.

Hey everyone, this week it's time for a blog post with a difference! 3 weeks ago I posted a picture to Instagram as a light hearted jibe at the many stereotypes women in the Airsoft industry encounter each day and hashtagged it with #effyourstereotypes and it totally blew up! My Women of Airsoft battle sisters rallied round and made their own #effyourstereotypes posts! Then something absolutely unexpected and amazing happened - when I shared our posts on my Femme Fatale Airsoft Facebook page it was seen by almost 22,000 people from countries around the globe! So I decided this little movement deserved it's own blog post.
Every day more women are joining the ranks of female Airsofters and challenging the stereotypes. As many of you who read my blog and keep up to date with FFA on social media will know that I am a massive advocate for Gender Equality. The very purpose of FFA from the beginning has always been to encourage and support female players, but I have been called a Sexist and my personal favourite a 'Feminazi' because of my passion for Gender Equality - how very dare I want to end discrimination and promote equality for both sexes in sport?! :P This post compliments one of the very first blog posts of 2015 ' Being a Female Airsofter in a Male Dominated Sport' which you can read, look in the 'Popular Posts' in the column to the left and it will be there.
So let's get down to it, the subject is challenging the perceptions of female Airsofters and within this topic are two main points that I want to cover - the stereotype of women being weak, helpless, delicate creatures and the stereotype that female Airsofters are 'manly' and unfeminine. There's not much that rattles my cage but this issue is definitely one of them, whilst society has come leaps and bounds in progress for Gender Equality, it seems some individuals are still living with and practicing outdated attitudes towards women in sport.
Ever since I was a little girl, I have been told I couldn't do certain things because of my gender (not that I let that stop me) - such as contact sports or football in Secondary School. I assume this is because of the assumption on their part that girls are the weaker sex, but where does that assumption come from? Throughout history, in many cultures (although not all) women's roles have been restricted to raising children and taking care of the home whilst the men went out to hunt/work/fight etc (which also brings about a stereotype for men that puts immense pressure on them).

These 'preprogrammed' roles for women translate into attitudes that get passed through generations and are then ingrained into our society. This is explained perfectly in the Always #LikeAGirl - Unstoppable advert, which you can watch to the right! The Always #LikeAGirl campaign (http://always.com/en-us/about-us/our-epic-battle-like-a-girl) was started because of the normalisation of the insult 'like a girl'.

 I do everything like a girl - fight like a girl, shoot like a girl, drive like a girl, because I am a girl. And there's nothing wrong with that. I've said it before, but I will say it again - some of the female Airsofters I've met and had the pleasure to play alongside, play harder than the guys. Women are the biggest growing demographic in shooting sports and we're not just girlfriends being dragged along to games in our boyfriends kits. We're players in our own right. Sliding into cover, taking objectives, rocking out in jeeps, getting the kills and just generally kicking ass! We give as good as we get. Since the beginning of FFA I have working tirelessly to smash these stereotypes and to push myself to be a better player. Despite all the criticism, sexist comments and just general rubbish that is thrown at female Airsofters online and on the field, it has been worth it. Becoming the first female admin to the biggest UK group of Airsofters on Facebook and the first female contributor to a UK Airsoft publication means the industry is moving forward with us, and that these stereotypes are dying out. I am both so proud and humble to be apart of this.

The other stereotype that I wanted to address was that you can't be feminine and play airsoft. Firstly there is nothing wrong with not being girly but I am, I like to wear dresses, get my nails done and shoot shit. Airsoft is accessible to anyone.

These women that I am featuring in this blog post are a mixture of my Women of Airsoft sisters, followers and friends who are all doing their bit to push the industry forward for women, whether it's having a fab attitude on the field, leading teams or showing how badass female players are through their videos etc.

I proudly present to you #effyourstereotypes:
 Laura Clare


callsign_valkyrie (www.instagram.com/callsign_valkyrie)
Airsofter, WOA, Pink Rangers.

Airsofter, WOA, 'Mommy who wears combat boots'

Airsofter, photographer.

Airsofter, team leader, Pink Rangers, WOA.

Kris AKA Snap Shot.

SoCal Airsofter, WOA, Designated machine gunner.

Airsofter, WOA.

Airsofter, Marshal, WOA, Battle Bitch.

'I'm a plus sized, 27 year old beauty blogger and content creator from Ireland. I spend most of my time playing with makeup, shopping for vintage dresses and crafting. Before my foot injury I enjoyed Airsofting with my husband. The past year and a half has given me plenty of time to plan my dream kit and hopefully post foot surgery I'll be back on the field soon!'

'&& my add on to @femmefataleairsoft series of photos. Being a girl doesn't mean what it use too. I'm a girl. A Milsimer, a speedsofter, a student, an EMT, and I still find time to wear dresses. My gender has never held me back'

And in the interest of Gender Equality and the fact it is effing fabulous, here is an #effyourstereotypes pic submitted by Selwyn Brooks (www.instagram.com/doomcrewairsoft) for the movement:


S.W.A.T Fortress Liverpool Review.

So everyone, you've seen the pictures on my Instagram and Facebook pages, here is the review of S.W.A.T Fortress in Liverpool where I've been playing for the last three weeks.
As I live in the Midlands, S.W.A.T Fortress is quite a way away! At 90 miles it is around an hour and a half drive North West of my home town, never the less it is an easy drive up A50 all the way through to the M6 into the city centre.
S.W.A.T Fortress is located on Boundary Lane, Merseyside however isn't signposted (after speaking with a member of staff I discovered that this is because of the surrounding environment) so it can be quite hard to find, however there is a map on the website to assist with finding the site (or you can follow the other cars as it gets quite busy). The car parking for the site is located inside the gates and is limited, so it's best to car share or get there early to ensure you get a space on busy days.
Booking on is usually done via an event on the S.W.A.T Fortress Facebook page or you can alternatively just turn up, the walk on fee is £30 for none members and £25 for members which is paid on the day and is in line with Airsoft sites up and down the country. The safe zone at S.W.A.T is definitely the best safe zone I have come across over all the sites I've visited. The safe zone is well lit, clean and spacious with an ample amount of tables and chairs for players and is equipped with all the essentials and more. Something that really impressed me about S.W.A.T is that each table is equipped with two gun racks which is a nice touch. The safe zone has a charging station with both LiPo and Ni-Cd chargers, which is something I haven't come across at other sites. S.W.A.T Fortress is also home to Raptor Airsoft and Milspec Solutions, the shop and teching service. They stock everything you will need for the day such as beebs and gas but also tac gear and RIFs. Although I have not dealt with the teching service, I have only heard good things regarding it. Each gun that passes through the doors of the Fortress is Chrono'd by a marshal on the day, the FPS limits for the site are 350 FPS for AEGs on Semi Auto indoors.

One of the things that I absolutely adore about the North of England is how friendly the locals are, and this definitely applies to the site. From the first game I played at the Fortress, I was made to feel welcome by all of the members of staff. When you arrive to sign in you are greeted by the smiling faces of the girls behind the desk. The Marshals at the site are friendly and welcoming to new players and their regulars, and although they maintain a professional image, they all have a great sense of humour and can lay down a healthy dose of banter which translates into the gameplay at S.W.A.T Fortress. The site currently has two Marshals that double up as on site photographers - Craig 'Titch' Miller and the Managing Director of S.W.A.T Airsoft Limited, Paul Knaggs - you can check out their photos on the S.W.A.T Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/s.w.a.t.community?fref=ts

The site itself is a complex of 248,500 square feet that consists of two levels that are connected by corridors and tunnels, all enclosed within a 25ft high security wall. The buildings are characterised by open spaces with built cover and tight offices that are perfect for room clearing. On the ground floor of the warehouse is the 'Maze'; a huge maze made from tarpaulin which is an experience - especially in the dark! Torches are essential! Haha. The games that are ran vary from game day to game day with defend/attack games, objective based games, a good old fashioned team death match and my personal favourite, the M Comm game modes - the M Comm is an objective box that can be 'armed' and 'disarmed' during game play. The games are ran smoothly, with players given a brief before each game. One thing that did throw me when I visited the Fortress was that we didn't return to the safe zone until lunch - so remember to take any ammo/drink with you, although players are welcome to return to the safe zone at any point during the day. The other players at the site definitely have an impact on any game day in my opinion and S.W.A.T has a mix of players from beginners to seasoned players - this mix gives the site the diversity all sites need for varied and interesting game play. On my visits to the Fortress I have always found the other players to be friendly and honest.

Over all, S.W.A.T Fortress has to be one of my favourite sites to play, from the facilities to the staff and the game play, the site offers a great day of intense CQB action.

Game days are ran every Sunday, and the occasional Saturday at Boundary Lane, Liverpool, Merseyside, L6 9BY. Contact: 0151 644 1611 (Head Office) 


Femme Fatale Airsoft: An Update.

Hey everyone, it's been a while since I last posted, for which I am really sorry! As a lot of you will know, both of my surviving Grandparents have been quite poorly recently and were hospitalised which meant spending countless hours in the hospital and left me very little time to write - I have good news though, they are now both doing a lot better! :) They are still in rehabilitation, to enable them to once again live independently but it won't be long until they're back home :) Thank you for all the well wishes and messages of support you sent me, they were much appreciated!
I just wanted to write a little update for you all, so you all know what's going on with me and FFA!
Recently I have become a contributor for Airsoft Action, the UK's biggest Airsoft magazine that is owned, written and published by people who are passionate about our sport! (You can check the mag out at www.airsoft-action.co.uk) I am super excited about this amazing opportunity, I have become the first and only female contributor to a UK Airsoft magazine, which is a major step for women in Airsoft! My first piece for them was a site review on Frontier Airsoft and it can be found in July's edition of the magazine. I am really looking forward to sharing more articles with you and seeing where my future with AA takes me! :)
I've had a fair few of you enquiring about my sponsorship status, I chose to release my previous sponsors a while back so I am currently an unsponsored player. Which means I am free to pursue new sponsorship opportunities - any brands or companies that wish to get in touch regarding this can hit me up at kellyhardwick@hotmail.co.uk :)
I am currently touring different sites around the UK, which combines two of my favourite things - travelling and meeting my lovely followers. Airsoft now takes me to various ends of the country which is great because I get to experience the different accents, local foods and sites the UK has to offer. Recently I have travelled to S.W.A.T Fortress in Liverpool, around an hour and a half from my hometown in the Midlands. A review of which will be up next week! I have loads planned for the future, including the ALL WALES Airsoft EVENT at Midwales Airsoft, Anzio Camp in Leek, The Block in Burton on Trent and The Gaol in Rutland. If you have any suggestions or recommendations for me, leave them in the comments below - I would love to hear them :)
I have a load of awesome articles planned for the upcoming months and I plan on getting back into YouTube (having over 12 full game days worth of footage to go through! haha) so thank you all for being so patient with me and watch this space!
Kelly xo
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