Wednesday 24 June 2020

How Inclusive is Metal Detecting?

The UK is multicultural and multiethnic, except in many Brexiters' wet dreams it seems, according to Wikipedia, 87.2% are white, Asian British account for 7.3% and Black British 3%, with another 2.9% being mixed and 'other'.

In answer to a comment of mine about white metal detectorists getting praise (as "heritage heroes") for doing exactly the same as brown-skinned people ("looters") in other countries, a metal detectorist going by the name of southwestpaw wrote in a comment to my post:
"Not all detectorists are white (unless you have evidence that this is the case). Or did you jump to a conclusion again for a blog post. There are many female detectorists (including my own daughter).
That was quite an interesting remark. Most UK detectorists are indeed white males, most of them middle aged and older. Do we have any "evidence"? That'd be a question for the PAS that have been doing liaison with the metal detecting community for 23+ years now. How many of them come from ethnic minorities?

Just as a guide, I did a search for "UK detecting clubs/images" and "UK rallies/images" on Google and it threw up a lot of pictures. I took just those where there were larger groups of detectorists shown frontally and where the faces could be seen. I rejected those where detectorists were presenting money raised from "charity digs" as it was not clear who in the photo was a detectorist and who not. I was not intending to do an exhaustive search, but the twelve that I was able to look at in detail produced the following visual information (if there was any doubt about gender from the photo, I noted them as female):
white-looking male: 244
white-looking female: 34
Asian-looking males and females: 0
Black males and females: 0 
The total number of white metal detectorists in this sample 278, yet there were no ethnic minorities among them (if this were proportional, for the UK there'd be some 18 'Asians' and 8 'blacks'). In the UK, 51% of the population is female which means that if the representation of the sexes were to be equal, there should be 140 ladies in the photos.

I think that's pretty suggestive that metal detecting is not very inclusive. I think that probably goes for the way the hobby is practised in the USA (and I bet it's the same for ancient coin collecting too).

'Detectorists' -TV comedy series (Regton)
This means that the motley members of the fictional Danebury Metal Detecting Club, with among its eight known members were as many as three females, including a lesbian couple where one partner was of mixed MENA origin (Varde) and a young 'British-Asian' individual (Hugh).

From reading over many years the content of UK metal detecting forums I think this is a very unlikely composition of a metal detecting club, even from the Home Counties.

Though the MD forums have been cleaned up enormously in the last couple of years, their members saw nothing wrong with posting a sizeable number of sexist comments, misogynous and homophobic 'humour' on the forums (some of whom even had a separate section for "adult jokes' mainly puerile material of this nature). In the runup to the Brexit referendum, there were enormous numbers of xenophobic and anti-EU comments, pro-Brexit propaganda and many members had as their avatars a St George's Flag or BNP logos (and my memory serves me, occasionally reference to NF slogans and logos). These seem to have disappeared now, but as has already been remarked a number of times, UK metal detectorists have long been very supportive on their forums of the idea of a Brexit.

For these reasons, I would think anyone not fitting into that general demographic would not feel very welcome in such company.

Cue, now for posts below "we've got a [...] in our club and he/she feels at home, we go out and have a larf togevver, just one of the lads"   - which I would say is the exception that could prove the rule.

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