You hunt? This is what it’s like being a woman in the outdoors surrounded by people who grew up in a time of set gender roles and a male-provider attitude.
Men may dominate the outdoors in numbers, but that doesn’t mean they are the only ones who dominate the game they pursue. The number of women participating in hunting and fishing is growing at an exponential rate and it is truly amazing. However, though we see more and more women every year getting into the outdoors, why is there still such a stigma around it?
Comments like, “that’s so cool your girlfriend goes fishing with you” and “wow, your daughter shoots with you?” are what I grew up hearing and still hear today. Honestly, I never really let it phase me.
All I know is that I would go trap shooting with my dad while his friends cheered me on and coached my technique. After a round, we would sit, catch up with our friends and the occasional gentleman would walk-up to my dad to say how impressive it is that I get out and do those kinds of things with him.
I never felt offended, rather I wore these comments with a sense of pride that I attribute to my present-day personality. Even to this day, I hear my boyfriend gets told it’s “so awesome your lady hunts and fishes with you. I could never convince mine to do that!”
However, I know some women seem taken back by these comments and respond to them with frustration and anger.
Next time someone says, “YOU hunt?” My tip for being a woman in the outdoors: Let it go.
Personally, I wouldn’t be where I am as an outdoorswoman today if I didn’t have men in my life to introduce me to new practices or push me to do new things. I believe most men have not really seen more than a handful of women enjoying the same sports that they do.
Much of the older and traditional generations are used to the old thinking of gender roles with men acting as the ultimate provider for the family.
For those women who feel their comments toward your outdoor life are negative, try to remember this. Men just want to help, not in a demeaning “women are weak” way, but rather in a “wow that’s great, here’s some advice from my experience” way. Whenever I have a personal encounter with this, I’m actually excited because it means we are being noticed and supported as outdoorswomen.
These encounters can be the opening to a conversation of sharing techniques, locations and so much more – one can learn a lot from older gentleman who has been in the woods a time or two in his life.
Today, I consider myself a strong person; I stand up for myself and know what I want. I’m not afraid to try new things or argue my actions. Why? Because with every comment about how “cool it is” that I hunt or “I should leave this to the boys,” I grew stronger and more determined to fight for my place as an outdoorsman.
Today, I am confident in my skills and abilities because I had people telling me to keep going and were eager to help teach me along the way and I encourage you to keep moving forward as well.