Pink Camouflage

by Carson M.

For thousands of years both men and women have chosen to participate in hunting, whether it be for leisure or survival. In the past hunting served as a means of survival, providing food, clothing, shelter, and goods for trade. Researchers have found data that suggests that in ancient aboriginal tribes, the opportunity for women to hunt was much lower than it was for males due to gendered division of labor in the community. They stated that in the past women received a great social gain from tending to domestic needs (children and ‘cooperative partners’), while men hunted to provide for the community. As time progressed and nations were industrialized, hunting for food and goods was no longer required. From this it was determined by researchers that males continued to hunt even when not necessary due to an instinctual inclination.

Women have been unfairly segregated from the mainstream hunting community due to men resenting the idea of their participation. In the past, magazines have received negative feedback from male readers when publishing articles and images that involved women participating in the activity. Males have made unfair statements regarding these publications such as “women do not fit the hunter profile”. I have personally experienced this as in the past, my friends that I have gone on hunting trips with have been reluctant to bring along their girlfriends as they believed that it was an activity that should only include “the boys”. In my opinion the stereotype that only white, middle aged, working class males from rural areas can enjoy and participate in the leisure activity of hunting is very dated and results in the formation of many barriers that are very hard for people outside of that population to overcome. This stereotype can be supported by a US Census which found that 94% of hunters are white, 72% of hunters are between the ages of 35-64, and 89% are male. Despite these stereotypes, in 2015 an article was published that was titled “Hunting is for Girls” which contains data showing a 43.5% increase in woman hunters from 2003-2013. These numbers were interesting to me as it represents what appears to be a breakthrough for women into a historically male dominated activity.

The female participants in the specific study that I looked at before writing this post were asked the question “what does being a woman hunter mean to you”. The following statement from one of the participants in the study observing females that participate in hunting really stood out to me… “I don’t see myself as different from any male hunter. I have also been in situations that were not typical for women… I am not a ‘woman hunter’ I am just a hunter like everyone else.” The outlook that this participant has on a traditionally male dominated activity is very positive. If that outlook were to be shared by more females and males began encouraging females to participate in activities that they enjoy rather than making them feel unwelcome or out of place, we could collectively break down many of the barriers that are currently creating the gender divide in this activity. If this were accomplished, I believe that more women would find enjoyment in the activity of hunting, and participation rates would continue to increase.

Reference:

Keogh G. S. (2016). Pink camouflage: Reshaping the gendered nature of hunting in the twenty-first century. Society & Leisure / Loisir & Société, 39(3), 481-499.

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5 responses

  1. Great post Carson! I think this is a very relevant topic and relates well to what we have been talking about in class in regards to what is seen as male and female leisure. I think that we generally associate hunting with males because of our past but also because of the aggressiveness of the sport, that males have been typically the ones to participate in the past, and also the way it is advertised. When looking at hunting men are usually the ones who are shown hunting and those women who are, are in pink camouflage. This is not only showing that the sport is for men but that women who are going to partake in the sport need to have different clothes that are not realistic when hunting.

    Many companies have made a lot of money advertising to women by having pink guns, clothes, and everything that they sell for men in camouflage. This can be looked at two ways. Either they are trying to incite women to participate and think the only way they will is if they wear pink, or that if women are going to be out in the woods that they should have to stand out among the men. No matter which way you look at it both are not very inclusive to women and undermines those who just simply like to hunt.

    I do agree though I think the old time views that women are to stay at home while men are out hunting is still there in some aspects today. However, this does not need to be the case and women should be accepted into the sport as individuals who enjoy it not a woman coming into what is views as a man’s sport.

    Again, great post, I really enjoyed it and it relates not only to the way women are seen in sport but also consumerism in sport as well!

    Stephanie W.

  2. Great post Carson!

    Humans are so resistant to change that men are reluctant to think that women should be considered hunters. I really like the quote you found: “I don’t see myself as different from any male hunter. I have also been in situations that were not typical for women… I am not a ‘woman hunter’ I am just a hunter like everyone else.” I remember a student in our class talking about professional sport among men and women and wondering why the men’s basketball league is called the NBA, but the women’s league is called the WNBA – why do we have to put the ‘W’ there? Why do we have to refer to women hunters as just that: “women hunters”; rather than just hunters?

    I am curious to know what men think of Eva Shockey. She is a Canadian hunting icon and the first women in 30 years to be on the front cover of Field & Stream Magazine. She is a role model to women and young girls, in my opinion.
    Hunting can give women that sense of power (being the person behind the gun) or that feel of being a provider (bringing home the food to feed their families) – this can be particularly true for single moms.

    I find it interesting how age relates to beliefs as well. Growing up (about age 8-12), my male cousins and I used to take the guns and head out back either looking for partridge or to target practice and no one ever said “boo”; however, if I say I want to go hunting at this age, my boyfriend and his father look at me with this puzzled look on their faces and say “hunting is a guy thing”, yet they keep asking me when they can take my daughter out for her first hunting experience (she is 2). Like, really!?

    I believe that it revolves around this whole notion of fear. Maybe men fear that women are just as good as hunters as they are and that takes away from their power or “manliness” because they will no longer be depended on to provide for the family. However, back to what I said before, what about single moms? The idea that women are dependent on men in today’s world is slowly vanishing. I believe that women should be respected in the same way as men when it comes to activities such as hunting. I like to think of it in this way: we have co-ed sports teams, co-ed intramurals, co-ed recreation leagues, etc., so why can’t we consider hunting as “co-ed”? Just a thought!

  3. Great post Carson,
    Being a hunter, myself, I can relate to your post. It makes me happy that you stated that the stereotype that hunting is a male activity is “very dated”. Since in the past, it was primarily men that were responsible for providing for their family while women were expected to stay home to take care of the children, our views beliefs about female hunters have been impacted today.
    I agree with the article when it mentioned that many female hunters don’t want to be defined as a “female hunter”, but rather they want to be seen as just a hunter like everyone else. Yes, it is a big accomplishment when women make history by working forward to be recognized as just as capable as men. But talking from my experience, I don’t want to be classified as the “female” so and so. I personally don’t like it when people make a big deal when I explain that I’m a hunter. I’ve had people be surprised and say “wait what? You’re a female hunter?” It’s like yes, I know I’m a female and I’m just a hunter. It should not be that hard to grasp.
    Humans are creatures of habit and it’s hard for them to adapt to change. Change can be scary for certain individuals and it may not even be an option for some. But famous female hunters are going out of their way on social media to try and break the stereotype that men should be the only one capable of pulling the trigger. This is allowing females to be proud to be a hunter and to show confidence while expressing their passion to others.

  4. Great post! I personally can’t identify as someone who hunts however my grandfather is really into it. He owed a guide company that took people out hunting. I don’t recall hearing any negativity from him or the people he surrounded himself with about female participation. However when I think about it now there weren’t many females involved. Once my mother and I visited one of his camps and the women there really didn’t hunt they just helped run the place. I wonder now if back then the women didn’t have interest in hunting because they thought it wasn’t something that was socially acceptable for them to do. I think things have changed significantly since then and I’m glad more women are starting to participate. I have noticed an increase in pink camouflage clothing items in stores and this can be taken as a positive. It’s a way for companies to express that it’s acceptable for females to participate in hunting. The more we see it the more normally it will become, breaking down barriers one pink camouflage hat at a time. Female participation in other sports have increased over the years and with the continual support of everyone perhaps we can decrease the gender gap in all sports, including hunting.

  5. Very interesting topic Carson! Although I have never been a hunter, my father and male members of my family all are. For my family there was never a question that hunting was a sport specifically designated for men. My sisters and I were never asked to go on hunting trips, but my brother, almost dutifully attended all of them. I know your topic is regarding how women wish to be a part of the hunting clan, and female hunters consider themselves the same as men when it comes to hunting, however have you ever come across a male that was surrounded by hunters, either friends or family, and just did not want to hunt? Are men considered less manly if they refuse to hunt, or possibly even considered feminine for their lack of desire to kill for sport? Furthermore, do you find that the entire idea of pink camouflage could be to discourage the stereotype that if women do things that are considered manly, they too are manly. Meaning that they wear pink to distinguish themselves as feminine in a masculine atmosphere despite the fact that wearing pink camouflage is actually completely contrary to the entire idea of camouflage unless hiding in a field of flamingos?

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