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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Where are all of the Professional Female Athletes

by Danielle H.

When I was a child, I dreamt about being the next Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant. They were amazing athletes. I remember my dad and I watching their games and talking about what an amazing life they must have. As a child, I never imagined that my gender would ever put a damper on that dream. As I got older, I started wondering why there was a lack of female athletes on television. It was not until my friend’s parents’ denied her the opportunity to play sports in high school that I realized what was going on in the world around me. My friend’s parents’ told her she needed to focus on her grades, and that sports got females nowhere in life. This made me think about how the only female professional athlete that I knew about was Hailey Wickenheiser, and that was only because she was promoted in New Brunswick schools when I was younger.

It occurred to me that the sporting world is dominated by males. In fact, in a recent article I read, they stated that “sport is a male-dominated institution that promotes traditional gender roles and advances male hegemony” (Hannon, Soohoo, Reel, & Ratliffe, 2009). As a society, we allow sports to be centred around males. For example, sports such as baseball and softball segregate men and women, as it is viewed as more appropriate for males to play baseball and females to play softball. Certain sports, like hockey, even have rules that state men are allow to play with contact and females are not.

In another recent article I read, it discussed the Grand Slam tournament in tennis. The Grand Slam Tournament has an equal amount of male and female athletes competing. Everyone participates in the tournament, and every athlete is paid by the same employer. However, the male athletes are still paid more than the females (Kahn, 1991).

As I mentioned before, my friend was not allowed to play sports in high school as her parents told her that her grades were more important. If I had to guess, she is definitely not the only girl who has been told that. I don’t understand how that is fair. We have multiple sporting leagues for males, and not as many for females. As a male athlete, you do not necessarily have to play professionally in order to make money. Males have opportunities to play below the professional level, and still get paid. What I am getting at is that females have a considerably smaller chance to make it to the professional level, because there are limited spots for female athletes. Also, it is known that female athletes generally make less money. With the female sport world being what it is, it is understandable why girls do not pursue sports in the same way as boys do.

References:

Hannon, J., Soohoo, S., Reel, J., & Ratliffe, T. (2009). Gender stereotyping and the influence of race in sport among adolescents. Research quarterly for exercise and sport, 80(3), 676-684.

Kahn, L. M. (1991). Discrimination in professional sports: A survey of the literature. ILR Review, 44(3), 395-418.

The Girl Behind the Gun

By Taylor H.

Walking through the woods in a bright orange vest and a gun in hand is not commonly known as an activity that women participate in. I will never forget the day that I tracked down my first animal and pulled the trigger for the very first time. I experienced a variety of emotions that day. At first, I was overwhelmed by excitement and adrenaline, which then turned into feelings of achievement as I was extremely proud of myself for accomplishing something that most women do not have the opportunity to do.

So why is it that the word ‘hunter’ is often associated with men? Why is it that more men are involved in hunting than women? Is it because of the stereotype that girls are kind hearted and could not hurt a fly? Is it because we are taught that men are responsible for providing for their families? For many years now women have been integrating themselves into the world by challenging the typical gender roles and stepping out of their comfort zones.

Hunting is an activity that traces back to when the cavemen walked earth. The culture of hunting is known as a hegemonic masculine sport (Keogh, 2006). In the past, men would go on hunting trips to bring back meat and fur to keep their families fed and warm. Meanwhile the wives were assigned the responsibilities of gathering berries and looking after the children. To this day, it is still common for the man to go to work while the woman stays home to care for the children.

A study has shown that there are three types of constraints that decrease the likelihood that a woman will hunt. The first one is referred to as intrapersonal. Some women believe that they do not hunt because they have never been taught to do so. The second factor is referred to as interpersonal constraints. Some women believe that they do not take part in hunting because they are afraid of what others may think or say. And the final factor is structural constraints. Some women may not be able to take part in hunting due to certain domestic responsibilities such as cleaning, cooking, and taking care of the children (Keogh, 2006).

Women may have their battles in this male dominated activity, but over the years it has slowly become an activity that women are taking part in. The data have shown that female hunters have increased by 3%, and that hunting gear is 30% directed towards women now (Keogh, 2006). Many of the women who do take part say that they do it for their family, by bringing home healthy food. They also explain that they make it a family activity by bringing their children along. Furthermore, some women participate for the social aspect of it. When explaining why they hunt, some women explain that they do it because it makes them feel powerful and in control. They also feel proud when someone sees them dressed in camo and ready to go into the woods (Keogh, 2006).

The confidence that myself and other women receive knowing that we can engage in an activity that is mostly engaged in by men, is huge. Just because I may wear heels and paint my nails does not make me any less capable of pulling a trigger and supplying food for my family.

Reference

Keogh, S. (2006). Pink camouflage: Reshaping the gendered nature of hunting in the twenty-first century. Society & Leisure 39(3), 1-20.

Trick or Treat?: Sexualization of Halloween Costumes

by Paige N.

Halloween is an event in which people engage in leisure, offering a unique opportunity to present yourself differently from everyday life. As a child, I remember dressing up in costumes such as a witch, cat and pumpkin and as I got older (I am sure others will agree too), my peers and I were still able to dress up as those characters but with “less fabric and more of a push up bra”.

Halloween: once associated with innocent children dressing up as Ghostbusters asking for candy. Now, it seems women and adolescent girls are encouraged to dress however they want as long as the outfit is associated with the prefix “sexy” or “slutty”. Originally, “sexy Halloween costumes” were something found in fetish shop windows and today, these costumes have left the shop windows and emerged in mainstream society.

This shift from “scary to sexy” can negatively impact women in the workforce. Most Halloween costumes for women are “sexy versions” of something, for example sexy fire-fighter or sexy nurse. The portrayal of almost every single occupation in a sexual light is unlikely to contribute to women being taken seriously. Over the last fifty years, the women’s movement has been a key driver to increase the status and significance of women to promote equality. These sexually suggestive costumes defeat the purpose of the women’s movement and generally depict women as “sex symbols”.

Not only are Halloween costumes of a sexual nature present for women but younger individuals too. The implication of exposure to sexualized Halloween costumes at such a young age, can encourage an obsession with one’s body image. Numerous costumes are sending deliberate messages to teens about body image, with emphasis on being a certain “body type”. For example, many outfits designed for teenagers are “short and low cut” and made for a “thin” body type. Therefore, there is pressure to be this specific body type and unavailability to wear such outfits if you are more of a full figure.

Moreover, it has become almost customary that adolescent girls wear costumes that vaguely resemble animals or figures of authority. Commonly, there is pressure for young girls to conform to dress up in a sexy outfit to fit in. From my observation, there is a considerable amount of conformity among girl groups nowadays. Many individuals might “do the same or wear the same” as their peers, as an act of acceptance within a group to reduce judgments of being “different”.

I perceive conformity to contribute towards the development of sexualized Halloween costumes. A great example is noted in the movie Mean Girls. Lindsay Lohan’s character is unaware of the “sexy Halloween costume” rule, and shows up to a party dressed as a zombie bride, complete with ugly fake teeth and a dress which covered most of her body. She was predictably out of place and remarks ” I guess in girl world, Halloween is the one night a years when a girl can dress like a total slut, and no other girls can say anything about it”. Popular movies like Mean Girls act as a gateway and endorsement for a sexualized nature amongst women and young girls.

In addition, these kind of messages sent early to children will only further perpetuate the message that the media sends i.e. both emphasis of thinness and sexuality. Another example I found in an article by the guardian goes to show how the “sexy little girl” has become insistently present in the media. The article describes an acquaintance on Halloween with a five year old girl, wearing a tube top, miniskirt, platform shoes and eye shadow shouting “im a Bratz”. Related to the concept of sexualized clothing, this example displays how influential everyday toys directly impact younger individuals, and a “toys” contribution toward the sexual nature of Halloween Costumes.

The University of Texas have undertaken studies related to how a sexualized body image negatively effects young adolescent girls. Research suggests 10-15 year old girls with higher levels of internalized sexualization (belief to be sexually attractive), achieve lower grades at school than their peers. Related to this study, Halloween costume choices for girls may reflect a damaging preoccupation with being sexually attractive. For example, boys have multiple costume options ranging from scary, funny, nerdy and powerful, whereas girls are limited in scope and increasingly sexualized with features such a fitted bodess , short skirts and heels. Wearing a sexy costume may not negatively affect a girls development, but continued exposure to sex messages can lead to decreased self esteem, body dissatisfaction, eating disorders and depression.

These problems are serious and just because something is sold and displayed in a store, should not be perceived as the norm when it comes to body image, sexiness or fashionability. Halloween should be an opportunity for people to show off their creativity and not be a time when women feel they SHOULD wear sexy costumes but be the one night a year when women/ girls break from this.

References:

Goodin, S.M., Denburg, A.V., Mumen, S.K., & Smolak, L. (2011). Putting on sexiness: A content analysis of the presence of sexualizing characteristics in girls’ clothing. Journal of Sex Roles, 65(1-2), pp. 1-12.

The Guardian (2015). Women. Lost youth: turning young girls into sex symbols. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2009/sep/18/lost-youth-young-girls

The Guardian (2015). Halloween. Why are Halloween costumes so ‘slutty’? Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/fashion/2014/oct/20/halloween-costumes-slutty-sexy-witch-women-creativity-boob

The University of Texas (2014). Sexualized body image has negative effect on young adolescent girls. Retrieved from http://www.utexas.edu/news/2014/10/29/body-image-adolescent-girls/
Valley (2014). The link between Halloween costumes and body image. Retrieved from http://www.valleymagazinepsu.com

Article-Buzz (n.d.).Fashion. Sexy Halloween costumes advocate healthy body image. Retrieved from http://www.article-buzz.com/Article/Sexy-Halloween-Costumes-Advocate-Healthy-Body-Image/326548#.VQcwZe9_n4h

The Body Image Therapy Center (2014). Sexualization of girls’ halloween costumes. Retrieved from http://thebodyimagecenter.com/news-blogs/body-image/sexualization-girls-halloween-costumes/

The Supermom Era

By Amanda Blackmore

There is a new superhero in town and she does not wear a cape, have invisibility powers, or produce webbing out of her wrists. She does, however, perform seemingly impossible tasks without asking for any recognition. She is your mother. Women with children have reached a new level of busy and there is no end in sight. What does this mean for future generations? Will our generation’s daughters be as run-off-their-feet as our mothers are?

Generally, the percentage of women participating in the work force has increased for the past thirty years reaching 59.3% in 2008 (StatCan, 2014). In other words, our mothers are more likely to be a part of the work force now than our grandmothers were in their day. Furthermore, the employment rate of women with children under 16 who are living at home has increased from 39.1% in 1976 to 72.9% in 2009 (StatCan, 2014). It is also known that, generally, women are the primary caregivers in the family when the family includes a heterosexual couple. A generation of supermoms has appeared because women are now expected to work outside the home and continue to be the primary caregiver at home.

This seems like an unreasonable expectation. When I was growing up, my mother stayed home with me and my three siblings and she was busy enough simply taking care of all the unpaid work associated with running a household like caregiving, making meals, and cleaning. I cannot imagine how our household would have survived without her around every day if she were to have had a full time job outside the home. However, we see that employment rates for women with children are increasing. Women are now taking on the role of both caregiver and wage-earner, and thus we have the supermom.

The supermom is portrayed in commercials and television shows as the norm and the ideal parent. The media tells young women that being a good mother means being a supermom. She must be able to handle all household tasks perfectly, and she must also be able to hold down a full time job. To further express this ideal, men in commercials and some television sitcoms are portrayed as idiots who cannot adequately handle house work or caring for children, especially after coming home after a long day of work. These male characters encourage women to believe that they must do it all.

With this new supermom construct, women’s leisure time is taking a major hit. When a mother is expected to make supper, do all the housework, and put the kids to bed all after she has returned from work, how does she find any leisure time for herself? Leisure time has so many psychological and physical health benefits. It is difficult to deny that most people living in the Western culture could benefit from more leisure time. So why do we pressure women to be supermoms?

It is crucial for the wellbeing of future generations of women that we give them back their leisure time and abolish the construct of the supermom. The media is full of unrealistic expectations for women, and young women are learning that they must be completely exhausted all the time to be considered a good mother. Although we cannot always control what is displayed by the media, we can think more critically about how we expect our mothers and our female peers to behave.

Consider these YouTube videos. One has a humorous take on the demands of motherhood while the other warns of actual danger associated with being a supermom.

1. Let It Go – Mom Parody
2. Go Red for Women presents: ‘Just a Little Heart Attack’

 

 

 

DEAN BRODY – PULLING FOR NON-STEREOTYPICAL GIRL

by Lori M.

For those of you who aren’t aware, Dean Brody is a country music artist. I’ve seen him in concert a couple of times, the most recent being this last month here at the Aitken Center (Fredericton, NB). You’re probably wondering what in the world this has to do with gender, sport and leisure. Well, his song “Canadian Girls” touches on all three of these topics. In this song, he drives at the idea that women from Canada are different – they’re not the stereotypical girls you might find in the rest of the world, and he sees this as a good thing. Obviously this is a big generalization and not every girl in Canada would find what he talks about in the song applicable to them, but I’d like to take a few minutes to break down what he’s saying, and even further, the messages that the music video for the song promote (I’ve provided the link below).

The first lyrics you hear are “she grew up watching hockey with her daddy on Saturday night, he taught her how to tie her skates, her brothers taught her how to fight”. One of the main things that Brody advocates for through this song, is the promotion of women’s hockey. During his concert, the last song he played was Canadian Girls, and he came out wearing a Hayley Wickenheiser Team Canada Jersey. He does this frequently at his shows, and can also be seen wearing it in the music video for the song. He has sung the National Anthem at women’s hockey events like the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey Women’s World Championship, and states “in our house, it doesn’t matter if it’s the men’s or women’s team, they’re both as equally as big of a deal to watch those games” (Lipscombe, 2013). He says that he drew much of his inspiration for this song from his wife and his daughter. His wife played hockey growing up, and Brody said he plans to buy a pair of skates for his daughter in the near future (Lipscombe, 2013).

In the video for Canadian Girls, although we do see a girl playing hockey, this isn’t the only positive message being sent. Throughout the duration of the video, the idea is that females can do and be whatever they want – they don’t need to fit into the frame that society sometimes tries to put them in. We see a girl snowboarding, fishing, and even a women in the military, paired with the lyric “she’d give her life for the red and white”. A wide range of careers women have chosen are displayed though real life examples in this video, including: an entrepreneur, mechanic, yoga instructor, recycling technician, engineer, chef, mom, various types of artists, photographer, part time athlete, acrobat, and a machinist. Some of these we might not see as all that “abnormal”, but some definitely challenge society to see women in a different light.

So what does all this mean? From my perspective as a women who sometimes likes to go against the grain, this song (as cheesy as it may sound) is an encouragement to me and definitely one of my favorites. It reached number one on the CMT top 20 countdown (Lipscombe, 2013), so I’d say there are a few other women out there who appreciate it too. We’ve talked about women’s oppression and some of the challenges that we can be faced a lot in our class, and there is just something about these messages of encouragement being put out there to the public though a song from a male artist – I think it’s pretty significant.

 dean brody

References

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gvuHQkwMRmo&feature=kp

Lipscombe, K. (2013, 03 31). O canada!: Dean brody . Retrieved from http://www.hockeycanada.ca/en-ca/news/country-musician-dean-brody-to-kick-off-womens-worlds

 

LumberJack vs. LumberJill – Who would survive the great outdoors?

Kaitlyn W.

Before getting into detail about gender socialization, and the many variables that affect women’s decision to participate in outdoor activities, I would first ask you to close your eyes and picture the last extreme outdoor commercial or video that you witnessed. Most likely the flashback that you just had involved men participating in some form of outdoor activity. I recently attended the Banff Mountain Film Festival at the Playhouse, which featured the best outdoor enthusiasts and environmentally conscious films from the past year, all of which lacked women’s involvement. I contribute my observation to the recent classes in gender that I have attended, which have opened my eyes to how few women there are who participate or facilitate outdoor activities.

A prime example is our local Tree-Go in Mactaquac, which includes an outdoor aerial adventure course run by males. It is not that the company only allows male employees, there is just a lack of female interest. Could it be fear, social pressures or just DNA that intimidates women from participating and leading outdoor activities? An article published in 2006, underlines studies and other written work in an attempt to explain women’s lack of desire to push their boundaries in the outdoors. The article indicates that there are technical outdoor skills that are described as “the process of manipulating equipment to accomplish a physical task in the outdoors” (Warren & Loeffler, 2006), which are intimidating to women.

It is my opinion that societal influences play a large role in how women and men perceive outdoor activities. It begins at a young age, when boys and girls are classified into two different gender groups, they are placed into activities that emphasize their differences and teach them stereotypical characteristics. A prime example of gender socialization that occurs with youth activities is the Boys and Girl Scouts Organization. In 2004 the United States provided both Scouts programs with handbooks, where gender influences can be observed on both their covers. The cover of the Boy Scouts handbook displays boys white water rafting and men mountain climbing, whereas the Girl Scouts version has a collage of feminine articles such as ballet slippers, sewing machine, clothing, art supplies and a compass.

It is these types of images and activities that influence females in believing that they are traditionally required to become domesticated. Warren and Loeffler (2006) indicate that a feminist approach to the lack of women’s participation in outdoor activities is contributed to a “historically hegemonic male-based system of outdoor adventure education”. Within society gender appropriate behaviors in children are continually praised, whereas gender inappropriate behaviors, such as female participation in male sports is socially penalized. Females are socialized as the weaker sex and when they do have the capabilities to outperform men, they are ostracized and accused of emasculating men.

Is it possible that history plays a role in where we choose to participate in physical activity? After all the outdoors has always been men’s territory, as it was their duty to hunt, build and use the great outdoors to provide for their family. My inquires regarding women and our choices for physical activity come from the development of my views on gender since I was a child. Growing up in a traditional nuclear family, which consisted of a stay-at-home mom, a working dad and a little sister, our gender roles were stereotypically defined. Both my sister and I participated in female sports, and helped mom with household duties, although we rarely had the choice or the desire to pursue more “male activities”. It was not until my late teens that outdoor activities became an interest. I have realized that there are few females who are willing to spend time outdoors, and learn physically demanding skills in order to do things without a male present.

Reference:

Warren, K., & Loeffler, T. A. (2006). Factors that influence women’s technical skill development in outdoor adventure. Journal of Adventure Education & Outdoor Learning6:2, 107-119. doi: 10.1080/14729670685200791

Rape Culture: Fear as a Barrier to Leisure Participation

Given where the discussion went on Tuesday re: social control and fear, I thought I would reblog a post that I did for my own blog back in September.

All Things Leisure

fear

For the last 24 hours, I’ve been bothered by a story I saw on the news last night. At Saint Mary’s University this week (in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada), Frosh Leaders led students in a chant that glorified rape (read more here). A video was released of students reciting the chant. It was shocking to watch. Apparently, similar chants have been created in the past and there is some discussion in the news that similar messages are communicated on other campuses. Disturbing.

Since hearing the story, I have been thinking about the norms, values, and attitudes that were being communicated to new students and reinforced for returning students with that chant. I’ve been thinking about female students on that campus who may have been sexually assaulted at some point in their life or who already had anxiety or fear about being assaulted prior to arriving on campus (women are…

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