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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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.