If you pay attention to Hollywood and the Mainstream Media, you’ll know that right now, everything female is good and everything male is bad. Well, that maybe an oversimplification but you know what I am getting at. Just the other day, the University of Texas declared masculinity to be a mental illness. We’re at a strange time in our society and there’s definitely a culture war going on in America. Much like every other topic to discuss, people want to make things simpler than they are, to put them in neat little boxes labeled “this” and “that” or “good” and “bad”. Gender and hunting are no exception to this. However, I feel like trying to simplify gender and hunting issues actually complicates them much more than need be.
It’s simple. Women make great hunters. Women have always been great hunters.
Okay, let me unpack this. I won’t go into a great amount of detail about the history of women hunters because there’s a plethora of great stories out there for you to explore yourself. Whether it was in ancient Greek or Roman mythology, Celt or Nordic tribes or in the Wild West, there are countless examples of women hunters. Just look at the Wikipedia page of hunting gods for examples to get you started.
Just think about it simply. Who provided food when men went off to war or left home to work as miners or railroad workers? In the Wild West, who provided for food when the men died of disease? The Wild West as a great example because any place where people were free from law, free from the pressures of “civilization” or the rule of the Church, women had more rights (because no one was infringing on their God given rights that they were born with). Utah, long considered a very conservative state, gave women the right to vote a long time before women won their suffrage in other, “more civilized”, places.
But I digress.
The main reason hunting has been considered “masculine” in America is because traditionally men have been a large majority of the hunters and it was usually a set of skills handed down father to son out in the field while the women stayed home. Hunting itself is neither masculine nor feminine, it’s human. However, a boy’s one on one time with their dad is masculine, is healthy and odds are those boys learned a lot more about being a man during those hunts than they did about hunting. That is why I still find that to be an important tradition and I believe we need strong men to raise boys in a way so that we will continue to have generations of strong men. I am not attacking that at all, I am in 100% support of that and am committed to getting more young men into the outdoors.
So, what of me? The lone man in a house with two women? While my girls don’t go along on every hunt, we’re a hunting family. Hunting is one of the many things we do together. At our daughter’s age, it’s small game and fishing right now and when she’s older I’ll take them on turkey and big game hunts as well. As far as I’m concerned nothing changes except the lessons we teach our daughter. I don’t need to teach her about being a man because she’s going to be a woman. Her mother is doing an excellent job of teaching her how to be a great woman. I will teach her to hunt. I will do my part as her father to teach her about being human because there is far more to learn outside than how to be a man.
It’s of the utmost importance that we hunters take our daughters afield just as we would take our sons afield. The future conservationists are just as likely, if not more likely, to be female than male. It shouldn’t matter if that woman wears make up or doesn’t, or if she uses blaze pink or blaze orange, or if she wants to fish in a bikini or in waders. All that matters is that she’s outdoors and we pass along our ethics and love for the wild. Getting all wrapped up in tangential aspects of what a woman wears etc. is avoiding the most important thing; that women are a growing segment of the hunting community.
For those fathers who have sons, take them hunting, insert masculine traditions and rites of passage into your hunting trips. Take your uncles, buddies or grandfather and have some male bonding, that’s awesome. But if you have daughters, take them along too (and their mothers if they want to go), treat them the same, give your daughter her first beer or snort of whiskey when the time comes. I promise you she’ll remember those times with her dad the rest of her life just like your son would.