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Do Outdoor Women Need to Toughen Up?

Answering a question about outdoor women we never thought we’d have to ask.

I hope you get shot out in the forest and wolves gnaw on your dying corpse…..WHILE YOU’RE STILL ALIVE

I’d like to rip off your f*$%ing head and pour gunpowder down your f*$%ing throat and light it on fire

Only c*%t’s shoot animals and take pleasure in it. I hope you die a horrible painful death

As I began to look at how female hunters were being bullied, I had to ask myself if it was because we were easy targets as women or if we needed to just toughen up a little. Once I started asking my fellow female hunters about their experiences, the things that they sent to me as examples of what they deal with daily made me sick to my stomach.

I’d like to meet you outside someday with a gun in my hand, I would shoot you several times and laugh over your f*$%ing body as you die like you do to those poor animals that can’t defend themselves.  MURDERER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

“Generally threats are basic name calling. They include sexist remarks, racist remarks and then lead into threats of dismemberment or other demented scenarios.” said Mia Anstine when I asked her about the types of threats she receives, “The hardest part of receiving threats is the thought of having to protect myself and my family from potential harm.” It is more than female hunters not being taken seriously among fellow hunters – this is an attack against individuals, what they stand for and believe in. It is cyber bullying.

I have been harassed but I keep writing about hunting because I love it and I think our voices need to be heard. Women have said to me that if they get harassed,  it is just easier to remove themselves from the situation either by preventing comments on their blogs (like “I hope you get shot out of the tree”) or by removing themselves from the online groups and stepping away for a while.

But, I don’t believe it is that simple.

I joined a Facebook group dedicated to deer hunting in Maine. I was eager to join in on a conversation that I hoped would demonstrate what a tight community we are as hunters. Instead, I found a group that had derogatory posts aimed at women, and threads filled with name calling and insults. I left the group immediately but have found that this trend does not change. Pick a Facebook group dedicated to any type of hunting, and you will not find a group of people coming together for a common goal, but a group of people who prefer to belittle and insult one another. Is this really who hunters are?

Carrie Zlyka is a popular huntress whose podcast has close to 20,000 subscribers, yet the hate mail she receives is mind-blowing. She highlighted a few of them from a week’s worth of emails (above); “Realistically – it’s very easy to write ‘If I saw you I’d kill you’ sitting behind a computer screen thousands of miles away. It would be a lot harder to say those words to someone’s face.  They are all cowards.”  I would like to think that the people who take part in cyber bullying would be furious if their friend, child, sibling or mother, were the target.

Until things change, should female hunters just deal and get some thicker skin? Should we take comfort in the fact that many of the threats are hollow? No. When a woman is threatened with rape and murder because she hunts, something is terribly wrong with society and the overall hunting community for not being more outraged. Men and women are sitting behind computer screens and attacking those of us who enjoy hunting and providing for our families.

Mia says it best, “As hunters we need to stick together. We need to support one another and stand proud, side-by-side in our quest to conserve all populations.” We need to work together and protect our own from these types of attacks.  “Women are rising in the industry, they are becoming more aware ” points out Carrie.

Working together to fight these bullies is crucial if we want to see more young women get into hunting. I will continue to promote hunting and the amazing women who are proud to be hunters. It is my hope that we can turn the tide against cyber bullying and work to encourage more women to get out there, support them as they try a sport and hopefully love it as much as we do!

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Do Outdoor Women Need to Toughen Up?