Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Do Outdoor Women need to toughen up?






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 on social media but I keep writing about hunting and why I love it.  I think our voices need to be heard and sadly, we need to fight to gain credibility. Women have said to me that if they get harassed,  sometimes 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 from Twitter and Facebook 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 Zlykais 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, daughter, girlfriend 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 type of attacks.  "Women are rising in the industry, they are becoming more aware, but with that comes an unexpected downfall – pure cattiness" points out Carrie.  

The older generation of hunters may not see this as a big deal, but for those of us who are a part of the fast growing world of female hunters - and those hunters who take to social media to talk and share stories about hunting - this is very much a reality and a seriosus issue.  We can not afford to just blow this off as "cyber gunk" but as a threat against fellow hunters.  

Mia, Carrie, myself and countless others 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


12 comments:

  1. Wow Erin. I had no idea the extreme hate mail you ladies get. I'm sure most are anonymous of course. All I can say is hang in there and stay strong.

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  2. It's pretty amazing, Joe! I would love it if this were not the case. I do have to wonder how different things might be if men also got this type of harassment. Thanks for your comment and for reading.

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  3. Erin, I simply can not understand why some people can be so ignorant. I personally have a lot of women hunters that I follow and would support in a heart beat. If you or anyone you know would like to do a guest post on my blog on any subject you all our welcome to my blog. In my opinion women hunters have just enough if not more morels and hunting ethics than most male hunters.

    Give um hell I say and keep doing what your doing.

    whitetailwoodsblog.blogspot.com

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    1. Thank you Rick! It's great to have advocates like you out there :) Your support means a lot.

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  4. Hello Erin,

    I can really relate to your article Erin! I started on the internet in1999 with MaineHunters.com, back then people did not know how to get a photo onto the internet, because you had to be a web designer and use FTP to upload. I uploaded pictures for hunters that wanted to show the world their accomplishments. There were no websites with auto photo uploaders such as Facebook and other sites of today! I used to get the same death threats simply because I administered and promoted hunting photos by email and US mail from anti-hunting people. Back then, people sent photos in by US mail and I scanned them into JPEG photos and uploaded them to our website. It had nothing to do with my sex or race, it was purely hate crimes being committed against my right to be a sportsmen.

    As you mentioned, Facebook groups can become cruel because there are many hunters out there that only see hunting through their own eyes, it is how they were brought up to think by their fathers and mothers, generations of backwoods mentality only considering their own selfish way of thinking about hunting. Unfortunately these hunters make it easier for anti-sentiment to rise. The way I look at anti-hunters who offer threats to a hunter, is the same way I look at the selfish mentality hunter, they do nothing to help either sides cause! They are the dead water in the fight to keep our rights to our hunting heritage. Hopefully people from both sides will read articles like yours and slowly start to change their way of thinking and become more useful to their cause, instead of dragging it down with everything they do.

    I started a group on FB called New England Hunters at https://www.facebook.com/groups/NewEnglandHunters/ , it is a closed group that I administrate, when insults, swearing, bullying etc. arises (Which is rare on this site) I will PM the person and throw a warning shot over the bow, if it continues they are removed from the group. There is 791 current members and so far, all is running smoothly! In this group women & men are welcome, anti's are not! So if you are an anti-hunter and somehow make it past my screening when you ask to join this group, it will only take one anti-hunting comment to get yourself removed from it with the click of a mouse!

    Please join Erin... You are very welcome in this group, we have lots of men and women in this group!!

    Steve

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    1. Thank you so much Steve for your comment. I agree that anti's are going to attack anyone they can. Women are the fastest growing demographic in the hunting world, so we have become the new targets. You nailed it when you said that hunters who attack other hunters are helping the anti's more than helping fellow hunters.

      It has been fascinating to watch the comments on here, on different FB posts from people who have shared the article, on Twitter and in email responses that I have received.

      Thank you again for your comments and for reading my blog.

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  5. unfortunately the internet gives the ability to everyone to share their opinion...including those whose opinions don't deserve to be shared. ignorant people are everywhere. no excuse for the bile they spew, like what you wrote above...it is just a shame that as we need to fight for our rights as hunters, there is crap like that happening from within our own hunting community.

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  6. Erin, Thanks for sharing your experience. Unfortunately I have seen this trend as well. First, there is the group of anti-hunters (especially on facebook) who actively troll for these kind of articles and groups. If it happens to be a female hunter, for whatever reason it seems to take the hatred to a new level. I'm sure you've heard of Melissa Bachman, she went through some cyber bullying big time last year. While I normally believe the trolls should be ignored, blocked, banned...there are certain times when hunters need to be united and take a stand.

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  7. My worst attackers are women. They've caused me to step back a bit in the past year and say little outside my own blog. I didn't write outside my own blog when I shot the bear last year. When I shot my deer in November one women commented that "the wrong animal died." Now huntresses' photos are being reported on Facebook because we hunt. Being quiet doesn't stop them, they don't want to learn, fighting back builds their momentum. There's never going to be peace.

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  8. All of the women in my life have been the best coyote hunters I've ever met. I've always done my best to support women in hunting, but this post really makes me want to double down my efforts. Thanks for sharing.

    Ben

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    1. Thanks Ben! There are definitely a lot of great outdoorsmen advocating and supporting outdoor women. Thank you for being one of them.

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  9. Erin your post shines a light on the sad world we currently live in where everybody is super tough behind their keyboard. I don't believe it is just in the hunting niche though. I certainly would not want to be a celebrity in this day and age with all the hate mail/posts/tweets etc they receive.
    Taylor Swift has a great attitude, "shake it off" but sometimes its not quite as simple as that.

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