A friend of mine sent me this link and asked what I thought about it. I had seen it before and was honest when I told him how degrading I felt it was. Not only was the title of the "Miss Maine Sportsman" application in pink* but the questions were incredibly insulting to those of us that are fighting to be taken seriously among our male counterparts.
Questions like, "Do you clean your own kills/catches?" would never be asked if it were Mr. Maine Sportsman. It would be assumed that yes, of course men clean what they kill. Why is that assumption not made of us outdoor women? Another question, "Do cook [sic] what you catch/kill? If so, what’s your favorite recipe?" would never be asked of men.
My friend asked me what sort of questions I would ask if it were a Mr. Maine Sportsman pageant. I came up with a bunch of snarky questions (Do you bait your own hook?) but then I thought about the questions that could have the most impact on the men that would apply. Here are my top three:
1. How many people have you taught to hunt or fish? if you taught children, how old were they?
2. Do you help support outdoor organizations by donating your time, talent or dollars? If yes, please list the organizations.
3. How are you, as a sportsman, working to ensure a healthy Maine outdoors for future generations?
If a group of people are going to be singled out in a pageant to see who is the best sportsman of them all, then at least ask some intelligent questions that don't demean the group. It is embarrassing to see that an outdoor magazine and organization in Maine, that should be working to support outdoor women, are instead supporting a pageant that's reward for winning is not a donation to an outdoor organization or a piece of gear, but your very own month in their "Sportswomen of Maine" calendar.
Women are fighting against cyber bullies that threaten us, our families and friends. We are battling for credibility and to be seen as equals in activities traditionally viewed as only for men. I hope that as more and more women get into hunting and fishing, that this becomes a non-issue. We are the fastest growing demographic in the hunting and fishing world and yet, even at the local level, we are seen as less than true outdoors-men. Something has to change.
* If you are in any way, shape or form, supportive of women being active in the outdoors through fishing, hunting, hiking etc. do NOT use pink. It does nothing but perpetuate the stereotype that outdoor women must love pink. The only exception for pink is when referring to the Casting for Recovery program.