Oct 14, 2020 at 12:30 pm #3679687jscottBPL Member
@bookLocale: Northern California
” Women will always be on guard alone with a man they don’t know whether it makes sense or not… It’s ingrained into them.”
Yes, because of long experience. Bad experience. News flash: women are attacked and raped by men at an alarming rate. This is not an issue where things are equivalent between men and women. All my life I’ve been able to wander through the woods or go out at night walking alone with no real concerns. Women can’t do this, not because they’re afraid of their own shadow, as was said, but because of violence or harassment that happens all too frequently.
that’s why men have to step up and shoot down some behavior by other men. We all too often laugh it up when we tell good ol boy stories that normalize poor behavior. It’s not funny. Just like racist stories aren’t funny.Oct 14, 2020 at 12:39 pm #3679691M BBPL Member
David GardnerBPL Member
Locale: Northern California
@livingontheroad: MB, you are so far off base it is staggering.
It’s not that “some people are afraid of their shadow,” it’s that too often MEN behave in a way that is threatening/uncomfortable to women and don’t even realize it. And it’s not “treading lightly” it’s being a decent person, a gentleman if you will, and taking into consideration what WOMEN have told us feels threatening to them. It sucks that it’s more dangerous for women OFF the trail than on, which must be addressed too, but that’s not the point here. The point is how to speak and behave when men encounter women ON the trail. So we can be better men. So “50% of the population” can feel safe.
Frankly, it seems you are part of the problem rather than the solution. I wouldn’t be surprised if the things you’ve said in this thread don’t come off as threatening to women or make them feel uncomfortable, but I will let them speak for themselves
[comment removed – MK]
What you don’t get is people who do that don’t read forums. Like Karen referred to mostly , car camping. That’s irrelevant.
Yes there’s people who behave badly. There’s a lot of people I don’t want to be around. So I keep moving.. every hiker does
At the end of the day if you’re afraid to go walk in the wilderness by yourself, you got to stay home. or carry your preferred form of protection that makes you feel better. There’s no doubt, the two-legged animal is the one to worry about.
But it’s up to you. YOU…… Because the rest of the world isn’t going to bend to your whim . Strategies and common sense have been bantered around hiking circles for years. Decades.
Take responsibility for yourself. Period. Don’t expect that others will. [comment removed – MK]Oct 14, 2020 at 12:43 pm #3679692Ken ThompsonBPL Member
@hereLocale: Right there
Here’s a news flash, men are on guard around men they don’t know also…..
A huge +1Oct 14, 2020 at 12:56 pm #3679694David GardnerBPL Member
@gearmakerLocale: Northern California
[cleaning up the quoted name calling – MK]
Seriously, name calling? What does that add to this discussion? And let’s talk about judgmental…
Liberal? I’ve voted Republican my whole life. To me these are true conservative values, to have decent manners, be considerate of others, protect others less able to protect themselves when necessary or requested.
As far as being part of the problem, I just call ’em like I see ’em. Thank you for proving my point.Oct 14, 2020 at 1:58 pm #3679705Brad RogersBPL Member
@mocs123Locale: Southeast Tennessee
Perhaps I’m just not observant enough, but I’ve hiked the AT from Springer Mtn Georgia to Shenandoah NP in Virginia. I’ve also hiked the entire Benton McKaye Trail, and done 600 of the 900 miles of trails in GSMNP. I rarely see women alone, and though I do see them in groups or with a guy, not as often as you would think I would. I am always surprised when I go out west when it seems like 40-50% of the hikers are female.
While I agree with you that other hikers are generally not what female hikers should fear and absolutely agree that the areas around trailheads are the most dangerous. It’s not just women who have this fear as I know quite a few hikers that carry a gun with them which I feel is absolutely un-warranted.
There have been a few times where I have run across someone that I really felt uncomfortable with on the trail – one time comes to mind where I had been hiking on the AT all day in the rain and was going to stay in Watauga Shelter (I normally avoid shelters but in the rain it seemed appealing). There was one guy already spread out in the shelter. He was dressed in a lot of camo and had a big knife with him. For some reason I got a funny feeling and luckily I hadn’t unpacked my backpack yet so I just thanked him for letting me take a break and then kept walking for four or five more miles before I camped in the rain. I can see how just such a situation would make a female, especially one hiking alone, feel even more uncomfortable.
While I also agree that most of the fear that women backpackers feel is probably unwarranted, there is a reason they feel that way, and that’s because they have been victims in the past, perhaps not in the context of hiking, but in overall life.
Perhaps I am part of the problem too as I have both a son(14) and daughter (10) and I’ve tried to think of how I would feel if when each was 18 they told me they wanted to hike the AT or PCT. With my son I would say go for it and probably not worry about him too much. With my daughter, I would say go for it but I absolutely see myself worrying about her a lot more particularly if I knew she was solo. It wouldn’t be her capabilities I would doubt, nor the wildlife, but people, so perhaps I’m part of the fear problem as well. I will say that as a man I have never worried about getting abducted or sexually assaulted, I probably couldn’t say that if I was a woman.Oct 14, 2020 at 3:19 pm #3679739matthew kModerator
Just a friendly reminder for everyone to check out the forum guidelines.
BPL does not tolerate name-calling or intolerant speech. This is a backpacking forum. Treat each other nicely and take it easy. ✌️Oct 14, 2020 at 3:24 pm #3679741David GardnerBPL Member
@gearmakerLocale: Northern California
Thank you Michael.Oct 14, 2020 at 3:28 pm #3679742
“does not tolerate name-calling or intolerant speech”
Sounds intolerant ;)Oct 14, 2020 at 3:30 pm #3679743
^^^ could not help that. I am writing a paper on syntax and the circularity got me.Oct 14, 2020 at 3:54 pm #3679745KarenBPL Member
Yes, we should tolerate everything except the intolerable, Kattt! I didn’t even know anyone studied syntax any more, except for The Onion. You’d have plenty of material on Twitter.
The name calling was pretty ridiculous there, MB. Way to turn a meaningful thread into party politics, crimony. You can’t offer an alternative view without interjecting that nonsense? Interesting too, the choice of deriding a commenter by using the image of a feminine product. No sexism there, oh no! Calling men women always seems to be the ultimate insult.
I am not afraid of my shadow, nor are most women. But violence against women is real, commonplace, and you have no idea how many attacks against women there are – on the trail or anywhere else. So, so many attacks are never reported. When you sit with a group of women and listen to the #metoo stories, it’s astounding; most never get published or reported anywhere. I could go on and on with my own stories, and add plenty I’ve heard from others. I would never shame anyone who worries about safety on the trail; instead offering suggestions for being more safe – and in the case of this discussion, suggestions for ways men can help women be safer and more comfortable on trail. Great topic.Oct 14, 2020 at 5:10 pm #3679751
Syntax is fascinating, my favorite field in Linguistics. I didn’t get The Onion reference though.Oct 14, 2020 at 5:11 pm #3679752MJ HBPL Member
NMOct 14, 2020 at 5:20 pm #3679754matthew kModerator
Clearly not my best writing…Oct 14, 2020 at 5:51 pm #3679759owareusa.comBPL Member
@bivysack-com-2-2Locale: East Washington
With Covid being a thing, I stand far off the trail, say a short dad/guide joke and quickly move on.
Last weekend we encountered 14 people on our hike on the Kettle Crest NE WA, the three women and three of the men walking or on horseback were armed (predator country) the remaining men were Mtn bikers. Those on horseback and foot wanted to chat. I think because of the Corona Virus we aren’t getting enough socializing. The bikers were on the downhill heading home and just said hi.Oct 14, 2020 at 7:30 pm #3679770Dave HeissBPL Member
@daveheissLocale: Pacific Northwest
Hiking in REI’s backyard means I see a great many female hikers out on the trails. Which I think is a very good thing. 95% of the time I hike solo, mainly because I’m interested in hiking and not socializing. So when I come across another party, either as a group or a solo male/female, I keep it brief and say something universal like “Hey, great day for a hike!”.
That may lead to a conversation, or it may not. Either way is OK with me. I think the point is to be friendly. Then we can get back to why we’re outdoors in the first place – to enjoy nature.Oct 14, 2020 at 8:35 pm #3679775David UBPL Member
Strangest thread ever.Oct 14, 2020 at 9:43 pm #3679778PedestrianBPL Member
A lot of people are perplexed by this thread…..I guess context is everything.
I suggest checking this out for some background; read the comments too.
I definitely came away with a better appreciation for the issues raised…..and I wasn’t born last night.Oct 14, 2020 at 11:37 pm #3679791Cameron MBPL Member
@cameronm-aka-backstrokeLocale: Los Angeles
I do not act any different towards females than males. In many cases in the Sierra, particularly when I overlap the popular trails, I actually see more females than males. If I modulate my interaction it is more about my perception of the knowledge or challenges of the hiker, male or female, than the sex. I don’t want to seem condescending, but sometimes I make comments to be helpful or to express genuine concern for someone’s safety.
I do not enjoy it when one poster attacks another. Please discuss/argue on the merits of the discussion, but do not characterize the comments of others or impugn their intentions. Just stop, please.Oct 15, 2020 at 2:52 am #3679797Monte MastersonBPL Member
@septimiusLocale: Changes Often
If I pass a woman out on the trail I simply make eye contact for a about second and give a quick nod and a smile. If she says nothing I say nothing and keep moving. But so many American men are clueless pigs. They’ve never had anyone sit them down and explain to them how and why harassing women is wrong and what makes women feel uncomfortable.
If a woman is interested in a guy she will give off signals that let it be known. For example, if you’re a guy and a woman you pass on the trail stops, smiles and starts asking questions, and as she does she keeps a relatively close posture and doesn’t back up one inch throughout the conversation, she might be into you. I usually give female hikers like that a positive comment about their gear or apparel and avoid asking any personal questions. If she wants me to know anything about herself she will tell me. If things seem to be going along pretty well I might say “hey, I was about ready to stop and take a break and have some tea, would you like to join me?” If she says no then I politely bring the conversation to a close and move on.
As a culture we are bombarded with images of sex through advertising and the media. Many men are confused and don’t even realize what thirsty simps they truly are. It’s like they have no self discipline in their desires and they often don’t have strong role models who instill a sense of manners or morality into them. There seems to be a never ending supply of stupid men who make fools out of themselves in pursuit of women, often doing it in a way that seems creepy and invasive.Oct 15, 2020 at 3:18 am #3679798Nick GatelBPL Member
@ngatelLocale: Southern California
Good feedback from the ladies of BPL.
@jscott has contributed some excellent feedback.
We have to understand that when someone feels threatened, it is their perception, not necessarily the intent of the other person that matters.
Gender aside, each of us are different. We perceive things differently.
It is kinda like the threads where some people have to sleep inside of a shelter due to a concern about insects or snakes, even though the concern is minimal to others. It doesn’t matter what others think, it only matters what the person who needs to sleep inside a shelter thinks. And we cannot criticize that person. Besides, people have gotten sick or died from insect/snake bites, so it isn’t an imaginary problem.
Sexual harassment on the trial isn’t an imaginary problem either.
I spent almost 20 years consulting in over 1,000 business in the automotive field, which is a male dominated business. And yes, sexual harassment is common. The problem is many of the men truly don’t think they are harassing women. They do not understand how the women around them feel.
Same thing for the men I managed over the years — some actions and comments would be perceived by a large number of women to be harassment or otherwise unacceptable behavior. It didn’t matter what their intent was. So I spent many years doing “diversity” training for clients and with my own team.
The issues I saw was not that women were too sensitive in these frequent situations, but the simple fact than many men just act poorly. Sometimes intentionally; sometimes not.
Taken as a whole, my experience is that many, many men act poorly. Whether they know it or not. As @jscott mentioned, it was my job to point this out to all these men. For my team, it was my job to change the behavior of some of the team members.
I was the one who asked the question in another thread that became the title and subject matter for this one. I appreciate the feedback.
Since men often don’t know how to act, we should seriously listen to the ladies who have shared their experiences and insights, and adjust our behavior accordingly.
Do I treat women I meet on the trail differently than men? Yes, just a little bit. I always try to step off the trail first to let a woman pass, usually move a little further off the trail than with men. I don’t “leer” or look at women in a way that may make them feel uncomfortable. Usually I just say, “Hi” or “Hello.” Nothing more. Pretty much how I treat men on the trail, but I make more of a conscious effort towards women. But I hike to get away from people, so I’m not going to strike up a conversation anyway.Oct 15, 2020 at 4:58 am #3679806Geoff CaplanBPL Member
@geoffcaplanLocale: Lake District, Cumbria
I feel that Nick and Monte are right on point.
Far too many men don’t realise that behaviour they regard as normal can be experienced as harassment by the woman.
I recently read an account by a young AT hiker that was really quite disturbing. He was part of a bubble that was passing info up and down the trail about the location of single women and where they were likely overnighting. He would often cut his day short or hike on into the night to be at a shelter where one of his targets was staying.
I’m pretty sure the poor women involved would have been the subject of persistent unwanted attention.
This young guy was sharing these details openly on the web, seemingly oblivious to the fact that his account was making him look like a predatory creep…
This is a topic that won’t get “old” till we can finally produce a generation of young men that treat women with consideration and respect.Oct 15, 2020 at 5:37 am #3679808Brad PBPL Member
One day I worked late. The parking garage at my office has poor lighting. There was a woman just ahead of me and it was clear we were heading to the same general area to get into our cars.
I put myself in that woman’s situation and realized being followed by a man she doesn’t know in that garage would be all kinds of concerning.
I turned around like I’d forgotten something and went back toward the building.
That woman had no way of knowing that not only was I not a threat, I would have come to her defense if anyone had attacked her.
Women are understandably worried in some circumstances. Listen to what they’ve said here. Understand that while you know you’re not going to harm them, they have no way to know that.
I wish things weren’t like that, but they are.
This video explains how scary it can be for women on trail.Oct 15, 2020 at 8:30 am #3679823Ben H.BPL Member
@bzhayesLocale: No. Alabama
An interesting point brought up in this thread that I had not realized is that the increased number of women on the trails appears somewhat isolated to the west. I just moved from California to Alabama but I haven’t started backpacking here yet so I was not aware of the trend I definitely saw in California was not a more universal trend.
I wonder if women in the west tend to be more independent and willing to challenge the status quo or if the men in the west are more willing to empathize with women on the trail and try to take into account of how there actions may come across. It is a fascinating trend and would probably make for a good PhD project in psychology or women’s studies. Whatever is happening in the West needs to be exported to open our sport up to more enthusiasts.Oct 15, 2020 at 9:54 am #3679837KarenBPL Member
Hitchhiking (referring to the Dixie video) brings up a different set of interactions between men and women, especially if women are the ones hitching. I’ve only hitched solo once, and that was fairly near home; you’d think a middle aged woman with a pack and hiking poles, plus a sign indicating a trailhead destination only about 10 miles away, would get a ride quickly. Took a lot of massive RVs to pass me before a small family – parents, kid, dog – folded me into their packed-to-the-gills pickup. That seems to be common; it’s the less well off with already crowded vehicles, that tend to pick up hitchers. I actually prefer that; it’s probably irrational and a prejudice on my part, but I trust poor people with rusty vehicles more than I trust rich people with fancy cars! I also would not hitch alone in most places. Alaska is different.
If you pick someone up, please deliver them to where they want to go, or let them out whenever they ask. Don’t insist on driving further – offer but if declined, don’t argue. Trying to keep them in the car is super sketchy behavior!
I follow the principle – solo or not – that if anything about the offered ride seems sketchy, I change my mind and say so, politely. I would ask that men not become angry by someone who does this. Just say “ok have a good trip” or something and drive on. I’ve been fortunate to have at least sort of decent rides most of the time. I once got a ride with some dudes who were very high – realized that once we were in the vehicle. Perfectly nice guys, but it was a scary ride with lots of time spent driving on the shoulder at highly varying speeds. We got out sooner than we planned saying we wanted to get a restaurant meal.
I would also say now, in the days of phones, don’t be snorted if the rider wants a photo of your license plate. That seems a bit weird, but they’re doing it for their own protection. The rider might also want to keep their backpack on their lap, or between their knees on the floor. You can offer to put it in the trunk, but I would never allow that. Again, just let them.
Then there’s guns and hitching. I don’t carry and wouldn’t get into a car with someone with a gun on the seat. A rifle box on the back of a pickup, sure. But a visible weapon in the passenger area, no way. Again, if that’s you the driver, please just understand that the job of the hitchhiker is not just to get a ride, but to stay alive. You’re probably trustworthy, but we can’t be sure.Oct 15, 2020 at 10:57 am #3679842Murali CBPL Member
I have to come to MB’s defense. I didn’t think MB said anything wrong in his initial responses. I actually thought that David Gardner went on the offensive by saying “off base….staggering” and “you are the problem” etc which is what set off MB. I don’t condone MB’s response – but, I think if you want to censure, you have to censure comments like “you are the problem” or implying “staggering ignorance”. Ben H’s response to MB was much better.
But did we really learn anything new? Responses like “don’t approach my tent” is common sense stuff that should apply to anybody. Don’t follow somebody too closely is again common sense stuff. Don’t ask questions like how many days are you on the trail, where you are going to be camping is again common sense stuff. It should apply to both male and female hikers – sure we will not make anything out of female hiker asking it to a male hiker.
And you cannot teach common sense stuff to people who lack common sense.
I have been startled by women hikers appearing out of nowhere without any warning just as I would be of male hikers.
I don’t want to meet a bear on the trail – so, I carry a bear bell which is an ice breaker. Almost all hikers will comment on that and everybody knows I am coming on the trail:-) My trail name is “icecreamman” for that reason. My approach is – I will do the best I can to make sure I do not meet a bear – carry a bell, opsack, eat far away from tent etc etc. I have a plan on what I should do if I meet a bear – all the literature on what you should do etc. But, I don’t obsess over bear encounter. I in fact like to camp alone and am not thinking of bears at all on my hikes. You have to prepare and be ready – but let it not obsess you. Enjoy outdoors without fear. Have a plan, have a MSR groundhog stake readily available on your shoulder pouch or pepper spray.
Also a would be attacker/molester can be a nice “gentleman” doing the things that men/women are saying a man should do when he encounters a woman and still end up doing something. Just because a person acts nice doesn’t mean that the person is not going to cause any harm. There are always the 1% of bears that will enter a tent to look for food while 99% of them leave hikers alone.
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