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Thread: Gender biases

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    Quote Originally Posted by putts View Post
    I whole-heartedly believe that the trail is filled with the type of people who, If they came across anybody who was hurt from a fall or in any sort of predicament, would help and consider it not a burden but an opportunity to act on the goodness that the trail inspires. If you, or any other person needs help - I, and 99.9999% of any hiker I've ever met out there (or on here) would step up, gladly. Sex, age, nationality, religion - There is no discrimination when it comes to someone needing help.(MAYBE THE 1ST THING EVERYONE ON WB WOULD AGREE ON?!? -DaNcInG BaNaNa-)

    Oh I know, and I would do the same, but who wants to be the one that slows a stranger down, ya know? I didn't mean to imply i thought the hiking community would just watch and giggle while I bleed to death or drag myself across the dirt. I just would hate to be alone and have to be a burden on a stranger if something happened. Chances are, nothing would happen anyway, but I always look at worst case and try to prepare for that. I am sure most people would be wonderful and help me if needed, but in their heads they would be saying "I would be all the way to Grafton Notch by now if I hadn't been stopped by the fat lady with the broken ankle. She should have been better prepared. Stupid newbies ought to train more before taking something like this on. etc etc. Even if they never said it out loud, and many would say it out loud. Who wants to be that lady?
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lnj View Post
    Oh I know, and I would do the same, but who wants to be the one that slows a stranger down, ya know? I didn't mean to imply i thought the hiking community would just watch and giggle while I bleed to death or drag myself across the dirt. I just would hate to be alone and have to be a burden on a stranger if something happened. Chances are, nothing would happen anyway, but I always look at worst case and try to prepare for that. I am sure most people would be wonderful and help me if needed, but in their heads they would be saying "I would be all the way to Grafton Notch by now if I hadn't been stopped by the fat lady with the broken ankle. She should have been better prepared. Stupid newbies ought to train more before taking something like this on. etc etc. Even if they never said it out loud, and many would say it out loud. Who wants to be that lady?
    Whereas if you are with your buddy or spouse you can just ignore it when they say it or Gibbs slap them!
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

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    Are there gender biases against men? Surely. A man alone will have a much harder time hitching a ride. A man alone will be suspect if he approaches a child, or sometimes even if he offers help to a woman. (I can recall being snapped at by one woman whose bearbag line was snarled around a branch when I said something to the effect of, "I'm heavier than you. Maybe if we both haul on the line we can break the branch?")

    Are those biases justified? Well surely not against the vast majority of us as individuals, but given the way that some of us behave, they're probably prudent.

    Are there more significant biases against women? I will observe freely that I see many fewer women out there than men. (No citation, but where I hike, it's bleeding obvious.)

    To the extent that it's society's biases keeping the women home, that's shameful. As a man, I must bear some of the shame. Not guilt, mind you - I'm not aware that I have anything to be guilty about personally - but it is still shameful to benefit from an unearned privilege that others do not enjoy. (And it's pervasive enough in society that I truly cannot renounce it - it will be accorded me willy-nilly.)

    And frankly, most of the bias against men that I see is a reflection of the great bias against women that's out there.

    I do my best not to perpetuate the problem. I think I did all right with my daughter. Some years ago, when she first got her driving license, one of the first things that she wanted to do with it was to take a few of her buddies hiking - without me. When she asked permission, it was obvious to Daddy's eye that she expected to be told, "absolutely not!"

    Instead, I answered, "let me see your safety plan. You'll make copies for all the other parents, right?" To her credit, she'd written one. I made a correction or two (she had contact information for the wrong ranger district, if I recall, something like that) and told her, "have fun!" They did.

    I later met one of the other kids' mothers, who confided, "I was about to tell my daughter, 'absolutely not, without adult supervision!' when your daughter handed over the safety plan. That was when I realized, they have adult supervision, and God help us, it's themselves!" She turned to my daughter and said, "You were so on top of things!"

    Daughter: "People die on that trail. I wasn't about to have it happen on my watch! Actually, every accident I've heard about there involved alcohol in one way or another, so that was one obvious way to stay safe."

    She's now a strong young woman, living on her own, working on a job in the field she studied in college, and still going on the occasional hike, with or without me.

    She is well aware that she, too, is a child of privilege. Had she been of a different race, or come from less well-off or educated parents, she likely would not have had the sort of upbringing that let her have that kind of strength and confidence.

    And neither of us have any idea what to do beyond the principle of "bias is everywhere, but let it stop with me."

    If anything can help, the most important thing is keeping your own house in order. What goes around comes around, and as it goes, it grows.

    My limited experience suggests that more hikers have an attitude like mine - the real nether orifices, of both genders, tend to stay in town, and the farther you get from the highway, the more caring the people get, of both genders. The trail is society in microcosm, but the divisions are watered down just a bit. Lots of people in town stink, metaphorically. Hikers mostly stink only literally.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lnj View Post
    I am sure most people would be wonderful and help me if needed, but in their heads they would be saying "I would be all the way to Grafton Notch by now if I hadn't been stopped by the fat lady with the broken ankle. She should have been better prepared. Stupid newbies ought to train more before taking something like this on. etc etc. Even if they never said it out loud, and many would say it out loud. Who wants to be that lady?
    I bet 2 Milky Ways that more would be saying "Lnj, it sucks you got hurt, but part of me is glad ya did because I've enjoyed the opportunity to meet you. I'm glad we got you to safety." And they would genuinely feel more accomplishment than hiking a long mile day. A lot of "real world" and "internet world" cynicism disappears in the woods. Sincerity and generosity prevail in ways I would have never imagined before I made my first newbie mistakes on the AT.

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    Quote Originally Posted by imscotty View Post
    Bronk, I think it is sensible for women to be particularly cautious around strange men they encounter on the trail. I know that I am. Does that make me sexist? So be it.

    RockDoc said it well. Dividing people up by identity is so damaging to our society. How about we just try to treat each other like we would want to be treated. Assume the best of people, and develop a thick enough skin to deal with the jerks. This seems to be a recipe for a happy life.
    Yar.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tipi Walter View Post
    Spiders and yellow jackets and pit vipers do not discriminate between human males or females---they have no gender biases.
    But all backpackers no matter gender have "what if" scenarios which could keep them out of the woods. Then again, what's more important: Worrying about what might happen or just getting out into what's left of the great outdoors???
    Quote Originally Posted by AllDownhillFromHere View Post
    That link just makes it worse. Also, if the discussion has gone off the rails, consider who started it.
    I suspect a genuinely nice person got their feelings hurt on another thread and is making a decent if botched attempt to sort things out by licking a finger and seeing which way the wind blows as they find themselves uncertain which direction to go.

    And yes that link makes it worse... or gets at the heart of the issue.


    No big secret that gender and identity issues are taking front stage as that long simmering pot has boiled over and made a big mess on the stove nobody is sure how to clean up.

    Part of the reason to hit the trail is to get away from the troubles of town... including these issues.

    More and more it seems people are coming to the trail with unreasonable expectations of the trail.
    One of those fairly unreasonable expectations is the seeking of a society that does not (or should not) exist.
    While there has long existed a general amicability and agreeableness among travelers... this tramily thing and support from others is new. It doesn't make much sense nor is it very productive.
    It is unreasonable to assume that the everyone is coming to the trail to support each other in some unidentifiable goal.
    Especially as that goal has moved further away from completing a trail to completing your life.


    What was once quite true still is... the trail can and does heal. It can be a place to find yourself, to sort out yourself. It can even just be a place to just be.
    However the mechanism for that healing traditionally involved spending time with yourself in the woods generally free of distractions.
    Tribalism is a growing issue as more individuals lack individuality and a solid definition of self.
    Not everyone is heading to the woods for this reason, but many are. Many come to 'find their tribe'.

    I'm just Bill. It's all the label I need and I'm happy I don't fit into a category that would define or preclude how I might interact with the world.
    I went to the woods like so many others, to figure out who I was.
    Perhaps it's true that the modern trail allows you to spend some time trying on the clothes of each tribe... the primary goal is to be the lone Indian first.
    To figure out who you are. Once you know the answer; Then you can provide something to the community of value if you choose to return to it.


    As Tipi says... the trail doesn't care who the hell you are. That's sorta the point. You go to the woods to see you are small and unimportant, and if you're lucky you emerge okay with that.
    And perhaps even learn that each tiny thing in the woods has a role to play that makes it important in some way.

    The darkest, loneliest, and most difficult journey is still the one within.
    You need accept personal responsibility for your journey. Each step has to be walked by you. Hike your own Hike.
    If you hang all your hopes on others you will avoid walking that path, and you'll be disappointed to find that the journey you came to complete never got started.

    Why would you come to the trail to be independent and then create an artificial dependence on strangers?

    The trail is a valid place to participate in a life altering journey.
    There is serendipity on the trail.
    There is genuine love and support when you meet your fellow two leggeds.
    There are times the trail truly provides in ways that truly define explanation.

    There are also many hardships, many lessons that will repeat over and over until you learn them.
    Many times you will be forced to face down what you've run from, including at times your fellow humans.
    There are times the trail is not nice, fair, or kind. There are times it will simply try to kill you.

    Those things found along the trail of the hero's journey from classic myth that folks come to the trail to find only occur when the journey is actually taken.
    It's what Wild was about and every sweeping book from the silliness of Bryson, the romance of Muir, and the societal displeasure of Thoreau.
    Hell Jennifer Pharr Davis named herself after Homer's Odyssey... don't get more grand than that in terms of declaring a grand adventure is about to take place.
    The hero sets out on a journey, has adventures, and returns renewed and redefined. If they follow the path.

    Not everyone goes for a hero's journey, but that is a common theme that the trail community has shared.
    There isn't anything wrong with this desire to have this journey... and it's one we all promote in some way.
    Even if the journey is the simple 'hero's return' to live out some time in peace in the place we love.
    Despite all the talk and elitism... Bill Bryson still said it best... 'A walk in the woods'.
    Nothing more, and nothing less. It is a great privilege and service the trail provides to humanity if one accepts it for what it is.
    The mistake is asking humanity to provide anything more than the occasional nudge in the right direction along the way on YOUR HIKE.

    If all you did was leave your crappy town to move to another town in hopes of a fresh start... once you unpack you're going to find all your baggage right where you left it.

    The trail is not a town you move to, meet folks and settle down... it's a place you pass through along the way to where you are going.
    I think the Swami's of the world are rare... and they often go solo on their 'permanent' hikes. They are the monks on the mountain, not the roadies on the grateful dead tour.
    There are a growing number of folks who get stuck along the way, or seem to hear the siren song of the trail community's support as an invitation to permanently settle in a journey rather than reach a destination.

    Maybe there is some value and wisdom in that path too... or maybe some just take longer than one trail to finish the journey.




    "When You Go Solo, You Hold Your Own Hand and Remember That Depth Is the Greatest of Heights and If You Know Where You Stand, Then You Know Where to Land and If You Fall It Won't Matter, Cuz You'll Know That You're Right." Fiona Apple- When the Pawn

    PS- To any decently meaning fellas.
    Sometimes just being decently meaning is patronizing, or at best unwelcome.


    Everyone has a bad day.

    I like 'Chick music' as folks around me used to call it when it was okay to say such a thing.
    The folks who used to live here have a part of their philosophy that teaches you to balance your male and female sides.. and that always seemed a pleasant way to do that fer me.
    We all got a mother and a father... and live on Mother Earth near Father Sun... so equally important is a pretty fundamental lesson writ plain on the planet we live in my opinion even if'n you don't want to ascribe any religious notions to it.
    I remember getting reamed by a few someones her fer quoting an Ani Difranco song. Some of her fans built a tribe around an image of the independent and controversial singer.
    Ani eventually went on to pen a song or two about how the people who were the meanest to her as she evolved and grew were actually her biggest fans.

    What annoyed the person who reamed me out to begin with was that I quoted a song from 'their' singer.
    What really pissed them off, was that I then followed up with a song from 'their' singer about not wanting to be their echo chamber any longer.


    We both took the cheap way out and nothing got better.
    We were mainly on the same team the whole time.
    Anywho... it reminds a little of the gender issue on trail raised today.
    Some folks need a few years to rage, and folks to rage with.
    Some fires are just too hot and need time to cool off. Some folks don't want them to die down.

    Eventually all fires settle into coals and some good things happen between those who let them... usually only face to face in the right time and space.

  6. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Puddlefish View Post
    Dogwood

    Attachment 42427

    Those are all stories about gender bias, but they seem somewhat cherry picked. Don't you also have numerous anecdotes of men behaving badly towards women on the trail? Care to share them with us as well?

    Let's then talk about the impact. Sure, I can see how you might be a little bit offended, but honestly, did any of those situations you described make you feel unsafe?

    Here's an anecdote. Last year I was walking through the local convenience store, when an old woman cackled and made a grab for my crotch. I ducked aside and avoided her. I outweighed her by 100 pounds, I had 20 years on her. It was unwelcome attention, sexual in nature and certainly wasn't flattering. However, I was able to easily go about my life without fear, without dread, I didn't have to change my behavior to feel safe, I didn't have to avoid my local convenience store, I didn't have to change my style of dress. Based on the physical size difference, it just didn't impact my life all that much.

    Change the story a bit, make it a much smaller, less powerful person being groped, by a larger, stronger, quicker assailant. Don't you think the impact is suddenly far different? Maybe the same action becomes more meaningful, more sinister, more impactful to how that person might choose to life their life. It's easy to brush off the situation when you're the one with the power. It's less easy to shrug off when you've been assaulted in the past and didn't have the power or resources to deal with it.

    All the stories you told, don't seem all that stressful, don't seem all that dangerous. Someone mentioned a tired old trope about men asking directions. The horror. A poem from the 1820s? That must have been dreadful.

    Yes, other men whom I can speak for and myself have felt "unsafe" sexually discriminated against because feeling unsafe is not only exhibited through physical size or physical strength differences. That's a very narrowed account of how one can feel unsafe ignoring a myriad of other vehicles for imposing one's power over another individual or group. Again, this is related to trail experiences.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lnj View Post
    .......Chances are, nothing would happen anyway, but I always look at worst case and try to prepare for that. I am sure most people would be wonderful and help me if needed, but in their heads they would be saying "I would be all the way to Grafton Notch by now if I hadn't been stopped by the fat lady with the broken ankle. She should have been better prepared. Stupid newbies ought to train more before taking something like this on. etc etc. Even if they never said it out loud, and many would say it out loud. Who wants to be that lady?
    I think the people (man or woman) who would take the time stop to help would be glad to have been able to help and rather than thinking badly of you would feel satisfaction that they were able to have assisted you because that's what good people do when someone is in need.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

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    How many men reading this thread would be afraid to walk around their middle class suburban neighborhood alone at night? Not many I think but my wife is. Why? Because she is afraid somebody will attack her and that somebody is not another woman. I think it is very hard for men (me included) to understand how vulnerable women feel in situations where men don't feel vulnerable.
    If you don't stand for something, you will fall for anything.

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    You point was crystal clear, Bob.

    I would frame it another way.

    How many men have found themselves at an AT shelter outside of thru hiking season and shared it with just one other fellow that was a bit “out of place” if not scketchy. Fess up. There are more than a few of us out there who have, and it worked out just fine, right?

    Now imagine you were a woman.

    Would you have made the same choice? Really?

    Why not?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Yes, other men whom I can speak for and myself have felt "unsafe" sexually discriminated against because feeling unsafe is not only exhibited through physical size or physical strength differences. That's a very narrowed account of how one can feel unsafe ignoring a myriad of other vehicles for imposing one's power over another individual or group. Again, this is related to trail experiences.
    That's a weaselly answer. I asked if any of the situations that you shared with us made you feel unsafe. You feared being verbally beaten to death by a group of women with their trekking poles? That was a real fear? It was hard to tell with all the smiley faces you added as you were bragging about your butt. I'm also a little shaky on the physics of being verbally beaten to death with trekking poles.

    You fear spending a night in jail for touching a woman? Oh, if only it were that easy, then so much of the domestic abuse in this country would be easily solved. If you want to share some actual anecdotes where you felt unsafe, on the trail because of gender bias, please do so. Men are also abused by women, when the power dynamic is switched. It's less frequent certainly, but I don't doubt it happens, maybe even on the trail. Let's hear some specific anecdotes. If fear of being arrested is all you've got, then you need to realize the exact same criteria applies to both sexes.

    Yes, people exhibit bias towards each other based on their gender. There's nothing groundbreaking in that statement, nothing new. Did you only recently notice this? Did it only become important when it was directed at you personally?

    Let's not pretend that I'm somehow unaware of the myriad ways of expressing power, as I very obviously listed a few of them in a previous post in this very thread.

  11. #51

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    Dogwood: “I’m going to post a long winded diatribe.”

    Just Bill: “Hold my beer.”

    Yes- there is gender bias on the trail. All you have to do is start at Springer on March 1 and observe the shelters or water sources. The best way to end such bias- stop assuming women don’t know what they’re doing. Pretty easy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by capehiker View Post
    Dogwood: “I’m going to post a long winded diatribe.”

    Just Bill: “Hold my beer.”

    Yes- there is gender bias on the trail. All you have to do is start at Springer on March 1 and observe the shelters or water sources. The best way to end such bias- stop assuming women don’t know what they’re doing. Pretty easy.
    Bah.. you assume I would put my beer down.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Another Kevin View Post

    And neither of us have any idea what to do beyond the principle of "bias is everywhere, but let it stop with me."

    If anything can help, the most important thing is keeping your own house in order. What goes around comes around, and as it goes, it grows.

    My limited experience suggests that more hikers have an attitude like mine - the real nether orifices, of both genders, tend to stay in town, and the farther you get from the highway, the more caring the people get, of both genders. The trail is society in microcosm, but the divisions are watered down just a bit. Lots of people in town stink, metaphorically. Hikers mostly stink only literally.
    Well said... Too bad you're just a clueless weekender.

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    Kumbaya, my trail, kumbaya.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TexasBob View Post
    I think the people (man or woman) who would take the time stop to help would be glad to have been able to help and rather than thinking badly of you would feel satisfaction that they were able to have assisted you because that's what good people do when someone is in need.
    Very nice to hear. I just assumed ( and yes I know what that makes of me that the majority of hikers out there, certainly thrus, were more intensely focused on their own journey, as hiking, whether alone or with a companion, is a very singular activity. Still, I appreciate the kindness expressed here and will effectively drop my assumptions at the trailhead.
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

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    Quote Originally Posted by Just Bill View Post
    Bah.. you assume I would put my beer down.
    JB,
    You are one of those posters that I always just HAVE to read. I love your insight and thoughtful responses.
    " Of all the paths you take in life, make sure a few of them are dirt. "

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lnj View Post
    Very nice to hear. I just assumed ( and yes I know what that makes of me that the majority of hikers out there, certainly thrus, were more intensely focused on their own journey, as hiking, whether alone or with a companion, is a very singular activity. Still, I appreciate the kindness expressed here and will effectively drop my assumptions at the trailhead.
    I'm focused on my journey. If part of my journey turns out to be helping someone else, great! Because I'm not all that focused on my destination. I like going solo because I'm horribly slow and don't want to test the patience of a partner, not because I see other folks as burdening me.

    Also, I've received a lot of help on trail over the years, and I believe in paying it forward.
    I always know where I am. I'm right here.

  18. #58

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    Gender bias on the trail?
    Yea try getting a hitch as a solo male vs female

    I did get turned away from an establishment on my AT thru because there was “a private party” yet they still ended up accommodating the girl that showed up as I was leaving... but can’t let that stuff get to you ain’t that big of a deal.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Lnj View Post
    JB,
    You are one of those posters that I always just HAVE to read. I love your insight and thoughtful responses.
    There's always one...

    Everyone else would beg you not to encourage that overfed long haired leaping gnome.

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    Quote Originally Posted by rickb View Post
    Now imagine you were a woman.
    A skirt, sweet ass and long hair help.

    A bit more seriously;
    'Me and a Gun' by Tori Amos is liquid empathy in lyrical form on that subject worth drinking deep.

    Never be afraid to live.
    Whatever your Barbados is... you must see it.

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