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#204882 - 10/16/20 11:06 AM The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the....
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1050
Loc: Madison, AL
Their is a healthy discussion on another forum about what actions men can take to make backpacking safer and more inviting to women. This article by Melanie Hamlett is about as good of a discussion on the topic as I have seen. I am submitting it here to hopefully spur a healthy productive discussion.

The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the Appalachian Trail Are With Men

https://www.thedailybeast.com/the-scarie...zJ-JTDCWU5hZDKs

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#204883 - 10/16/20 12:31 PM Re: The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the.... [Re: BZH]
Tom7654 Offline
newbie

Registered: 05/19/20
Posts: 11
Thanks for sharing. It is certainly useful to remind men how different a woman's experience can be. It is reasonable to ask men on the trail to be especially careful to avoid actions that could be perceived as creepy. I think many men would also be comfortable acting as a temporary hiking companion for a woman who feels threatened.

But I didn't agree with this sentiment: "Except for my boyfriend, I didn’t see anyone else confronting him or calling him on his bullshit." There is no moral imperative for everyone to act as enforcers. Most people (male or female) aren't willing to confront someone about inappropriate behavior on behalf of someone else that isn't a close friend or family member. If the transgression is clearly a crime, the most you can expect from bystanders is to call the police. If the transgression is not clearly a crime, you can't expect many bystanders to intervene.

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#204885 - 10/16/20 01:51 PM Re: The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the.... [Re: Tom7654]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1050
Loc: Madison, AL
Thanks Tom. I really struggled with that section too. You have a woman who is a complete stranger to you tell you some guy is being creepy. It is easy to offer to stand with her, but to take proactive steps against this guy who is also a stranger to you is a pretty big step to take. I've heard that police officers find getting involved in domestic disputes to be the most dangerous part of there job. It is really hard to know who the "good" actors are.

Things that would be described as creepy and worrisome are easy to identify when they are happening to you. Those same actions become much more subtle as a 3rd party watching an exchange. I referee youth sports and it is shocking how much harder it is to see an infraction when you are not cheering for one of the teams and no longer have a preconceived notion of who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.

I can imagine situations where we as men should step up and take proactive action. A women has told you a particular guy is freaking her out and he keeps showing up and trying to strike up a conversation with her. She tells him to leave her alone (and you hear it), but he shows up again. You could tell the guy, "Buddy she's not into you and you are creeping her out. She told you no. You need to leave her alone." It would certainly take some guts to do, but it would be the right thing to do in my mind.

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#204886 - 10/16/20 04:14 PM Re: The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the.... [Re: BZH]
balzaccom Offline
member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 2026
Loc: Napa, CA
Good topic, and good ideas here. I usually hike with my wife, and we're both well past sixty, and we hike in the Sierra--often in remote areas. So we probably see less of this kind of thing than most people, especially those on the more urban AT.

I do know that men,whatever their age or condition, hate having my wife hike past them on the trail. It's a source of minor amusement and some frustration for us. They're happy to wave me past, but when they see my wife approach, most quickly shoulder their packs and hurry up the trail...usually to tire out in a hundred yards or two. And then we play leapfrog for a mile or two. Sigh.

But I do remember one trail encounter with a single woman, in a remote corner of Yosemite. When I came over a rise to see her on the trail, I was so surprised that I blurted out: "where did YOU come from?"

She clearly was uncomfortable with that, and more or less froze on the trail. She quickly relaxed when my wife hiked into view, and I tried to make amends with some far less aggressive comments. I think/hope we parted on better terms...

As the father of two daughters, I am always willing to step in and help in these kinds of situations...


Edited by balzaccom (10/16/20 04:16 PM)
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#204887 - 10/17/20 05:29 AM Re: The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the.... [Re: BZH]
PerryMK Offline
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1230
Loc: Florida panhandle
One particular incident I recall hiking with my dog and seeing a woman further up the trail. I could see her step just off the trail and was obviously tense as I approached. Once she saw my dog she relaxed. I said hello and kept walking.

I'm told it's similar when a creep sees a woman. Once they see her dog, they back off.

I'm not sure how I feel about the suggestion that older, white men need to take charge of making things right. I'm not saying I'm opposed to it, but it opens a whole 'nuther can of worms. Women aren't capable/equal, black men are a problem and incapable of help, etc.

I know at least one response will be, older white men are the main perpetrators. But that falls into the race trap too. I could argue (as a smaller stature and now getting older white guy) that all the assaults I experienced when I was a lifeguard were by young black males (true) so now all young black males need to behave a certain way to make me feel comfortable. I choose instead to get past it. In fact, among the top five interns assigned to me in my career was a young black male.

I could go on but I'm probably babbling too much already.





Edited by PerryMK (10/17/20 06:16 AM)

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#204890 - 10/19/20 02:47 PM Re: The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the.... [Re: PerryMK]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1050
Loc: Madison, AL
Perry, I didn't read anywhere that responsibility is on old white men. What I read is there is a responsibility on men that we don't normalize activities that lead to assaults on women. The good actors have to be proactive to confront and exclude the bad actors. We can't put all of that responsibility on the women who the assaults are directed at. We as a community have to work together.

Likewise their is a responsibility on white people to ensure exclusionary practices towards minorities are not normalized. The key is for people not affected by this abhorrent behavior to stand up with the victims.

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#204892 - 10/19/20 04:28 PM Re: The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the.... [Re: BZH]
PerryMK Offline
member

Registered: 01/18/02
Posts: 1230
Loc: Florida panhandle
Originally Posted By BZH
Perry, I didn't read anywhere that responsibility is on old white men.


"Despite having overwhelmingly great experiences with trail men, all of the women I spoke with encountered men, especially older white ones,..."

"There are a lot of men out there scaring the shit out of women in other ways, which is why we need men to be more thoughtful..."

"Cowan hopes this story will lead to men stepping up."

"Until white hikers, particularly white men, do more..."

"“We are asking men in the outdoor industry to listen, believe us, step up, and use your privilege to call out other men.”"


I consolidated to 'older white men' for the sake of brevity.

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#204893 - 10/20/20 06:19 AM Re: The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the.... [Re: BZH]
GrumpyGord Offline
member

Registered: 01/05/02
Posts: 927
Loc: Michigan
I think that at least a part of the problem is today's media. What isn't? The novels, movies and probably especially porn sites portray women as just ready to fall into bed with men. Read the intro to the romance novels and it portrays women as just unable to contain themselves when they see the manly physique of some man. Sometimes it requires a little bit of physical force but once they are started the women are unable to resist. Lacking the manly physique I have never encountered the problem.

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#204894 - 10/20/20 09:51 AM Re: The Scariest Encounters Women Have on the.... [Re: GrumpyGord]
BZH Offline
member

Registered: 01/26/11
Posts: 1050
Loc: Madison, AL
Originally Posted By GrumpyGord
I think that at least a part of the problem is today's media. What isn't? The novels, movies and probably especially porn sites portray women as just ready to fall into bed with men. Read the intro to the romance novels and it portrays women as just unable to contain themselves when they see the manly physique of some man. Sometimes it requires a little bit of physical force but once they are started the women are unable to resist. Lacking the manly physique I have never encountered the problem.


I respectfully disagree with this. Media has moved away from strong man/girly women tropes. You very rarely see movies like the old Sean Connery James Bond. Disney is re-writing princess stories turning them into strong independent women.

What I think is more likely is that more and more communication is being done online as a result peoples ability for face-to-face communication has suffered. I think it is far to easy to dehumanize someone on a keyboard. It can make it harder to have true empathy needed for effective face-to-face communication.

All of that aside, it should be pointed that actual numbers of sexual assault crimes have been decreasing for quite a while. I think this issue has more to do with empowered women now wanting to freely explore the outdoors (and why shouldn't they) and a small minority of men not handling the change in demographics very well.

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