The following post was written for us by a contributor we have known for some time who happens to be female. I think it touches on some very amazing and pertinent points that I, being male, did not even consider and therefore could never write. These issues are incredibly important and I am grateful to the author for raising them within our forum. As always, comments and discussions are encouraged, either here or on our various social platforms, in particular our newly formed Last Wolf Outdoors Facebook Group which was designed entirely for this kind of open ended talk. If anyone knows of any groups or initiatives mentioned in the article, please share them too.
Currently listening to: Once Upon the Cross by Deicide because its Easter.
Reclaim our Outdoors
I first want to start by saying, I’m not someone who scares easily. I always try to walk confidently, even when I don’t necessarily feel it. I have back up plans to various scenarios that run through my head when I’m out alone, with my children and dog, or with friends. I have different apps on my phone (what3words is one) in case I get in an accident or get lost. I know how to carry keys to use as a weapon and I always scout the scene around me (unusual vehicles, people, marks on fences). I assumed everyone did all of these things and it wasn’t until recently that I realised that not everyone does; most notably men.
I always felt empowered that I knew to do these things and that my parents had always instilled both a sense of safety and independence. I still do to a certain degree. Except as a mother, I now realise and feel angered by the fact I have to educate my daughters in this without scaring them. Educate them without restricting their independence. Educate them without allowing them to see more bad than good. My anger is about the unfairness and inequity of it all. I’m proud to be a woman and I want my girls to be too. However, I also have to make them feel like they’re vulnerable, weak and easily targeted by discussing and educating them on these issues. How does this all link to an outdoor blog? Because as we reclaim our streets, we also have to make a claim on nature and the outdoors too. Reclaim our everywhere.
This article isn’t meant to be political, I choose to not go there, and it’s not in any way anti-men. It’s not meant to scare women or make them feel inferior; I’m actually aiming for the opposite. I know many women who enjoy nature and the outdoors, and do so confidently and without issue. That’s amazing. However, I also know lots of women who would love to do more in nature but feel that it’s risky and unsafe. I want to open up the discussion on this. I want to hear ideas, solutions, and positive stories from other outdoorsy women. I want to hear from men and what their take is on this. Perhaps we can highlight some good initiatives and groups that are out there.
Here’s an example, I know a girl who loves outdoor adventure and started her own Facebook group. She asked her friends to join who shared the same sense of adventure and she’d organise trips for them all. The uptake she had was incredible and, as a result has many more friends than when she started. And she has the memories to match.
I joined another social media page of women hill walkers who discuss gear and routes, but more importantly, have met up and walked together. I read a really inspiring post from a woman on a general hillwalking page talking about wanting to climb and camp alone but was apprehensive. The replies she received were encouraging. Men and women giving tips, reassuring her and aspiring to do the same.
I’m no outdoor expert but what I hope this article does is open up the discussion on how we make outdoor access and adventures accessible to everyone. Let’s change the current rhetoric around women feeling unsafe, unprotected and vulnerable to a place where women feel empowered and free to enjoy outside spaces, whether its walks in the city at night or a lonely forest track. Better still, let’s go one step further and make everyone feel like this. The result may end up being individuals, families and children all exercising their right to the outdoors.