I am an avid backpacker / hiker / camper and have been going on 5 years. I am also female.
Anyway, over the years I’ve come to be pretty tolerant of the stereotypes, from both genders. Once in a while, though, it gets to me.
Like my boyfriend’s parents, most recently. Now, my bf has never been on a backcounty hiking trip. I was uber-excited when he seemed into going with me in May and we’ve spent tons of time together planning, looking at gear and doing research.
He must’ve brought it up to his parents and expressed their reaction to it. He was not happy, nor was I.
Apparently they find it “weird” that I go with a group of guys, to which my bf explained (accurately) that none of my female friends nor my male friends’ gf’s / wives are into it… that I DO have female friends. I’m guessing they think we have campfire orgies in the woods or something… or that I’m just plain promiscuous.
They also asked if “I would be okay” and hinted to my bf that he would have to carry everything. To make things even more befuddling, his mother used to be a girl guide leader and go camping a lot in her 30′s.
Now, my bf and I haven’t gone together yet, so he hasn’t seem what I’m capable of, but I’ve been going for 5 years and am fairly athletic. I can carry up to 35 pounds on my 118 pound frame and hike up to 13 km a day (more if some of my male trail buddies were in better shape).
Now, I hate to play into stereotypes, but I don’t look like the “typical” outdoorswoman. I’m not super-muscular, I’m petite and I am not outdoorsy 24-7. I wear some makeup in the city, I enjoy some of the traditional feminine activities, etc, etc. I like to think it makes me unique and multi-faceted. I don’t like to think it makes me look like a strong breeze would blow me over.
I seem to get a lot of disbelief in terms of my abilities in a variety of situations (especially anything involving strength), but geez – his parents have met me at least a dozen times. I was pretty offended.
But, that’s what I get for enjoying an “unfeminine” activity while looking “feminine”. I’m sure I’d get crap regardless of what I looked like, though, because that’s the imposibility of being a woman.
Also, I am a forest slut for going with a group of men. My bf better beware. :P