Hiking: Totes Not Feminine


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.  😛

Toronto, ON


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4 Responses to “Hiking: Totes Not Feminine”

  1. westwood Says:

    That is a foreign reaction to me. Hang around the forest ecology or the geography departments at my university and you will encounter female hikers/backpackers/canoe trippers outnumbering the men by the dozens. The only feature distinguishing them from the rest of the female population is a propensity towards plaid.

  2. Dominique Millette Says:

    “Forest slut” – this needs a T-shirt! I also love hiking and camping, though I tend not to go backcountry. Have you been to the Cup and Saucer on Manitoulin Island (Ontario)? I don’t know if it’s still operational, but back in the day it was one of the most breathtaking around. This post makes me want to look up hiking in Kentucky.

    • Dominique Millette Says:

      Oops – just saw you’re from Toronto. Of course you know where Manitoulin is… (my fault, I’m hasty)

  3. the twisted spinster Says:

    Yeah that is totally weird to me too. My parents and grandparents were into hiking and were always dragging me and my sister up to the North Carolina mountains (we lived in Miami — my grandparents had a summer home in North Carolina) to go hiking in the various parks. I’ve fallen off the hiking habit even though I live in Virginia now because I’ve gotten out of shape over the years, but the idea that hiking is unfeminine is bizarre to me. Especially coming from a woman that used to be a girl guide leader and who used to go camping herself! Maybe she gets that atavistic idea from her husband? I’ve known women who did 180 degree personality changes when they got married…

    Anyway, I was always under the impression that hiking was neither masculine nor feminine, but an American thing. It’s that whole sporty, outdoorsy, go fishing and hiking and picnicking and basically go outside when the weather is nice thing.

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