hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

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5th
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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by 5th » April 24th, 2018, 4:10 pm

I read the whole thread. When I hike, I say hi to passers-by. If I'm just coming down from the top I'll encourage people with "keep it up, almost there". If someone takes offense or considers that mansplaining that's something I don't understand.
However, unless the other person keeps talking that's about all I say. I find people to be generally standoffish in the woods. I guess that's OK, but I am a gregarious nerd-type who is forced to hike solo 99% of time. If you don't want to talk, ignore me. I'll shut up very quickly. But I have no way to determine the mental state of others. I am apparently incapable of reading more than the most basic body language. This is not new for me. Because I am a bit socially awkward I'm a plain speaker who means exactly what I say. But if I say something and you don't respond, I'll keep walking. No hard feelings. I'm used to the idea that people don't "get" me, so I assume I don't "get" you until you say I do.

I understand the thought behind the OP and the following conversation. In general, however, I am bothered by how many people are anti-social while hiking.

If anyone is looking for a hiking partner in central OR, feel free to msg me. I'm just west of Eugene and spend a lot of time in the 3 Sisters area. Maybe you could help me find more understanding about your place in the world and you can learn about mine while we are out there. I am an odd duck, but easy going, and I do my best to be non-judgmental. I am perfectly comfortable around non-cis people. Because I always feel like an outsider in life, I'm pretty comfortable around anyone really. But I am white, cis, male and hetero. If that bothers you, I understand. We all want to feel safe and comfortable, and we all should be able to.

================================

I thought hard before sending this.

Lots of people will not understand it the way I mean it. Lots of people will find something in it to take offense at. I am putting myself out there without re-writing it until I feel it is 'safe'. I might be completely ignorant or stupid and not even know it. I might be giving away clues about me to someone I don't want to be around. I might be pushing away the very people that I might otherwise find as friends. My words might show me to be a terrible person who isn't aware of how much pain I cause people around me. I might live and die alone (despite a wife and children who love me). I might not know as much about others as I think I do. I might know more than I think I do and give myself away. My choices and my thoughts and my actions might be inappropriate or just wrong. I might be subtly homophobic, or sexist, or selfish, or too self-focused. I don't know. If all of that sounds like I'm freaking out a little, I am. That is my daily headspace. These are my fears. These are *my* challenges. I will do my best to respect yours.

But if I say nothing I lose opportunity, and I lose self respect. If I say nothing, I will learn nothing and I will be incapable of meaningful change. So here it is.

If life was easy there would be no reward in it. If we can't respect each other and help each other, we are all lost.

Deep breath.

<send>

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Chip Down
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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by Chip Down » April 24th, 2018, 5:46 pm

Hey 5th. You sound like a pretty decent person.

This discussion has been interesting. I strongly disagree with some of the posts above, but that's okay. If I were to pick apart all the posts above that I don't like, I would probably enlighten no more than half of the posters. Kidding, of course. It would be more like zero percent, and also presumptuous of me to assume I could enlighten anybody.

I popped over to the Mercury story that launched this thread. Looked at the comments. There were only 9 comments, and I think maybe 4 were by the same guy. Funny that the spinoff discussion here is far richer than what the original story garnered, in spite of it being the week's featured story. Anyway, all of the comments at Mercury were negative, most of them very negative. The consensus was that it was a ridiculous piece of whiny puff journalism. I didn't expect that, this being Portland and all.

Sadly, after reading this discussion, I'm more likely than ever to shun my fellow hikers, for fear of coming across as a mansplaining jackass. Somewhat a moot point, considering my hikes usually involve more encounters with wildlife than humans. :lol: But seriously, I really don't feel that any of the posts above help me understand how to interact with other hikers. I mean, yeah, I get that I shouldn't come up behind a young lady crossing a log over a creek and put my hands on her (damn, really?!), but other than that I guess I can just be humble and modest and speak if spoken to.

Like Guy, I'd love to hear some more examples of mansplaining idiots, partly for enlightenment, and partly for entertainment.

Slightly related: I recently passed through a volunteer work party rehabilitating a trail that had been considered unhikable by some people's standards. I was surprised at how gruff they seemed as I passed through with cheery greetings. It was the reception you'd expect from a convict labor crew.

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obera
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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by obera » April 24th, 2018, 6:54 pm

Chip Down wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 5:46 pm
Hey 5th. You sound like a pretty decent person.

This discussion has been interesting. I strongly disagree with some of the posts above, but that's okay. If I were to pick apart all the posts above that I don't like, I would probably enlighten no more than half of the posters. Kidding, of course. It would be more like zero percent, and also presumptuous of me to assume I could enlighten anybody.

I popped over to the Mercury story that launched this thread. Looked at the comments. There were only 9 comments, and I think maybe 4 were by the same guy. Funny that the spinoff discussion here is far richer than what the original story garnered, in spite of it being the week's featured story. Anyway, all of the comments at Mercury were negative, most of them very negative. The consensus was that it was a ridiculous piece of whiny puff journalism. I didn't expect that, this being Portland and all.

Sadly, after reading this discussion, I'm more likely than ever to shun my fellow hikers, for fear of coming across as a mansplaining jackass. Somewhat a moot point, considering my hikes usually involve more encounters with wildlife than humans. :lol: But seriously, I really don't feel that any of the posts above help me understand how to interact with other hikers. I mean, yeah, I get that I shouldn't come up behind a young lady crossing a log over a creek and put my hands on her (damn, really?!), but other than that I guess I can just be humble and modest and speak if spoken to.

Like Guy, I'd love to hear some more examples of mansplaining idiots, partly for enlightenment, and partly for entertainment.

Slightly related: I recently passed through a volunteer work party rehabilitating a trail that had been considered unhikable by some people's standards. I was surprised at how gruff they seemed as I passed through with cheery greetings. It was the reception you'd expect from a convict labor crew.

It's interesting that I understand things so clearly.

How are you when you meet people at a bar, concert, grocery store, dog park? Do you say hey. Maybe ask a question or two? Read body language. Maybe keep chatting, maybe move along?

Or, do you start telling them where to get their drink, put their poo bag or which watermelon to buy without any prompting?

One is friendly. One is jackwagoney. Does that help?

If also like to strongly encourage men to never ask a solo woman hiker if she's hiking alone. That sets off the creeper alarms pretty quickly.

Mansplaining bedtime story..

A friend and I are descending south sister. My friend is calmly and capably making her way through a mixture of snow, ice and rubble. Random guy stops her, touches her (again, it happens a lot.. ) and shows the right way to do it.
.... woman comes along behind him, having seen and heard, and says she's doing great and to ignore the guy.
oh-beer-ah

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Chip Down
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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by Chip Down » April 24th, 2018, 8:16 pm

obera wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 6:54 pm
It's interesting that I understand things so clearly.
I'm baffled at that. I don't know exactly what that means or where it came from. It strikes me as extremely sarcastic and/or condescending. Sorry if I misunderstood or if I'm being too sensitive, but that's how it came across to me. Maybe I just have a chip on my shoulder.

obera wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 6:54 pm
If also like to strongly encourage men to never ask a solo woman hiker if she's hiking alone. That sets off the creeper alarms pretty quickly.

Yikes! It's a harmless enough question, but one that most men will realize could be totally read the wrong way. Imagine a guy innocently asking "so, I guess your husband must be right behind you?"

Story one: Coming down a trail, passed a young lady, maybe 17 or 18. Asked if she knew anything about a junction that appeared on my map, but didn't seem to actually exist. She said no, but said I could ask her parents, who were coming up behind her. I thanked her, and continued. No parents in the next ten minutes. I was convinced that my innocent query had creeped her out, and her imaginary parents were intended to settle me down, just in case I had impure thoughts. I felt bad about making her uncomfortable, but decided it wasn't really my fault, and I had done nothing wrong. Eventually encountered a pair of hikers whose appearance was consistent with them being the referenced parents, so I felt a lot better. Still possible the young lady got a bad vibe from me, but at least I figured she hadn't made up the parents. And no, I didn't ask them if their daughter was up ahead. Figured that question wouldn't exactly put them at ease.

Story two: Coming down a trail, passed a solo woman headed up. Chatted briefly, then continued on my way. Shortly after, passed a group of maybe 4 men who were headed up. At the trailhead, there was just one vehicle, which looked like it had to belong to one of the men (it was the sort of vehicle that would be owned by a man in 99% of cases). Umm...wait, what? How did she...Hmm...Felt a bit uneasy, but hey, if that solo hiker had been a man, I'd have thought nothing of it, except I would have found it slightly curious. Okay, I guess my story #2 isn't really on-topic, but it came to mind.

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adamschneider
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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by adamschneider » April 24th, 2018, 9:25 pm

Chip Down wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 8:16 pm
obera wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 6:54 pm
It's interesting that I understand things so clearly.
I'm baffled at that. I don't know exactly what that means or where it came from. It strikes me as extremely sarcastic and/or condescending. Sorry if I misunderstood or if I'm being too sensitive, but that's how it came across to me.
For the record, this completely baffled me too.

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Bosterson
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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by Bosterson » April 24th, 2018, 9:53 pm

Chip Down wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 5:46 pm
I popped over to the Mercury story that launched this thread. Looked at the comments. There were only 9 comments, and I think maybe 4 were by the same guy. ...Anyway, all of the comments at Mercury were negative, most of them very negative. The consensus was that it was a ridiculous piece of whiny puff journalism.
It's an established fact [citation needed] that 100% of people who post comments on news stories are assholes. (Read the O-Live comments lately? :? ) That said, I read this article last weekend prior to you posting it here, and while the comments at the Merc were dumb and needlessly hostile (as one would expect), that article was... not great. It potentially would have been interesting if the "journalist" (really, it was more like a blog entry) had maybe delved a bit deeper into the historical and socioeconomic reasons why hiking is a "thing white people like." (In our neck of the woods, having a state policy against non-white people really didn't help to create a level playing field from the outset...) The article also very briefly alluded to advertising as having some role in telling people who should be hiking and who should not, but this was never analyzed further. Instead, the article mostly made various assertions about identity representation backed up by pseudo-statistics from the hypothetical "2016 Census" (the last Census was in 2010 and the next is in 2020; anything in between is an estimate) and talked a lot about people using Instagram hashtags. Keep in mind the Merc most recently published an "article" listing Table Mountain among the areas in Oregon closed after the Gorge fire (they then surreptitiously edited that piece without marking it corrected, as is standard in journalism), so I don't think they really do a lot of "research" for these articles blog posts. (And then ending this one with that bit about "crushing the miles" being "colonialist bullshit".... *facepalm* Even if that were going to be explained further, it was a non sequitur from the rest of the article and then instead the article just ended...)

HOWEVER. I do not for one second doubt that unsolicited comments are much more prevalent for people who do not "look" like hikers. Hypothetical: imagine a (self described) "fat queer" hiker is huffing and puffing up the trail close to the summit of Dog Mountain. Then imagine Killian Jornet is breathing hard as he - presumably - sprints to the summit (obviously Killian Jornet would not have to breathe hard on Dog Mountain, but I digress). Which of them is more likely to get unsolicited comments about how close they are to the summit, or encouragement to "finish it out," or suggesting they rest or have some water, or, I don't know, consult their map or something? Rhetorical question, I know.

Chip - you asked for more examples: this is hearsay, because I wasn't personally there, but a friend of a friend was out with her women's hiking group going up the Yocum Ridge trail in winter. They encountered members of a Meetup Group that Shall Not Be Named. The male leader of said group proceeded to quiz them about where they were going, give them "warnings" about the difficulty and conditions and presence of snow, etc. They were visibly carrying ice axes and crampons and minding their own business. I find it hard to believe that would have happened had they been men.

It's not tricky to suss out how to interact with other people on the trail: 1) Say hello. 2) Do you have a question that pertains to the hike you're doing? Ask it! Does the other person have a question? Presumably they will ask it! 3) Questions, or other conversation about the weather et al. ensue. Otherwise, you say hello or tip your hat or whatever, and continue on your way.

ALSO HOWEVER. Just because that article was kind of lame doesn't mean that hiking is not a thing that non-white/traditionally normative people find intimidating or otherwise have difficulty doing for various socioculturaleconomic reasons. I read this article during the intermission at the Banff Mountain Film Festival tour weekend before last, and the festival is sponsored by Adventures Without Limits, a group that breaks down barriers to access for people who traditionally have a hard time getting outdoors. I haven't volunteered with them, but they sound like they do good work.
Will hike off trail for fun.

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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by obera » April 25th, 2018, 4:44 am

adamschneider wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 9:25 pm
Chip Down wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 8:16 pm
obera wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 6:54 pm
It's interesting that I understand things so clearly.
I'm baffled at that. I don't know exactly what that means or where it came from. It strikes me as extremely sarcastic and/or condescending. Sorry if I misunderstood or if I'm being too sensitive, but that's how it came across to me.
For the record, this completely baffled me too.
I meant that I can see where Jenny Brusso is coming from.

If you're unable to see the point of what she's saying, try viewing things from a different context.

Put yourself in a situation where you're the minority and people treat you differently, or you don't feel embraced/welcomed. How do you feel? Do you want to create a community where you're not the shamed minority... but rather celebrated?
oh-beer-ah

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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by Water » April 25th, 2018, 6:58 am

I can think of a lot of situations where I've not exactly felt embraced or welcomed, ie, some other social group that already is tight-knit, an 'expert' group of any kind that I'm not an expert of the topic. I have only been a minority when traveling, in India, and in South America.. ..but that has not meant I was a shamed minority, to my knowledge, or at least I did not feel shamed. I was taken advantage of in some business transactions, knowing I had money and/or might not know the language. In social groups in this country when I did not feel embraced, and felt insecure, I found leaning back and learning/observing the ways of the group served me best. In none of the cases have I ever felt like I wanted to be celebrated or made to be the center of attention.

To me it makes sense that new people to an existing group are not always immediately embraced. That said 'hazing' or giving guff to make someone earn their way in is a shitty way to treat people. The flip side, I think we can all probably think of an instance when someone new to a group is overly boisterous/loud/know-it-all type attitude and it comes off pretty flat-footed.. I guess if that person doesn't care what people think of them, more power to them to behave as they desire. But they shouldn't be surprised if said group does not uniformly embrace their addition.
Feel Free to Feel Free

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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by VanMarmot » April 25th, 2018, 8:56 am

Bosterson wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 9:53 pm

It's not tricky to suss out how to interact with other people on the trail: 1) Say hello. 2) Do you have a question that pertains to the hike you're doing? Ask it! Does the other person have a question? Presumably they will ask it! 3) Questions, or other conversation about the weather et al. ensue. Otherwise, you say hello or tip your hat or whatever, and continue on your way.
I have to say that this has been a very enlightening thread. If there's a "hiking community" out there, it's a pretty loosely structured one composed of people who hike, along with all of their flaws & virtues. More like a herd of wet cats - some of whom are jerks - than some oppressive monolith.

I typically hike alone (or just with The LovedOne) in places where other people aren't. Which is good because social interactions are hard for people like me. But on those rare occasions when I do encounter someone, it's (as Bosterson summarizes above) just a "hey", "hi", nod, or similar non-judgmental acknowledgment and movin' on. If I have a question about the trail/conditions and the other person seems receptive, I might ask that question. Conversely, if they want to ask a question, I'm happy to try for an answer (recognizing that "don't know" is a totally acceptable one). Offering unsolicited advice or comment is not something I do anymore (but I do think :roll: about people I pass miles from a trailhead with a cell phone but no pack or water or ...).

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Re: hiking community fails to embrace fat queer hikers

Post by jessbee » April 25th, 2018, 8:57 am

Bosterson wrote:
April 24th, 2018, 9:53 pm

It's not tricky to suss out how to interact with other people on the trail: 1) Say hello. 2) Do you have a question that pertains to the hike you're doing? Ask it! Does the other person have a question? Presumably they will ask it! 3) Questions, or other conversation about the weather et al. ensue. Otherwise, you say hello or tip your hat or whatever, and continue on your way.
This, exactly. Also, listen more than you speak. That's pretty much always good advice for interactions, especially with someone you don't know.

I recently wrote a blog post called "Hiking while female" if you care for more examples of how it sometimes feels to be judged by others.

You can never be sure that people will interpret what you say and do in the way that you mean it, but you can at least be aware that the way you comport yourself might impact others. I try really hard not to judge people when we cross paths on the trail but it's sometimes not that easy. We all do it. Keep in mind that some trail users feel very out of their comfort zone out there and could use a little empathy and understanding in their interactions. When in doubt, say nothing. Just keep walking!
Will break trail for beer.

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