Why Women Worry: A Fear of Hiking Alone is a Product of Our Society

This article is written in (semi agreement and response) to Glacier’s article. While I agree with what Glacier was saying, I believe that there is a far deeper problem that didn’t get addressed.


 A new, less sexist day dawns…this actually might be a sunset.

On the Appalachian Trail, the most common phrase I heard from people who were not hiking was “be safe out there”. I made a game of it with my Trail Family to see how often people told the two females of the group to “be safe” compared to the guys, who were always told “have fun”. It was frustrating, but understandable. I was a woman hiking “alone” in the woods. It’s not like I hadn’t dealt with underlying sexism before.

However, the most worrying issue is that women do not feel comfortable hiking alone. It wasn’t until I got out of the woods that I realized how angry and flippant the hiking community got when women asked if the Appalachian Trail was safe for them to hike by themselves. I have seen posts on a number of sites, mostly by men, dismissing the fears that women have of hiking alone. These posts tend to address the episodes themselves, rather than questioning why women feel this way. The problem, of course, goes much deeper than an individual’s fear, and has much more to do with how society perceives women, and how women perceive themselves.

For some people, being alone is hard. For women especially, being alone can seem like a daunting task, rather than a time of introspective solitude. When women note that women who hike alone are “brave” and ask if it’s “really safe for you to be out there” and state that “I could never do this alone”, it is more of a glimpse into how our society perceives women than a reflection of a woman’s incapabilities. Our society is constantly hammering it into our heads that women shouldn’t be alone. We should have boyfriends or husbands. If not these two males in our lives, at least we should have some cats. While men get cool bachelor pads, women get comments on when they’re going to “settle down” with “a nice boy”. It’s not about being incapable, it’s the fact that the society we live in basically emphasizes how women have to be reliant on men.

Additionally, women face more harassment in everyday life than men. It is only natural that women would fear the same amount of harassment on the Appalachian Trail than on the street. Personally, I did face sexism on the Trail, and it was mostly by fellow hikers. It wasn’t harassment per se, but it was definitely pointed and made me uncomfortable. Some guys commented on my looks, while others attempted to undermine my achievements. The sexism I faced on the Trail was uncommon, but definitely one of my least favorite things about the experience. It was disappointing to see that even when you took yourself out of society, some of the worst parts of the world still pervaded the woods. Imagine facing harassment in everyday life when there are hundreds of people around. Now, imagine thinking that harassment could still happen, but with far less people around as a security blanket. Sure, the woods are a lot safer than, let’s say, NYC, but how is some one who has never been alone in the woods supposed to know that? Shouldn’t we be encouraging women to get outside of their comfort-zones, instead of berating them for being scared?

Saying that women who are afraid of being alone in the woods are “idiots” and “children” is just blaming them for a problem that has far more to do with women’s experiences in everyday life. It’s understandable that women who have not spent a significant amount of time alone in a new environment would think the worst, because we’ve seen what happens when a woman is by herself in everyday life. That’s why being a vocal female traveler and backpacker is important. We are the anecdotes that can be told to these people who want us to “be safe” rather than “have fun”. We are brave, and the bravery of stepping into the unknown shouldn’t be disregarded, it should be lauded. I hope that my journey has encouraged more women to feel safe on the Appalachian Trail, but I more than understand why being alone in the woods would be daunting to a woman. I think educating and empowering women and men through stories of solo women travelers is the only way that we can make women more confident about being alone, instead of dismissing their fears. Thankfully, I think this is starting to happen.

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Comments 24

  • Dennis : Apr 27th





  • Dennis Piantigini : Apr 27th



    • Ohwelll : Aug 18th

      One of the few sane and not delusional comments on this page. But your words will be wasted with ninnies who live in the land of pink unicorns, etc, I’m pretty sure…reality only dawns on them when they’re tortured, raped and about to be killed, sadly. What gets me about these people is that they encourage recklessness in others, who’re navie.

  • TicTac : Apr 27th

    I think it is so important that you call out other hikers – male – for acts of sexism on the Trail. Just as it is difficult for women to see the Trail as a different environment than everyday life among crowds of people, it is difficult – impossible? – to expect that men’s attitudes towards women will change just because they are on the AT.

    Most men refuse to accept that everyday, real world actions they think nothing of, are sexist and victimizing towards women. How then, can the hiking community as a whole, or women in particular, educate men to act or think differently just because they are long distance backpacking? Dakota, I agree that strong women like yourself who write about their experiences can help to educate men about the unintended reactions they engender in fellow hikers who happen to be female. But the Trail community is still just a microcosm of American society as a whole, which often is not a safe, supportive place for women. How else can you explain the previous comment from Dennis: “HAVE GUN ON THE AT”…?

    • Dakota Jackson : Apr 27th

      Thank you so much for your great comment! I totally agree, one of the most frustrating things about sexism on the trail is that it’s an “invisible evil”. Women rarely comment on it, and men, of course, don’t necessarily recognize it. I love that you note: “But the Trail community is still just a microcosm of American society as a whole, which often is not a safe, supportive place for women”. So true, and I think we tend to forget that the Trail community isn’t as safe or as welcoming as we might hope it is.

      P.S. I think Dennis might have just had a typo, but who knows. I’ve seen plenty of comments on other posts that say “bring a gun”, so your point still stands!

  • Jane AK : Apr 28th

    Awesome article! Im a woman who has loved hiking all over (for the last 30 years) and I’ve had nothing but wonderful experiences until I get off the trail. And that is when people start questioning me. I’ve even hiked all over Alaska without a gun. Men do it all the time. Why can’t I? I’m strong, have a good sense of direction and have good judgement.


    • Kate : May 12th

      What I wouldn’t give for a good sense of direction 🙁

  • Jen : Apr 28th

    Thank you for this. I work in a male dominated field and have spent most of my career having to prove myself with things that are “given” to men. I have to work twice as hard for the same promotion and to fight to make the same money. Men that were in subordinate roles at times tried to belittle my knowledge and I had to put them in their place. I hear so much about racism, but I am fairly sure sexism is even more of an issue.
    Men dont realize that this type of behavior is instilled in women from when they were little girls. Were taught to be nice, dont argue – smile. Dont be competitive. Listen and be agreeable. Dont push for your way, be selfless. Sacrifice your spot for someone else. Let men handle it, because you could hurt yourself. (even, not all that long ago, your uterus will fall out if you run a marathon – YES!!!) Were taught that being graceful and full of beauty is more important than to be successful with your goals and live your life. It is a wonderful thing to be beautiful. But how about, we can do it better than just be beautiful?
    The truth is, I am now regarded as one of the top in my company. I am a triathlete that is a member in the largest female triathlete group in the US. I am an accomplished musician that has mastered drums and guitar. My tri club – as women, go drink after we work out (usually without the men). I push to get where I need to be. I admit. I am competitive. I go for what I want. I dont wait around for anyone. I smile – but only when I want to. I am respectful and will listen, but not just be agreeable. I am not going to FEAR talking about my accomplishments because someone will think its not lady like to brag. If a man does it, its speaking about their accomplishments so they can be heard by their peers. You deserve the same reason. You should talk about why you are awesome. Because you are.
    We have to re-teach ourselves these things. We can still be ladies, but just on our terms. Why SHOULD you sacrifice to allow others to have your spot? You deserve it just the same as him/her – stop believing (s)he should have it. If you want it, go get it.
    I read in some 3rd world country, right now, women are practicing to represent cycling for the Olympics. The men spit on them and make fun of them. They belittle them and try to send them back home.
    Im sure as women most of us have a laundry list of sexism situations. I have so many.
    The majority of my male bosses through my career have tried to hit on me at some point. Its almost a given that I at some point will need to put them in their place.
    Then men wonder why women think about the things you mentioned above. Men wonder why women grow up insecure. Ladies – You either grow fear and hide or you get thick skin and a bite to match your bark.
    This is not to seem like a crazy lady either. I have a boyfriend and – I only have one cat. I swear. There are a ton of respectful, good men. I just get agitated by the outlook that is instilled in women to feel and then value themselves based on others because of it – and the outlook that men are taught to have on women as a whole. We are not weak. We are just taught to take second to our (often wonderful) counterparts.
    Go hike the f’n AT! Do it the way you want to. If you are scared, learn how to break someones neck before you leave and learn 100 snarky jokes that bullies feel dumb and cry. If they tease you, let them know what a piece they are. Speak up. Its your life. You deserve to live it.
    You are smart. You are awesome. You are capable. You are not weak. Stop being insecure – it will hold you back. Go get what you want in life. Dont listen to them – they are f’n stupid and will hold you back. Dont aim to be Mrs Graceful. She never became anything except for a wife of some body else that did awesome things. You are Ms. Awesome. Live it up, love life and love those that love you back.

    • Becky : May 4th

      Your comment made my day. Thanks for making me feel like it’s not selfish to be independent, even though it makes other people afraid for my “safety”. Also, your attitude about work and dealing with belittlement and sexual advances is inspiring. I’m glad you’ve stood your ground and thrived.

    • Dakota Jackson : May 12th

      Thank you so much for this wonderful comment! You’re definitely right, this kind of attitude permeates all of society, and definitely needs to be addressed. So glad you’re doing your part!

    • Ohwelll : Aug 18th

      Go tell it to people like Karina Vetrano, Vanessa Marcotte, or Meredith Emerson–oh wait they’re not there anymore to hear the warnings – people like you should keep your recklessness to themselves! You spreading your delusional false sense of safety ideas can affect native young women and push them to unreasonable risky behavior–it’s on your conscience. You obviously have very little idea of what the real world is and what are your real capabilities. It’s laughable to hear ones like you think you’d able to defend yourself. Nope, you would not, sorry. Society did you a favor by installing a healthy fear and cautiousness, this is what animals do for their cubs, so that they can survive in this dangerous world. World is dangerous, and will always be, and no amount of liberal pink unicorn-riding delusional drugged-out ninnies can change it. Grizzly bears and wolves had been exterminated in the most of the US…and these ninnies brag about how “safe” they’re in the “wilderness”? Hahaha, you don’t know what WILDERNESS is, you NEVER been to real one. You just created fake “wilderness” parks, at the expense of exterminating all these magnificent animals, and think it’ll be some kind of perpetually safe environment — no, it will not, life just doesn’t work this way. And as soon as males are physically stronger than women (on average), women will never be safe being out there alone, and no feminist beliefs can help you out there where you need to be able to protect yourself. Those who hike alone are like those who jump in flight suits off a cliff, seeking danger and risk. If this floats your boat–this is fine–some like rock climbing without ropes too, etc—but don’t promote this to others as “safe” activity. . You said to “learn to break someone’s neck” to defend yourself….hahahaha, delusional people like you are really sad; no, lady, you won’t be able to break some attacker’s neck, it’d be the other way, most likely, it’s said that delusional brainwashed people go off into the isolated areas and then become victimized by human predators. But the worst is promoting these false sense of security ideas–this can get others in trouble by making them think the world is safer than it is.

      • Jen : Sep 26th

        Ohwell. Liberal? ha. Lots of name calling and assumptions and I dont respect you for that. I do respect your genuine thoughts, however. Its important to be cautious, its important to be realistic. There is, however, danger in all things in life. Risks driving down the road… I watched a man die this year in his beautiful BMW. He had a heart attack, ran over the median and died later in the hospital. He was young…. too young to die. I read his obituary. They all just said how much (how hard) he worked. …and swimming, a man who was extremely fit had a heart attack in the water. Young. Dead. Its the deadliest part of triathlon. The adrenaline, limited breathing and high heart rate of racing causes heart attacks. Risks are there for both sexes…. but sure, different. If you feel like you cannot genuinely prepare, evaluate risk and do what you can to make intelligent well formed choices, you should probably stay home. Women are capable of making these choices for themselves and that you saying women arent capable of that is not only incredibly insulting, but completely wrong. This mentality is why women are afraid to stand up. You have tried to tell someone online who you believe they are and what they know based on your own internal fears and assumptions. You know absolutely nothing about me other than what I stated above. If you dont feel silly for that…. well lets just say we disagree on who is delusional. So, lets talk logic. How much hiking on the AT have you done? I pass many people every day. Its wilderness, but extremely social wilderness tended to by man…. So… 3 people didnt return…2 of the 3 women you used were killed in the city and had nothing to do with the appalachian trail. That requires a completely different conversation since we are talking about hiking in the mountains here. Looking at statistics, there is about 1 murder every 5 years on the AT. Though it is usually over a woman, men often have in many of these cases, died protecting their woman (and the women then died too). So if you want to use logic, women dont belong anywhere, because men will be a threat no matter where we go – city or mountains, with or without men. Or maybe, men dont belong anywhere since they are always the attacker. Bear attacks – 1 this year. It was a guy in a tent. I remember reading about it. Apparently people left food around a lot and he got the brunt of their idiotic decisions. You cant have anything scented. Hang your deodorant and toothpaste up. Dont be interesting. No cougar attacks, or wolves. Thats the straight up facts, with your emotional fears removed. There are thousands and thousands of hikers on the AT yearly. The AT hikers are incredibly social and news travels fast. There are boards and forums online everyone communicates through. If there is a “weirdo” on the trail, even I know about it sitting on my couch. So, percentages? Its no more dangerous to be on the AT than to be walking down the street.
        How many people died on the road in your state today? Should no one drive? How many people that are too afraid to go outside are extremely overweight, taking pills and eating processed food and mom is okay with that because thats “safe” and unfortunately, normal? How many children and women got raped today? Should we all be separated from men and wear head covers so that men arent tempted? Where do you draw the line? How many kids had inappropriate conversations with grown men online today? How many innocent women, working near an unsafe area of a city wound up in an unspeakable situation this week? How many people died today, that tripped, choked or any other circumstance? How many of these could have been prevented if the people around were taught and prepared? I have seen too much illness, death and lack of living while alive… Its a constant reminder that I need to live for those that cant. How about the lady on her death bed, wishing she lived a little more? I dont remember the common day at the office. I remember the half ironman I did…. I remember the 100 mile bike ride I took one day and all the hard work that got me there. I remember the days I spent hiking the AT. What if hiking forms a healthy exercise habit in women that save them later from bad health instead of sitting around obese playing video games or meeting random men in creepy bars that pose a threat there? What if that healthy habit created of hiking saves just 1% of the women later in life, but only 3 died on the trail (even though, two of the women you mentioned were killed in Manhattan and the other on a different trail in Georgia)? Is it not better to live and die than never have lived at all? From your comments, I am reading you live life based on your fears. How about instead of making people afraid – You teach them reality and how to prepare – not tell them they are incapable. The AT is managed by a wealth of volunteers. Its not like youre being thrown out in the wilderness so far that you have to just “survive”. The way you are speaking, it sounds like either you were thrown into the jungle in Vietnam or something crazy like that AND/OR you have never done anything like this. Your mindset sounds like people ive taken on the AT that have never backpacked on it before and then they realize after passing 25 people and 3 boyscout troops with 30 kids running around, maybe its not as “wild” as they thought. You only have one life. You can either live it for yourself or just watch others live it. Too many people out there, sitting around, going to the same restaurant and watching a random movie, slowly dying from the American way… never exploring the beautiful gift of life and the world God has given us. To each their own. Genuinely – Enjoy your life. Be intelligent in living your life – whatever that is to you.

  • Becky : May 4th

    Thanks for this article and all of the thoughtful comments. I angrily searched “why do people fear women hiking alone?” after my husband, parents, and friends called the ranger station in Olympic National Park and reported me missing after just 10 hours without a cell signal. I had so many amazing experiences hiking today like whale watching, meeting new friends, and feeling hella empowered that I wanted to race back and share with everyone. But when I returned to cell range I had a flood of messages of concern from people all over the country. It made the whole day curdle and sour. My family knew where I was. They knew there was no service. They know I am a very experienced hiker. So why react with so much fear?
    It has to be sexism, right? I don’t believe that if my brother was non-responsive to texts for half a day anyone would even bat and eyelash. They’d probably assume he was ignoring them. Why don’t women get the same freedom to be autonomous with their time? Before I took this solo trip I was afraid to drive by myself, afraid to plan my own route, afraid to sleep on the road, honestly even afraid to go to the grocery store alone. I knew that I needed to change. I feel like I’m healing a lot of social conditioning by facing my fears. Just wish that other people could realize how they hold the women in their life back and create a lot of false fears with their “concern”.

    • Dakota Jackson : May 12th

      Totally true. I think not only is going on these types of trips good for you, it’s also really important for the rest of the people in your life. It definitely proves to them that you’re independent, and can do whatever the hell you want.

    • Ohwelll : Aug 18th

      You should be grateful you have such caring family. Wow, you sounds extremely selfish and careless. And yes, your hubby will report you missing, and will be right, because when things happen to foolish, selfish, ignorant people who go off alone, it’s husbands who often get bad rap, either way “I did something to her” accusations, or “He was not a good husband to let her go alone”.

  • Michelle : May 12th

    I loved being alone out there. My husband and i hiked in 2014 and we hiked our own pace so i was alone most of the time. I was never “afraid”. Never let society dictate your life. Im planning to section hike this summer completely alone and love the idea. I found that ppl are ignorant to the experience and thats why they are negative. Do what you love!!!

    • Dakota Jackson : May 12th

      Your hike sounds so interesting, and it’s great that you were never afraid. I was more addressing the norms of society, and why people would either think that a woman being alone in the woods is a bad idea, or why a woman would be afraid of being in the woods without a support system. I hope your section hike goes well!

  • Brian : May 12th

    I think it has more to do with the increasingly unsupportable, and ultimately counter-productive, false expectation that a “just” world treats men and women identically not just as a matter of law, but in every possible human interaction based on the faulty notion that gender is just a social construct. This belief is then ingrained in people, particularly young women, who then go out in the world and expect it and then fear it when it doesn’t work out. This inevitably leads to believers seeing injustice (a/k/a “sexism”) every time the world invariably treats men and women differently in many nuanced, and up until now, mainly (not entirely of course) innocent ways.

    Heterosexual sex is not injustice or oppressive – indeed it is perhaps the single most natural biological imperative and it should be celebrated, not feared – particularly among young people. As such, it should not (generally – with some exceptions) be seen as injustice, for example, that a member of the opposite sex merely “comments” on a woman’s looks. Frankly it’s quite sad to see so many young people being trained to feel that most, if not all, heterosexual sexual advances (including once-offs or generally harmless ones) are predatory or “problematic.” Of course, people immediately flock to examples of harassment or particularly egregious advances when talking about this topic. But, as evidenced by this article (and I hope I bring no offense), the bar is increasingly being lowered to where a mere comment on one’s looks is a problem. This seems particularly interesting in the context of an AT thru-hike where the freedom involved often leads to trail romance which is (traditionally at least) often seen as a beloved part of the trail experience.

    This [depressing] shift isn’t “society” so much as a certain (and relatively recent) special interest group really pushing an agenda at the expense of making a lot of young folks fearful of benign human interactions that are an integral part of being able to develop healthy relationships with the opposite sex – if that’s ever part of the equation for you of course.

    All that said, I think it is true that “society” perhaps has played a role in making women generally more risk-averse (not just about hiking alone) – even though, it is often the case that statistically, the world is much safer for women than it is for men. Men are far more likely to be murdered or assaulted in public by a stranger, for example (by an order of magnitude actually). Yet most people feel the opposite (men and women included). This disconnect between perceived and actual threats for both genders is likely due to the fact that biologically, women are more valuable than men, and thus society organized (like virtually all other mammals) around an elevated desire to protect females over males because failure to do so would literally cause extinction.

    I think this, for more benign explanation, probably accounts for a great deal of why we see higher female risk aversion in both sexes even to this day. And while that may seem “unfair” as a woman, a lot of that has to do with viewing this through the lens of a 2016 dweller. For the majority of human existence, the world wasn’t “safe” (a relative term of course) as we know it today – to where many people are afforded the luxury to thru-hike the AT. It wasn’t until the rise of the american middle class in the 50’s/60’s that work/life became, for an increasing majority, more than just basic survival. Getting “out in the real world” for most, wasn’t a privilege, it was a matter of life and death. Fore example, yes more men than women worked…..in coal mines, often dying in so doing.

    This has all changed of course and it is 2016, I get it. But, despite all of the legal, institutional, and cultural changes, women and men are still a thing, and a different thing at that, and we always will be. People have been hard at work to try and change this, depending on your perspective, for 50-100 years. Perhaps nature is trying to tell us something? It makes me feel sad to see how many young women have been taught to fear and/or be upset by basic sex differences and heterosexuality. Sometimes, when assessing why women fear so much (arguably even more today), I think it’s easy to blame the traditional sources (like men, “society”, injustice). The harder, yet more truthful in my view, source of the fear increasingly found in young women that we should be pointing the finger at is a particularly extreme strain of gender activists that claim to be representing the interests of women. They’re not, in my opinion.

    • Dakota Jackson : May 12th

      Your male perspective completely counteracts any points your argument might have. Also, the homophobia in your comment is completely not okay; “heterosexuality” in itself is not oppressive, but the ways in which it is used to oppress others is not okay (we call that heteronormativity). If I feel threatened by something, I feel threatened by it, end of story. You’re effectively blaming women for their own problems, and telling them to “suck it up” because it’s been that way for so long. Sorry, but I want to live in a world where men and women get paid equally, are treated equally, and where I can walk down the street without being whistled at. What I am hearing from your comments is that you like the way things are because you are a man and the patriarchy benefits you. I am a feminist, and it’s not a “special interest group”, it’s this crazy little idea that I want to be treated in the eyes of the law and society as equal to any man. Also, gender is a social construct, you’re confusing “sex” and “gender”.

      • Brian : May 13th

        Dismissing male perspectives because they are male is a part of the problem and likely why you have chosen to interpret my argument in the most negative light possible. A monopolized, gynocentric view of the topic of gender, sex, sexual relations, etc., will do nothing but breed fear, mistrust, inaccuracies (https://freakonomics.com/podcast/the-true-story-of-the-gender-pay-gap-a-new-freakonomics-radio-podcast/ – Claudia Goldin), and ultimately it creates an echo chamber. That’s not healthy for anyone – men or women. Broad brush narratives about privilege and oppression results in self-righteousness, dismissiveness, and subjective reality. Nowhere, for example, have I said that you experience no burdens by the way things are, but your dismissal of the male experience has led you to believe that the way things are only benefits men. The truth is, being a man or a woman each comes with its own respective benefits and burdens.

        Do you truly think that only privilege results from society’s comparative under-protection of men? I’m sure many male work place dead, war dead, and suicide dead would beg to differ if they could. But we never think about the other side, b/c, as you point out, it’s dismissed for being male. In my own experience, the hyper-focus on women by women often results in very simplistic and inaccurate understandings of men – which breeds the very fear in women that you’re lamenting. All I’m saying is to recognize the echo chamber you’re in and be open to looking in the other direction – maybe it will lessen the fear.

        My point was that hardly anyone disputes that gender equality under the law is one of the proudest achievements in the west. But, to take that to mean that the world is unjust unless there are literally no human interactions ever, anywhere (even around a campfire on the AT), that treat women and men differently is simply unreasonable, given the history of human evolution and basic heterosexuality. It can change, to a certain degree, but the change is largely beyond our control and happens quite organically in free societies. Most of the theories you’re learning or have learned in college are not novel (albeit somewhat louder in recent years) and have been around for a long time. But as is typically the case, as we get out into the work force (a/k/a “real life”), we see that it’s far more nuanced and complex than what our professors taught us.

        Again, I meant no offense and respect your point of view. I’m simply offering a different one – but of course, am happy to be your hated male patriarchal oppressor if need be. 🙂 Cheers.

        • Dakota Jackson : May 13th

          You raise some interesting points, which aren’t necessarily substantiated in complete truth.

          1. My interpretation of your original argument was based on the fact that it was not quite clear what you were saying. It seemed to be blaming women, and interest groups designed specifically for women, for being vocal about harassment and a lack of equality. You seem to believe that women have the amount of equality that they are ever going to get, and we should be happy about it. This is frustrating because you (I assume) are not a woman, and are essentially explaining what is happening to women from a male perspective. I, on the other hand, have experienced things that I find are deeply ingrained in sexism from men, and I felt as though you were invalidating those experiences. I don’t believe explaining how women should feel to a woman is particularly helpful in solving gender inequality.

          2. Of course, men and women come with their different and significant burdens. However, I would argue that the “special interest groups” that you dismissed in your first comment are actually beneficial to men. Feminism benefits men, and the men that, as you say, die every day serving our country and taking their own lives. This is because we live in a society that focuses on the hyper-masculinity of men, which states that men should be strong and hide their feelings or emotional turmoil. This results in the assumption that men should be the only gender to serve in war zones, while also contributing to the large amounts of male suicide. Masculinity has become synonymous with power, while femininity, is a term that is used for women, and is synonymous with delicacy and being servile. This problem with the idea of femininity is what I was trying to get across in my article, where women are perceived as helpless. If men and women were seen as equals in society, this boundary between “masculine” and “feminine” would not be related to specific genders.

          I would agree that current feminist movements have not completely addressed this aspect of feminism, and what occurred in the 1970s and 80s in terms of the rights of divorced fathers in court cases is directly correlated to the feminism movement of the time. However, I urge you to understand, as you have asked me to do, the frustration of women in the current feminist movement. Feminism currently does not just encompass white, middle-class, straight women. It is now far more pluralistic, and each sector (such as women of color, trans women, gay women, poor women, etc.) all have different experiences that are much different from my own. Although men feel like they are unable to get a word in this conversation, I believe that this stems from the fact that for far too long these voices were forced to remain silent by straight, white, middle-class men, and these movements have done significant things for the women that they are serving.

          3. We are very lucky to live in a society that has laws in place for gender equality. However, you address the idea of the gender pay gap not being significant for young women. While this is true, I believe it ignores what happens to women after their pay goes down. The decrease in pay is a direct result of things like unpaid maternity leave, as well as being paid less in higher paying positions. Although the law may seem equal, I don’t believe that the law in practice is completely fair. I’m not saying that their should be no human interactions, I’m saying that I truly want to live in a world where everyone feels safe regardless of the situation. While this might sound naive to you, why not fight for something that you believe in? Again, this is what I found frustrating about your original argument; you seem to believe that this change cannot and should not occur. At least these “movements” are attempting to do something about it.

          I am very lucky. I went to a women’s college where I got to learn from and with incredibly strong, vibrant, outspoken women. It was certainly frustrating and jarring for me to enter a world where my “feminist bubble” was not what was experienced by the outside population. Again, why shouldn’t we attempt to move towards a better understanding of feminism and equality?

          Many thanks for your comments, I appreciate the discourse.

          • Brian : May 13th

            Thanks for the discourse as well.

            1. Yes, I am man, but my more specific point is that the bar for sexism seems to have been set at any different treatment on the basis of sex in any venue, context, etc., whatsoever – not to “invalidate” your experience. Indeed, if this is the bar (which maybe its not), no doubt, I believe you when you say you experience an awful lot of sexism. So, rather than invalidate your experience, I’m questioning what I consider to be a highly unreasonable, and in many cases, arguably unhealthy standard or expectation for society – all of us. Am I now, to look back with horror at the female superior sexual advances that I encountered at my part time job in HS (I don’t currently)? I’m not sure this hyper-sanitizing of human interaction is healthy and indeed, it seems the opposite of empowering. This type of safety culture being promoted by modern feminism seems to be fostering and justifying female fear, not getting rid of it.

            2. I respectfully disagree and would like to point out that while you earlier complained about my alleged invalidation of the female experience, this argument (that feminism helps men too) is an example of women doing the same thing: speaking for men, e.g., further reaffirming the charge that no conversation about gender can occur unless it is a female perspective – even if the topic is men. As a man, I don’t consider masculinity a sort of pathology that needs reform and I think its this attitude, which is quite pervasive, that is the problem, not the solution. It’s actually [unintentionally typically] quite denigrating and disrespectful to men. A lot of this perspective is female misunderstandings of men. For example, men are very emotional (despite accusations to the contrary), we just express our emotions differently. An entire field of male-centric psychology has emerged in recent years after the field finally recognized the harm in using female-centric ideas of emotion as the standard for men.

            3. I was mainly addressing the issue that the wage gap, as it is popularly depicted (women earning 77 cents to a male dollar for the same work) is grossly misleading and much of the rhetoric surrounding it is outright false. Anyone interested in an honest look at the wage gap should listen to the podcast I linked to. It is excellent and debunks so many popular myths. I am aware of the more nuanced analysis you are speaking to, but to my broader point – the fact that there is so much of an echo chamber on this topic breeds the grossly misleading propaganda which, in turn, hurts your cause. Having such weak and inaccurate statistics floating around makes feminists stick out like a sore thumb for its harshest critics.

            Isn’t an expectation of absolute safety the opposite of your stated goal with this article? Isn’t the whole point here that men are taught to take risks, DESPITE danger, thus resulting in men being able to do things like thru-hike the AT without the “burden” of being told to be safe? Yet, by arguing that we must achieve absolute safety before female fear isn’t justified, aren’t you simply rationalizing the very fear you seek to get rid of? It seems to me that if you want to get rid of the societal pressure of greater female risk aversion, you need to adopt the approach that we take with men – that is to teach women not to obsess over risk or to otherwise rise above it. Again, as I pointed out earlier, it’s not that the world is actually safer for men (it’s actually far more dangerous for men), it’s that we simply aren’t as prone to see those risks as roadblocks to want we want to do. Of course, it’d be great if there were no risk at all. But how do you achieve that without draconian and counter-productive measures? Personally, I think we have to accept a certain level of risk in life and manage it. If you haven’t yet read it, you should read the works of Jonathan Haidt on this topic – starting with his 2015 piece in the atlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356/

            Cheers (will have to break for a bit) – best.

          • Dakota Jackson : May 14th

            Your argument is so deeply ingrained in internalized misogyny that I feel, sadly, it is useless arguing with you. Have a great life.

  • Ohwelll : Aug 18th

    No, Maa’m, fear of hiking alone is a product of COMMON SENSE and REALITY.
    You don’t like reality you should find alternate one (good luck with that).
    World is not and will never be safe, for women especially, sorry, this is not going to change.
    Women who hike alone are delusional and reckless.


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