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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Ice Fishing in a Bikini?

I've had my fill the last several days of women promoting themselves as outdoor women and also promoting causes for women with a variety products and photos showing women hunters and anglers in various states of undress.

Stop it ladies! You are not furthering the cause of women in the outdoors, you are furthering the misconception that for a woman hunter/angler/ trapper  ( insert your own outdoor pursuit here) to succeed you must cater to the men by displaying all your worldly goods; and I don't mean your new Benelli .

It started with a facebook  post trying to find new page fans.. if a page promoting FISHING FOR BREAST CANCER received x many likes the  profile photo would change to a large busted lady spilling out of her her pink Maidenform. As an angler who lost both breasts; and then had to endure what seemed like a second mastectomy when my reconstruction went awry - the absolute last thing I want to see promoting breast cancer awareness among women anglers is a set of 44 DD's popping out of pink lace bra. Show me a tastefully dressed survivor casting her line please. Show me that these women anglers understand how devastating breast cancer can be to a woman's self image and her ability to continue to pursue outdoor adventures. Show me something real and heart felt, not a pink lace bra damn it!

I have to question how many male anglers "liked" the page just so they could ogle the profile picture without getting the message?

Next comes an ad for a calendar  with page after page of bikini  swathed hunters and anglers - from an organization that states it promotes women in the outdoors, no less. This calendar was promoting women in the outdoors - but not in the way myself or virtually any of my fellow outdoorswomen friends wish to be promoted.

I have message for this organization; You are not promoting women in the outdoors, you are promoting the ancient and archaiac sexist attitude that a woman afield is only good for the occasional purient leer and snicker.

The images were laughable to say the least. Yep, I'm going to sit in a bikini to spring turkey hunt..ticks, chiggers, and poison ivy abound..better yet, you betcha I'm lying in a frozen field waiting on that coyote in my g string.

Give me a break! Have we a women in the outdoors still not moved past this use of our bodies to sell ourselves as outdoor enthusiasts? I know..I know.. sex sells.

But, if we as women outdoor enthusiasts  are promoting women  in the outdoors, it behooves us to set the proper example. A woman is just as attractive fully clothed, with her equipment and trophy proudly displayed. We strive to be recognized for our knowledge, abilities and skills; not our breasts.

So I issue a challenge to my fellow outdoor enthusiasts - speak up when you see this blatant use of the female form to sell a product, a service, or as a fund raiser. Ask about the model's skills, her trophies, her life experiences and what she truly does to further the cause of women in the outdoors.

And ladies, if you happen to be one of those bikini clad models - get yourself some self esteem,  properly fitting clothing, dress  for the occasion and promote your  skills not  your sex.


  1. Great post!  I am writing about this topic myself having just finished reading a book about a "hunter" and looking at her website which is filled of photos of her batting her eyelashes, giggling and straddling her gun.  Women hunters are already challenged by the idea that we are not as good as men.  Women like this, and the ones you write about, just keep performing the stereotype we are fighting to break

  2. Thank you Erin for your comment! I am frequently dismayed by the image some of our fellow outdoors women portray, let us be judged the same way our male counterparts are, for our knowledge, skills, and willingness to bring newcomers into the outdoors. While there is nothing wrong with an attractive woman posing during her outdoor pursuits - let's make those images real, let's show the world what being an outdoorswoman is about, and that includes using clothing, gear, and skills that enhance the experience.

  3. Seems like there isn't a day goes by that I don't get a request to follow on Twitter from some internet hoochie under the guise of being a female outdoors person.  Want to show me something?  Let it be fish porn...that photo of the nude 10# Trout or 20" Walleye caught when the bite was tough.  

  4. The World Heath Organization, Center For Disease Control and other health agencies have Voyeurism coded and listed as a sexually deviant mental disorder.  

  5. Gretchen,
    I couldn't agree more! I believe there is a difference in lace bra clad "huntresses" and those of who hunt hard but don't want to lose our femininity in all of it. I believe in being a class act & role model for girls and the younger generation, not trying to use my looks to pretend to be something I'm not in order to "be famous."

  6. Amen Sista! This an on-going topic among us all. I have asked your question over the years " what she truly does to further the cause of women in the outdoors." You'll be amazed at the answers I get as the what and why. It is my belief that we need to continue to be good examples ourselves and leave them in AWE as we blaze the trail and leave them sitting in the dust in their bikini's. They'll never keep up.

  7. AWESOME POST!!! Thanks Gretchen!!

  8. I'm putting a link to this on my blog this week.

  9. im sory but i enjoy seeing a beautiful women flaunting what she has , if another women dont like it obviously she is jelous and is self concious of her own body , everyone has their own opinion , everyone enjoys the outdoors in their own way , if as women wants to use her beauty to get attention so be it , im sure you really dont think that a women will really sit in a tree stand in a bikini lmao ,its no diff then a photo shoot  if a young women has a great body and wants to show it off to MEN why do you as women get offended or should i say jelous ? because they are getting alot of attention , for example look at the trophy chick atire !! its selling like hotcakes , does this mean they have a low self esteem ?? i think not , women with low self esteem can barely look at themselves in the mirror so dont even go that direction with this , we men as hunters enjoy it , same with fishing in a bikini , why not its a hot sunny day i dont think a women wants to dress in full atire and then smell like a sweat hog by the end of the day , i would give my left nut to go fishing with a beautiful sexy model type women for the day wearing a bikini , what man wouldnt ?? this is a free nation and a women can promote herself in anyway she likes , its not against the law and as for morals who gave you the right to set the standard ?? these ladies do it for fun < why do you hunt and fish ?? if posting pics on facebook of ladies in bikinis offends you then dont go on facebook , its no diff then any other spot a beautiful model type women promotes , for example car racing , women have been modeling sitting on race cars since 75 years or so , team sports the same way , calander girls have been arround for ages , you have no right to judge anyone , you do not set the standard for the sport of hunting and fishing , you dont need to ass these ladies or pages to your facebook , you can hide any photo posted in facebook and unfreind delete any post so you dont have to look at it , but as for judging another women , well with my morals i have learned i know that it states clearly in the bible , do not judge thy brother for if you do you shall be judged 7 x 70 by thy father in heaven , !!!!  chew on this for awile !

  10. hail to the camo chicks !!! love you brooke thomas !!!

  11. Hey, Gretchen, I have to hand it too you.  This post is very well done in my opinion and says something that really needs to be said.  The whole outdoor sex symbol thing turns me off.  Certainly not a true representation of what a "real outdoors woman" is all about.

  12. Some guys understand what you're saying, Gretchen, and some obviously don't. I wonder if more would understand if they tried imagining a reverse situation.

    What if a substantial portion of male role models in the outdoors/hunting/fishing world posed half-or-mostly-naked, with guns and rods in suggestive positions, but demonstrated little knowledge of the outdoors?

    I doubt most men would say, "Hey, those guys look good in Speedos, so what if they want to flaunt their wares to the ladies? So what if no one ever hunts or fishes looking like that? So what if they don't know much? They're doing a lot for our outdoor traditions."

    I think they'd scream bloody murder.

  13. Radata2003, we all know the difference.  These women aren't promoting the outdoors they are promoting their boobs.  Whether it's a company showing half naked females taunting men to visit their site or women wanting that kind of attention.  If this is the attention she chooses to bring to herself, that's what she chooses. But I will guarantee in 10 years these girls will be thinking - what in the hell was I thinking.

    Professional outdoor women promote their skill not their T and A. Professional outdoor women are out there setting examples for the next generation of young women. 

    It's sad seeing these young women thinking this is the attention they need to bring to themselves. And quite disgusting that the men drawn to them are old enough to be their Fathers. 

    I'm all for a female feeling good about her body and wanting to feel sexy ... but really ... who will see you in the woods like that ... a squirrel?

    There is a difference between class and trash.  And it's quite obvious
    you'd give your left nut for the later.  What does that say about you?

  14. women have been promoting sports since before maralin monroe !! in ever shop shed , bard or garage there are calander girls !! if thsi dike looking chick dont like it she dont have to look at it , just because she doesnt have natural beauty she dont have to go on hatein !!

  15. you mean like the sexy fireman calenders , and the rodeo men calenders ?? there is also sexy men promoting sports also !! the sexy police man with no shirt on calanders ?? its not just the out doors , all sports are promoted useing sexy men and women !! even beer and run , wiskey ect use men and women to promote bussiness ! its bussiness !! there will always be jelous haters !! i can see if this was a beatiful women hateing on these girls but it aint ! so its obviously jelousy !!

  16. so you are saying that race car calender girls do promote car raceing ?? if you find these girls offensive then you must be a fag !

  17. the way it works is calander girls promote sports to men and men promote to women , sexual atttraction is the hugest promoter in the world !!i would give anything to go bow fishing with brooke thomas , when i see her it makes me want to go shoot some fish !!! so obviously its working !

  18. these women are not promoting sports to you they are promoting sports to men ! get over your jelousy , if you looked as good as they do then you would be flaunting that shit all over the place !

  19. Get a life! Woman are beautiful! Just because to get the chance to be in a bikini while hunting, fishing, shooting guns, or any other out door event doesn't make them hinder the cause for woman. Old views and old people do! Put your self in there shoes, do you think that you would be judging them like you do if you looked like them! No, you wouldn't. That is called being a hypocrite. Look around lady! Do you really think that the promotion of woman is going to stop. There is nothing wrong with woman being portrayed as sexy, strong and independent in pictures. So what if they have a bikini on, or a bra. Men can wear no t-shirts and have muscles but I don't see you ranting about the oppression of men and the over sexual view in the outdoors. America is the most conservative! Everywhere else in the world you look and see that they aren't as sexually repressed as the U.S. Every comment you made on this screams jealously and judgement!  Who are you pass either!? 

  20. Radata - Let's keep this civil and without name calling; You are not helping present your opinion and your views when your resort to silly, and childish name calling that clearly reveals your true colors. As I said earlier, you are certainly entitled to your opinion, what you *aren't*entitled to is to bash the other commenters here and resort to name calling
    and flaming style comments. And please..invest in and use spell check - it would make you comments so much more readable and understandable.

  21. Dylan- I'm not ranting about the overt sexualization of men in the outdoors because frankly I haven't seen too many instances of it. Nor have I seen men trying to win a hunting, angling, etc. contest by posing in their undies. Believe me if that was going on I'd be railing about that as well. I don't think I used the term oppresive. or oppression anywhere in the post. I don't consider it oppressive, I consider it foolish. If these young women want to make name for themselves in the outdoor industry, I stand by my opinion that it should be based on their knowledge, skills, and commitment to heritage of hunting and fishing not because they look hot in camo undies.. looks fade, skills and knowledge won't. I am curious though why when a woman complains about this type of thing immediately she is called jealous, while men are merely called conservative.

  22. Gretch.

    I appreciate a woman with outdoor skills they are usually completely different than the sex sells chick that put their junk all over the net.
    Unfortunely with the expection of the

  23. seriously... i'm a women and it doesn't offend me one bit. i believe if you have it flaunt it. it's god's great creation he gave you. you are just being old and bitter. you are being very judgmental. if they are getting alot of attetntion to help breast cancer leave them be. atleast they are out promoting about it and being there you are just sitting back doing what?? judging them!!!

  24. Camerons Mommy-
    Not sure how you have come to the conclusion I am old.. Is my age listed anywhere here? Bitter? Oh no, nothing bitter about me, I'm tickled to death every morning when I wake up; both adjectives seem a tad like judgemental assumptions on *your* part. What I do want to address is your invalid statement that I am sitting back doing nothing about breast cancer or breast cancer awareness- peruse the rest of this blog, visit my facebook page, my columns at other sites on the web.... please do your homework before casting about *that* opinion. You did read the part in the post about the mastectomies right? I have the bad seed - the BRCA1 gene which also caused breast cancer to rip through my family and destroy it just as a forest fire rips through dry tinder and leaves nothing but charred remains in it's wake. I celebrate life every day and all of the good things in it. I hope that you too are celebrating life every day, because the sad fact is the breast cancer rate continues to rise, and it's almost to the point where a woman must worry not *if *she will contract this horrible disease, but *when*. I sincerely hope it's something you never have to face.

  25. Did you just call someone a dike on here? And a fag? I can't stop laughing because what are you 10?  Go away little boy.  Or should I say Brooke.  I thought you had brains ... IP addresses are very revealing hon.

  26. Amen Gretchen. If a woman wants to set an example for OTHER WOMEN in the outdoors it isn't by showing her boobs. If she wants to get attention from the LUSTY MEN, then showing your boobs is the only way to get that kind of attention. I prefer to show my perfect targets, my kills, my pictures of the woods, and the beautiful women I teach to shoot...with all our clothes on. I have SKILLS. I am proud of them. And I'm teaching a whole bunch of others the same SKILLS.

  27. Christine WilliamsJanuary 23, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    It's all a money game.  Sex sells in every field, especially in a male-dominant field.  I agree with a previous commenter that America is more sexually repressed than other countries but that is a whole other issue.

    Pictures of hot women wearing next to nothing will get the attention of both men and women but may only have a positive affect on men (I'm speaking in broad generalizations here).  Men see that photo and want to be with that woman.  Women tend to compare themselves to other women and compared to some of these sexy photos we often find ourselves lacking.  These ads are obviously targeted at men.  Ads targeted at women look different.  Take Prois for example: the models are no doubt beautiful/hot but the content is tasteful, informative, and inspiring.  I want to be one of those women, and I feel like I can be, unlike how I feel when I look at the ads targeted to men.  It is what it is.  I've found that most respectable outdoor retailers do not need to use sex to sell their product.  Quality shines through. Those that do use raunchy photos are taken as a gimmick, not something to last very long.  

    Outdoor retailers are taking notice of the increasing number of women in outdoor sports and this is a great thing.  This is going to be a HUGE market and it's up to the retailers to decide if they want to inspire us (making it much more likely that we will buy their product) or alienate us (won't be getting any of my money).

  28. Christine WilliamsJanuary 23, 2012 at 5:08 PM

    Troll much?

  29. Good blog--if it ruffles the feathers of a few you did a good job Gretchen.  Bottom line, you being a beautiful woman and a huntress have the right to protest such notions of what is tasteful & tactless...losing loved ones to breast cancer & being amongst cancer survivors you can attest the last thing needed is the boobs being thrust in the name of 'helping others'. Ridiculous rants of 'jealousy' don't a mom you hope every loved one makes the right choices both male & female and someday respect and admiration will be the norm....

  30. Why not just say the actual organizations?   Without saying the offending organizations, all your supporters can do is give YOU feedback.  I would think you'd want to harness the power of social media and allow your readers the opportunity to let the organizations know how they feel too.

  31. Your post as read by me, makes you seem bitter when you in fact should
    be happy. The ladies you are talking about obviously get paid for
    modelling and these ladies are freely giving their talent/gift to a
    cause that is obviously dear to you. Its is a shame you feel this way.

    I'm really befuddled here.... I go fishing a lot, usually offshore in warm climates and there have been dozens of women on my boat and yes, usually dressed in a full bikini or shorts and bikini top, it's fishing for crying out loud, everybody is relaxing enjoying the sun and hopefully, some good fishing action. So when it's my wife and daughter, on our boat, what do you suggest they wear and would that make them a better outdoors woman simply because they didn't wear their swimsuit, your rational is flawed.

    My cousin is a spokes model for several outdoor organisations to include state sanctioned organisations, yes she wears a bikini sometimes for the shoot but I can also say she almost always wears one fishing, bow fishing, frog gigging and other activities I know of that she does and excels at, as her mother also did (mother is my age) and many other women I know. When she's deer, boar or gator hunting I would, to be fair, say she's wearing something more than a bikini, but if she did, who cares?

    You also impune men in your view as unable to rationally see through a bikini and imply that we purchase goods because of the bikini clad model. I can honestly say that yes, I like a beautiful woman, but it takes more than that to impress me with a product or activity, I'm simply not that shallow and any implication or suggestion of such is simply sexist on your part ma'am.

  32. And what fishing/hunting rally or tournament has ever been won simply by "posing in their undies"?

  33. Thank you for taking the time to write such a thoughtful and well written comment; I think perhaps you may have misunderstood; my problem is not what women choose to wear when afield or fishing as was your example, but rather with the use of scantily clad women who's photos clearly reveal they know little about outdoor sports; i.e. improper or unsafe handling of guns, bows, etc. and then proclaim that hat this is promoting the ever growing number of women in the outdoors, or raising awareness for breast cancer.

    Smart marketers have learned that if you slap a pink ribbon on something many, many women will buy it under the guise of furthering breast cancer awareness or research without fully looking into the company or products and how many actual dollars get sent to what organization. It has a pink ribbon it or it is pink so it must be a good thing right?

    If a woman chooses to dress scantily clad in her outdoor persuits, well that's her perogitive and her skin that's going to suffer. What I object to is the use of an overtly sexual image to sell women in the outdoors. There are companies and organizations that do so much to promote women in the outdoors, and use a womens knowledge, skills, and life experiences to do so; Prois, Women's Outdoor News, The Pink Whistle Society, Casting for Recovery, BOW to name just a few. The women highlighted, helped, and depicted by organizations such as these should be considered the role models and "stars" of the women's outdoor world rather than models showing
    three behinds in g strings hanging over the edge of duck blind, or a woman
    with a rifle tucked suggestively between her legs.

    My hope is that those models who are also outdoor women would understand
    that when promoting women in the various male dominated sports it's more
    helpful to promote using skills, knowledge and committment, rather than a
    lewd and suggestive "look at me" campaign.

    I understand your thought process as to why I should feel happy that
    attractive models are trying to help the breast cancer awareness campaigns,
    but it is seriously upsetting to women who are already struggling with the
    body image issues that so often come with breast cancer to have breasts and
    lingerie shoved in their face as part of this awareness. While for many of
    these models, their heart may well be in the right place but I still say
    their methods are flawed.

    I also give credence to the men who are not swayed by ads etc. using
    suggestive models, but what I note from first hand experience is that there
    are still many many out there who's intrest in the good looking halk naked
    chick is what draws them in initially.

    We still live in a society where sex sells; I'm just tired of those who use
    it to "sell" women in the outdoors and breast cancer awareness.

  34. The contests that I was refering to are those that are thinly disguised beauty contests; The organizers are not looking for the best angler, hunter, shooter; they are looking for the prettiest and the one who can use her physical attractiveness to bring page hits, and attention to their products.

  35. Patrick - you raise a very valid question; I did not name the individual organizations, because frankly there are presently too many to name. Given some of the responses I have received here and via facebook and e mail; some organizations felt that I was talking about them when in truth I'd never heard of their organization, but it would seem they felt a bit singled out and guilty. I also received feedback from one organization; Pink Fishing, sincerely apoligizing for the actions taken by one of their supporters, who simply didn't realize that her actions could be construed as little misguided. They quickly requested that offending material be removed; it would seem that I was only one among many who found the issue distracting from the true cause of the organization. Perhaps I shuld have included a list of major offenders( for lack of a better term), but it is more my style to initially address them individually and privately than call them out in a public setting. Your question though, has caused me to rethink that method somewhat.

  36. well a father and husband i wish i could express my opinion but as a journalist i simply avoid those companies who disrespect women especially the ladies who thrive and enjoy the outdoors like i do. Nice job Gretchen...btw your booth was well done,,very professional.
    Al Hague

  37. Oh my! I'm SO glad Mother Nature linked up to your post so I could take a read myself.

    First - BRAVO, Gretchen! I couldn't agree with you more. I recently submitted a photo (of me [fully clothed in my camo hunting wear] and one of my best harvests) to a "contest" for some camo wear from a new company targeting women hunters. Within days, the contest "rules" were updated to note that winners would be identified by the photos with the most likes. It only took another day or so before I saw bikini clad women holding their 'catches', and the comments you'd expect started posting. I contacted the company, had them withdraw my photo, and I clearly explained I didn't want any part of a beauty or popularity contest. You know, they took my picture down, but NEVER even responded to my message. Oh well - there goes another company I won't ever do business with. I guess they don't understand that the women they may be offending are the ones their products are targeted to... that's gonna really help their profit margins.

    I'm not jealous (I wear a bikini in the summer too - but not to hunt);
    just a woman who wants to be treated with the same respect in this sport. The companies (like I mentioned, and those you're thinking of as well), are not doing us any favors.

    I am truly surprised by a few of the hateful comments posted here. Everyone is entitled to an opinion - you get to voice yours because this is your blog. The name calling is just rude.

    Thanks for speaking out for the rest of us!


  38. As the owner of a communications agency with clients in a variety of industries, including hunting, fishing and outdoor, I applaud you for this post, Gretchen! Very well written, and something that I think about every day at the SHOT Show. 

    Speaking from a marketing perspective, we work hard to develop a point of difference for our clients' brands and products. The use of sex is a powerful tactic that overshadows everything else a brand tries to say, thereby diminishing the ability to effectively communicate a position, message, offer, etc. When sex is used in marketing communications, the company is either too lazy to figure out a compelling message, or their brand/product is not unique. Either way, they don't have anything to say.

    Some clients have come to us with a history of using sex in their marketing. It takes a bit of education to help them understand a more sophisticated approach to their marketing, but in the end every one of them has experienced strong growth and a solid brand position, making them viable will into the future. 

    Our clients in other industries seem to be further along in their sophistication. The hunting/fishing/outdoor industries are still rather antiquated in how they approach their marketing and communications. But there is hope. Posts like this spark conversation and, eventually, enlightenment.

    Thanks Gretchen!

  39. Thank you Cathy! It sad that some companies just don't understand yet. If we keep explaining with our wallets maybe they will get it sooner or later :)

  40. Thank you so much for such a well written and thoughtful comment. Your insight from a marketing and PR standpoint is wonderful!

  41. If you were trying to start some controversy, I would say it worked. If you are serious, I'd say you need to stop worrying about stuff like this. I am not sure why some people are so desperately offended about what others do. A woman in a bikini fishing....big deal. Be happy you live somewhere that women are allowed to be free and wear what they want. Not all women have the same opportunity.

  42. Thanks, it needs to be said again and again to get any support for a good cause. I will inform my future "former" fly fishing guide (many calendars at shop) onto your blog. Thanks again.

  43. Just found your blog for the first time and LOVED this post. I spent yesterday and will spend today on a frozen lake dressed in long-johns, big boots, warm coat and hat that covers down past my ears...and will be glad for it when the wind inevitably kicks up in the evening. My husband and his friends will be out there and we'll enjoy our time outdoors and hopefully catch a big walleye. Nobody cares what we look like, and if I do happen to fuss with my hair I'll hear "this is ice fishing, there's no glamour." And sometimes after a day in the woods hunting with the guys and I'm a hot mess, I do think "I certainly don't look like the women on the hunting shows on t.v., fresh from hair and makeup"...and my husband just says he's glad he got to experience a hunt with me. Anyway, I enjoyed your post and am going to go back to reading the rest of your site.