The Lost American Wilderness Part 3

This alienation is particularly profound in American women. While women in the United States have met or surpassed men in the workplace and higher education and rallied for the right to be included as equals in traditional male pursuits and vocations but there is still a gender gap in outdoor pursuits. The feminist movement of the late seventies and early eighties cast aside some unnecessary cultural norms; opening up professional opportunities and releasing us from the shackles of unwanted pregnancy and unhappy marriages. It also created two generations of women working both inside and outside the home, an ever-increasing number of them doing so as single parents. Where in the modern model of the American woman is there time for outdoor recreation?

The female alienation from the outdoors is codified in the persistent and systemic media portrayal of us as helpless, clueless, and burdensome. Even the strong female characters that I grew up with the 1980's, Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia and Kathleen Turner in Romancing the Stone for example, were ultimately portrayed in this manner. These characters were strong, smart women, allowed to be multidimensional, muscular, and mouthy, but they were still shown to be all but useless outside, dragged to safety by hand, by men, through half the movie. In fact, most movies and television shows, now as then, fail to show women in the outdoors whatsoever, and certainly not in competent, capable contexts.

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