It’s not quite PETA-esque, but the Fund For Animals’ recent ranting and raving against the sport hunting industry for allegedly “targeting” women to join the sport is still downright bizarre.
According to the Fund’s recent report, “Desperately Seeking Diana,” “hunting has been a masculine pursuit … throughout recorded history” an that’s the way things should stay. But, in fact, the status quo is not holding, and hasn’t for a long time. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service, almost 1.5 million women hunted in 1985 — about 9 percent of all hunters that year. In 1996, almost 1.2 million women hunted, or about 8.5 percent of hunters.
According to the Fund for Animals, the million or so women who hunt in any given year are actually part of a giant industry conspiracy. See if you can follow the logic — most people who hunt began hunting before the reached their 20th birthday (83 percent of hunters began hunting before they were 19 according to The Fund).
Furthermore, according to the report, since women’s role in American society today is far more egalitarian than it was in say the 1950s or 1960s, a woman’s opinion on hunting will greatly influence whether or not children are allowed to go hunting.
Ergo, the hunting industry is trying to hoodwink women into hunting so that they will, in turn, transform their children into hunters as well.
One of the really demeaning aspects of The Fund’s report, however, is its view that women are largely brainless dupes who are incapable of thinking for themselves. The report and an accompanying press release talk about hunters and gun groups “targeting our moms” and “recruit[ing] women — especially mothers — into sport hunting.” This is not just a queer choice in wording but seems to genuinely reflect the view of The Fund that women, in general, are so unsophisticated that they can easily be brainwashed by hunting interests. For example, here’s how the report describes a woman who told a newspaper reporter that she had changed her mind on gun control after becoming a hunter:
With sponsors like the National Rifle Association (NRA), the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF), and the Federal Cartridge Company, BOW, despite its organizers’ protestations of being “non-political,” advances a pro-gun political agenda. Consider this quote from a BOW participant that appeared in an Omaha, Nebraska newspaper: “I have never taken a position [on gun control], except to realize there is too much violence. So, naturally, I thought it would be a good thing to do away with guns.” But attendance at a BOW workshop opened her eyes: “Now I understand it’s not the guns that are dangerous. It’s the way people use guns.” (Porter qtd. in Thomas et al. 12-3) Before BOW, she favored strict gun control; after the workshop, she was repeating the NRA’s mantra that “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” Can that really be a coincidence?
Well can it be a coincidence? Can a person who has maybe never shot a gun for any reason go to a seminar and learn about guns and hunting and come to the conclusion on his or her own that gun control is not a good idea? Or must it be, as The Fund report implies, that a woman would only change her mind about gun control if she was a helpless victim of NRA brainwashing? Regardless of which side of the gun control issue the reader comes down on, it is absurd to suggest that women are incapable of deciding on their own whether or not they favor gun control.
This, of course, fits with The Fund’s generally sexist views of women which boiled down to its essence seems to be that women are incapable of violence unless brainwashed into it by men (The Fund includes a list of “Non-Consumptive Outdoors Experiences For Women” from which I deduce that men hunt, while women bicycle and hike).
For the most part, The Fund’s report relies on stereotypical views of male and female roles, dismissing the experiences of women who choose to hunt as inauthentic because hunting is a “male” activity. Now that’s insulting.
Targeting Our Moms: Hunting and Gun Industries Set their Sights on Mothers and their Children. The Fund For Animals, press release, May 11, 2000.
Money, Motherhood, and the Nineteenth Amendment: The Hunting Industry’s Open Season on Women. The Fund For Animals, May 2, 2000.