Intro to Archery: Social Media and Hunting

Social media is powerful. It’s pretty hard to disagree with that, but I also see social media as a way to promote false courage – especially when comments are hurtful or abusive. Users often seem fearless because comments can be made under pseudonyms or fake accounts.

As a woman who hunts and actively talks about it on my Twitter and LinkedIn accounts, I’m no stranger to this unfortunate phenomenon. And while I understand that not everyone will agree with my views or my actions, sometimes I wonder if I’m a target because I’m a hunter or because I’m a woman.

IMG_7525 (267x400)And I’m sure others wonder the same thing.

As many of you are aware, in a tweet heard around the world, hunter Rebecca Francis was the most recent target in a slew of anti-hunting hate mail due to a campaign led by British comedian Ricky Gervais. An avid hunter, Francis is not the first huntress targeted by social media vitriol and has talked about the different perception the public seems to have regarding women hunters with me during an interview last November, saying:

“The progress that has been made with women in hunting is incredible.  But the perception that some women are not capable of doing it on their own is one that is easily overcome by just getting women out there and helping them feel confident.  Women are fully capable with the proper skills and experiences.  Women can do anything.”

In a recent interview with HuntingLife.com, despite the fact that women are finally finding a place within the hunting industry, Francis acknowledges that the playing field is still uneven, saying, “I believe that the anti-hunters specifically attack women because they view women as an easier target.”

Francis is not alone in her thoughts on the matter. I’ve been researching this idea for a while now and have talked with many women who hunt. All of them have noted that women receive far greater backlash than men and blame social media’s anonymity as part of the problem.

Want other examples?

Teen cheerleader Kendall Jones has also come under scrutiny both in the media and through social media for posting trophy photos and discussing her kills during safari hunts. Eva Shockey also recently defended her position as a female hunter when she was attacked for posting a photo of her with a 510-pound black bear on Facebook. And let’s not forget about the controversy Melissa Bachman brought out last year among the anti-hunting groups.

With the total number of women hunters increasing by 25 percent between 2006 and 2011 after holding steady for a decade (according to Census Bureau statistics), a recent Washington Post article suggests that while the total number of women hunters has steadily increased, so has the number of people who think women shouldn’t be hunting.

Is this because women are viewed as nurturers? Why can’t we also be viewed as providers? Or teachers? This unbalanced view of hunting and the gender inequality within it really frustrates me both as a woman and as a hunter.

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