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Hunting for Girl Power?

Hunting for Girl Power?

Anything boys can do, girls can do better, right? Thanks to decades of Rosie the Riveter/Spice Girls/Gloria Steinem/Brandi Chastain-style role models and messages, we girls know that we can wear pants, play sports, run the board room, sprout chest hair (with the help of some hormones) and do virtually anything once thought of as purely for the boys. Including hunting.

This morning, National Public Radio’s Morning Edition featured a story on Magan Hebert, 15, of Wayne County, Mississippi — a babyfaced, ponytailed cheerleader who dreams not of becoming homecoming queen but of shooting and killing her first buck. Ah, to be a teenage girl again…when the ecstasy of first dates and an A on your history final was overshadowed only by the bliss of watching life drain from a once-spritely doe.

The objective of this story was to highlight that not all hunters are gruff, middle-aged men with beards and camouflage button-downs. Girls are taking up hunting, too! Yay for girl power! Ladies, forget burning your bras — grab yer guns!

NPR never questioned whether hunting was ethical or if this was a positive or negative trend for girls. It’s great that as a “tiny” and “quiet” girl, Magan would find a way to empower herself — but why couldn’t she find pride in the fact that she made the cheerleading team? Or got A’s in school? (Which the NPR report did state).

Magan’s parents — her dad is a hunter too — seem overwhelmed with joy and awe that their daughter wanted to hunt when she was in just 4th grade. Even before their son did! And she was “hooked” after she shot a doe in the shoulder. How precious that her parents, rather than teaching their daughter that life is valuable, to respect other creatures, or to find self-worth in herself and the fact that she is inherently valuable as a person and doesn’t need to arbitrarily kill animals to compete with macho guys at school, swell with pride that their ten-year-old was eager to see blood pour from a deer’s chest.

I am acutely annoyed by parents sheltering their kids from where meat comes from — a la Ronald McDonald telling kids that hamburgers grow in “hamburger patches” — and being afraid that if their kids knew bacon came from a pig just like the one in their picture books they’d no longer get that oh-so-necessary protein. But does encouraging children, boys and girls alike, to hunt contradict the values of compassion, empathy, kindness, moral responsibility and consciousness that make a truly “empowered” person?

I mean…weren’t kids generally sad when Bambi’s mom got shot? Did young Magan watch the movie and think “I wanna do that!”?

It’s clear from this report Magan regards hunting as something that makes her feel powerful. She says: “Some guys think, you know, ‘OK well, you’re a girl, you can’t kill a deer.’ You know, I can say, ‘Yeah, I’ve killed two of them. What now?’” The NPR reporter never asks Magan if she feels regret or sadness for taking the life of an animal, even when she tells the reporter that she likes seeing a mother deer playing with her fawns. “I think it’s cute.” She says, “Cause, you know, you can’t kill them yet. But when they grow up, it’s really good food. I don’t know, I just like it.”

The link between animal abuse and other forms of crime and psychosis have been studied extensively, yet no one questions the moral compass of a girl willing (and eager) to shoot a mother after watching her play with her children or anxiously waiting for those children to sprout antlers so that she can proudly hang them from their legs and pose with their carcass for next year’s Christmas card photo. New Facebook profile pic!

Does promoting hunting as “girl power” steer girls toward the stereotypically macho “me-strong-you-weak-me-kill-you” thinking that undermines the characteristics of a truly empowered person? 
An empowered person is someone who thinks of others, values and respects life and doesn’t need to do what others (in this case, “the men”) are doing to feel good about themselves.
Is this really the way to empower girls? Let’s hear what you think.

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Photo credit: Creative Commons

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265 comments

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3:26AM PST on Feb 11, 2013

If you hunt because you are hungry and you need it then I cannot say that is wrong. We live in an earth full of animals that prey upon one another as food. I like it when people are able to have the knowledge and ability to procure their foods from what is growing around us .. all kinds of plant life. That is great. And in a sheltered life where everything is in a certain balance.. well good for you and you should do that. But you cannot look down on people, when they find themselves in need and in position brought upon many because society is not in balance and they need to feed themselves and this is all they know. If you want to be progressive about it, plant a liberty garden in your community and help the people in need have access and learn how to eat well in vegan style. Look at how many hundreds and hundreds of generations have been hunters as well as gatherers. Takes time and more peaceful surroundings to breed out the need for hunting. Then what if all else fails and no one knows how to acquire food source? It is a valuable skill set. Maybe I'd rather this girl did marksmanship competitions, but it also irritated me when I was younger that the men acted like I should take a backseat on the hunting trips. While I can track a certain amount..mostly wild horses because they are so beautiful. I'm glad I've never killed anything. I didn't want to. I wasn't going hungry and neither was my family. But guys can be so dang cocky about putting you in your place.

11:02PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

I bet these hunters are calling themselves "pro-life". Meat is murder. Living vegan is the only way. Hunting is not a sport because a sport entails agreement by both parties that they're playing the sport, and they have to abide by a set of rules. In hunting this is obviously not the case. So stop trying to make yourselves feel better hunters by calling yourselves "sportsmen". You are MURDERERS.

10:57PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

Oh and which is worse? Killing and eating a deer in the wild where it lives a free life or eating our traditional meat such as chickens pigs and cows that are so inhumanely treated...made to stand in their own feces, beaks and tails chopped off and etc?

10:50PM PST on Feb 9, 2013

I feel in this modern day and age we are completely disconnected from our food sources let alone giving some reverence to the animals that give their lives to nurture us. If this were a case for hunting just for sport then I'd have a small issue with it. It seems that she eats the meat so think more power to her! She thinks the fawn are cute and has compassion for them as small animals just as we think piglets and calves are cute. Yet she understands that she will eat it at some point just as all other animals that hunt do. No big deal. I'm glad she feels empowered to be able to fend for her self and survive if she needed to!

10:30AM PST on Feb 9, 2013

hmmm

3:23PM PST on Feb 8, 2013

No I'm not saying women belong in the house raising babies only. Not at all. But I'm saying our traditional
Ideas traits and roles do deserve some respect and acceptance in a society that right now has reflected little value in the way of funding or overall cultural priority.

3:17PM PST on Feb 8, 2013

Then there will be respect for women, or at least traits traditionally associated with women. When arts and education and families get as much funding and support as the military there will be more respect for traditionally more female ideals.

3:06PM PST on Feb 8, 2013

This is a point I"ve been making for years . That a girl/ woman that wants to shedor shred traditionally female traits isn't doing feminism a favor. It just means women are just giving inmale perceptions of what's cool and the supposedly right way to act. If a woman or girl wants to act in a certain manner whatever. It is her choice. But is it because she personally wants to, or has she been told it's cool . Why is it not cool to want peace and focus on nurturing and growing and living and nesting. Why is it women continually want to be judged and live by rules that men have set as benchmark standards of behavior and getting ahead for the last ten thousand years. A woman acting as a man is not a celebration of true feminism and true womanhood.it is a Celebration of men and men standards. Again if she is fufilled in some way more power to her. But when traditionally FEMale traits like caring and nurturing and compassion get as much respect and funding as war and weapons

11:17PM PDT on Apr 21, 2012

Years ago on the farm my grandfather killed a deer each hunting season for meat for the winter. They lived a survival life back in the bush and when I stayed with them so did I.

8:29AM PST on Feb 6, 2011

Should girls learn to be rapists and murderers too?

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