Oh, lord, I hate writing about this subject because the last thing I want to do is come off sounding like a shrill feminist. I personally am not fond of Feminazis, and I cringe when I see bumper stickers that say, "Think women aren't leaders? You're following one." Barf. No, effing barf.
The venerable Field & Stream has just posted its annual SHOT Show Booth Babe Roundup - a photo gallery.
In case you're not familiar with SHOT, it's an enormous hunting and firearms trade show where vendors pitch their products to merchants and media. Hunting and firearms industries being dominated by men, many vendors hire hot babes to stand there and make sure all the passers-by can see their abundant cleavage so maybe some of them will come in for a look-see. At the product, of course. Read more...
It's basic marketing. We see it a lot.
Personally, I don't get my undies in a twist about it. I know men are biologically driven to open their wallets more easily in the presence of nice tits.
But I'm a little irked with Field & Stream.
My problem is this: Hunting is not a men's locker room anymore.
While male hunters are losing numbers, the number of women hunters is holding fairly steady. And the number of girls ages 6-15 who hunt has nearly doubled since 1991, according to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service's most recent National Survey.
What's my point? We know that boys and young men have traditionally loved hunting mags like Field & Stream. It stands to reason that this growing number of girls who hunt might also like and read such magazines and their associated websites. And if they subscribe to F&S's email newsletter, as I do, what they saw in their inbox this morning was something touting the Booth Babe Roundup as the top story.
Why does this bother me? It's about the messages this is sending. One is that this is what girls are supposed to look like. Of course, the rest of the media already shoves lots of bad messages down girls' throats, leaving them feeling like they must be rail thin and have a huge rack in order to be acceptable, leading to a whole lot of anorexia and - for those with money, anyway - boob jobs.
It just makes me sad that it's not only Cosmo and other fashion magazines where they're getting this message. They're getting it from a hunting magazine too.
Another message is that this is the kind of women male hunters want to see in their hunting mags. Well, of course it is - men like hot babes. I don't begrudge them that. But could we just remember that there are young female readers too?
It's not just F&S that forgets; I see this in hunting forums all the time. Last year some brain surgeon posted a joke in the "Campfire" section of an Internet hunting forum. The question was, "Why can't women work on cars?" The answer was a photo of a woman so incredibly busty that she couldn't roll under the front of a BMW.
Most guys wouldn't share that joke directly with a 12-year-old girl, yet they forget that there are girls in the room when the room is an Internet forum.
I expect that of the oafs on some of these forums.
I do not expect it from a venerable magazine.
End of tirade. I've got work to do.
© Holly A. Heyser 2010