Ok, I rarely use this blog for this type of post, but this is one of those unique situations where I’ve given it some time, and I can’t let this one go…In June, I was excited to be interviewed by Backpacker Magazine (along with many other solo women hikers I mostly know) for an article they planned to publish for women wanting to learn more about solo backpacking. Totally something I’m obviously in support of and have plenty to thoughts on! I was clear in my interview that I wasn’t comfortable with the distinction of women vs men and that I felt my thoughts were universal for anyone wanting to solo backpack, but understood this “article” would be part of a grander push in women-centric pieces aimed at getting women outdoors. This is still the ripple effects of the movie and book Wild and I get it. They have to do what sells and women outdoors is what’s trending right now. I may slightly cringe every time I see anything catered in that direction, but I get it and if it helps to get anyone out on the trail (not just women) I’m a proponent.
Well, awhile back, we found out the piece didn’t make the cut for paper print and that there would be more of a push online for these women-centric pieces. The hope was that online, it could get the full length and depth it might not have gotten in print. This month’s edition of Backpacker Magazine did come out with a feature on Women & Backpacking and it was nice to see that many things did make the paper copy. Online, Backpacker Magazine has been posting some of those articles and others that are solely online. Some of the things being posted by Backpacker Magazine through social media have been disappointing, and some have really rubbed me the wrong way with what is being used to grab people’s attention. I think these speak for themselves as here are some examples of things Backpacker Magazine posted on their facebook feed this week…
You get the idea. Kinda juvenile don’t you think? This is how women are expected to be taken seriously, right? I can’t quite put it into the proper words other than to say that seeing posts like this leaves me feeling more embarrassed than empowered as a woman wanting to backpack. I understand there is a whole range of audiences they are attempting to reach, so It’s nice to see that they do balance the marginalizing type posts with more quality content posts like these. I want to commend Backpacker Magazine for posting these more respectable articles and point out that it isn’t all making me cringe.
I saw online that many of the Facebook responses were expressing my concerns as well., so I contributed my thoughts along with fellow article contributor Ashley Gossens.
After posting this, an editor for Backpacker Magazine reached out immediately and we spoke on the phone. I want to make it clear that there was nothing but good intentions on the side of Backpacker Magazine and that they just lost their way a bit on this one. They didn’t intend to insult, marginalize, or demean women in any way. Somehow, they did lose some of the quality content and are wanting to rectify the situation by revising the 7 Tips From Female Solo Hikers*. [*Note: Since this was originally posted, the article has been revised.] The revision should be made this week to have more lengthy and quality content AND will include the links to all of us women that contributed so people can explore more on our individual sites. It will probably still refer to us as “long distance divas” which produced a cringe for me, but I know it was intended as a compliment. I appreciate that Backpacker Magazine was willing to reach out and I believe in positive reinforcement. I want to speak up when I feel that something is wrong in my gut, but I also want to commend them when they step up and use their platform in a positive and motivating way with quality content. I look forward to seeing the revised version and will post it when it comes out.