"In the U.S. cultural landscape, the language of hunting is a discourse of patriarchy. Hunters’ attitudes and actions toward social and natural objects (weapons or hunted prey) are constructed by a combination of experiences and absorbed cultural messages that validate and exacerbate white male dominance and power. Further, the cultural construction of hunting as rooted in a symbolic system that values predation and dominance conjoins hunting and sex with women and animals."
Of course, there were other sentences in this paper that made absolutely no sense whatsoever:
"…hunters (like batterers and rapists) are widely considered not responsible for their actions, and hunted animals and abused women participate in (and thus agree to) their exploitation…"
I guess I’ve never had a deer tell me it was okay to pull the trigger. If they ever do start to talk, whether offering or refusing consent, I promise to sell all of my firearms immediately.
Perhaps the most impressive part of this feminist study was the amount of sheer academic rigor required to analyze the data. According to the authors, 15 issues of "Traditional Bow-hunter," a 12-year-old sport magazine, "were read from cover to cover, and (the authors) recorded every occurrence of a sexual representation." What a truly amazing revelation. That means each feminist had to read a total of five hunting magazines. Who says radical feminists aren’t real scientists?
The feminists found that the death of one animal in one of the hunting magazines was called a "climax" and another was called a "score." In other words, these hunters aren’t actually killing these animals, they are raping them. Of course, this assumes that the animals did not offer consent, verbal or otherwise.
These brilliant feminists found that hunters’ references to prey called forth "Sexualized representations of women and animals" and "often drew on stereotypical feminine characteristics, heterosexual love affairs, and patriarchal versions of romance." One apparently in-the-closet buck hunter was caught referring to a nice set of antlers as "big uns." The feminists also suggest that the bow is little more than a Freudian phallic symbol.
The authors read rape imagery into advertisements for arrowheads, such as one saying "It’ll Rip You a New One" and another saying "Take ‘em with Wood!" They also saw a reference to the bow’s "sweet spot" as heterosexual imagery linked to a woman’s "G spot."
Ultimately, the three Michigan State feminists conclude that their findings support the argument that "humans express their sexual ambivalences by using animal metaphors."
Although they saw the "active, projectile arrow" as "imbued with stereotypically male characteristics" and viewed it as an "extension or embodiment of the (male) hunter," they saw the bow as "feminized and sexualized, often described as beautiful, smooth, and dependable." This, they interpreted as a "feminization of the ‘instrumental’ bow, noting that even the implements of the hunt (like the victims of it) cannot escape the patriarchal nature of the culture from which they are constructed."
To their credit, Kalof, Fitzgerald, and Barakt do not claim that their interpretations of the magazines are the only possible interpretations. One broken clock is right twice in the course of a day. I guess three working feminists are right once in the course of a refereed manuscript.
Nonetheless, referring to themselves as gender (and gendered) scholars, these three intellectual giants bring it all together with the statement that "Violence against animals and women is linked by a theory of ‘overlapping but absent referents’ that institutionalizes patriarchal values." After all, they have previously observed that "the murder of a family dog is common in domestic violence; in such cases, the absent referent is the abused woman." And "In the staged Bambi Hunts, animals were the absent referents." Is this starting to make sense? I didn’t think so.
The feminists end their paper (thank God!) saying that "the underlying messages of the sexualization of weapons in "Traditional Bow-hunter" cannot be dismissed simply as a hoax. They are resilient popular culture images that celebrate and glorify weapons, killing, and violence, laying the groundwork for the perpetuation of attitudes of domination, power, and control over others."
Every time I read the work of its proponents, I am more convinced that feminist scholarship is an oxymoron. But, just for safe measure, I’m taking a rifle not a bow into the woods this weekend. And I’m leaving my Ann Coulter action figure at home.
Is anyone in the mood for tenderloin kabobs?