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Some Sympathy for Women of the Camping Tribe

Women-campers is a subject I seldom think about. At the moment I'm interested in visualizing campers as an anthropological tribe, and wondering what it all looks like from the perspective of a "squaw." Do they like camping? Do they feel important and fully engaged?

For the women of our neighboring tribe, the answers to both these questions is, "Yes!"  They were from rural Missouri. The grandmother was the head wrangler. She taught her granddaughter the skill of horsemanship. Maybe she was in charge of the tribal cookpot as well. And the horses themselves are like constantly needy children. How did she manage all that at the same time? I dunno. But women have always managed somehow.

But what about the women in our tribe of campers? Do they have a tribal function that is solid and real, or can they just look at the pretty scenery and call that 'success?'  They usually don't know much about motor vehicles, solar electricity, or those watt, amp, and volt thingies. What about customizing or converting rigs?

As far as the "Circle of Life" where women have been very involved in ages past, they seem un-involved today, at least in camp. They are decades past their childbearing years. There are no youngsters in camp. On the other hand, dogs can be seen as replacements for children. 

Caring for the elderly used to be an important role, but Medicare and medical professionals do that, these days. Consider the brutality of life before modern medicine: what comfort you ever got, when you were sick, probably came from a woman.

Even around the campfire, men usually tell the whoppers and jokes, and women usually settle for laughing at the jokes.

They no longer tan hides or give daily care to the Three Sisters of corn, squash, and beans, without which the tribe would starve to death. Food comes from the grocery store. I sometimes wonder if the average gringa even knows how to sew on a button. 

As for outdoors sports, if they do anything at all, it is probably just hiking. Well, that's fine, but it is about as exciting as a breakfast of oatmeal.

I was once boondocking with a woman who said that if she couldn't get rid of the mouse who had gotten into her Class A motorhome, she was going to set fire to it. On top of all that, they are always cold!

No wonder Mildred hopes Fred gets this crazy RV camping notion out of his head quickly, so they can live a normal life in a nice house in an upscale retirement community, with card games in the afternoon, and a Bed Bath and Beyond or a Trader Joe's a couple miles away.

But, you say, this is just junk-anthropology and speculation, no more scientific than that of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Why not give up speculating and actually learn something about the subject?

That's easier said than done. Presumably the more hard-scientific anthropology becomes, the more specialized and minute it becomes. Meanwhile, the Big Pictures in anthropology are just pop-science wherein the author projects the latest cultural fads backward into time. So I really don't know how to learn more about the topic.


Anonymous said…
You may want to guard your property just in case some modern-day Amazon women warriors may have an adze to grind with you. That said, my wife would probably say the best “campout” she ever had was at Usery Mtn Regional Park in Mesa where we had water and electric and every big box store know to humankind was only 10 minutes away.

Ahaa! You admitted my point.

Actually your wife was living more 'in harmony with nature' than a boondocking woman. Shopping is just the modern version of 'gathering'. That's as primal as it gets for a woman.
William said…
When I found myself going from store to store looking for a particular item, it dawned on me that I was "hunting". "Gathering" implies the items are there for the taking. Thankfully, these days I frequently just click on: Add to cart.

Still, I find myself searching through the reviews and listings for the "best" version, often spending hours at the task. My life is enhanced by well functioning products. If I ever purchase an inverter, your advice is lodged in my brain.