November 30, 2014 – by Asha Aiello, Secretary/Treasurer
These are all words associated with topics that are considered “hot button”; politics, religion, personal belief structure. They should NOT be words associated with hunting and the hunting, angling, trapping and shooting lifestyle.
My Story of Discrimination
As a woman of color, I’ve been discriminated against in a variety of ways over the years. I’ll say that thankfully they are rare and random occasions, and always associated with my skin color and/or my gender. A few weeks ago, that changed.
Fridays are casual Fridays at my workplace. Jeans are fine along with well-kept casual clothing. In running out the door, I chose a Cabela’s Outfit Her series pull over that I had just bought and was really excited to wear. Jeans, running shoes and a ponytail completed the look. I walked in the door and was faced with another employee asking me, “You hunting people?” I actually have immense respect for this woman so therefore chose to ignore her and head to my desk.
Later the next week, in having a conversation with two fellow colleagues, I mentioned that I loved the ballet. “YOU love the ballet?” was the response. I answered in the affirmative and the next question, quite literally, was “Well do you head there after you shoot deer in your camouflage?” My response was to look at him and just stare in response. I asked him if he was serious.
I’ll admit – I work in a predominately liberal-dominated field. On an everyday basis, I don’t question it much but rather commit myself to doing the best I can for the program I serve. Lately, I’ve become extraordinarily frustrated with the assumption and frankly, the discrimination, I face. It’s not because I’m a different color, gender, have different ideals, live in a different zip code, etc. It is purely due to my lifestyle and the fact that I choose, love and am passionate about hunting.
I am a hunter. What does that mean?
Not an Isolated Incident, Here is a Small Sample
In recent times there have been several incidents where hunters of all shapes, sizes, ages, and sexes have received an onslaught of death threats and threats of violence. Environmental and animal rights groups stay silent when their members and supporters commit and threaten criminal acts. Where is the equality?
“This father and son should be shot thru the lungs why would a father encourage his son to kill and why would the son they both are not worth the air they breathe. Put them both in jail for the rest of their lives.”
“You’re the pest – and need to be hunted down”
“They are explicit. They tell how they are going to kill my son, like cutting his head off.
“may you all suffer a fate much worse than these Majestic Creatures are. A very slow mauling by a Grizzly would be nice. What goes around, comes around. MURDERERS.”
“kill that little worthless dog you have instead”
“There was one that they were gonna hang our entire family by a noose,”
“Wanted to burn the business down with us in it. Make sure we were in it,”
Local Cultures Promote Foodies, Sustainable, Organic, but Discriminate Against Hunters
Portland is a place that is very, very proud of its foodies. We celebrate those that grow their own food, farm their own chickens, question where our food comes from, choose free range, pay exorbitant prices for free range eggs, milk, etc. Why do we discriminate against those that choose to harvest their own food and feed their families in the truly most sustainable way?
My favorite conversation is with those that don’t hunt and don’t understand how I do. The number one thing I bring up is that you cannot get more legal, ethical and sustainable harvest than that of hunting/fishing/trapping. This is, for all intents and purposes, as “green” as you can possibly get. I bring in a salmon – it is my responsibility to kill it, gut it and harvest the meat. I kill a duck and I breast it out. By directly engaging with my animal, I am faced with the reality of what I have done and my connection to it. I find immense respect and connection in harvesting my own meat – by doing so, I am honoring the sacrifice made. I’m thankful for every bite of venison, elk, duck, goose, and salmon I eat because knowing I was able to harvest it myself means I did not rely on someone else to provide for me. I and I alone made this happen.
Oregon Promotes Equality…or Does it?
After being discriminated against for my skin color and my gender, this feels like a particularly uncomfortable violation. In my opinion, we live in an area that supposedly celebrates equality, equity, and the common man’s experience that we share. There is a huge commitment to community, grassroots organization and the attitude that every person deserves basic dignity and respect.
“So what?”, you ask. “Asha, what does it even matter that you’ve been discriminated against? You chose to fight back and continue fighting. Why does that matter to you, to me, to the average hunter/angler/trapper?”
It matters to you because it’s not just me. It’s not the women that have been vilified for hunting in Africa or overseas legally and ethically. It’s you – your family, your kids, your friends, your wives/husbands.
How Do We Change It?
What is our key? What do I believe is the factor to change this? There is no easy answer, unfortunately. There is no single thing we can target as hunters, anglers, trappers, conservationists to change anyone’s mind. The anti-hunting movement attacks women hardest often because, as USSA states on their site:
“They’ve seen an increase in women hunters over the past several years and that makes them nervous,” said Nick Pinizzotto, USSA president and CEO. The increase in women hunters, shows that our hunting heritage is not only being passed on from the father of the family, but from both parents. Certainly something that the anti’s don’t want to see as it puts their agenda in great jeopardy.”
It’s time to stand up. Stand up WITH each other instead of to each other. Stop the bullying, arguing, infighting and stand together as conservationists. Fight back. Fight WITH your wives, daughters, hunting buddies and show Oregon – show the nation, that we are – we deserve – better than death threats, slander, libel and ridiculous anti-hunting rhetoric. Here is what the Oregon Outdoor Council intends to do:
You can do you part and join the Oregon Outdoor Council today (click here)!
P.S. Be sure to do your part by joining the most aggressive pro-sportsmen organization in Oregon! Join the Oregon Outdoor Council today (click here)!