A fisherman. Not a fisherwoman. Not a fisherperson. Perhaps I'm just not PC-enough (which is most likely the case).
I realize that many women will loathe me writing this. Many women backed the suffrage movement until they realized what it meant. Until they realized that it meant they would be treated as equals. That they would have to work out of the home. Have to think about careers. They might have to be single their entire life and have to earn a living for themselves. They would have to pull out their own chair at dinner and would have to open the door themselves. Yet, they could also vote and decide and drink and smoke and wear pants. And, they could think for themselves. Thank God, we could finally think for ourselves.....out loud.
I know full well what this belief of mine means, and what writing this means. It means that as a woman in a male-dominated world I have to be as good as, no --- better than --- most of the men. That is, if I want to be taken seriously. And I do. And I will be. I'm not just a pair of breasts in waders. I'm no trophy, nor are my fish.
I've been here before, in the minority. I've been the only girl in the show ring holding up a 1,600 lbs. steer's head. They didn't make women-specific cattle for me. And I had to train my steers better as a result. Less muscle = more finesse. I've been the only woman in an entire conservatory classical guitar department. The only woman on stage, and they didn't play any slower for me. I had to keep up. And I did. During the first week at the conservatory a classmate said, after hearing me play, "well, you're good for a girl." I cringed. I refused to be good for a girl. By the end of the year I was better than him. And I refused to be "good" because I wore short skirts and low cut tops. I wasn't going to sell out my sex. I won cattle shows and I was a damn fine guitarist. I was good. And not just for a girl. Did I have to prove myself though? Of course.
And now in yet another male dominated world -- fly fishing -- with which I've fallen in love, I know I need to do the same. Segregating the sexes is not any way to make the field more diverse. The Bitch Creeks and Page 6 Chicks do nothing to make women become interested in or feel more comfortable fitting into this sport.
By placement, it's shown who the real fishermen are. And it's been fitting, for the most part. Women have written woman to woman, not flyfisher to flyfisher. My sex still needs to prove itself. Women have done it to themselves. We've haven't risen to the standard of fishermen. We’ve risen to the standard of fisherwomen. And while I know it isn’t PC to say, it’s different than that of being a fisherman. The standard is lower whether people will admit it or not, and even if the title persists, the expectation needs to change.
My kind of feminism isn't sexualized. I'm a woman and I think that's fairly obvious. I don't need to have a pink rod or waders that hug my hips. And I don't need to be overly tough and bitchy to make my point. My kind of feminism, my way of being a woman, means that I will cast and tie and fish as well as men. Not out of spite, or to impress, but out of respect. For you -- and, for myself. I want to fish with you – not against or behind.
I will be the first to admit that there are some very big physical differences between men and women. Some very big strength differences. We aren't the same and I am not one of those women who think that we are. However, not being the same doesn't mean we can't do the same things; only, in different ways.
My fishing partner, a man, told me the other day that I’m a good fisherman. I don’t feel good yet, but I hope to be. Someday. A good fisherman. That, is what I want to be. And that, is what women need to be.
So there. I said it. Out loud.