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Are birders sexist? (1 Viewer)

redeyedvideo

It's like water off a duck's back!
I can't say I've noticed any sexism in birding at all and not in any hides I've been in.

There was a woman having a rant at Mai Po because she couldn't get a seat, no sexism but not much chivalry that day with a Spoon-billed Sandpiper just about to put in an appearance. B :)

Conversations I have heard in many hides throughout the land though are the constant criticisms of a well know LaRGEr than life birder who some birders seem to be completely obsessed with.

There's barely a thread on the rare birds part of the forum where someone or (usually the same) someones always make a snide comment in his direction even though he no longer visits. I suppose some people have to have an outlet for their narrow mindedness and it comes out in different ways - sexist, racist or leeist, depending on the person & the audience.
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
I suppose some people have to have an outlet for their narrow mindedness and it comes out in different ways - sexist, racist or leeist, depending on the person & the audience.

That's pretty much where I was going, except that I would say everybody is guilty of it in some way rather than just some people, and guilt is probably inappropriate for such natural tribal behaviour.

John
 

MJB

Well-known member
In Western society the legal requirement to treat the sexes equally constrains the hard-wired tendency to (a) recognise the differences between them in many physical, intellectual and psychological respects) and (b) to celebrate membership of a group by, in the modern idiom, dissing those who are not. When not so constrained e.g. in a hide surrounded by apparently like-minded members of the same group, the tendencies manifest more obviously, and pack behaviour often magnifies the effect..... And for the record, I believe that being a hobbyist of any description is fundamentally a sublimation of the hunting instinct and therefore MAINLY the preserve of the male. Not exclusively. John

A very reasonable summary, John, but I would argue that it is by no means the whole picture, for some aspects haven't featured much in this thread.:eek!:

There is the question of intent when something is said, and that's often based on just how 'hard-wired' some people are on subjects like this. There's also the question of perception of what has been said.

In an inclusive group, gesture, facial expression and general body language form a context whereby intent and perception can be more easily 'read' (either to inflame the discussion or to moderate it). However, the 'rules' by which members of an inclusive group establish that inclusiveness aren't necessarily obvious to outsiders, and so it's when the reaction of a group to an outsider is unthinking or dismissive that offence can be given or taken. If unthinking reaction is the default reaction, then giving offence is more likely.

Debates on many social changes have long been marred by unthinking reaction - extending the voting franchise to the working class, universal suffrage, religious freedom, freedom of expression, for example - but change never happens instantaneously and through all parts of society. The opposite side of the coin is that once social change occurs, the section of society that receives a deserved new deal always has its own share of sociopaths and contrarians!

Debates on line, indeed on this forum, lack obvious cues of intent, and so responders' perceptions of intent can be fuelled by their own prejudices, perceived slights and the difficulty of establishing context. Trolls apart, online debates are liable to early-onset application of Godwin's Law.

So, are male UK birders sexist? I would say, from listening to so many in the field or in pubs or at meetings, a very qualified 'yes'; it's partly generational, older birders being prone to refer to 'the wife' having no birding interest and 'off doing her own thing', and perhaps partly the 'loner who can't speak to girls': however, the majority I would say are not sexist, or at least not intentionally so.

I recognise John's groups as he describes them, but I suggest that many group members support group opinions not because they fully agree with them, but because peer pressure exerts its influence...:t:
MJB
 

Jan-Paul Charteris

Sussex birder and budding moth enthusiast
I have to say my own experiences massively differ to some posted here. In my experience the general reaction to seeing a woman birding or indeed for example, someone of a non-caucasian origin birding, is that "it's nice to see it". I think the problem is "why don't certain social groups take it up" rather than that birdings are sexist or racist. People will always notice something different...it's up to the "social group" to make it an every day sight so it doesn't stand out

Apparently visitors to places like Papua new guinnea are stared at as they are very obviously different from the locals...does this make the locals racist? I think not
 

Gill Osborne

Well-known member
I keep reading this sentence trying to work out if it's the women or the (male?) birders who are suppressing flatulence. Which is more likely?

Andrew!!!! :eek!: It'll be the male birders obviously because everybody knows us ladies don't far....suffer from flatulence! ;)

Seriously though....I've never really experienced 'nasty' sexism in birding but there's been a few times when out with my hubby and the birders have all started talking birds to him :-O Poor Neil can just about differentiate between a blue and a great tit :-O He'll say ''She's the birder, not me'' I'm not offended by it - I just laugh it off.
 

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
I remember chatting to a well know male author of bird books/id articles who was in a relationship with a well known female bird artist. He told me that not being taken seriously, because she was a woman, drove her nuts! Or that's the gist, the conversation was about 20 years ago.

Gill - I'm not at all surprised by your experience. Laughing it off is probably the best approach, but it is still sexism.
 

michaelboustead

Well-known member
I will be at Cape May in early October. There will be I suspect many birders. I suspect that a majority will be women. Is this the case in Europe. If its 50/50 bird men and women wouldn't the "sexism" wear off over time?
 

Steve Babbs

Well-known member
I will be at Cape May in early October. There will be I suspect many birders. I suspect that a majority will be women. Is this the case in Europe. If its 50/50 bird men and women wouldn't the "sexism" wear off over time?

It would, but in the UK the ratio is nowhere near 50:50. I'd say, if you include owning a scope as a sign of a certain amount of seriousness, maybe 95:5? One of the things that really hit me in my two months at Cape May was the huge difference in the number of women birders between there and the UK.
 

deboo

.............
So, are male UK birders sexist? I would say, from listening to so many in the field or in pubs or at meetings, a very qualified 'yes'; it's partly generational, older birders being prone to refer to 'the wife' having no birding interest and 'off doing her own thing', and perhaps partly the 'loner who can't speak to girls': however, the majority I would say are not sexist, or at least not intentionally so.

MJB

So, that's a yes and a no then ;)

Must admit, I've not noticed any sexism whilst out birding. Then again, I'm probably not in the right 'place' to notice.....I'm birding!

That's why I commented previously.
 

northernloon

swimming in a virtual sea
Excellent points from MJB. Context is everything. I certainly wouldn't say the same things to my nieces or nephews as I would to my mates.

And despite their inherent disabilities, some of of the best birders I know are of the female persuasion and are to be commended for overcoming such disabilities as not putting the loo seat up.

I should of course include an obligatory smiley to indicate the sense of irony, thereby rendering my comments as ironic but hey ho
 

Jan-Paul Charteris

Sussex birder and budding moth enthusiast
It would, but in the UK the ratio is nowhere near 50:50. I'd say, if you include owning a scope as a sign of a certain amount of seriousness, maybe 95:5? One of the things that really hit me in my two months at Cape May was the huge difference in the number of women birders between there and the UK.

Well again, related to my last post, does the dearth of female birders in Britain lead the appearance of sexism (i.e. people noticing something that's different, even if they consider it positive, but then feeling they've got to do what society dictates is the "gentlemanly" and non-sexist thing of not debating ID's or questioning sightings as aggressively as they would from a male stranger)?

You're expecting a group of people who'd pick out the difference of a Curlew Sand from a flock of Dunlin to not act like they notice woman among 50 men?

My arguement would be that a lot of the appearance of sexism is because more women don't take up the hobby. We've had the YOC, the Gay Birders Society, I trust it wouldn't be sexist to suggest a Woman's Birders Society may help? I doubt many bat an eyelid at a young birder, contrary to what some on here have said, because "clubs" such as those I've mentioned have led to an acceptance and peers with whom to hang around with until such point as a balance exists that makes what is now a minority feel comfirtable to integrate themselves?
 

Penny Clarke

Well-known member
I think its a big non-issue. The only thing that I have noticed... and it amuses the pants off me, is that a lot of birders that don't know me (usually men but that's probably based on numbers) will walk past me and ask another bloke if x is showing, or is there anything about etc. Especially funny if its a bird I've found in the 1st place.

I often quote you Jane, as the most knowledgeable birder I know on Birdforum;):t:

Similar experience to yours on my blog recently here in the para starting 'I decided to leave and...."

I find that it much harder to be accepted as a female birder. But to be honest I'm not too bothered what people think. I just make sure I have my camera with me at all times, so that when I do eventually nail the 'big one' at least I will be believed, when its sitting full frame on my camera;)

Best Wishes Penny:girl:
 
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northernloon

swimming in a virtual sea
That's rather sad Penny. Photographic evidence, although nice to look at, should not be required just because you might wear a skirt occasionally
.
Luckily the pictures of me wearing a dress in Hamburg pre-date the digital age and are probably best glossed over but there's a lot in favour of having long eyelashes. Er, that's enough information. Anyway, there's footy on the telly...
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
My arguement would be that a lot of the appearance of sexism is because more women don't take up the hobby. We've had the YOC, the Gay Birders Society, I trust it wouldn't be sexist to suggest a Woman's Birders Society may help?

No no and no again. The solution to sexism or any other -ism is not sub-division into cliques it is blindness to differences. Cliquery (is that a word?) encourages a reaction against the clique.

John
 

Jan-Paul Charteris

Sussex birder and budding moth enthusiast
No no and no again. The solution to sexism or any other -ism is not sub-division into cliques it is blindness to differences. Cliquery (is that a word?) encourages a reaction against the clique.

John

I'm not suggesting everyones keeps company only with similar social groups full-stop, but that many women who have an interest in wildlife and birding may be put off because of the fact it is rather male dominated in terms of numbers. In terms of the young birders clubs, and the young border's thread on here, noone considers it ageist or a clique, and people in those groups may find company that encourages them to get into birding, but it's not like they then just stick within those groups and don't get to know other (older or male or whatever) birders?
 

Farnboro John

Well-known member
I'm not suggesting everyones keeps company only with similar social groups full-stop, but that many women who have an interest in wildlife and birding may be put off because of the fact it is rather male dominated in terms of numbers. In terms of the young birders clubs, and the young border's thread on here, noone considers it ageist or a clique, and people in those groups may find company that encourages them to get into birding, but it's not like they then just stick within those groups and don't get to know other (older or male or whatever) birders?

Yeessssss..... it may well be that some youngsters in particular start off on the specific threads on here and use those as a base from which to spread out to where we "oldies" are.

My experience of RSPB local groups is that there are at worst equal numbers of both sexes involved, though the devil on my shoulder does want to use words like tweed and brogues. And aggression of the domineering kind is rare in that environment.

But having spent my working life in a reasonably fair meritocracy with plenty of both sexes and all preferences; many ethnic groups and a wide variety of lifestyles; I resent enormously any attempt to increase division by emphasising differences. For me we are all birders - a single community albeit with many approaches and skill levels - and we should celebrate that unity and behave appropriately with each other.

John
 
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