Kat Powers

Don’t be a jerk, stay out of my tent I’ll stay out of yours

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Safety is seriously an issue for women outside. There’s no shortage of guys who think they can get away with showing up naked with the following excuses.

  • I pee outside within full view of you. Ooops.
  • You should know I’m going to change out of my clothes in an open leanto/Adirondack shelter.
  • I didn’t know this was your tent that I unzipped and started to barge in.
  • It’s totally natural for me to sunbathe naked after a hike/swim/ski.

While I don’t really want to draw a line between everyone’s natural state and what’s perceived as threatening, it’s no secret that one of the biggest barriers for women enjoying the great outdoors are creepy men.

And don’t be that guy. We know you’re fine. Here’s what I ask though — you can take a few steps to making it good for everyone to be outside.

  • Hike with someone who doesn’t look like you. I’ve taken some folks with pigment on hikes with me and they’re always remarking how they’re the only people of color they see all day. Make it obvious folks of all types belong in the woods.
  • Set a standard for peeing. When I need to pop a squat I make sure I can’t be seen from the trail. It’s not hard.
  • Get other guys to meet that standard for peeing.
  • Mark your tent. I understand being tired and starting to unzip the wrong tent — it’s not funny. For a woman in the woods it can be terrifying. I make it super-obvious which tent is mine so I don’t bother other families. You can do the same — and be ready at a moment’s notice for a game of capture the flag.

These aren’t onerous requests. They’re about respect. Just like I clean up my site out of respect for your experience, I hope you respect my safety out there.