GTFO – Celebrating women, all women, always.
Since launching GTFO in the Summer of 2017, we have gotten a lot of questions about the nature of our group being women only.
Some of these questions have come from men who are genuinely curious as to why.
And we think this is great!
Part of our mission at GTFO is to create space and start a conversation about women in the outdoors.
But some of those questions have taken a different tone: one of anger, outrage and allegations of sexism. This is what we’d like to address today.
For those who don’t know the story of GTFO, it all started when one of our founders, Joanna, posted a survey on Facebook asking her female friends if they were interested in becoming more active outdoors. From there, the survey spread, and Joanna was shocked to get hundreds of responses from women all over New Brunswick. The data from these women showed two things in resounding numbers:
There were hundreds of women who were interested in becoming more active in the outdoors
There was a strong need for a women’s only space
And this is not our own assessment: women told us they wanted this.
From there our group formed. We are a team of four [volunteer] executive members who all have extensive experience in the outdoors, either as life-long enthusiasts or employed in the industry.
One of our first events was hosting No Man’s Land, an all-woman adventure film festival, and guess what? We sold out… only further validating the need for this female-driven space.
Whether you like it or not, we like adventuring with other women. That doesn’t mean we dislike adventuring with men.
What we’ve heard from a lot of women is that they have felt like excelling in the outdoors is equated to masculinity. When you’re a “chick who can keep up”, you become “one of the guys’
… but why is this seen and given as a compliment?
Each woman will have her individual reason for choosing our group, but our priority is to welcome them when they come.
And if you don’t understand the reasons, that’s ok! The internet is wide and vast and at your disposal. Try Googling ‘women in the outdoors’ or ‘sexism in the outdoors’. In the age of #MeToo, #TimesUp, or a man in Toronto murdering people because women have denied him sex, it is not our job to explain how sexism is still alive and well in 2018.
And you may like to think that nature is the great equalizer and the ultimate level playing field: that there is no competition, sex, gender roles or dynamics in the great outdoors. Heck, we’d love to think that too! But this has not been our experience, and it’s why this survey from Outdoor suggests an ever prevalent gender gap and an article called How to Avoid Creepy Men While Hiking has over 21,000 shares.
If the fact that we are a women’s only group brings up a negative emotion for you, ask yourself this:
Why does women creating space for themselves bother me?
Why do women feel they have to do this?
What can I do to create more welcoming environments so women don’t feel this way?
We are committed to standing behind women and pushing for women to be more included. And this includes all women: gay and queer women, mothers, women of colour, indigenous women, trans women, immigrant women, the whole spectrum of womxn, and the whole lot of y’all!
So, when you lash out at us on the internet and show visible anger at the fact that women are coming together in sisterhood on their own terms to spend time in the outdoors, this only further reinforces to us that GTFO needs to exist.
With love, keep on sendin’ it!
Nicola, Joanna, Kaylee, Stefanie & Jen
Your GTFO Executive