Women in the Outdoors: “Shrink it and Pink it” Doesn’t Work?!?

Manufacturers are beginning to understand that “Shrink it and pink it” doesn’t work anymore. Shown is Illinois hunter Vicki Cianciarulo who co-hosts The Choice and Archer’s Choice TV programs on Outdoor Channel. Photos courtesy of Tenzing Outdoors.

This column is about ladies but it is addressed to the guys. Here is our vital Public Service message for the Holidays: Stop buying gifts for women.

Actually, you can continue purchasing chocolate, flowers, birthday cards, useless decorative pillows for the bed, jewelry, fancy soap for the guest bathroom and all the other stuff that females typically enjoy and men pretty much hate. However, we really need to stop buying them hunting and shooting accessories.

This advice is based upon the opinion of pretty much every woman I have encountered.

Our topic falls squarely into the whole “Man/Woman, Mars/Venus”-thing and came about as most do: after a major failure on my part.

I made the common man-mistake of buying my wife a gun purse for Christmas last year to carry her pistol. It was a great purse, understated, stylish, highly functional and I spent a considerable amount of money on the quality leather hand bag that seemed to fit her “look” perfectly.

It was perfect, except for the fact she hated it.

I soon learned that no matter how well you think you know the woman in your life, you shouldn’t buy her personal outdoor gear.

This point was hammered home when I began talk to Sweetie about what is now known as “The Great Purse Incident.” During our hour-long talk she finally laid out an important tidbit that I apparently missed during my male training: “Purses are so personal to woman that you should let her pick it out herself.”

“Fair enough,” I thought.

But the topic grew wings and soared off the chart after I shared our humorous minor-misunderstanding with a couple of woman I know. If you want to provoke a spittle-flecked outburst of annoyance in a female, talk to ladies about this subject of outdoor gear produced by a male dominated industry. Just try to protect your feelings with armor plate beforehand because it won’t be pretty.

I honestly wasn’t aware this was even a problem because I’m a guy. From my own experiences I know that some gear fits me well and some doesn’t but I never even imagined a world where nearly everything, ranging from clothing to holsters, doesn’t work because of my body configuration.

Even though I remain a mossy-back troglodyte, I do agree that in most things men and women are equal and should be treated as such. However, there are profound biological differences that no amount of politically-correct indoctrination can ignore, which gives rise to today’s predicament.

This “fit” problem arose because men simply ignored the unique needs of women and have consciously or unconsciously assumed that what is good for the goose is equally fine for the gander. Judging by my informal polling, this isn’t the case, at least when it comes to outdoor gear.

Females have significantly different requirements for equipment versus men due to some obvious and less-obvious differences in our bodies. Woman are generally smaller of stature and have smaller hands, they have less upper body strength, their hips flare more noticeably, their chest area is radically differently and finally, most of them can’t just unzip their trousers and irrigate the scenery. You then add in the important issue of men’s style and tastes (or utter lack thereof) versus that of women and you have a recipe for major dissatisfaction among the ladies.

Fortunately, the outdoor industry is waking up to the fact that “Shrink it and pink it” doesn’t always make for suitable woman’s gear. With more and younger females taking part in outdoor adventure, especially shooting sports, manufacturers are starting to realize that they need to actually ask women what works, what doesn’t and what appeals to their specific fashion sensibilities.

All of their men would be smart to do likewise.

So, as the gift-giving season comes to a rolling boil, don’t make my mistake of thinking that a purse is just a purse is just a purse. Either hatch another gift plan or make sure the lady in question has major input on the gift purchase because it is highly likely that whatever gear you bought isn’t going to work for her and it will end up causing heartache and discontent for both parties.

In our case, Honey also felt terrible about the situation but I eased her gift-guilt by explaining this is exactly the same reason why I have so many nearly-new holsters stuffed into drawers and bags. What seems great in the package doesn’t always work out in real life so sometimes even good equipment just ends up on the “Island of Misfit Gear.”

She bought that reasoning and we’re happy. She even grudgingly agreed that the same logic applies to my collection of backpacks, currently the fifth-largest privately-held stockpile in the U.S.

I love that woman but she is gullible!

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Brent Wheat
A well-known and award-winning writer/photographer/radio & television talent/speaker/web-designer/media spokesperson/shooting instructor/elected official/retired police officer/bourbon connoisseur/cigar aficionado/backpacker/hunter/fisherman/gardener/preparedness guru/musician/and jack-of-all-trades-but-master-of-none, Brent Wheat is the editor and publisher of WildIndiana.com

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