Women of the Wild (Part 1: Reclaiming Our Place)
“I am woman, hear me roar.”
This famous lyric was written in 1971 and sung by Helen Reddy, an Australian born singer. For women all over the country, this lyric became their mantra. It was a lyric meant to take take back women’s power in the world, to reclaim our place.
And now, I am singing it as women in the U.S. and all over the world reclaim our place in nature.
Admittedly, my original title for this article was “Women in the Wild.” After giving it more thought though, I realized that the title had no power to it. It ignored exactly what I wanted to convey: that women not only belong in wild, but are part of it.
How did this change come about? I’m sure books like A Silent Spring, Wild, and Becoming Odyssa have helped light a spark for many women and that athletes like ultra-runner Ann Trason, climber Lynn Hill, and mountaineer Lhakpa Sherpa have fueled the fire, but I also think we’ve heard the call of Mother Nature. In addition, “Women in the Wild” wouldn’t do justice to all the women out there now, getting down and dirty by backpacking, rock climbing, kayaking, and trail running. It wouldn’t do justice for all the women who fought for the U.S. Mountain Running Championships to race equal distances for both men and women, or organizations like Women’s Wilderness and Trail Sisters, both located in Boulder, CO, who are creating a sisterhood of powerful women reclaiming our natural place in the wild. Finally, it wouldn’t do justice to you, my dear wild woman. You, who just by reading this and delving back to your true nature (pun intended) are at the forefront of helping women to reclaim their place in the wild. In ages 18-24, women actually lead men in outdoor recreational activities. And while there is still a discrepancy between men and women in the wild across the board, the last decade has shown a movement of women getting outside. We may have grown up watching our brothers go on camping trips with dads, told not get dirty, and that the wild is not safe for women, but we no longer believe the lies that a woman’s place is inside.
Truly, we are all daughters of Mother Nature, birthed from her core and meant to shine her beauty, our beauty, all over the world. We have even inherited Her curves, Her valleys, Her rivers, Her mountains. In us, we have inherited Her storms, as well as Her glowing stars and radiating sunlight. Mother Nature is the place where life springs, creativity explodes, and nurturing is found. I would give a similar description to any strong woman. I claim this definition for myself, and for you as well.
Yes, we are truly women of the wild.
I would like to slightly elongate Helen Reddy’s famous lyric to encompass all of our rights: I am woman, hear me roar…or chirp, or growl, or neigh or howl. As women of the wild, we have a right to roar with power, to chirp love songs as the sun rises, to growl when our boundaries are crossed, to neigh with freedom, to howl with strength and pleasure at the moon. We harness all of these energies to use and share at our will.
Who will you share this power with? As women, we are both the change-makers of the world. If it the world is going to grow and bear fruit, it needs our nurturing. But my guess is, you have friends who haven’t yet found their roar, watch as young girls get told to not to get their dress dirty, and witnessed mothers adhere to the old adage that a woman’s place is in the kitchen. Now I’m not saying that kitchens are bad (I love cooking up new vegan dishes!) or that there isn’t a time to stay clean, but simply that these views are stigmas that are keeping women from experiencing their strength and connecting with nature. Let us share the wild with other women and reclaim our throne.
Together, let us roar, chirp, growl, neigh, and howl.