#MeToo, Diana Nyad, and Sexual Assault in the Outdoor Industry
Prompted by the Harvey Weinstein scandal, thousands of women have begun to tell their stories of sexual harassment and assault across social media using the hashtag #MeToo, and the list of powerful men across all industries accused of sexual misconduct is growing every day.
To many, it feels like a watershed moment in the national conversation about consent and sexual coercion in the workplace – an issue that has long remained hidden, allowing perpetrators to keep their jobs and status, while survivors carry the deep shame of their wounds. Alone.
Thankfully, women, like record-breaking, long-distance swimmer Diana Nyad, are speaking up. In her poignant and devastating op-ed for the New York Times last week, Nyad discussed the routine sexual abuse he experienced at the hands of her trusted high school swimming coach at just fourteen years old. Over half a century later, the memories of his repeated assaults still haunt her – this incredibly strong and talented woman, who at 64, achieved the impossible by swimming from Cuba to Key West in 53 straight hours. Despite all she has achieved, Nyad still wonders if she will ever truly heal from the trauma of her girlhood.
Gender Discrimination and Harassment in the Outdoor Industry
It’s no secret that the predominantly male outdoor industry is in desperate need of gender parity at the leadership level. At outdoor brands, enthusiast magazines and websites, and in local and national government, women are woefully underrepresented. However, one by one, brave women are reporting instances of assault and chronic harassment as river guides, as athletes, and as employees of the National Park Service.
But, it doesn’t stop there. According to a recent study done this year by Outside magazine, 53 percent of women have been harassed while recreating in the outdoors: 93 percent have been catcalled, 56 percent have been followed by strangers, 18 percent have been flashed, and 4 percent have been attacked.
This must change. And we can continue to influence the national conversation by breaking our silence.
At Bold Betties, we are proud to support women pursuing their dreams and greatest adventures. We invite you to share your stories of heartbreak and triumph with our community and the world.
You might just achieve the impossible. And, perhaps, inspire someone else to do the same.