Saturday, April 9, 2011

Magan Hebert

Many of you who regularly read CalistaJones will notice a shift in format with this post. I'm starting to focus more on ideas than specific women. Each new entry will still highlight someone who has influenced me, however, their accomplishments won't be the main subject. Hopefully, this won't be off-putting. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is when people make jokes about about my "poor" dad and all the girls he had to live with.  I know it's meant to be cute and that yes, he was for sure outnumbered at times as the only male in our family, but still, SO annoying.  

Mim and I had an avid ice skating obsession when we were little and one of my favorite memories of the two of us is "skating" in the living room while my dad watched the evening news.  This happened a lot and he would put up with it for a while and then would inevitably wave his arm at us from the couch and exclaim "Quit it!  Do that back there!"  It just makes me laugh to think about this because our "skating" consisted of donning leotards and tights while running in circles backwards.  That's the extent of "putting up" he had to do; two little girls jumping around during the nightly news.   

He would watch skating with us all the time.  He'd pop popcorn (a treat he is known for) and we would hangout together watching Kristi Yamaguchi (my fav) twist and jump her way to gold.  My dad isn't a skating fan but he loves us so much that he did things in order to spend time with us regardless of his own personal interests.  Midori Ito, a Japanese skater, accidentally crashed into the cameras during an attempt at a jump and for years my dad would bring us to tears laughing when he would recount the incident as a "sports commentator".  It was always a fun family activity. 
Nancy Kerrigan, Kristi Yamaguchi, and Midori Ito
Check out the bangs!
Loving one another is a two way street.  My sisters and I all did things that my dad liked because we wanted to share interests with him.  As I've mentioned, we did the Soap Box Derby, we launched rockets, and camped.  We loved all of these things because it was stuff he liked to do.  My musical taste was heavily influenced by my dad's preferences as well.  On long road trips to Florida, we would listen to Johnny Cash, John Denver, The Beatles, and The Highwaymen.  Music, that to this day, remains my favorite because of the memories it evokes.  

Mim, Randy (dad), Cat, and Me
I am quite sure that my dad never wished us to be boys and never felt that his daughters were anything to put up with.  Sure, we didn't get into some of his interests, but I don't think that was a gender thing.  That's just part of being a free thinking individual. Afterall, we don't like all the same things my mom does either.  And on that note, my sisters and I couldn't be more different than each other.  Even with our differences however, we all have certain interests in common, that vary with each relationship.  It's just what makes us a family, which would still be true if we had a brother/s or if we were all boys. 

One activity that just never took off with any of us is my dad's love of hunting.  He hunts deer and wild turkey.  Sometimes he goes with friends, but mostly, he enjoys being outside alone in the woods.  It was always exciting whenever he would get a deer.  He would gut it after shooting it, then would hang it in the garage before bringing it to the butcher.  I've never been a big meat eater, so venison wasn't my favorite, but I would at the very least try it.  And, it is pretty good!  He never tried to force any of us to go with him, but we knew that if we wanted to, the offer was open.
 Pellet Gun my Dad Bought Me

We never wanted to.  But, I did go shoot the gun that he bought me for Christmas with him, once (lol), and I liked it!  It was pretty fun and I was a decent shot.  He also bought my sisters and I a Red Ryder BB gun but we never even took it out of the box.  We're just not gun girls.

Some girls are gun girls.  Magan Hebert is one of them.   

There are about a million different "issues" I could discuss about hunting, guns, gun rights, gun legislation, animal rights, eating animal products, factory farming, blah blah blah, the list could go on and on. Magan's hobby could fracture into many different tangents, that are relevant and worth discussing in certain contexts, but really just highlight a single, important idea: nothing is one dimensional.

My friends, the Comedians You Should Know, had a release party for their debut album of the same name.  (You should buy it, it's super good and fun, not feminist though ;)  It was a great night, however, a friend tried to piss me off by introducing me to a girl who believes that women cannot equal men because of "science".  Everyone should agree that when your source is simply "science", you probably don't really know what you are talking about.  OK OK, that's a bit catty.  She said that she knew of a study that proved that women focus on 10 things at once and men only focus on 1 thing at a time which makes them better able to concentrate on more challenging tasks.  She didn't say what the exact study was.  I held it together; she's pretty young (that's one thing I say/think when trying to understand someone's WRONG opinion).   Also, I knew the friend who made the introduction was just trying to get a reaction out of me.  She ended up being a really nice person, so whatever, it's fine.

The next day, I Googled for a long time, trying to find what study she could have possibly been referencing.  Turns out, there are MILLIONS of studies claiming to prove the differences between men and women.  This one seemed to be the closest to the one the girl was talking about.  (Maybe?)

Basically, in this study, the conclusion is that women focus on details because in earlier generations, we were predominately gatherers, while men see the bigger picture because they were the hunters.  Hunters find their prey in open spaces, gatherers have to dig and search smaller areas for roots and berries.  So naturally, as we evolved these traits began to manifest themselves into our society in different ways. I guess my disclaimer should be that this study isn't saying one sex is better than the other, but certain minds could use it to make that claim, ex. the girl at the party. Actually, I don't really know what study she was talking about and am still at a loss but this should be proof that I really did try to understand wtf she meant. ;)

Now, I am in no way arguing against science, it's just that with these types of studies there is little account for anyone, male or female, who doesn't fit into the slim perimeters that have been selected. Whenever someone does stand outside of the box, we take notice and marvel at how different they are.  Which is why I know of Magan. NPR wrote an article on her because she is a cheerleader who hunts. 

I liked her story a lot because she doesn't really talk about being different. She is just a girl who likes to hunt. Her dad got her into it, but it's an activity she also shares with her mom. She has been doing it for 4 years and has killed two deer. Hunting requires a lot of patience and persistence. And like the scientific study said, the hunter must focus on a large area, and constantly be aware of, in this instance, her surroundings. 

Magan and her mom.

Magan must be a mutant female because she literally goes against the establishment in regards to what primitive humans determined appropriate for her sex. She even likes hunting more than her brother. Where could she have possibly come from!? (If a sarcasm font existed, it would have been used in that last sentence.)

My main issue with contemporary stereotypes against women is that they paint us in only one way. I understand that this idea can be applied to men as well, however, it doesn't seem to have the same negative affect. Men are allowed to be thoughtful and romantic even if they are macho and aggressive. Women can be feminine or they can be feminist. Many people have a hard time reconciling their idea of those two words when they coexist in one person. I am feminine while feminist, which is why people who know me personally, and don't hold any traditional feminist beliefs themselves, tell me they tolerate my "brand" of feminism. Now, it isn't different. My feminism is exactly the same as all those "male hatin' butch feminists", I just wear short skirts and kiss boys. 

I'm not sure why we (society) need everyone to be one size fits all. Even NPR had Magan's story in their "Hidden World of Girls" series. Her world isn't hidden. She is very open about her affinity for hunting. And she is most certainly not the only female out there who likes to hunt. I can only deduce that we get some type of comfort from thinking we are all alike or that there is only one way to be. It has to be why we put all this effort into scientific research that makes us feel like we know exactly what makes a woman and what makes a man. Everything in this world seems to be multifaceted though. I don't know why we can't apply that to people and gender. Again, nothing is one dimensional. 

Magan certainly isn't and she has no apologies for that which is refreshing. 

Gender is generally a social construct used to establish this need for comfort that we all seem to desperately seek. There isn't one way to be a woman or a man, just like there isn't one way to be a person. Maybe I'm too stereotypically feminine to some and too stereotypically feminist to others. Walking that line is what makes me deeper than any stereotype and Magan's story has reminded me to be proud of that fact. 
Magan (10) with her first deer.


  1. Wow. If anyone in my hometown would have heard the totally shocking NPR story about the young woman who likes to hunt, they would have said, "And...?" The hidden world of girls and women is maybe hidden in the media, marketing, whatever, but not to anyone who knows actual girls.

  2. i don't think this will ever catch on, but check it out: