Tuesday, March 8, 2016

The Trials and Tribulations of a Female Detectorist Part 1

This article is going to be the first in a series--mostly because I have been working on it for over four months, struggling to come up with a concrete commentary that was both educational and thought provoking (and at least mildly entertaining).  My focus was initially on defining terms, like body policing, slut shaming, body image, and the unequal playing field for women in metal detecting and beyond.  It quickly exploded into a four page Word document that seemed to have no end in sight, so I had to break it down.  I knew that I would face challenges heading up Girls Rock Metal Detecting.  I was prepared for more than a few "discussions" wherein my feminist chain would be yanked.  I was not ready however, for the total exasperation I felt over some of the things I've witnessed in the wonderful world of social media.  These are my first hand observations from the perspective of a female metal detectorist.

Part 1:  

The day I joined the metal detecting community I was immediately inundated with friend requests, mostly from heterosexual men.  Having worked in the music industry, this clearly isn't my first rodeo, so I wasn't even remotely shocked.  It's a fairly common occurrence women face online, especially in a male dominated hobby like metal detecting.  Men are intrigued by someone from the opposite sex showing an interest in their hobby.  They are visually driven creatures and many of them focus on looks.  Then there are the ones with an incredible sense of entitlement who choose to display their "keyboard balls" (an interesting phenomenon where they hide behind the keyboard and blurt out anything they have on their minds which, as you can imagine, is often quite inappropriate).  I take the jokes in stride, unfriend the ones who are unable to adapt, delete the shady comments and carry on my happy trail. Simple enough right?

Look, I am a complex person, just like everyone else.  However, I approach life with a pretty laid back attitude.  I have a fun personality, I love rock music, cute clothes, computers and metal detecting and oh...I am... a WOMAN!  While you certainly cannot "know" me based on my Facebook posts, blogs and videos, my personality definitely shines through.  Sometimes I'm shy, sometimes I'm silly, sometimes I'm bitchy, and yes... sometimes I'm freaking sexy! (Too sexy for this blog in fact!!) I make no apologies for any of it.  Digging a little further (pun intended) you'll find that I'm also a very intelligent, well-put together, talented, grown up who is isn't half bad at metal detecting. Thankfully I am surrounded by a multitude of other amazing and equally skilled (some even more so), beautiful female detectorists.  And one thing I've come to realize, we spend far too much time having to defend our clothing choices, explain our selfie shots and having to prove our skills and the validity of our detecting finds.

First and foremost, there is not a single person on any of these pages, or in real life for that matter, that has a right to tell anyone what they can say, how to behave, or what to wear.  We are individuals and may express ourselves in any way we see fit. Further, we are not responsible for anyone's reaction to the way we look or any inappropriate behavior or comments posted by individuals with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and a complete lack of social skills.  It should also be noted, as females, if we choose to chat with guys about detecting or go digging with a guy (because let's face it, our female digging partner options are quite limited) there should be no aspersions cast or elbow nudges any more than the scenario being with two men. Lastly, it is not our fault if our posts or videos get more views.  Belittling the recognition of our finds by making a correlation between the number of likes versus the number of men that want to get in our pants is, well, tired.  If you have an issue with the number of likes you may want to have a conversation with the people doing the liking. Oh and while I'm at it, last time I checked this is social media and made up of senseless narcissistic selfies, cat videos and food porn.  So we'll post as many pics as we wish and should not have to scrutinize every image to ensure that it's not too provocative or can be twisted into some sort of sexual innuendo.

The important point of all this, as we co-exist with our male detecting friends, whatever the reason behind the likes, the number of friends we have or our perceived "popularity", we should not have to temper our posting, exclude ourselves, or have our cool finds diminished and devalued just because we are women.  Posting a selfie does not "entitle" me to be disrespected.  There should never be a time where I hear the words "Oh you  have to expect that being a women detectorist" as I voice indignation over receiving an unsolicited penis picture.  I have met some amazing people on this journey and I should not have to exclude myself because some dudes don't know how to behave.  And I refuse to be held responsible for that behavior. I have not invited it and I do not have to own it. 

Incidentally this is not a male bashing post. Some of the worst offenses I've seen have come from other women just being plain mean. Since I have been a part of this community I have observed all sorts of interesting behavior from attacks based on the cut of a blouse to girls calling other girls ugly because they don’t post pictures of themselves.  I've witnessed outright name calling and finger pointing.  I myself have received a few murmurs regarding my own cleavage or disapproving glares based on a tongue-in-cheek meme I've created.  Heads would have spun off into another dimension had these people been around during my music magazine days.  But that's neither here nor there. 

Now, do I like being told I'm pretty? Sure! Who doesn't?!?! Do I like comments about what you'd like to do with your pin pointer or how many inches deep your targets are? Listen, I like a good joke as much as the next person and I'm not that easily offended.  But believe me when I say, I am not getting an ego boost from these comments nor do Facebook likes translate to any sort of validation for me.  The way I look at it, I'm sharing my finds and personality with like minded people.  I embrace my inner rock star because it's FUN, not because I'm trying to be popular (It's FACEBOOK people... gimme a break). I do however wish for Girls Rock Metal Detecting to be successful and for that to happen I must participate in groups and continue to make it fun and engaging. In the meantime, if the only reason I receive likes on my finds is because I'm a girl, then so be it! Because girls really do ROCK and we deserve all the recognition we get!  So let's celebrate that and get back to the detecting shall we?

xoxo Siren Kimmie (HDIC Girls Rock Metal Detecting)

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