Having fun outside is steeped in racial oppression and marginalizes people who are poor and overweight, according to a new post from Everyday Feminism.
The article – here just in time for spring – said that nature is a “rich, white playground” which actively excludes everybody else.
Under the headline “Outdoor Recreation Isn’t Free – Why We Need to Stop Pretending It Is”, writer and former “river guide” Emily Zak acknowledges that going outside and visiting many national park sites is, technically, free.
However, Zak argues that barriers to actually visiting a forest or a lake are still oppressively real.
They include the fact that you need to get there, and transport isn’t free.
Walking boots, tents, rafts, kayaks and camping stoves are all also not free, meaning people with less money can struggle to engage with the outdoors.
She also attacks the stereotypical image of the outdoors enthusiast as a straight white male, which she says contributes to keeping out minorities.
Zak also pointed out that overweight people can experience difficulty engaging with the outdoor world.
“Fitness culture”, she wrote, “reeks of fat-shaming”, pointing out that much outdoor wear does not come in extra-large sizes, or can be uncomfortable if it does.
Women and minorities who go outside also have to contend with microaggressions from park staff and other human beings, even in the wilderness.
Zak also claimed the outdoors industry is permeated by rape culture, which can keep women out of outdoors jobs like being park rangers or lumberjacks.
She contends that in order for the situation to change, people who like going outside should start feeling guiltier about it.
As Zak says towards the end of her piece: “We need to go beyond calling ourselves lucky. We need to understand ourselves as privileged.”