April 12th, 2017

A familiar conversation here at Copper is one about ratios, specifically, the ratio of female-identifying people to male-identifying people*. We talk about this so often because the way the crazy ratio here affects every aspect of life is completely unlike anything I’ve ever experienced before, and will honestly probably ever experience again. There are some expected consequences, and some ones I would not have guessed.

One of the most obvious results is that women are sort of like unicorns, and get a lot of attention from guys. This does however create a wonderful dynamic among the women. There is a very distinct lack of competition, and instead a strong sense of comradery and friendship – a feeling that is inherent with almost every other female I meet. It is so unbelievably refreshing to live among women and always feel this undeniable kinship and instantaneous connection. Of course, I must note that while the relationships I have here with other females are amazing, there are so freaking few of us. Our comradery is one of necessity, one of surviving in a place where we are constantly surrounded by males. Not only males either, but males who feel competitive and deprived of interactions/sex with females. This aspect is undoubtedly the very best thing about the ratio, and perhaps the only truly positive thing.

Another predictable manifestation of the lack of females is the desperate males. I remember going out with four of my friends (all guys) to the local bar a couple weeks ago. We were all a bit tipsy and playing cornhole when one of my friends said “How does it feel to be the most wanted girl here?” I didn’t even have to think – I laughed and said “It feels like I’m the only girl here.” I know that every guy I was consistently hanging out with that night other than those with girlfriends (about two of the six-ish) wanted/want to have sex with me or be something with me. I am absolutely not writing this to brag because this has nothing to do with me. You could have put any other female that was moderately attractive and not annoying and it would have been the same situation. In very simple terms its shitty. It is shitty to feel like guys only like you because of your gender/sex. It is shitty to never know if you have a genuine connection with a guy or if you’re just a woman and they are automatically attracted to you to a degree. Its shitty to feel like some of the guys you interact with are “out of your league” and in the real world would never talk to you. Perhaps the shittiest thing is that I feel like an object constantly. I do not think there is any need to elaborate on this last statement, because that is all there is to it. Feeling like an object is (almost) never-ending.

An unexpected result of this crazy ratio is the pronounced divide between females and males here. Because there are so few females, mixed-gender groups don’t naturally form. Guys are so used to being surrounded by other guys that it can sometime feel strange to be that one girl, or, more accurately, everyone is acutely aware that you are a female in a group of all guys. For example, the other day I was watching some of my friends (all guys) play catch outside my window. I wanted so badly to go join them but I was stopped because I didn’t want to seem like that girl that is trying to hang out with all the guys. I was so painfully aware of my gender, and I don’t think that would have happened in an environment with a more equal ratio. If there were a normal number of females here me being the only woman wouldn’t have made anyone think twice since it wouldn’t be an unusual occurrence to simply casually hang out with a girl. Females are also guilty of creating a sort of artificial divide between the genders. Hanging out with a group of other women is so nice and somewhat rare that every time a big deal is made from it. Its automatically labelled “girls day” or “girls night” which brings to attention the fact that we are females, not just ya know, humans hanging out.

Lastly, the number of males makes masculine culture very pronounced. For the first time, I feel like I’ve sort of been let into “bro culture” – the handshakes, the un-emotional ways of interacting with each other, and, of course, the sexist, racist, homophobic remarks. I think the lack of females makes guys here more comfortable making these jokes/statements around me or more often than normal. Part of it could be that this is an action sports environment, and I am interacting with people (gals and guys!) very different from what I’ve been interacting with my whole life (that liberal bubble though anyone?). But seriously, the amount of sexist jokes I hear is ridiculous, and the semi-ashamed but mostly unabashed sexist comments are on a whole new level of frequency. Another unsettling thing I hear a lot is males saying “fag” or “that’s gay”. Its hurtful, and I’ve gotten better at calling things out but damn it is not easy.

I do want to make it clear that I love it here, and I love all my friends of both genders. I have met amazing people**, and I wouldn’t change this winter or exchange the friends I have for anything.


*Honestly there is an acute lack of an LGBT+ scene here. For simplicity, I’m going to just say “female” and “male” from here on out. I also haven’t met anyone who publicly identifies outside the binary so this will pretty much be a cis-centric post :/. Also its gonna be hetero-normative which sucks but that is what this is about.

**Peak some of my favorite humans in the picture at the top.

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