Monday, 4 February 2019

Trophy Hunting in the Arctic and the Polar Understanding of Man

"Men weren't really the enemy - they were fellow victims suffering from an outmoded masculine mystique that made them feel unnecessarily inadequate when there were no bears to kill."
Betty Friedan (1921-2006)

"Few women were involved in trophy hunting, regardless of geography. Both the absence and presence of women can obviously be of importance in the development of a particular practice. Because trophy hunting tourism is primarily a male tourist practice, an understanding from a gender perspective is unavoidable."
Lena Aarekol

Trophy hunting does not aim at obtaining food or any other profit such as securing income. Around 1830, "British sporting gentlemen" introduced trophy hunting to Scandinavia. At the time, they already used to practice it in their African and Asian colonies. Hunters from Germany, Austria and America also went further north. Arctic trophy hunting became popular in the period of Arctic Ocean imperialism, during the time expeditions were set to conquer the poles. "Concomitant with these approaches to the Arctic, what we might call a polar masculine understanding of man and nature evolved", emphasising qualities such as physical strength, restless energy, roughness and a strong will.
Because of the overall modernization in the western world, including urbanization, migration and women’s emancipation, during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, this area was still considered a place where western males could exercise masculinity, challenge nature and be “men of the frontiers” (Bloom 1993, 32–33; Felski 1995, 20; Gordon 2006, 10; Karlsen 2011, 44–48). This implies that the Arctic trophy hunters did not enter an empty space, but an already masculinized arena in which trappers, explorers and adventurers had set the terms. Merely by travelling to the Arctic, the trophy hunters performed masculinity (Hansson 2009: 70).
Aarekol (n.d.:3)
Polar bears and walruses were the most attractive targets when "hunting for trophies and potency".

- Aarekol, L. (n.d.). Arctic Trophy Hunters, Tourism and Masculinities, 1827-1914, The Arctic University of Norway, link
- photographs of Elizabeth Montgomery (1933-1995) via and via and via


  1. Another great one, thank you!

    1. Betty Friedan's quote was the inspiration for this posting ;-) Many thanks for dropping by, Macy!