Women Confront Ugly Realities in America's Most Beautiful Places

Sexual harassment and worse inside the country's park services
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 19, 2016 1:00 PM CDT
Women Confront Ugly Realities in America's Most Beautiful Places

(Newser) – The Huffington Post has a harrowing look at the "troubling history of hostility toward women" within the National Park Service, US Forest Service, and state parks and wildlife departments. That history, which continues to this day, includes rape jokes, up-skirt photos, threats of sexual assault, and revenge against any woman who dares stand up to that behavior. One example—and there are many—comes from wildlife biologist Cheyenne Szydlo. “From my earliest memories, there was never any place that felt safer or happier to me than the outdoors," Szydlo says. That changed in 2006 during a river trip with boatman Dave Loeffler after Szydlo accepted what she thought was a dream gig at the Grand Canyon.

During their trip down the river, Szydlo says Loeffler asked her to describe her sexual fantasies so he could make them come true, called her "hot sexy biologist," invited her to sleep with him, encouraged her to pose naked for a photo, and more. When she ignored his behavior, things got dangerous. She says Loeffler stopped her from putting on a life preserver at some rapids, and she nearly drowned while he laughed. Alone in the wilderness with Loeffler, who was in charge of everything from food to the satellite phone, Szydlo began planning how she could escape if necessary. She eventually made it back to civilization, but things only got worse when women tried to report such incidents. One victim recalls being told by a supervisor that they "used to not call it sexual harassment until the guy whipped out his penis and slapped you across the face with it." Read the full story here. (Read more gender discrimination stories.)

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