Bear Grylls has a new show in the making and it’s got women a bit hacked off.
The Island Of Lost Blokes will see 12 hardy souls join Grylls in trying to survive on a desert island using just their instincts and ingenuity.
12 Hardy Man Souls that is. Channel 4 didn’t quite think women would be up to the challenge or be willing to participate.
And it has Sarah Outten hacked off. For those who don’t click links? She’s like a female Bear Grylls. Only she doesn’t do dangerous things on TV and promotes it as survivalism. Another woman who is irritated about the whole deal is Lisa Fenton who is a product of the Ray Mears School of Bushcraft.
A word here? I like Ray Mears and am not a fan of Bear Grylls. See the difference in attitude is what I like. Bear Grylls leaps off helicopters into terrain with no idea of what’s there (or that’s what his show implies). Ray? Ray walks in with sensible equipment and then talks to people who live in the region.
The difference is what they call their adventure. Bear calls it Survivalism.
Ray Mears calls it Bushcraft. One of the most touching moments was Ray working with the Native people from an Amazonian tribe. When he realises they lost the ability to make fire from scratch due to matches, he speaks to the oldest in the tribe who learnt the technique but never got to use it because of matches and helped them with his knowledge of other culture’s bushcraft redevelop the skill. Bushcraft is walking into a place with minimal equipment knowing you can use that to build elaborate shelter and enjoy the act of sleeping wild using those techniques.
To me? Survivalism is preparing for a zombie apocalypse. To me? Survivalists are people with excessively fancy knives.
Bear leaps into unfathomed water, he routinely gets soaked in his shows with no fear of hypothermia or exposure. He regularly eats animals raw without emphasising the dangers of food poisoning.
Ray on the other hand? Tells you the first thing you do to survive is to build a fire. That alone has saved countless lives. The heat, warmth, light and safety of fire has kept humanity alive for generations. The mere act of fire building has kept survivors from doing stupid things.
Any person who comes from his ethos of bushcraft is a good person to listen to on the issue in my book. Ray has never been about punching the elements but living in harmony. Ray Mears is the only man to go into the Kalahari and come back fatter.
Our bush and camp craft are a product of thousands of years of ideas. Most of us don’t “need” to understand how to make fire from scratch or learn to clean water or learn to build things from scratch. There are two attitudes to this, Bear is more popular across the USA but Ray Mears rules the UK and I suppose it’s our relationship with nature.
Nature is to be enjoyed, not murdered at knife point. So the genteel bushcraft of Ray Mears calmly hunting with the San of the Kalahari appeals to us more than Ray Mears eating snakes.
In addition? I think Bear is a bad influence. Nature should be respected. In trying to make his show exciting he does dangerous things. Those may be safer when he does it because he “checked”, but one day some kid is going to think he knows what to do in a situation and do a “Bear Grylls” and end up on some rocks. All that will happen if you emulate Mr. Mears is you meet some new people and learn their tricks to live in harsh climates. Everything he shows is a skill that can be learned. The most dangerous thing he teaches you is constructing bows and arrows, making fire and eating mushrooms (which to be fair he warns you with disclaimers on how he knows his mushroom hunting and what to avoid and that it is a skill to be learned elsewhere)
And these are people who survive in these places of both genders. Bushcraft and survivalism both owe their existence to learning from both men and women. Ray himself has gone and learnt from women who live in these harsh climates because both genders need skills to survive in the wild.
Ruth England, Sarah Outen and Lisa Fenton all have said they would be game to show us that women can do it too.
Channel 4 however have a different idea.
“The series sets out to examine modern masculinity and how traditional skills and ideas of manhood have changed over generations. For that reason men were invited to take part in the series to be stripped of modern day comforts and their skills put to test.” – Channel 4
Which is daft since the same situation of survival was a tradtional skill for women too. Women didn’t just lie around in caves waiting to be ravished by burly cavemen who brought home the mammoth.