I’ve been watching an interesting show called Naked And Afraid. Basically, the show takes two individuals, one male one female, and drops them off in some of the most unforgiving locales on earth with one item of their choosing (per person). The couple then strip down, removing all clothing and are left there to survive, neolithic style, for 21 days after which they must make their way to an extraction point. I’ll begin with the disclaimer that these shows are, of course, there to generate ratings as opposed to demonstrating the true essence of wilderness survival, the two individuals have camera crews and medical professionals on site monitoring them at all times. In no way am I under any impression that these people are ever truly on their own, or that “reality” shows convey any true sense of reality to their viewers. It is guilty entertainment for me, nothing more.
To some degree though, the two contestants must work to acquire food, to build shelter, and to avoid the elements even if they are under constant supervision just in case things get out of hand. Contestants are shown shivering in the cold, dehydrating under the hot sun, making their own fires and hunting and foraging the native flora and fauna… my point is that they do make an effort to survive.
Given that the contestants are always a man and a woman, you can guess that a great amount of “strong independent women”, are treated to a healthy dose of reality at the hands of the cruel and unforgiving wilderness. Gone are the trappings of civilization where women are coddled and spoiled, covered by the armor of whiteknight politicians and the material comforts of a technologically advanced gynocentric society. Occasionally a competent and capable woman trained in the art and science of survival makes herself invaluable to her male partner and even distinguishes herself as clearly being the stronger member of the two in terms of survival strategy, but the general trend is as follows in this video of an episode taking place in Botswana.
The man is trying to get to the destination, his partner in tow, both are caked in mud trying to escape the blistering heat, then the woman starts to crack, in this case on the very first day. She, like her male partner was experiencing the effects of dehydration, the male simply accepts the fact that there is no other choice but to tough it out and continue toward their destination, the female decides that she needs a break and plants herself right square in the Botswana sun in order to rest, forcing the male to endure the sapping effects of the scorching heat as well in the process.
He stands over her simply waiting, trying to hide his impatience, the woman states the obvious,
“Im sorry i don’t want to hold us up”
The man immediately attempts to comfort her,
“No no you’re not, theres no rush, we have all day… kind of.”
The way he said “kind of” along with his body language betrays him, it’s clear to see that he sees her as a hinderance and is visibly annoyed at having to deal with her, even still he awkwardly tries to comfort her, telling her its ok, even though he knows it’s not. It’s a two person microcosm of modern society, men getting the job done, with women lagging behind and men making excuses for them the entire way through. When he is being interviewed by the camera man away from his female partner the truth comes out, he expresses frustration that his partner is struggling this much, on the very first day and only a few hours into it at that. We see some version of this scenario unfold in the vast majority of episodes that have aired throughout the four seasons naked and afraid has been on air.
No one episode was as bad as the particular case of a gentleman named Matt Strutzel and a woman named Honora Bowen. The two were tasked with surviving a 21 day stay at the Lençóis Maranhenses National Park in Brazil, a desolate landscape of endless sand dunes with the unique feature of having an impermeable rock layer that allows rain to form pools of water that collect in the valleys of the dunes.
The couple meet for the first time and immediately tell each other what item they brought to help them survive. Matt brought a Kukri machete he forged himself (he’s a blacksmith) which turned out to be very useful, Honora presented to him her magnifying glass which she claimed would be useful in “purifying water”.
She then proceeds to spend copious amounts of time using the magnifying glass to purify a trivial amount of water, while the sun scorched whatever liquids she had in her body right out of her. The entire episode can be viewed here.
Matt instead decided to build a shelter, hunker down out of the sun and only forage for food at dusk or dawn so as to avoid the scorching sun as much as possible. Being a vegan, Matt subsisted on cacti and fruit, moved little during the day time and tried his best to conserve energy. After a few days Honora began to dehydrate severely as a result of her water purifying sessions and fruitless foraging missions.
Growing increasingly impatient she took her frustrations out on Matt, demanding that he help her in her calorie-costly water purification rituals. Matt refuses, and she throws a massive tantrum telling matt that he is fat, that he smells, and that he is worthless. She then in a bizarre display of petty vindictiveness insisted that they take their shelter apart piece by piece and go their separate ways, demanding half of the resources of the shelter she barely worked to construct, much like countless women demand everyday in divorce courts. Matt himself couldn’t help mentioning how much it all felt like a divorce when they were splitting up.
Honora then strikes out on her own, and given the fierce independent woman she is, manages to find a single coconut. Needing to use Matt’s machete to open it she finds it in her to offer him a grudging and disingenuous apology for the insults she hurled at him earlier. Matt, seemingly holding no ill will towards her after the vile things she said to him allows this.
Shortly after, Honora passes out from heat exhaustion and dehydration and has to be hospitalized, forfeiting the challenge in the process. Matt goes on to finish proving to himself and everyone watching that his strategy was superior to Honoras in essentially every way. After they are both home, back in the comfort of civilization, Matt agrees to meet up with her, giving her words of encouragement and even returning her magnifying glass back to her. There is no real point to this article other than to highlight the fact that men have a pattern of being the competent giving leaders on this show and females demonstrate a pattern of being incompetent selfish takers, much like in real life. It’s great fun to watch even if it is formulaic and contrived at times, enjoy an episode or two for yourself.
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