On the day of this writing, I’m working on the South Park Bridge, which spans the Duwamish River from Seattle to Tukwila, Washington. It’s a beautiful day. As locals say, “the mountain is out,” which means I can see Mount Rainier on the horizon. (God, but I love my job.)
It must also be the start of fishing season, because the river is dotted with little boats, mostly occupied by Muckleshoot Indians, one assumes. This is part of their prime fishing grounds. What a pity that their shoreline views are now factories and their associated ugliness.
Other parts of the year, the Mulkleshoot stretch out their salmon nets and I get to watch the harbor seals rob them and boaters desperately try to avoid them. But at this time of the year, I love to watch the fishermen float along with the current in their groups of twos and threes, quietly casting their hooks in hopes of bounty.
I don’t see any women with them. At least not today. Floating man caves is what these are. A chance for some male bonding.
I have a theory about the division of labor along gender lines. I don’t honestly believe, for example, that most Muckleshoot think that women are incapable of fishing. It’s just that sometimes you just want your space. Sometimes you just want to be around people of your own gender identity. It’s like shucking off your work clothes and getting comfortable after a long day. It’s a chance to truly be yourself. Every human needs that, now and then.
I think it has been thus for centuries. The men tended to go one way and the women went the other, for pure sanity’s sake. And after a while it becomes tradition. And then it becomes an unwritten rule. And then it becomes shocking if someone wants to break that rule. That’s when it becomes sad, but also understandable.
Not that I agree with it, as I sit here doing my male-dominated job. I just get it. So have fun fishing, guys. Relax.