Ladies, I’ve just returned from one of the dudeliest places on earth: the 113th annual Cheyenne Frontier Days, the world-famous week-long rodeo and festival of Western culture known as “The Daddy of ‘Em All.” It’s absolute cowboy heaven–and I mean genuine, Wrangler-wearing, square-jawed, professional cowboys with big belt buckles. It’s some serious manly man stuff, but while the testosterone is so thick you could cut it with a bullwhip, rodeo culture has never raised my hackles at all–quite the opposite.
For starters, Cheyenne, Wyoming should be a feminist place of pilgrimage. It was the place where American women were first given the vote, in 1869, more than 50 years before the 19th Amendment, and where, in 1924, America’s first female governor, Nellie Tayloe Ross, was sworn in. The state’s motto–printed on their flag–is “Equal Rights.” That pioneer culture was way ahead of the curve when it came to recognizing women’s contributions and giving them equal political standing (Wyoming was also the first state to have female jurors and court baliffs–in 1870).
And at every rodeo I’ve attended, cowgirls are celebrated right along with cowboys. While women don’t ride bulls, they are often outriders and steer wranglers, which requires great skill and true grit (try spending hours on a horse in the hot sun, chasing down and roping runaway steer and broncos). MamaSharper and I have often remarked on how un-misogynist the PBR and professional cowboys are, especially when compared to, say, the misogynist cesspit that is the NFL or NBA. It’s counterintuitive given how testosteronally charged cowboying is. But the women are getting it done alongside the men, and no one messes with the cowgirls.
But yes, the cowboys are delicious, even if it’s sexist and objectifying of me to say so. They just look so good in those Wranglers and hats, and they are unbelievably strong and athletic. If you’ve never been to a serious rodeo, believe me when I say that you will probably never see more spectacular live displays of athleticism unless you get tickets to the Olympics. Like this::
Horse-lovers like me also love being in a venue with over 1,000 beautiful saddle-horses. Out on the rodeo grounds, it’s horses as far as the eye can see. I also love how, since they’re in such great numbers, they revert to instinctive horsey behavior, including self-herding. Here’s a bunch that were just standing in a close nose-to-nose huddle for no other reason than that’s what herd animals like to do.
The bulls, while ferocious for their eight seconds in the ring, spend the rest of the time eating and hanging out in the mud with other bulls like this:
Anyway, I am back in New York now, where the only livestock wrangling I’ll be doing is walking my neighbor’s pit bull while she’s out of town. MamaSharper and I had a blast–again–and are already booking tickets for next year’s Frontier Days. Feel free to saddle up and join us for a couple days of true grit, hot cowboys and Western-style feminism.