Four years ago, Outside Bozeman printed an essay, written by Drew Pogge and titled "Bagging Bunnies," about how to pick up women on the ski slopes. More precisely, the essay turned the bunny metaphor into an extended riff about how dudes could get laid by stalking women and getting them drunk. Example: "Some bunnies will pull the bait-and-switch at this point, and any advance may be disdainfully chastised. Beware the complexity of the snow bunny. Feed her more beer before making a move."
"Bagging Bunnies" sparked a few angry comments in 2012, but nothing compared to the recent social media backlash when an Outside Bozeman staffer reposted the piece on Facebook on Friday, Dec. 16. Within hours the post had been shared and commented on by hundreds, many of whom also called on local businesses to pull their advertising from the magazine. Finally, editor Mike England took down the piece and posted an apology in which he called the essay "an over-the-top satire on ski culture, sexual stereotypes, and the ancient male-female dynamic," concluding that, "Alas, given the current political climate, the farcical nature of the piece was lost on many readers."
The suggestion that the "political climate" had muddled readers' reason provoked another round of backlash, and the magazine issued a new apology: "We realize the piece is in poor taste... We in no way condone the behavior described therein."
In the aftermath, England spoke on the phone with the Indy. He said it's been an eye-opening experience. "We need to continue the conversation, because an inordinate number of primarily women were upset," he says. "We stir the pot and try to question the status quo, but we're trying to figure out how to gauge that in the future."
"Bagging Bunnies" doesn't come across as either satire or a repudiation of the status quo. It's banal at best and a glib perpetuation of rape culture at worst. But the backlash against the piece is bigger than Outside Bozeman. A lot has happened since 2012, including the University of Montana's mishandling of rape reports and the presidential election of a man who brags about grabbing women "by the pussy." Organized reaction against sexist attitudes and "humor" should be expected. And if Outside Bozeman didn't see it coming, maybe they simply weren't looking in the right direction. Good thing there's an easy corrective for that. Just follow the readers.