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Don’t Market Black Hills “Female Companionship” to Bakken Oil Men

Because Rebecca Leas is an outspoken critic of Powertech/Azarga's plan to pollute the Black Hills and use up our water to help the Chinese get rich off our uranium, Pat Powers portrays her as an out-of-touch feminist. Don't ask for logic; for Pat, it's just personal.

Leas spoke to the Rapid City Council last night to speak up against the objectification of women inherent in a comment made by Rapid City economic development honcho Benjamin Snow two weeks ago at an energy conference explaining an advantage the Black Hills could leverage to draw residents and business from the Bakken oil fields:

But Ben Snow, president of Rapid City Economic Development Center, said at an energy conference Thursday that the region has another, less obvious but hugely important enticement for oil and gas companies: the fact half the city's population is female.

"Here's another advantage I love to give these guys (in North Dakota) a hard time about: We have a one-to-one ratio of male to females here," Snow said to a chorus of laughter at the ninth annual New Horizons Oil and Gas Conference, which was held Thursday afternoon at the Black Hills Learning Center. "We think that's a good thing."

It was intended as a joke, but it was also a part of Snow's overall argument that the quality of life in Rapid City is superior to northwestern North Dakota and Montana, where much of the oil and gas resources are located. And having more women may be a big deal for workers who live in so-called man camps and get lonely for female companionship [Scott Feldman, "Rapid City Courts Energy Industry by Touting Female Demographic," AP via Casper Star Tribune, 2014.04.27].

Rebecca Leas finds the objectification of women as an economic development resource and the laughter greeting it "disturbing."

So does Karen Pettigrew of Rapid City:

It was really mindless and offensive of Ben Snow to offer an adequate supply of women for energy-industry workers in his bid to lure energy-related business to the "Rushmore Region." While he may consider a 1:1 ratio of women to men provides a high quality of life inducement, many will find that an influx of male workers in search of female companionship is a concerning situation that can lead to exploitation of vulnerable women in a community.

Mr. Snow is obviously ignorant of the efforts of Rep. Kristi Noem, U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson, Family Heritage Alliance and law enforcement officials to raise public awareness of the existence of human/sex trafficking that already occurs in South Dakota.

Using women as bait does nothing to enhance the image of our region, and insults our women [Karen Pettigrew, letter to the editor, Rapid City Journal, 2014.05.01].

So does Karen Goulet of Hot Springs:

Women of the Black Hills, rise up in protest! Do you want to be looked upon as “female companionship” for workers who live in man camps? Do you want your daughters used for “economic development” in the area? According to Ben Snow in the front-page article of the April 25 Journal, you are welcome as one of the lures to get the oil and gas workers to open industry in Rapid City.

...It is time for hard choices. We may have economic development, but at what price?

Women and men who care about your wives, daughters and sisters and our beautiful Black Hills, it is time to be heard. If not now, it may be too late [Mary Goulet, letter to the editor, Rapid City Journal, 2014.04.30].

So does Jim Kent of Hot Springs, who puts Snow's brutish comment in proper historical and social context:

I have to admit to being pretty stunned when I read the story. I mean, it’s hard to believe in this day and age... that anyone—especially in a leadership role—would present the women of their community as an enticement to bring in male workers, regardless of the industry they’re a part of.

Of course, I realize there are many fans of the “Deadwood” TV series who see a certain charm in Ian McShane’s portrayal of Al Swearengen. But the reality is that Al’s Gem Saloon was a brothel, and he treated the women who worked there like dirt—behavior no community should aspire to.

...Saddest of all is Snow’s apparent unawareness of, or insensitivity to, the female population in a town that’s already been cited as the nation’s “Rape Capital.” You’re right, that was “years ago.” So, let’s move forward a bit to the February 2014 CNN report listing South Dakota as No. 2 in the country for incidents of rape [links mine; Jim Kent, "Come for Women Joke Falls Flat," Rapid City Journal, 2014.05.01].

Sex trafficking is a major problem in the Bakken oil fields. To joke about marketing South Dakota as a place where Bakken oil men can find females demonstrates ignorance of or insensitivity toward a culture of misogyny bred by the Bakken oil rush. To protest such misogynist thickheadedness, as Leas, Pettigrew, Goulet, and Kent do, is not, as Powers tries to characterize it, making it a crime for men to like women. It's actually a call for men to like and respect women much more than Snow's comment suggests he does.

Related: Leas's protest came in the midst of a Rapid City Council meeting in which many church-going citizens advocated stricter rules against Rapid City's only remaining strip club. Ben Snow was not there, but would he say such regulation will hinder local economic development?


  1. Steve Sibson 2014.05.06

    Cory, you and your fellow New Age Theocrats are the ones promoting sexual immorality in America. You made the bed, now sleep in it.

  2. larry kurtz 2014.05.06

    great names for bands, sib: new age theocrats, sexual immorality in amerika.

  3. CK 2014.05.06

    Steve, I don't see how standing up for LGBT rights, such as marriage equality and such, qualifies as promoting sexual immortality. Perhaps you need to check the etymology of your term, "New Age Theocrats," and get back to me on that one.

    Snow's comments disgust me. Our mothers, sisters and daughters are not fodder for men. Women in Willinston, ND, feel unsafe, treated like meat. There has been an alarming increase in sexual and domestic violence. We don't want that for SD, and that is precisely what would happen if we use women as "bait."

    When a society exploits the female population for economic gain, and treats it as a commodity, it fails those females. Until we end the prevalence of rape culture in America, we continue to fail our daughters, who should be able to feel as safe as a man to walk down the street alone.

  4. Steve Sibson 2014.05.06

    CK, please don't take my comment as an endorsement of Snow's position. I have rejected the thought that one side has to be right and one side has to be wrong. Sometimes wisdom leads one to conclude both sides are wrong. This post is the pot calling the kettle black.

  5. Steve Sibson 2014.05.06

    CK, not sure how long this will stay up on this website, but the uniting of all religions (except Biblical Christianity) into a one-world religion that sets up the one-world political system which manages the one-world economy is what I refer to as the "New Age Theocracy".

  6. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.06

    Steve, it's not going to stay up if you resume your effort to turn every conversation here to your hobbyhorses. This is not about you or your fantasies. The crime and misogyny in the Bakken and the ill in Snow's comment comes from greed, money, stupidity, and basic human weakness. Stay in the topic, and keep your "New Age Theology" and persecution complex to your own blog posts.

  7. larry kurtz 2014.05.06

    Bakken = Boko Haram

  8. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.06

    The irony of Snow's comments about women are that they come from Rapid City, SD the rape capital of the nation. Maybe not so ironic!

  9. Steve Sibson 2014.05.06

    "persecution complex to your own blog posts"

    I thought this post was about females being persecuted by males.

  10. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.06

    (We're not having this conversation, Steve.)

  11. supertreat 2014.05.06

    This criticism is a bit over the top. It was a passing joke - not some endorsement of sex trafficking. You're trying too hard.

  12. CK 2014.05.06

    I do not find the objectification of woman humorous at all. If that is in line with Mr. Snow's sense of humor, he should keep his jokes to himself.

  13. CK 2014.05.06

    I meant "women," not woman. My apologies.

  14. Barry Smith 2014.05.06

    Please please Nooooo! Please don't tell me that I am going to have to sift through Sibby's nonsense again Cory. I am getting to old for this. It has been so nice. I guess I just can't figure out Why? what does he add? I am pinching myself right now and praying to Baal that I am having a nightmare.

  15. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.05.06

    Nope, not even the tiniest little bit "over the top."

    Larry, I was thinking about Boko Haram as well, as I read this post. Some may not know that Boko Haram (means Western Education is evil) recently kidnapped over 200 girls from their school in Nigeria, and plans to SELL them. SELL human beings. BH said they'd sell them as brides as young as 9 years old. They plan to continue the mass kidnappings too. That is simply Horror!

    Women have a very recent history of being treated like property to be controlled and owned. Don't forget, gentlemen, we've only been "allowed" to vote for Less Than 100 Years. Give yourselves a minute to think about that.

    Women have not been allowed to open bank accounts or sign deeds and contracts for about 50 years. Take some time to think about that too.

    Women didn't get to play sports unless the school felt like it until 1974. Rarely did schools "feel like" it, except maybe for intramural activities.

    Women have always known that men have an unfair power advantage because they are biologically stronger physically.

    The things that Snow said all sound different to us because our autonomy is very new. We, or our grandmothers and aunts, didn't get to be treated as full-fledged, legal adults until relatively lately.

    Our autonomy continues to be under attack. Political institutions dominated by men continue to try to control our bodies through laws restricting our medical decisions. The top target there seems to be our reproduction, including forced ultrasounds, mandating doctors lie to women, etc.

    There is so much more, but I hope Supertreat and other ignorant people, female and male, will spend a little more time realizing their ignorance and that they need to consider the full story and so attain a better understanding of the world through feminine eyes.

  16. CK 2014.05.06

    I don't think I could've worded that thought as eloquently as you. Well said, my sentiments exactly! (You rock!)

  17. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.05.06

    Thank you CK. Is your first name Louie?!

  18. Steve Sibson 2014.05.06

    "praying to Baal that I am having a nightmare"

    Baal is your nightmare.

  19. grudznick 2014.05.06

    Hi there, Mr. Sibby. I, for one, have missed you and your analysis and tidbits of knowledge. For instance, this Baal fellow sounds quite interesting.

  20. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.06

    Isn't the national Chamber of Commerce a Republican organization?
    If so, that would explain Snow's typical Republican view of women.

  21. John 2014.05.07

    Nice job, Deb. Perhaps Mr. Snow's idea of economic development includes reopening the cat houses in Deadwood and Rapid City. What a republican. Does he have a mother, grandmother, spouse, sister, daughter - I mean really. No wonder sexual assault remains rampant on campuses and in the military for this civilian type tripe is the source material for both.

  22. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.05.07

    Agreed John. No wonder.

  23. Steve Sibson 2014.05.07

    Roger, most would consider the US Chamber of Commerce a Republican organization, although the NEA gave the South Dakota Chamber a million dollars to attack the ballot measure that was designed to reduce corruption in South Dakota's state government. That experience woke me up.

    There is also an Education Excellence Partnership that is behind the Outcome based Standards reform movement that is now referred to as Common Core. The US Chamber is a member along with the US Dept of ED, both teacher unions (the NEA & the Federation), the Business Roundtable and other groups.

    Clearly the premise that the two parties have separate special interest groups is deceptive. They are working together. Their goal is what makes Cory mad at me when I mention it. Such was the case yesterday on this thread.

  24. caheidelberger Post author | 2014.05.07

    And Steve's back to bullshit. Write your own post, Steve, and publish it on your own blog. Your irrelevance to this discussion and your effort to hijack conversations is what makes me mad.

  25. Roger Cornelius 2014.05.07

    I repeat, the National Chamber of Commerce is an arm of the Republican party that provides lobbyist for big money and campaign donations to Republican candidates!

  26. Les 2014.05.07

    LOL, Sibson the post hijacker? You've got your own here Cory. They just suit your purpose.

  27. supertreat 2014.05.08

    This type of ridiculous political hyperbole and logical fallacies are exactly the type of thing that turns rational individuals off from politics. I appreciate the ad hominem attack as well- enjoy yourselves. Here's some good reading for you

  28. larry kurtz 2014.05.08

    st: consider self-immolating in protest.

  29. Deb Geelsdottir 2014.05.08

    Larry, you are quick witted.

    Do you take some time to think about your response, or does it just quickly pop into your head?

    Either way, I'm a fan.

  30. larry kurtz 2014.05.08

    What a nice thing to say, Ms. Geelsdottir. The secret is forty five years of cannabis: dain bramage has been very good for me.

  31. lesliengland 2014.05.13

    lk-just as long as it wasn't in adolescence!

Comments are closed.