Women are hounded in oil town full of men
Updated: 2013-02-03 07:37
By John Eligon (The New York Times)
Drawn to jobs in the shale oil fields in North Dakota, men outnumber women by a wide margin. A bar in Williston. Matthew Staver for The New York Times
WILLISTON, North Dakota - Christina Knapp and a friend were drinking at a bar in a nearby town recently when about five men called them over and made an offer.
They would pay the women $3,000 to strip naked and serve them beer at their house while they watched mixed martial arts fights on television. Ms. Knapp, 22, declined, but the men kept raising the offer, reaching $7,000.
"I said I make more money doing my job than degrading myself to do that," said Ms. Knapp, a tattoo artist.
The rich shale oil formation deep below the rolling pastures here has attracted droves of young men to work the labor-intensive jobs that get the wells flowing and often generate six-figure salaries. What the oil boom has not brought, however, are enough single women.
At work, at housing camps and in bars and restaurants, men have been left to mingle with their own. High heels and skirts are rare around here. Some men liken the environment to the military or prison.
"It's bad, dude," said Jon Kenworthy, 22, who moved to Williston from Indiana in early December.
This has complicated life for women in the region as well.
Many said they felt unsafe. Several said they could not even shop at the local Walmart without men following them through the store.