There aren’t enough women in the oil patch

WILLISTON, N.D. — Christina Knapp and a friend were drinking shots at a bar in a nearby town several weeks ago when a table of 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 with dark streaks in her light brown hair, a bird tattoo on her chest and piercings above her lip and left cheekbone.

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 as rare around here as veggie burgers. 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. “I was talking to my buddy here. I told him I was going to import from Indiana because there’s nothing here.”

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. Girls’ night out usually becomes an exercise in fending off obnoxious, overzealous suitors who often flaunt their newfound wealth.

“So many people look at you like you’re a piece of meat,” said Megan Dye, 28, a nearly lifelong Williston resident. “It’s disgusting. It’s gross.”

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters. He writes a weekly column for several North Dakota newspapers, and also serves as a policy fellow for the North Dakota Policy Council.

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  • JW-American

    Well….., after reading that article, Obummer should just shut that nasty filthy petro driven Testosterone fueled town down, maybe just ban fracking and all the ills of the world will go away. Hell, He could add it to the list today and make it an even 20.

    Maybe King Hussein should include big grants for wind, solar and bio fuels,to replace filthy oil production, because we all know those “Clean energy” workers are so much more civilized than filthy Petro workers..

    Gimmee a freaking break! enough already of demonizing that which the NYT disagrees with, I read this morning that Rachel MADCOW was in Fargo at the abortion clinic after an entire month of ranting about 20 children that died in CT.
    They kill 30 babies a week the Mz Mcow. by my match that’s 120 would be grade school kids in just the time since the CT shooting. but its ok, because somewhere in the constition there is a right to an abortion.. Somewhere..

    But the 2nd amendment…? “SHALL NOT BE INFRINGED” is too flipping vague or not relevant in these modern times??? WHAT THE F&^K?

    Has the world flipped word upside down, did I fall into some sort of rabbit hole, did my sailship flip upside down over the edge of the sea?

    Guns bad, banning guns good, Screw the 2nd Amt. A nation of laws is now more..

    Killing 6 year olds very bad (I agree) killing unborn’s A OK, and MadCOWS’s visit “is to help lift the stigma of abortions”

    Which brings us back to topic, OIl bad, oil workers even worse because of anti feminist beliefs that 20 somethings with lots of money and testosterone are horndogs like Bill Clinton.

    Bill Clinton good, “Father of the year in fact. Oil workers again, Bad.

    Folks, I’m really worried, I worked hard to elect Republicans, between the Indian reservations voter fraud, the illegal votes of bused and vanned in “New Americans” and the apathy of a bunch of disgruntled Ron Paullerz, we know have Joel Hietkamps sister as our Senator, a virtual twin of Ed the red Schultz in looks and beliefs and in a few days, her and dirty Harry Reid will be changing 160 years of Senate tradition to rid the filibuster rule.

    We are soon to be enslave by debt, and these assholes at the NYT want to disparage the working men who live in campers and shantys in a ND winter to further the agenda of making our country more dependent on foreign oil who btw funded the election of “Dear Leader”.

    MSNBC discussed the other day, that Zero should be on Mt Rushmore, I say blow up MT. Rushmore because Lincoln, Washington and Jefferson would be ashamed of what our country has become.

  • The Whistler

    Beer, Mixed Martial artists and boobs. Nirvana.