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Surrounded by wolves in a North Dakota oil town

To feel safe in an oil boomtown filled with lonely and sometimes aggressive men, Nathina St. Pierre packs a pistol and her dog.

Tens of thousands of people have moved to North Dakota to take jobs in the oil fields or businesses serving them. Independent radio producer Todd Melby has been working on a series, Black Gold Boom. Marketplace is airing some of his portraits of people caught up in the oil boom.

Most of the people who have come to North Dakota for work are men. Today, 21-year-old Nathina St. Pierre talks about what it's like to be a woman surrounded at every step by lonely and sometimes aggressive men. Listen to her story in the audio above.


Ben Garvin recorded the conversation with Nathina St. Pierre and Todd Melby produced it. Todd's series, Black Gold Boom, is an initiative of Localore and the Association of Independents in Radio.

About the author

Todd Melby is a North Dakota-based reporter covering the oil boom for public media project Black Gold Boom: How Oil Changed North Dakota.
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Please do not describe these men as "lonely". They are not abusing and harrassing women because they are lonely. These men are taking advantage of a situation in which women are isolated in a hyper-masculine culture. It is about power and social status, not an unmet sexual or emotional need.

Marketplace, please issue a correction. Attributing this behaviour to lonlieness is not only factually wrong; it contributes to the prevailing opinion that this behaviour is normal, and therefore, acceptable.

It is horrible that a young woman would need to take these extreme actions to protect herself from assault.

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