/ Experiences of being a female climber
I am currently a student on a research masters. In an attempt to combine work and play I am doing a research piece on the experiences of female climbers/walkers/mountaineers/boulderers. I am wanting to know if anyone has any gendered stories of being a female in the mountains and any positive (or negative) experiences you have had.
Particularly if anyone does have any experiences of sexism, I would be really interested to hear them.
I am currently just trying to gain an anecdotal selection so anything anyone has would be greatly appreciated :-)
You can either post on here or drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
I encounter far less sexism in the climbing world than in other walks of life. However, one "gendered" experience occurred many eons ago when I advertised for a female climbing partner on this site. I wanted to climb with another lass for two reasons, one to bypass any potential nonsense/crossed wires with meeting strangers on an internet forum, and two, I thought it would be good for my climbing prgression to climb with a female peer, with no machismo associated.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, no females replied, only several dozen males. After weeding out the creepiest I did go climbing with one, and of course despite his protestations at the outset that although he was a male he was only looking for a climbing partner, after a couple of sessions at the wall I had to fend him off.
I never did find that female climbing partner. I gave up and decided to go with the flow. Eventually married a climbing instructor.
I'd say the climbing community (in Bristol at least) is very positive towards women climbers.
The best example I can think of is that the advice I've most heard said towards new climbers (of both genders) and I often offer myself is: "Watch the women climb...this is what you're supposed to be doing"
> "Watch the women climb...this is what you're supposed to be doing"
.....sure quite a lot of lads belaying at the wall think they are supposed to be watching the women climb when really they should be watching their climber.
I find the peeing thing very annoying, but its more to do with peoples perceptions that its a big deal, than it actually being a big deal(its not). I think a lot of lasses need to just "man up" and tell people to look away. I also find men are truly fascinated by how "difficult" it is for a woman to pee in the outdoors. Its always men who ask me whether I've tried a sheewee. Just drop yer keks. Its no biggy.
Shewees seem like a disgusting idea! How unhygienic! I'm with you, just get on with it.
I honestly think so many barriers to female participation in outdoor sports are psychological and to do with perceived hardship not reality. Women are nails and are biologically built to put up with far tougher stuff than peeing behind a rock on a windy day.
I have seen loads of examples of 'gendering'.
- Other climbers always assuming that my (male) partner would do the leading
- Male climbers on neighbouring routes automatically talking me through move-by-move and not for male partners - obviously I asked them to stop spoiling it for me
- Male climbers climbing the routes we had done, immediately after us, assuming that as a female pair had done them they must have been easy (not even checking in the guidebook)
- Climbers at the wall seeing us looking at routes that were free saying 'oh there's another 5+ over there' assuming we wouldn't be looking for anything harder
- Male climbers trying to jump a queue at a belay or start of a multi pitch with the view that they would be faster than us as we were female
Obviously these could all be isolated incidents and it could be that I just look like a rubbish climber from a distance but generally I think it's because none of them stopped to see what we were actually doing before jumping to conclusions.
Generally, I also hugely prefer climbing with other girls partly to get away from this, but the males who I did climb with never behaved like those outlined above.
the peeing things isn't an issue... drop and squat.. blokes always turn away .. especially if ye dropping the kids off at the pool.women tend to make more an issue of it then it actually is.
the only issue for me is getting gear to fit.. not just with climbing and mountaineering but also with mountain biking gear... i've bought three pairs of my favourite climbing shoes in case i struggle to find a size small enough to fit.
i haven't done alot of climbing with women but would like to as i really do think we could learn from each other.. generally women do climb differently and picking up tips from each other and problems solving to get up routes/problems would be really helpful
Are they? I'm not particularly fascinated by that, and I don't think my male climbing friends are either. Also, for the record, if I were one of the several dozen male climbers who responded to your ad, I can assure you that you wouldn't be having to "fend me off". When you say "of course" the man you ended up climbing with sexually harassed you, you betray yourself by your rhetoric - you have a fixed set of prior expectations about male behaviour.
PMSL. During the birth of my first child (which went on a while...) the midwife kept reminding me of my mountaineering exploits by way of convincing me I could do it. I know which was tougher!
Anyhow, perhaps the most common thing I encounter is if I talk about the mountain rescue team, the almost invariable response (from both men and women) is "oh, is your husband in the team?". Well, yes he is. But so am I!
I'm not using rhetoric, have no agenda, just relaying an anecdote. Calm down.
And for the record, the guy didn't sexually harass me, he asked me out on a date, knowing I already had a boyfriend and acted all hurt and led on when I turned him down. It was awkward, I had pick my words carefully, and decided I'd been a bit too optimistic about the guys motives in the first place- if anything my prior expectations were that he was genuinely respectful that I wanted nothing more than a climbing partner, which turned out to be untrue.
The peeing thing- well done you for being so normal. I didn't say all men, I didn't mean you. Again, just talking about my experiences as asked in the op. Jings!
Although I think this has also improved dramatically over the last 20 years or so - when I first started trying to buy kit, there was virtually nothing in women's sizing at all. Or maybe I've just got better at searching it out?
Aha the mountain rescue thing! The only really truly eye-wateringly sexist experiences I've been on the receiving end of in the hills have been in a mountain rescue context, ie when training with the team. My team are a bunch of loveable neanderthals, but you would be glad to have them on your side in a tight spot so I wasn't going to show them up here with any shocking anecdotes (many of which are pee related).
> The peeing thing- well done you for being so normal. I didn't say all men, I didn't mean you. Again, just talking about my experiences as asked in the op. Jings!
"Jings"? Are you Shona / NaeDanger / Gudrunwhatsername?
I've climbed with a couple of female partners that I've met on this site, not specifically because they're female, just that they were the only ones who answered my post.
I think by the sound of it, you just happened to get lumbered with a bit of a tit. Some of us chaps do climb with female climbers and treat them as climbing partners rather than 'female' partners, if that makes sense.
> "Jings"? Are you Shona / NaeDanger / Gudrunwhatsername?
Oh dear, I'm showing my age/ignorance but I haven't a scooby who you mean.
Aw, he was a sweet guy really, but a bit desperate. As I said above, I find the outdoor community to be way less sexist than the rest of the world. Pretty much everyone I have climbed with has been male though, as I didn't find that female climbing partner I was looking for. These guys are some of my best friends and I value their friendship way beyond our climbing days out.
I was quite specific in the ad I posted that it was definitely a female partner I was after so in a way it was funny that so many lads replied.
Anyway that was a long time ago, and there are a lot more girls on the scene now. Hopefully girls starting out these days can find other girls to climb with more easily.
> I'm not using rhetoric, have no agenda, just relaying an anecdote. Calm down.
You are using rhetoric, in which I detect in a whiff of sexism, which is why I responded.
You weren't "just" relaying an anecdote - you chose that particular anecdote to relay. Your use of the words "of course" showed that the behaviour you describe in your anecdote is what you generally expect from men. Why else would you say "of course"?
if anything my prior expectations were that he was genuinely respectful that I wanted nothing more than a climbing partner, which turned out to be untrue.
Glad to hear it! However, this assertion is somewhat contradicted by "of course..."
No need to congratulate me - it's not so unusual.
You didn't specifically say "all men.." but you said "I find that men... " which sounds very much like a generalisation to me. In other words a general trend in male behaviour, which to some extent you have come to expect. So by implication that does mean me, since I am a man. That's why I felt I should inform you that I have no interest whatsoever in your toilet matters!
Okaaaay.... So I'll rephrase: "I find that a LOT of men have a seemingly unhealthy fascination for etc etc...."
Ok, I'll get off your case. I'm not saying you're a bad person. Probably got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning .........
Sounds like you are doing the assuming here. Maybe they knew which route it was, wanted to do it, and simply waited for the team ahead (you - but could just as easily have been a male or mixed pair) to finish, and "jumped on the route" because they were geared up and ready to try it. Their success or failure on the route is immaterial.
You say "another", meaing you've probably been climbing 5+. It's happened to me. I think nothing of it. It's not a gender-based comment, it's based on observations of what you've been climbing. Or are you saying that you get these comments just after climbing something harder than 5+ ?
Everyone tries to jump queues on multipitch. It has happened to me. I don't think it's gender-based.
I would agree with all the comments saying that climbing tends to be a very non sexist environment, where people are more interested int he climbing than anything else!
I did get totally confused once, when I was walking up snowdon with a woman friend, and a man asked me if I was alone. 'No - I'm with her???' It turned out that he was asking if we were unaccompanied by any capable men to look after us!
I've also had plenty of people asking if my partner got me into climbing and NOT ONE person ever asking if I got my partner into climbing - but they tend to be none climbers.
I would echo the gear thing - why are all harnesses suddenly impossible to unclip the legloops in one simple go? That doesn't make peeing any easier! I find a lot of women specific gear is in very limited sizes - I'm big, so usually end up buying men's gear, and wearing a belt....
I'm sorry, your completely sensible thread has been hijacked and its partly my fault.
So in the spirit of trying to get back on topic....
The gear thing I think has definitely got better, but I think it must be hard still for very small women especially things like winter gloves and boots.
>> ... since I am a man.
Well, actually, you're not. I expect your mother never told you this, but I can see from your profile that you are actually a green hippopotamus!
> I'm sorry, your completely sensible thread has been hijacked and its partly my fault.
I wouldn't say hijacked. You may disagree with my points but there's relevance to the original post - the OP said they'd be very interested to hear about experiences of sexism.
Dragon, actually - but I have let myself go a bit :(
Forgot to add, this has happened to me and I thought nothing of it. French climbers did it numerous time in France in 2011. Maybe they were being xenophobic? White Brits have done it at Horseshoe Quarry (I am half Asian), maybe they were being racist? Pairs of women have done it at various venues. Maybe they were being sexist?
I don't think so though!
> I did get totally confused once, when I was walking up snowdon with a woman friend, and a man asked me if I was alone. 'No - I'm with her???' It turned out that he was asking if we were unaccompanied by any capable men to look after us!
Thats awful!! And very funny. These sorts of daft comments usually come from outside the climbing community I think. Folks on Snowdon more likely to be representative of wider sexist attitudes out there.
I do find it interesting that some men get annoyed when women discuss their experiences of sexism. Even though the general agreement on this thread is that the climbing community is a positive place to be a woman, there are male posters taking issues with descriptions of experiences of sexism. Is it really so surprising that women experience some sexism from time to time? Certainly isn't to us women.
The selection of men who would respond to a ad asking for a female climbing partner is probably not representative - if I saw your ad I would instantly dismiss it (as I am a female climber!) so you would probably have had many more responses (and a smaller fraction of male weirdos) if you had asked for just a climbing partner.
Of course while I understand why women might want to climb with women in our imperfect world, in an ideal world gender should be irrelevant - I can't imagine putting up an ad asking for a male climbing partner.
On a slightly different note, I currently wear Evolv Defys (which I find fine, if a bit boring - like my climbing!). My only complaint is that I do have a small amount of (potentially) unnecessary room around the toes. The 'female-specific' equivalent of the Defys (the purple ones whose name I have forgotten) are basically the same but with minor sizing changes, including less space around the toes. Evolv do make them in larger sizes, and I wouldn't have minded trying them, but obviously most places did not seem to stock them in sizes above about 7. I imagine it a real pain if you are a women with larger sized feet!
Finally any man who doesn't think sexism is still deeply ingrained in our society and our subconscious is deluding themselves. We have largely made our laws fair, and most people are no longer consciously sexist, but many elements of our society are still sexist even if we don't do it deliberately - look at any statistics of women in work/research etc!
I see that I said made people defensive about sexism. However no, i'm not talking about coming off a 5+ and people assuming I'm doing another one, and no, I'm not talking about people just trying to queue jump, I'm talking about men saying 'hey, can we jump in front as we'll be faster than you girls', etc etc.
I agree with the comment above - if you think that sexism does not exist that you are not facing the facts. If you are a woman you experience it at some point to a greater or lesser extent.
The other thing that happened in my early days of climbing, was that my husband of the time didn't climb. Most climbers were male, so it would have seemed a bit weird for me to keep on going off for the weekend with another man. So although I mainly climbed with men, I did it in the context of going away with a club, rather than with individual partners.
I've been climbing for nearly 20 years, and think things have changed a lot in that time. I remember staying at the old free campsite in Font a long time ago, and being the only woman there. There was an awful lot of focus on my toilet habits, some of the guys seemed amazed that I was okay to go to the loo in a patch of nettles behind a bush like everyone else but I certainly didn't find it a problem!
I also remember one late night after large quantities of wine when one of the chaps got quite abusive about my being in the middle of my SPA. He really argued for a long time about why I would do such a thing, he couldn't seem to believe that a woman could or would be a climbing instructor.
I can't imagine those same situations happening now at all. Going out to the crag, or indoors to a wall is generally a positive experience; I seem to meet really nice people of both genders, who are happy to climb with me or just chat.
I wasn't annoyed. Why do you insist on saying I'm less than calm/annoyed, whereas you are merely "interested"? Perhaps it's the other way around? Perhaps you were annoyed at the suggestion that your choice of words may have been sexist.
I joined the thread by pointing out an example of sexism; namely - your posts. Apparently that doesn't count. Perhaps you think sexism is something that by definition can only be done by men to women.
If we should be careful about rhetoric, in order to try to avoid giving offence by being sexist, surely this applies to all of us, not just men. There are plenty of anecdotes in this thread in which women have been offended by mens' choice of words. I think it's hypocrisy to be so dismissive of an example of sexism going the other way.
Yes, that's understandable. There were also one or two other things that activated my "hypocrisy radar", but I could well be giving more weight to them than necessary.
I am actually genuinely interested to know whether anyone else on here has found my comments sexist.
Being called a hypocrite is a wee bit steep but I can take it.
> I am actually genuinely interested to know whether anyone else on here has found my comments sexist.
Well, maybe a bit. You seemed to make the assumption that men are only after one thing.
That's true, but why not say "anyone" rather than "any man". The statement is equally true of women who might think that way (and there are some).
> I am actually genuinely interested to know whether anyone else on here has found my comments sexist.
> Being called a hypocrite is a wee bit steep but I can take it.
Or perhaps it reads like you assume that most men, by default, will fancy you.
Yes, it was a bit steep - I withdraw the comment and apologise :)
That definitely wasn't what I meant, what I meant was that I went to the climbing wall with one I thought wasn't after one thing and it turned out he was.
Apology accepted. Nice crossing swords with you :0)
> That definitely wasn't what I meant, what I meant was that I went to the climbing wall with one I thought wasn't after one thing and it turned out he was.
> Or perhaps it reads like you assume that most men, by default, will fancy you.
Alas no longer true but maybe in those days... ;o)
Within our group though we do joke and mock each other's climbing styles or lack of. So for example, the girls will use balance and flexibility to do some tricky vertical problem where I'll just fail because I can't get my leg by my face, but likewise when they are failing on something powerful and my helping beta is just to 'ignore the feet and lay one on" but it's all good fun.
Ladies, ladies! I know it can sometimes be difficult for you to concentrate but please read what the OP is asking for! She asked for anecdotes "*Particularly* if anyone does have any experiences of sexism". All this 'I think climers are less sexist than general' rubbish won't help so please put thinking caps on your pretty little heads and come back with something better suited to what she wants to write about. Personally I don't think sexism in climbing exists ;-)
As a female who climbs a lot, I think sexism in climbing definitely exists and although I usually try not to let it bother me, it can get a bit irritating sometimes. For example at the crag, male strangers often assume that my male partner will be leading the crux pitches of a route, if not all of them. Sometimes its nice that strangers at the crag give me a lot of praise if I do anything harder than VS regardless of whether it was easy for me or not. However, I can't help thinking that if I was a boy they'd probably just shrug it off.
On holiday at Christmas in Nevada, people wouldn't be that surprised if they saw me leading a 5.12 but they'd come up to my boyfriend and suggest he go try a 5.13 nearby, as they'd automatically assume he'd be better than me without having seen him climb.
At a university competition in Liverpool at the Hangar last year, I found all the problems far reachier than most comps (and I've been to quite a lot) and most of the girls my height I talked to said they were also struggling. Males friends that I consistently beat in comps beat me in this comp so I voiced my concerns to the route setter. I was told that the problems were not at all biased towards taller people and that I just 'needed to get stronger' and that 'I had a bad attitude towards reachy problems'. This upset me quite a lot as I don't find being short disadvantageous in the average comp yet this specific one felt very much so. The route setter treated me like a whiny little girl and said he knew lots of world champion females my height who didn't let their height disadvantage them. He refused to acknowledge that I was saying only that specific comp I felt disadvantaged it, definitely not all comps or climbing in general!
They've evolved quite quickly up there, then? ;-)
Actually, I haven't had huge issues with the team themselves, tbh. They've very even handed in their banter, so you couldn't describe it as sexism....
(PS did you used to have a different user name? Or is Arran inhabited by feisty girlies?)
Arran is well stocked with feisty girlies but I used to be called The Gibbon. I changed it as it was based on my maiden name, which was fine, but people always assumed I was some well honed climber with a name like that when really that couldn't be further from the truth. Snoweider is my twitter handle... I think you and I used to chat a fair bit in the early days of UKC? Are you the Carolyn we met up with in N Wales one weekend?
MRT banter is always even handed- if you are fat, bald, or female they don't care, (that covers most of us) but you'll get stick for it!
Also - I don't know if it is just me, but I have to mentally regrade routes, depending on the type of route. If a route is cunning, and thin, but I can keep my weight on my feet, I can climb much harder than if a route is juggy but steep.
So to me, grading seems quite blokey? Or maybe I just mean strong personish, rather than weak but balancy/flexible personish?
That's who I thought you might be - yes, I'm the one you met in North Wales years back, back on the forums after a bit of a break when the kids were small.....
Blokey grading, or are some types of climb easier for some than others? I have a male friend who has a bit of a tummy who is just brilliant at terrifying unprotected slabs. I have a female friend who weighs zip and can crank on the steep stuff without even looking like she is trying.
Hello again, and congrats on the family!
Yeah - that's why I questioned my own point at the end of my post and invited others to compare and contrast. :-)
I'm such a weak punter. If I was just a bit stronger, lighter and bolder, with better technique and more imagination, I'd be an amazing climber!
I know lots of girls who have got into climbing because their boyfriend was in it or met their boyfriend when they tried out climbing or whatever. I know no guys who got into climbing because their gf was.
If people assume the former, it is only because the weight of evidence supports the assumption. [shrugs]
Haha! There are good safety reasons not to make it too easy to just unclip harness loops!
Right about the time I gave up trying to find a female climbing partner I decided to train up some of my mates. One of these was a lad, though not technically my bf. He is still climbing, although being a dad is getting in the way a bit these days.
> Haha! There are good safety reasons not to make it too easy to just unclip harness loops!
You only need to be unable to unclip the thin elastic bits at the back, you know.... ;-)
I go away with men all the time. I like to introduce them, stop by for a beer on the way home, Hang out on a kind of climbing my husband is in to, I do it so he can feel comfortable with them as a safe and reliable person, and feel reassured about my safety. This vibe is quite common and really annoying as the only woman in my town into Ice climbing- Half my potential partners are out from the get go.
"not technically my boyfriend" .... ?
or even remotely...
That really doesn't stop it from being flucking annoying!
Dunc's girlfriend got him into climbing and I got myself into climbing.
not anything important - just the elastics at the back that hold the leg loops up - nothing that will matter in terms of holding you on to the rope!!!! They are allowed to be as easy as pie to undo - but they AREN'T!!
> I go away with men all the time. I like to introduce them, stop by for a beer on the way home, Hang out on a kind of climbing my husband is in to, I do it so he can feel comfortable with them as a safe and reliable person, and feel reassured about my safety. This vibe is quite common and really annoying as the only woman in my town into Ice climbing- Half my potential partners are out from the get go.
Yeah - I don't think my first husband was into the idea of me climbing full stop, and if I even brought family home he would vanish upstairs to listen to the football on the radio. Anyhoo - I've fixed that now! ;-)
odd thing to write then - why not just " ... - not my boyfriend"
in reference to previous poster, who was talking about how women are recruited to climbing by their boyfriends not the other way round.. was taking issue with this stereotype as I am responsible for introducing at least one man to climbing, although not technically my boyfriend... Make sense now?
> odd thing to write then - why not just " ... - not my boyfriend"
Cos people aren't perfect automatons and sometimes don't say things in a perfect way?
My word, you know some strange men. Unless, as I suspect, it's you.
Well, let's be fair, you are a rubbish climber. Assuming your profile is correct, that is.
>The route setter treated me like a whiny little girl
Strange story. After all, on your own account you were behaving like a whiny little girl. Why wouldn't he treat you like one?
I'm sure all you people are perfectly reasonable in real life, but my goodness some of you come over as drips whenever the subject of sexism in climbing is raised.
> I am wanting to know if anyone has any gendered stories of being a female in the mountains and any positive (or negative) experiences you have had.
> Particularly if anyone does have any experiences of sexism, I would be really interested to hear them.
Must be a pretty crappy course you are on if you are allowed to set up such biased research.
Ah But the clever ones carry a bothy bag the type with no floor which gives instant shelter but also serves to cover their modesty.
(And you can even use it for what it was intended, not just a Portaloo.),
Well, when you put a guy and a girl, or two guys, or two girls together. Despite the most innocent intentions, sometimes one will like the other. Often no one plans it, it just happens.
And when one likes the other and the other isn't interested like in their case, that's unfortunate. But this doesn't reflect badly on the liker or the liked in any way.
I often think of it as if what if they both liked each other, and stayed together for the rest of their lives. It would make a sweet story of two people initially only wanting nothing else but to climb together.
The difference between these two situations is just chance.
Personally I don't climb with anyone who only wants male, or female partners. About all I care about is if you're free to climb and do it safely.
> Cos people aren't perfect automatons and sometimes don't say things in a perfect way?
It was an odd turn of phrase especially in light of the previous criticism of her attitude in relation to climbing with male partners earlier in the thread.
In isolation "not technically my boyfriend" has a lot of possible implications.
Obviously it's now explained - but lacking any oral or visual clues it was a bit difficult to interpret.
Interesting how defensive blokes can get in response to a thread asking for female experiences of climbing.
And how many of them appear to think they understand the female experience of climbing better than the women.....
And back to the OP: A current thread reminded me that climbing whilst pregnant often leads to rapid judgement. Or at least, posting on an Internet forum about climbing whilst pregnant does, far more so than in real life IME.
> Dunc's girlfriend got him into climbing
The only person to ever ask if I started climbing because of my boyfriend was a female climber, and that wasn't sexism, more that I'm not a brilliant climber and she reasonably assumed I was a beginner and that the timing co-coincided with the beginning of the relationship.
My leg loops unclip ok, but doing them up again is a pain.
I do know 1 man introduced to climbing by his girlfriend...though apparently he's starting to get better than her now so she's regretting it :) they are out there but definitely a rarity.
I've struggled with gender sterotypes all my adult life because I don't fit them. It's not imagined, it's explicit. At 16 I went to work with horses for about the best rider in the midlands, I wanted to do the breaking but it took 3 years of persuasion as he took the position that he would not teach a women as it was unsuitable. It took huge perseverance but the results were worth it, I got taught and his right hand man for the next umpteen years was a woman! (then he had a daughter who's now better than him!!).
From that I went to uni and joined the climbing club. One evening out after a session at the wall I got told I was scary - of course I asked why, I'd not fallen out with anyone, never been heard running anyone down, I was confused what induced fear. At the time the general agreement was it was due to me being loud and bawdy. Plenty of the males members were agreed as equally loud and bawdy, I was told it's scary when it's a woman. At this point I need to add that after it had been said openly it also changed - nothing like a good airing. I was approached over the following weeks/months to be told it was twaddle.
Since getting back to the wall in my 40's I've had NO negative experiences with male climbers - not a single one! In fact as a middle aged, female, beginner willing to grunt their way to trying overhangs, clearly up for it and having fun I think I have had more encouragement and positivity than many blokes would experience. I've noticed the women my age are there but rarely bouldering alone.
So I should be posting that my love of difficult is now excepted and if it was just about other climbers I would. However, away from the wall my enthusiasm for such a physical and unboring sport has met with the same ol' same ol' - not from men, other Mums, one of my female friends even said I was a bloke, seriously!
I hate the notions of femininity, they're so tight, they gag you, squash you, shrink you - they're so flaming small BUT they are retained by women and men, not all women and not all men but both.
I think one thing climbing has on it's side is that it appears to attract folk not overly obsessed with what's normal and perhaps more willing to break rank and just be.
Maybe the start of your thread should have read:
Please relate your experiences of being a female climber but remember that every word you write will be picked apart and criticised by the male UKC contingent.
I only ever tried climbing as a woman once but I just couldn't get use to climbing with a skirt on, so I strictly stick to climbing as a man now ;-)
Thank you all very much for some very opinionated discussion.
To go back to my original question, I think some of the strong reactions from the male contingent are un-needed. A lot of comments have said they think climbing is not too sexist and gendered and thats encouraging.
However, like most sports, there is an element of sexism and there is no point disputing that. Instead of reading the comments and actively trying to change any sexist attitudes, you are reinforcing them by arguing that they are not true. The reason why many sexist attitudes are not addressed or changed, is because people deny they exist.
I have been climbing for seven years and have encountered a few sexist remarks but very little that has majorly concerned me. I have also worked at two bouldering walls numerous times customers have asked me if I ever climb myself, which to me implies a gendered question making presumptions that I am merely there as counter staff to address a gender imbalance in the workforce. However of course these comments could just be customers sparking conversation and I am aware of that.
Instead of turning this thread into an argument about sexism, instead I was just seeking some comments about gendered experiences in the hills, so we can celebrate that things are getting better but understand some sexist attitudes do still exist.
> I did get totally confused once, when I was walking up snowdon with a woman friend, and a man asked me if I was alone. 'No - I'm with her???' It turned out that he was asking if we were unaccompanied by any capable men to look after us!
Had a similar experience on the llanberis path. Was going up on my own for a quick walk to see the first snow fall of the winter, in boots and appropriate clothing... was stopped by a group of male scousers in trackies and trainers who were determined to convince me to turn around because it was slippy at the top, they looked quite taken a back when I said I'd been up when it was slippery at the bottom too... and carried on walking!!!
On a positive note though... I was on a winter walk elsewhere in snowdonia when I passed two male climbers who complimented me on my perfume saying it made a refreshing and unexpected change when they smelt it from round the corner... they weren't sleazy or patronising in any way just being friendly and nice, and it made me smile for a bit :-)
When I climb with other females a trip down to tremadog that consists of a couple of routes, a couple of cups of tea at the cafe and lots of time sitting around chatting, catching up and enjoying the sunshine and the view and absolutley no rushing would be fine and really enjoyable. The same day with the guys that I climb with would be considered a wasted day and only happen if things hadn't gone to plan.
Definetly find climbing with other women more chilled out and relaxing!!!
A more general point, also raised above, and much more worth exploring, might be the self imposed limits that girls put on themselves, as a group and as individuals when it comes to participation in sports. It might be much easier to measure statistical participation and outcomes for school/college age girls and young women.
I would echo what a lot of other people have said - that compared to other areas of life, the climbing community feels very non-sexist as a whole although as with any walk of life there are going to be certain individuals who carry their own prejudices everywhere with them. I genuinely can't think of a single incident in 16 years of climbing where I have felt patronised, demeaned or mistreated because I'm female. For context, I have climbed in Britain and Italy (where incidentally I have encountered a lot of sexist behaviour in the cities but not in the mountains) and been hillwalking/mountaineering in France, Spain, Switzerland and Slovenia.
I've climbed almost always with men and the only sexism I've ever encountered was in my early days of climbing, from my then-boyfriend (who I introduced to climbing btw, as I did my hubby). But he was sexist anyway which is part of the reason he became an ex.
I think where men have responded on this thread it's tended to be against what they perceive as some unfair stereotyping/generalisations about male behaviour, which they have as much right to highlight as we have the gender stereotyping we encounter as women. We have to be careful when we're talking about our experiences that we don't draw wider conclusions about male behaviour from the actions of a few! Everyone is different.
I have had some women (particularly ones who grew up in urban areas) think I'm odd for going hillwalking or scrambling alone, but men rarely think that's an odd behaviour. I've sometimes wondered whether to someone unfamiliar with the outdoors there is a vague and uneasy sense that the open countryside is scattered with rapists and 'mad axe murderers', whereas to me growing up in the countryside it is city streets at night which feel a little unsafe. I wonder whether the majority of non-walking, non-climbing women feel that our mountains and moors belong to them, or whether they feel excluded.
I have found this problem with the setting at competitions to occur regularly. It my be partially consequent of the grading system being atuned to the relative strengths and weaknesses of male climbers rather than female climbers.
Every single one of my climbing partners has been male - for no reason at all, now that I think about it. I've climbed and been away for trips with married, single and guys in relationships equally and never caused any trouble.
I've been out on days when I did way better than the guy(s), and I've had days when I got shit scared on a route and handed the leading on to my male partner. Neither of them ever said a word, and if they insinuated anything it was met by my prompt support, as I know that I have weaknesses as a climber and I don't pretend to be tougher than I am. I don't think my weaknesses are due to being female, I'm just that kind of a human being (backed by a history of serious climbing-related injuries, which could happen to anyone).
I think if any sexism ever existed it was mostly because of trends in the sport, such as it used to be that more guys did competitive horse riding and now the trend has reversed completely to my knowledge (sorry, slightly off topic here..)
I invite any comments and banter at the wall or out at crags with pleasure, it's fun and laid back and I have way too many other problems in life to read too much into these. On the other hand, I have never had anyone say anything blatantly offensive to me for being a woman. Or maybe I'm just very naive. Either way, keeps the nerves at bay.
I have to say I think marsbar (and subsequent posters) makes a very valid point.
As someone who has climbed indoors and out regularly for the last 5 years or so, I could not think of one instance of sexism.
I have felt intimidated by better climbers, I have had people laugh and point when I've failed at climbs, I've had people comment on my appearance at the crag (I frequently wear make up and have nice clean shiny hair) but I think these are all individual issues and nothing to do with the fact that I'm female.
A male colleague surprised me when he told me that when working near the climbing dept he was inundated with requests for assistance. This was completely the opposite of my experience where I was frequently shrugged off by customers when I offered them assistance.
Both of us curious, we tried an 'experiment': a little after a customer told me that they did not want assistance he would go over and ask them the same question.
On multiple occasions the customer was suddenly very interested in assistance.
However, there is nothing to say this is completely to do with sexism (although I suspect it was in a couple of cases). It's perfectly possible that it came down to appearance, mannerisms or finding something that they DID need help with in the interim time between us.
It's not so much the telling of an anecdote, but the way in which it's told - if it contains or implies sweeping gender generalizations. In other words, if it is inherently sexist. The double standard is particularly glaring when this happens when decrying other people for their perceived sexism. I can't see anything "odd" or "hard to get" about this - unless, of course, you think sexism only applies to the male gender.
A more pragmatic bit of advice could be: if you're going to relate anecdotes of perceived sexist behaviour on a public forum, make damn sure you're not being even slightly sexist yourself!
If I told an anecdote on here about a woman showing stereotypical female behaviour, and anything at all in my wording, however subtle, suggested that I was expecting that behaviour on the basis of her gender, I suspect I'd be shot down pretty quick.
....... by members of either sex, of course :)
- As mentioned above, the assumption that I am climbing because my boyfriend got me into it - and not even just that it's why I started climbing, but also why I still climb. Whilst this may be the case more frequently than the opposite, isn't stereotyping or making assumptions one of the most common forms of prejudice? And not that it should matter, but I know several couples where the girl encouraged her partner to take up climbing.
- Possibly linked to the above: the assumption that I am in a relationship with my male climbing partner - I doubt this happens when two men climb together. (This isn't necessarily sexist, but it is frustrating!).
- Complete strangers who have never seen either of us climb recommending E1s and E2s to my boyfriend, and Severes/HS's to me - 'That'd be a nice little one for you to try'.
- Store staff in climbing shops, when approached by myself and a man, asking the man what conditions have been like on that day, or if he got anything good done.
- Being asked by male climbers if I would like them to leave the rope up on a sport climb so I don't have to lead. Again, this may be non-gender-related and can sometimes be a nice offer, but I have had several offers of the sort when climbing with other women, and never when climbing with men.
- The assumption by gear manufacturers that women want their outdoor clothes in pastel colours or various shades of pink! This has got better over the years, but there's still some way to go.
Has anyone else had similar experiences?
Please relate your experiences of being a female climber, but remember that I'm only interested in things that reflect badly on males, or can be interpreted as sexist, as I'm trying to prove myself right.
What the hell is a " gendered story" in any case?
Sounds like one of these "collect 12 tokens from packets of crisps, get a masters degree" courses.
A 'gendered' story, loosely defined, is whinging about anything done by a man by women who think the word 'female' is a noun.
I am mainly a boulderer, and occasionally do sport routes... this is my 10 pence worth on the subject!!
As far sexism at the crag or wall, I don't think I have ever experienced sexism directly as such (if I have, I was totally oblivious). More a feeling of insecurity and intimidation, predominantly all in my own head and totally irrational. I felt very conspicuous and vulnerable when I first started climbing as it was a bit like entering into the arena of the unknown, but predominantly I think all my insecurities were a symptom of unfamiliarity to a new sport/hobby. I felt a similar anxiety when I joined the gym, which passed after a few sessions. I think the problem for a lot of women lies more with how women feel, it seems like there is a sort of psychological barrier that gets in the way of women getting involved. it can be an intimidating sport as there is a perception of requiring muscles and strength, but as all climbers with a bit of experience know, this isn't always the case!!
I think there is just a much of a feeling of intimidation to men that are new to the sport too though. Especially if they are getting burned off by women ;)
Good luck with your research.
I'm doing a research project about driving, and I'm keen to collect some anecdotes of people's experience of bad driving. I'd like to make it clear that I'm only interested in stories about women driving badly.
But was this down to sexism or the fact you criticised his route setting? He probably spent a huge amount of time and effort setting the routes and became defensive when someone criticised them. Next time instead of just criticising someones route setting why not try slightly more contructive feedback, along the lines of "I enjoyed this aspect of your route setting ....... however have you thought about doing this ....... next time to mix your routes up a little" That way they may be more inclined to listen and take on your feedback rather than getting on the defensive and dissmissing it as someone being whiney because they couldnt do it.
Climbing is not generally sexist but I have one particuar person who is sexist toward me.
He's just got outdated idea's....So what?
I have to stand there and be disrespected and put down. I'm a better climber than him, I'm totally capable and he projects I'm not to others. Other than this he's a nice guy actually, not one person has ever had a quiet word to him or said I will be fine she knows what she's doing etc. They let it go for peace and harmony. I don't always feel supported by my community that I share my weekends with, trust our lives to each other.
I can just laugh it off when I make climbing plans with a guy and He checks it's Ok with my husband. I get it's a respect thing, but it is totally weird.
> I have had some women (particularly ones who grew up in urban areas) think I'm odd for going hillwalking or scrambling alone, but men rarely think that's an odd behaviour. I've sometimes wondered whether to someone unfamiliar with the outdoors there is a vague and uneasy sense that the open countryside is scattered with rapists and 'mad axe murderers', whereas to me growing up in the countryside it is city streets at night which feel a little unsafe. I wonder whether the majority of non-walking, non-climbing women feel that our mountains and moors belong to them, or whether they feel excluded.
A couple of years ago I went hill walking for a few days (by myself) in the West of Scotland, camping and staying in bothies over night. Got quite a few comments from friends who are not into outdoorsy stuff about rapists, etc., whereas all my outdoor-loving friends thought nothing of it.
Interestingly though, during my three days of walking I didn't meet one other woman walking by herself, whereas I met quite a few men who were out in the mountains alone. Now I think about it, I'm not sure if I've ever encountered a woman out in the hills by herself.
The only remotely sexist behaviour I can think of having experienced is sometimes slightly 'laddish' behaviour when I was part of a university club, which had about 5x as many male members, most of whom were also a lot more involved then the female members. Still think the average male student (especially when put in a room with 9 other male students) is probably more sexist than the ones we had in the university club.
Slightly different topic, but I do think I tend to be more inspired by seeing female climbers climb difficult routes then when I see men do that same route. When I see a guy climb a hard route I'll often attribute it to the person in question being taller/different build/etc., whereas if I see a woman climb a hard route I feel like I could potentially achieve that as well if I'd set my mind to it. I'm not talking about absurdly hard routes, just seeing people climb a couple of grades harder either at the wall or outdoors.
> A 'gendered' story, loosely defined, is whinging about anything done by a man by women who think the word 'female' is a noun.
There really is no display of insecurity more pathetic than hearing privileged white males bellyaching in case they might be getting portrayed in a less than positive light by women. I don't know about 'stroppygob', but frankly John you are far too intelligent to be excused for thinking that there is no degree of sexist condescension towards women in climbing. Most of the posts by women on this thread thankfully indicate that it's less prevalent amongst climbers than in other walks of life, but your pompous dismissal that it exists at all is a wonderfully ironic demonstration that, in fact, it does exist.
By the way, according to the current OED 'female' can be both a noun and a adjective.
I sympathise with your problem. For what it's worth, if I were part of your community and noticed that going on I'd have a word with him. I'd like to think I would, anyway.
That checking with your husband thing - that's a bit odd, too - although I daresay there's a fair few left out there who'd feel they have to do that.
>There really is no display of insecurity more pathetic than hearing privileged white males bellyaching in case they might be getting portrayed in a less than positive light by women.
Whereas the privileged white women who have been bellyaching on this thread about how they imagine they are regarded in a less than positive light by men are fine, presumably?!
Anyway, what a strange notion of yours. No-one's portraying *me* in any light at all; I've never met any of these people. It's nothing to me if these people fancy themselves oppressed. They come over as ninnies, that's all.
>By the way, according to the current OED 'female' can be both a noun and a adjective.
Yes, that's true of course, in contexts like police procedurals and biology papers. But saying 'as a female' and the like is just a silly affectation. I might have explained that I suppose, but I'm afraid I overestimated the intelligence of my audience to fill the gap.
Interesting thing, that. I've had the same experence. In fact, most non-outdoorsy people, when they hear what I do, how I spend my weekends and that I cycle to uni make huge diebelieving eyes. No idea why.
I've walked onmy own many times, often with multiple bothy/camping spots. Didn't have any curious reactions when I did this in America, although I was on the trail or 4 days with a tent and old mess kit obviously dangling off my sides. In Scotland, I once spent a night in Corrour bothy with 6 guys, complete strangers, when I walked in they had the fire roaring and whisky on the go, which they shared without hesitation. We shared some banter, at times slightly inappropriate, but within very respectable boundaries of fun and a good chat. It's what I love about this country, and I feel entirely safe doing this. I feel less safe walking to my house from the pub than I felt that night.
Agreed. I despise that. My winter jacket is pink, and I hate it. And baby blue doesn't exactly lend itself to removal of mud stains. What the hell.
Not really, no, but then I've seen no evidence of that on this thread. The general consensus seems to have been that the climbing 'community' (for want of a better word) is a pretty positive and encouraging environment for women, but with a few isolated incidents of outmoded sexism that most female climbers shrug off as a minor annoyance.
I think it's you that's projecting that anyone 'fancies themselves oppressed'. I don't know why you're so touchy about this, but if you really thought they just come across as ninnies then you wouldn't bother to post. Or (more likely I suspect) you're just bored at the moment and feel like running around the room shouting 'poo' and 'bottom' at the grown ups.
Classic jcm; when all else fails insult the reader for not guessing what it was that you meant to write. Once one strips away the polysyllabic posturing of your education, you really are quite sophomoric in your arguments, aren't you?
>I think it's you that's projecting that anyone 'fancies themselves oppressed'.
Do you now? Let me remind you of some passages from the posts I was replying to.
"I have seen loads of examples of 'gendering'"
"Generally, I also hugely prefer climbing with other girls partly to get away from this"
"I wanted to climb with another lass .... to climb with ...... no machismo associated."
"I was told that the problems were not at all biased towards taller people and that I just 'needed to get stronger' and that 'I had a bad attitude towards reachy problems'. This upset me quite a lot as ....the route setter treated me like a whiny little girl"
Sounds like a fair amount of fantasy oppression there, if you ask me.
>but if you really thought they just come across as ninnies then you wouldn't bother to post.
Good grief. You really don't know me very well, now do you?
>you really are quite sophomoric in your arguments, aren't you?
Pretty rich from someone with your username, but anyway, that wasn't an "argument". It was abuse, designed to highlight the fact that you were being foolishly pedantic to no purpose.
Every single one of those snippets that you quoted came from posts which also state something along the lines of climbing being generally less sexist than elsewhere. Sure, you can cut and paste out of context all you like and maybe even 'win' an argument (or at least batter people with spurious arguments until they get fed up). Hell, elections have been won using the very same tactic. It doesn't really add anything to the debate though, does it? The most radical sentiment that's been expressed is that climbing with other women has a different quality than climbing with male partners, which some women prefer. It's not exactly Marilyn French, is it? Are you then offended by the existence of the Pinnacle Club?
I don't know you at all having never met you, of course. I am familiar with your online persona however; a knowledgeable and forthright climber with little patience for self-absorption, whom I usually agree with when calling people for some of the more maudlin and precious posts. Occasionally, like now, you seem to degenerate into a kind of Colonel Blimp cartoon character, making cheap insults rather than engaging in discussion.
So you think that there's no sexism in climbing, and furthermore any woman who thinks there is is a spoilt little girl with delusions of oppression; ergo, any woman who alludes to experiencing specific example of sexism must therefore be a spoilt little girl etc. Fine, it's not a particularly scintillating rhetoric but denouncing critics as heretics has worked for religious authorities for centuries, so it's good enough for you, eh?
Of course mild isolated sexism in the climbing community is a 'First World Problem'; the whole game of climbing is a privileged one (as is metaphorical cock-waving on the internet), but that doesn't mean it's OK to just completely ignore it. Even if mild sexism is just a minor annoyance, why should women have to shrug it off?
Anyway, since neither of us are contributing anything particularly useful to this thread I'm not going to continue. When you post a 'JCM is bored and wants to show clever he is' thread then I promise I'll come out and play.
> It was abuse, designed to highlight the fact that you were being foolishly pedantic to no purpose.
Well, obviously I assumed the reader would be intelligent enough to know that I was referring to an earlier comment regarding the word 'females' part of speech but apparently the reader is a know-nothing dummy-head blah blah blah.. (Jeez, how do you not get bored with this response?)
I find it annoying that males usually think that my BF does all the leading...I am not just the belay bitch!
Last week I had a funny encounter with some guys: Me and my boyfriend went out to do a mixed route in Stob Coire nan Lochan and we met these three guys. They were asking what we were doing and I said that it might be tricky because it was my first mixed route and a V 6...so I just got these "good luck" looks and my boyfriend got the looks of "oh, you are dragging your girlfriend up there..I feel sorry for you!. Anyway, we met them again when down from the route (they did a grade III or so) and they asked how it went. I said it was good, nice and good fun. Stunned looks (they probably expected me to be in tears or so)...and then one of them wanted to go climbing with me the next day...
So: Why do men think that women, especially when climbing with their boyfriend, are weak and crying all the time and need to be talked up stuff. This is quite bad in winter climbing I think...we women alsways have to prove first that we can actually climb.
They should all have a look at Ines Papert!
> ......... I felt very conspicuous and vulnerable when I first started climbing as it was a bit like entering into the arena of the unknown, but predominantly I think all my insecurities were a symptom of unfamiliarity to a new sport/hobby. I felt a similar anxiety when I joined the gym, which passed after a few sessions. I think the problem for a lot of women lies more with how women feel, it seems like there is a sort of psychological barrier that gets in the way of women getting involved. it can be an intimidating sport as there is a perception of requiring muscles and strength, but as all climbers with a bit of experience know, this isn't always the case!!
> I think there is just a much of a feeling of intimidation to men that are new to the sport too though. Especially if they are getting burned off by women ;)
Completly agree, Could have written the same myself, I remember my first visits to both and how intimidating it was, at the time I thought I'm to old for this. I don't believe thats an experience unique to women.
I have glimed with guys who just seem to be on a tallent spotting trip, only ever climbed with them once. Then again maybe thats just part of being a guy? I often fell ashamed when hear of the actions of some of my gender.
I hesitate to say this, Pink Marshmallow, especially on this particular thread but I can not help being struck (only in a very small way) by a slight sense of irony here...
In my experience I've always had a great time climbing with a female partner and the gender difference can make for a great climbing team if you are both aware of your own strentghs/weaknesses. I find female climbers tend to excel on delicate slabby stuff where their use of feet makes it look easy, males on the other hand seem better suited to powerful thuggy stuff. Its simple genetics of course, females generally not having the same upper body strength that males do and to compensate they use their feet far better than males. Its all about allocating leads to suit the climber. The women I've climbed with (UKC and others) have all been great and never had any issues at all. The peeing and pooping thing, well although a little more exposed than a male is more about state of mind and that can affect both male or female. We aren't in the playground anymore and as outdoorsy types we generally accept that what goes in has got to come out, Can't understand the fuss about it. I only need to be told 'just need a quick piss' and they can get on with what they gotta do while I'll use the break to have one myself, quick bite to eat, ciggie, whatever. I'm quite happily shacked up and have no relationship/sexual/equality issues at all and that may come across quite clearly and females pick that up so don't feel threatened. Its nice to see the world and things from the female perspecitve that isn't your bed partner, I don't have a great deal of female friends outside of climbing but that isn't a gender thing, I find a lot of people outside of climbing boring, whiney and having no direction - male and female. That is an unfair statement and its probably more of a refection of me than other people. Young or old, male or female, I just like mixing with my 'own kind'. The biggest thing I have noticed though is that females seem to bring far nicer food out climbing than blokes do!
If you were a woman you might be accused of sexism or even having an agenda with responses like that! I'd never dare accuse a man on here of metaphorical cock waving!!!
Really enjoyed reading your posts btw, I laughed a lot.
This thread has made me laugh a lot! I thought I'd throw a few comments in...
I am female, was introduced to climbing by a female friend, and have subsequently introduced a number of males to climbing, as well as a few females. In my experience, the prejudice predominantly sits outside of those who participate - the response from a guy I suggest trys climbing tends to be along the lines of "sure, sounds fun" and occasionally "well if you can do it, so can I", whereas the girls tend to be far more tentative, despite much encouragement that you don't need upper body strength to enjoy climbing!
Most of my friends and colleagues outside the "outdoors world" think I'm bonkers, whether they are male or female. But where the guys would often be a bit jealous, a lot of the women aren't interested in doing the stuff I do. Or they assume that they couldn't, which is nonsense - none of it is particularly extreme.
I reckon at the climbing wall there is a fair bit of competitiveness and men don't like to be beaten by women. So I have found that men will make a particular effort to get up a route that I have climbed. If they've attempted it first and failed they'll often suggest that I don't try it! But I'm not sure that it's entirely because I'm female - they are competitive with each other too, as am I with the female partner I often climb with, although we are probably better at recognising that we have different strengths and weaknesses and are therefore a bit more accepting of not making it up a route that the other has succeeded on.
A funny day outdoors not that long ago was on Tryfan with a group of girls. We were scrambling rather than climbing, but it was probably the first time I had been out in the hills with just girls - I'm normally with a larger mixed group. By the end of the second day, we noticed that we had seen no other all female groups, and that we had had a LOT more conversations with all male groups than we normally would have had if we were with a mixed group. It was fun, light-hearted banter, no particular comments about us being all girls, no offers to make sure we were ok etc, so no demonstration of sexism or anything, just an observation.
But I think this is just a reflection of how genders interact on the whole rather than sexism or being specific to climbers.
Anyway, that was intended to be shorter than it has turned out so I'll stop now!
Bloody women always nattering away.
Just my hap'orth: once took a non-climber GF boudering at Fontainebleau and afterwards she told me it had taken quite a bit of courage for her to assume what seemed like the "unladylike" positions needed. She soon overcame her inhibitions though.
Thought I might as well pitch in with an anecdote (I'm a bloke by the way).
I did once rescue a female climber near the top of a single pitch lead. When I say rescue, it wasn't a life or death situation. She was pumping out in a short chimney, a couple of meters above her last piece of gear, and seemed like she was getting pretty scared. I was on a top rope practising gear placement on the route next to her so I moved across, hauled her up onto a ledge (with her consent) and made her a placement to clip into.
I'm not sure that's sexism since I did the right thing, but there might be a hint of some prejudice in there. I don't know if I would have been so proactive if it was a male climber and not an attractive female. I haven't done much outdoor climbing at trad crags, and when I do there's a majority or guys.
> Just my hap'orth: once took a non-climber GF boudering at Fontainebleau and afterwards she told me it had taken quite a bit of courage for her to assume what seemed like the "unladylike" positions needed. She soon overcame her inhibitions though.
Unladylike?? What on earth was she doing?!
> I am actually genuinely interested to know whether anyone else on here has found my comments sexist.
>So you think that there's no sexism in climbing, and furthermore any woman who thinks there is is a spoilt little girl with delusions of oppression; ergo, any woman who alludes to experiencing specific example of sexism must therefore be a spoilt little girl etc.
Oh, grow up. Honestly.
On a serious note for a moment, do I think there's any sexism in climbing? I don't know. It depends what 'sexism' means. My impression is that this is a question to which the majority of posters on this thread have given no intelligent thought.
Whatever one means by sexism, I'm pretty sure that anyone who says 'I prefer climbing with women to get away from machoism', or 'Men are so sexist. I prefer climbing with women' would do well to sit down and try and articulate what exactly it is they mean by 'sexism'.
You do get the impression a lot of these people are pretty determined to be subjected to gendered behaviour, don't you? I wouldn't mind hearing the other side's version of RockAlike's story, for example.
Do I object to the Pinnacle Club? Of course not - again, what curious notions you have. I've been on joint CC meets with them and they seem like a nice lot to me. It's obviously a bit quaint that liberal opinion holds that the CC admitting women was some kind of quasi-moral issue whereas the PC is fine, but I couldn't care less; I prefer the CC with women in it and the PC is no skin off my nose.
I think your comment that these people are determined to be subjected to gendered behaviour is just nasty. Such behaviour is all around us, why are you so keen to trample on those that point it out?
Because I think 'gendered behaviour' is brainless wankspeak, or perhaps, more politely, a term that needs a great deal of definition before it could be usefully deployed.
After all, presumably sexual intercourse is 'gendered behaviour' in a literal sense. A number of posters seem to suppose that people of the opposite sex making sexual advances (or indeed any advances, more or less) towards them is 'gendered behaviour'. I don't see any prospect of eliminating either of those phenomena, nor the innumerable gaucheries and awkwardnesses that go along with people attempting them, some of which are poor behaviour and some of which are simply gaucheries and awkwardnesses.
The OP seemed to think that 'gendered behaviour' and 'sexism' were two different things. Anyone care to attempt a definition of either?
Or, of course, we could carry on listening to people complain that some man once spoke to their boyfriend instead of them.
I don't see why all-male clubs are pointless, if there are people that want to belong to them. Seems a bit odd to me, but what would you? Are there any? I seem to remember the Wayfarers hut in Langdale still doesn't let women sleep in the main bit, or has that changed?
Sorry, I think you still misunderstand me. I am not remotely quick to shoot down an anecdote per se, in fact I read them all with interest, and in most cases with some sympathy. You are plain wrong in suggesting that I'm keen to close down discussion - it's quite the reverse, and I've continued to revisit this thread, and have given the matter a lot of thought. As it happens, I was travelling back from a gig a few hours ago, and had a long and interesting discussion with my partner about this thread and the issues it threw up.
What I do feel I need to shoot down, however, is evidence of sexism in posts which criticize other people of sexism. Simply put, this is blatant hypocrisy. Of course, somebody who sees sexism as a "one way street" is unlikely even to recognize this, much less agree with it. Consequently, I'm probably wasting my breath here.
I'm inclined to agree that most of the anecdotes on this thread are just trivial witterings. Dismissal of them as such is then labelled as sexist in itself. There does seem to be a mindset on this thread that anything negative that a woman might experience outside of an all female environment is somehow sexist. I thought sexism might refer to something important like a woman getting paid less for the same job despite being equally adept, or suffering serious prejudice purely based upon her gender. But no, it can include being looked at in a funny way, or not being able to do problems at a bouldering contest because they're a bit reachy, or your boyfriend being talked to and not you, or (and this one actually properly amused me) that climbing equipment for women was produced in patronising pastel shades (posted by Pink Marshmallow). Sorry, but most women I know like pastel shades. So do I, hell Summer's coimg.
But isn't this just trivialising the concept of sexism. I'm sure I have lots of negative experiences in life, yet I tend to forget them as I don't have a catch-all label to slap upon them.
It may be trivial to you but I find being dismissed, belittled, underestimated based on my sex alone, frustrating, humiliating and disrespectful.
Seeing this behaviour as trivial, makes it acceptable which it is not.
It may not be wide spread but every week some idiot says something.
I think that alot of the real stories will have been e mailed in as you don't want to open up to feedback on stuff which is serious, or critisise identifiable people.
I continually get dismissed, belittled and underestimated. I just don't see it as a gender issue. I'm not suggesting sexism doesn't exist, simply that the anecdotes on this thread don't appear to be very serious examples of it. The ones that I specifically mentioned actually trivialise the term.
> It may be trivial to you but I find being dismissed, belittled, underestimated based on my sex alone, frustrating, humiliating and disrespectful.
Are you sure it's not your personality and proclivities, rather than your sex, which lead to this? Just a thought.
I'm a female punter who has spent the last 28 years playing in the outdoors, all my outdoor partners generally have been male and the people I spend my time with in the outdoors are predominantly male. I also spent 12 years in an MRT-4 years as a team leader at a fairly young age- and also during this time 6 years were spent with SARDA).
I can honestly say I've never knowingly experienced any sexism-only good friendship, support, encouragement and admiration even.
My experiences as a female climber I guess can be categorised into 3 types:
1) From the climbing community. Generally very supportive and non-sexist attitudes. There have been occasions that I've have experienced mild sexism, generally from men of a certain age (50+) or punters. This comes in the form of being given advice that I haven't asked for like on conditions or route, being asked how I like being dragged out is such weather by my boyfriend – to which my male friend replied she's the one that's dragged me out here! And one instance of male climbers in hut asking my male friends, who I was introducing to mountaineering on what we planned to which they answered 'no idea she knows what we're doing'.
Although I was introduced to lead and multi-pitch by a boyfriend I was already hooked before then and am sure I would have found another way to learn. My partner of 10 years wasn't a climber at all before I dragged him out. He sold all his kit as soon as we broke up!
Anyway back to the 3 types of experience
2) Colleagues and employers in the outdoor industry. As an instructor I have experienced zero sexism from colleagues and employers. In fact I think being a female instructor, especially with a few higher quals (Winter ML etc.) and high altitude mountaineering experience in remote places, I have been actively recruited. In particular for leading expeditions, both youth and adult, and navigation courses. There are different reasons for all of these but taking the navigation courses as an example the company I work freelance for has many women booking on courses and wanted female instructors a) to have a diverse group of instructors & b) to encourage more women to book as it may be less intimidating for women getting into the outdoors if the at least some of the instructors are female.
3) People who have never been into the hills before. Some instances of outrageous sexism borne out of complete ignorance.
Yep you pretty much summed it up there. In my work as a freelancer with my own business I'd say being a female has been a positive advantage, it gets me work either to fulfill ratios with schools, or because I'm perceived as more caring (ha!), or with single women who want to be guided and who are worried about going out on the hill with a big rufty tufty men (I avoided the word macho there as it upset some people higher up ;-)...), and I'm totally supported by my male colleagues. It can be funny when I'm on the hill with adult male clients and a punter stops us for advice about a route/directions etc. They NEVER ask me first, always the male clients. Without fail. This is funny, and causes more embarrassment for the client than me.
Never realised there were so many hot chicks on UKC!
> Never realised there were so many hot chicks on UKC!
All over the UK kitchens have been abandoned. Not good.
I'm a freelance musician, and my main instrument is cello. I'm highly trained, I've been playing a long time, and string quartet playing is something of a speciality. I have done pop/rock recording sessions, but no television work to speak of. I can do the job better than most I see, but unfortunately I don't have long blonde hair, and I don't look particularly good in stockings.
Doesn't really bother me that much, as I get a variety of other work where the quality of the playing is the main consideration. But when the playing isn't that great one can't help but notice, especially when it's some seasoned, gritty, supposedly highly credible band/artist.
Oops! Broke two rules there - not only am I not female but also my last post wasn't even about climbing.
Hello, me again.
Actually, you didn't avoid "macho" altogether - just popped it in a bit later in brackets.
(It's ok, I get it that it was light-hearted banter).
However, for the record, you did have the option of ditching both "macho" and "rufty-tufty" and simply saying "women who are worried about going out on the hill with a man". That would be value-neutral. Picky? Maybe. It depends whether you think being careful about what you say, when talking about a potentially volatile subject such as sexism, is of any importance.
I'm posting again because I'm curious about your consistency in making a joke of any reference to women using sexist language at the expense of men. You sort of concede that sexism in women may be technically possible, but there's always a smiley face, a clause in brackets telling us what you were really thinking, a "Jings" or whatever. Which clearly shows that you think it's not something to be taken seriously.
Many of the posts on this thread are about women being offended by sexist behaviour in men. It's a long thread, and I may have missed a post or two, but I think it's fair to say that it's almost entirely about words (harassment, violence, etc are very real issues but they are hardly mentioned here). The prevailing backdrop is the notion that men saying sexist things to women, either deliberately, through carelessness, or because of long-ingrained habit, is a bad thing and should change.
So my question to you is this: is it of any importance what form of words we use? Either this is a serious issue or something to be laughed off - I don't think you can have it both ways.
Yeah because it isn't. The history matters here. Women have been excluded from power for centuries and still are. I don't think there is anything wrong with women mocking the way men use and abuse power. As a man i don't feel offended as I like to think i don't engage in such behaviour, but I know many do, so there isn't much point spoiling a bit of a joke with excessive qualifiers, in this instance.
> Yeah because it isn't. The history matters here. Women have been excluded from power for centuries and still are.
I'm familiar with this argument, and I can't quite believe people are so stupid as to keep trotting it out. I think it's completely counterproductive. Any female behaviour, no matter how unreasonable, could be justified on these grounds. Sympathetic cooperation from all parties is what's needed if we are to change for the better in society, not pointless alienation, polarisation, finger-pointing.
Either this is a serious issue or something to be laughed off - I don't think you can have it both ways.
I'm not taking any of it particularly seriously. I don't find sexism in the outdoor world to be a major issue, and when I do encounter it, it makes me laugh. (Men replying to adverts for female climbing partners, punters asking my clients for directions, pink climbing helmets with flowers on).
Nevertheless, that's what I require, if the same seems to be required of me. If someone is uncivilised to me I am less likely to be civilised to them. That's basic human nature, and no amount of facile spouting about historical precedents is going to change it one jot.
> Either this is a serious issue or something to be laughed off - I don't think you can have it both ways.
> I'm not taking any of it particularly seriously.
Ok fair enough. I think it's time I went off and found something constructive to do anyway ...
I agree in all points! I had the same experiences you are talking about and I can get quite annoyed thinking about it!
Exactly! I climb a lot with male climbing partners and it happens regularly.
Or assuming that my male climbing partner chose the route and I am just seconding and don't know where we are going (especially on mountain routes and in winter)!
Or, especially during conversations with strangers at indoor climbing walls in Germany: Being very surprised that you climb outdoors as a girl (what a joke...:-)) and that you have used a nut or friend before... I must say, the last point angers me the most - how could people assume that I - even if I they see me climbing quite hard indoors - have never been outside before and that I have no interest to do anything else than indoor sport climbing?? This probably relates to the huge amount of people in the area I live in (NW Germany) who started climbing indoors and never made it outside...
I don't think it is the anecdotes themselves that some of the male repondants took issue with, but the generalisations (implicitly or explicitly) drawn from them.
How can all of this stuff annoy you (and the others who are whinging that guys offering to leave ropes up or recommending easier routes is sexist) so much? If you don't climb very hard then surely they are just being nice and possibly doing you a favour? If I see guys struggling with moves or who might appreciate some advice etc. then I would offer some help..
If you do climb harder than your boyfriend, husband, etc. or someone has made a wrong assumption that you might want to do some leading not seconding then surely you are aware of this wrong assuption through a conversation and are capable of correcting this person?
I think these instances can easily be rectified by friendly comments i.e "actually you can pull the rope down from that 5+, I'm on my way to try my 8a project, got pretty close last time".. or something similar that is appropriate for the conversation...
What I don't get is all these women complaining about people 'assuming' they're shagging their climbing partners. You'd never get a man worrying about that, not unless they're climbing with their mother, anyway. As I say, these people come over as very eager to be oppressed.
It's not clear to me either how such an assumption could be 'gendered behaviour', whatever that's supposed to mean. After all, presumably the assumer is making the assumption about both the man and the woman.
I wrote something along similar lines on Saturday but it was very long-winded and inarticulate so I didn't post it. Thanks for being succinct!
Presumably it's not the individual occasion that is annoying, but the repeated instances over the weeks/months/years, however slight they may appear to be. I ain't a female climber, but can easily appreciate that small slights, intended or otherwise, build to become an issue that's increasingly hard to shake off.
I'm not sure that certain assumptions about what a person can climb, or wear, are necessarily sexist, in terms of some men seeing women as absolutely inferior, but they probably do stem from ingrained social norms that developed over the years and are yet to be fully dispelled.
Perhaps pointing out mistakes to the parties in question could be the first step to dispelling incorrect social norms then instead of claiming sexism on forums..
One of the only cases I can think of where a woman would be annoyed at the assumption that she might not be able to climb as well as a man/only seconds routes/got introduced to climbing by her boyfriend/etc. is if this isn't true, and personally I get great pleasure in proving those peoples misconceptions wrong.. by getting on with it and climbing.
I have read the whole of this thread and boy is it long! Before I add my 2 cents worth I should recognise a couple of things, firstly I have been a member of UKC for quite few years but never really got involved in posting (a lurker) probably because I am on the other side of the world and secondly I am well behind the pace of this discussion hence I dont really expect anyone to respond.
I am actively conducting research in this area and have been thinking about these things for a while now. I think John Cox has a good point what is it that is actually being discussed? It would seem oraneym is interested in some feminist reseach. I like to keep things pretty simple so my definition of feminism is that everyone posting here is one (with a few self evident exceptions). If you genuinely believe that females and males are equally valid members of society then aren't you a feminist? Don't most educated, open minded individuals see both sexes as equal these days? Look up any definition of feminism and it is all about equity. There are significant difference that have been discussed above, mostly physiological from what I can gather. Where I see the complexity, conflict and interesting stuff is "what it means to be masculine or feminine and how we learn this stuff?" The stereotypical gendered identitiies have been messed around with for many years, think everything from tom boys to metrosexuals so the interesting stuff is what is it about climbing that might make gendered behaviour specifically more different/interesting than mainstream societal interactions? My research focuses on the realm of climbing as part of our identity and how this fits with what it means to be masculine or feminine. I see climbing as being 'hyper masculine' not because it excludes women because the dominant culture has socially and historically been most heavily influenced by males and reflects dominant stereotypical masculine traits (not exclusively of course). It is impossible to say if women had been the dominant voice that the resultant culture would be different but this is how it is and to understand what is going on we have to understand 'how things are'.
Also a quick definition of sexism - my working one is in agreement with Caitlin Moran that most sexism is mainly bad manners, males and females can be equally guilty of being thoughtless, rude or perpetuating cultural norms which might be seen as out of synch with current thinking. It is also perceptual, one person's sexism is another's banter so it really is a case of interpretation isn't it? Hence the question 'do you feel you have experienced sexism?" is valid because it is about your personal experience. This is the starting point for my research and the conclusions relate to insights for policy makers regarding the creation of single sex platforms of engagement for participation in climbing and the consequences for the socialisation of climbers (how else do we learn what it means to be a climber then by being socialied into the culture) and the tensions and conflicts are all part of what makes it interesting.
Oliva - if you would like to chat more please email me at email@example.com it might be worth adding at this point that I have an international research publication record in this area so I have convinced a few folk that I might know what I am talking about. Likewise I would be very interested in hearing from females about thier romantic relationships with climbing partners. There is some evolutionary psych research that suggest women at a viseral level select stronger partners to look after them but this seems insultingly simplistic.
Thank you for reading and I really hope you do not think I am attempting to hi jack your thread Olivia.
I hope you can see that someone telling the route setter that the routes were too hard and they weren't having fun is a different story and I would agree that in that scenario it would be a whiney and unjustifiable complaint. In this individual comp at an achievable grade range the style was very height dependant, which excludes a minority contingent for reasons which do not normally dictate climbing ability and competition performance in such a dramatic way.
I know it's tempting to find an excuse - sex, height, whatever - when things feel hard. And inexperience makes it tempting to try a move the wrong way and hence blame lack of strength when poor technique, esp footwork, is often more to blame. I do know all that - just observing this as part of the mix.
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