/ Climb Like a Girl - Part 2
In this second part of Climb Like A Girl, Mick Ryan takes a look at the womens rights movement of the Sixties and its effect on climbing. He introduces Bev Johnson one of Lynn Hill’s role models, takes a look at the modern climbing feminist Tori Allen and discusses grade-ism and how some male climbers feel threatened by women climbers.
Read part 2 now - http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=110
I posted this in the thread about part 1 in response to a post by the Anonymous JCM. THought I'd put it here in the right thread.
I saw a lot of the attitude talked about in this article when Louise Shepherd was setting high standards for on-sight climbing back in the 80s in Australia. The local climbing mags never gave her the credit she deserved and there always seemed to be suggestions that routes were 'easy at the grade' or they should be down-graded.
A little example I heard about in this country was at the Cromlech when Louise flashed Lord of the Flies (on-sight I think) in 1985 and the locals got Graeme Livingston to second it in trainers. Sounds like a rather cheap attempt to demean Lou's achievement to me anyway (although I'm sure the people there will insist it was all done in good humour and Lou certainly didn't make any issue out of it, she always let her climbing speak for itself.)
Agree with your last paragraph; this is just bad manners. I never like to see it, but it's common enough and not only with women leaders. It's the leap to 'feel threatened by' I find hard to follow. 'Enjoy taking the piss out of' - well, sure.
I don't agree with the downgrading thing, though - this is a common complaint but the fact is people are interested in the limits, of women's climbing as much as men's, and when they get pushed people will like to analyse the significance of an achievement. And where you get analysis you will get some people who think something impressive and others who think it less impressive. Obviously it's true that a woman's ascent of a testpiece which is cutting edge for women will attract more comment, and hence criticism, than a man's. That's not because people are threatened. It's because they're interested.
After all, name me a route of Jerry's or John Dunne's that people haven't said was overgraded.
Taking the piss out of is easy to recognise John it's what underlies it that is harder to see, even harder is to scratch through that laughter to find out what its hiding.
Having women in the press and not just in the context of 'stories about women climbing' but in stories about climbing is always an inspiration to me
Mick any chance of the series being published in print anywhere?
Try reading the text and you'll find the answer.
The answer being that if women see articles about women climbing v7 or 5.12 they'll be inspired to put the effort in to 'gain the extra rewards' whatever they may be.
But exactly the same applies to men doesn't it? It's not about women needing articles about non-cutting-edge climbers, it's about non-cutting-edge climbers of either sex wanting such articles.
> The answer being that if women see articles about women climbing v7 or 5.12 they'll be inspired to put the effort in to 'gain the extra rewards' whatever they may be.
> But exactly the same applies to men doesn't it? It's not about women needing articles about non-cutting-edge climbers, it's about non-cutting-edge climbers of either sex wanting such articles.
Whilst that is true, this is a different topic....positive discrimination and encouragement for women to readdress the gender bias of the past.
And as well as articles to also include news reports about women that are less than cutting edge.
The best example I can think of would be to have a womens correspondant at a climbing mag or websites reporting on ALL things female.
Having just read it - 'according to some, it was only because of her small fingers that Lynn Hill was able to climb the Great Roof on the Nose' - correct me if I'm wrong, Mick, but I'm pretty sure these 'some' include Lynn Hill herself.
Disappointed, mind, in the trailer. Not a word in there about how and why 'some men feel threatened'. Which I still say is utter balderdash. I mean, how threatened do men get when they see Paula Radcliffe running faster than them?
So what happened to Bev Johnson? Looks like a bit of a babe.....
>The best example I can think of would be to have a womens correspondant at a climbing mag or websites reporting on ALL things female.
Well, start one on here. See if it's popular.
Anyway, didn't Flower Arranger used to have this? Del Goodey's column - the only two ones I remember were about how to pee and/or have a period at the crag, and how to have a domestic in public. I used to quite enjoy them, though they stopped. Don't know if DG got bored or the editor decided they weren't what the readers needed.
Mick Ryan created 2 insightful and thought provoking articles. Well done Mick. Why should the world of climbing be any different from other sporting disciplines with more emphasis and scientific studies based on male athletic performance? This is thankfully changing…. slowly.
Male or female, who doesn’t admire a talented climber?
The comment on Lisa Rands having the grades adjusted downward was very telling.......grade-ism for 'girls'. How sad is that?
John, we have some of the junior girl wall climbing champs posting on here from time to time such as charlie who also climbs better than I ever did in my life.
I think some of the mediocre tossers may put off the keen females, Ii can think of several who posted on here a couple of years ago but do not now as much, if ever. of course, some will be like young club members, join in, get mates then sod off for a while till they need new partners as theirs has just got a new husband and baby etc.
Bev Johnson famously made the following response to a question by Ken Wilson on how many 5.10 climbs she had led: "But Ken, it's not about how many 5.10's you have led, but how many 5.10 leaders you have laid".
She died in a helicopter crash in Nevada, in 1994. 3 others also died in the crash, only her husband survived it.
I've just noticed that the trailer for this article refers to the "modern climbing feminist" Tori Allen. Without wishing to be derogatory in any way, surely this is tongue in cheek?
Tori Allen (who is indeed a very talented climber) states that she wants to be "a kindergarten teacher and a spy" when she grows up, has set a speed record on the Ricki Lake Show and has a "cool" collection of 200 cuddly monkeys in her bedroom. She has had a photo-feature in CosmoGirl in the States, and divulges that her favourite food is pecan pie. She enjoys playing her base (sic) guitar in her spare time. Her website is www.toriallen.com, for those keen to learn more.
She is hoping to market her own clothing brand, and her merchandise range already includes a Tori doll, which comes complete with "Oakley sunglasses, Petzl helmet and quickdraws".
There may be a lot I don't know about Tori Allen, but I feel uncomfortable about her contribution to the ethical issues of women's climbing being discussed in the same context as Bev Johnson and Lynn Hill.
Do you have any plans to post your Sexlust In Vegas article from OTE as a UKC feature?
Ask a woman John, or several. They'll explain better than I did. Or better still ask yourself why some men have to demean the achievements of some women, some don't of course.
Most men think they are even handed and fair as regards women, but that is just from their point of view.
Brian should really lock that Gin bottle in the cupboard and unhook the computer when he leaves you by yourself Judith.
I'll pass on your embarrassment to the women concerned.
Asking women is hardly going to explain to me how some men feel threatened by women climbing better than them. The notion is ludicrous and you have supplied no evidence I can see. Your evidence amounts to 'some people don't like Lisa Rands'. Well, some people don't like me. Doesn't mean I'm a woman.
If a lawyer made that statement, I would not believe him/her.
And it's not just climbing. In half marathons and in cycling the mountain passes in the alps plenty of men would just hate being overtaken by a woman (especially the french). They find a new burst of determination, even re-overtake, but testosterone isn't enough over these distances. Terminal crisis ensues.
Surely this male reaction is from somehow feeling threatened?
I'd like to think that my own reaction to try that bit harder as I trail in her wake is from healthy competition. I've certainly leaned to loose gracefully-ish, but maybe if she was a bloke I'd have quit much earlier? I'd like to think not, but maybe.
So your response to a woman's criticism of your poorly-written and pompous article is that she must be DRUNK? Spare me.
The main problem with your article is that it fails to bring the accomplishments of women's climbing into the rubric of the greater feminist movement as a whole.
Presumably this is what you are attempting to do, but you only succeed in whining over various injustices (dyke stereotypes, domestic violence, "men ruling the earth for the past 5 million years" (wtf?)), and making various passing references to birth control and Title 9 without applying their significance (if any) to contemporary women climbers.
Women like Lynn, Bev, and Josune are iconoclasts. Their personal strengths and accomplishments should not be undermined by portraying them as victims.
> Women like Lynn, Bev, and Josune are iconoclasts. Their personal strengths and accomplishments should not be undermined by portraying them as victims.
Who said they were victims. Not me. The womens movement of Sixties and prior to that is part of the reason why women have more opportunities today. Part of the reason. I also made it clear that becauseof legislation,like Title 9, more women got into sport . Climbing is a sport.
> Asking women is hardly going to explain to me how some men feel threatened by women climbing better than them. The notion is ludicrous and you have supplied no evidence
John the evidence is all around you.
Here's a good candidate John
"well, i might retract my statement about it being for women too, because I don't think there are women capable of entering a comp like this. So this is truly a comp for "real men". "
Just taking the piss?
Put it in context, Mick. Bunch of teenagers talking about a footless bouldering competition. One of them thinks women aren't as good as men at sheer strength problems - well, blow me down! Patriarchal oppression at its very worst.
>that must be ok, a woman's just climbed it
It's a long step from underestimating women's climbing ability to feeling threatened by it.
Well, it's all too deep for me. I've spent a lot of time playing bridge and chess - both activities in which one is frequently beaten by women - as well as climbing, and I have never observed what you describe (certainly no more frequently than men who dislike being beaten by other men they consider themselves stronger than). It's a popular myth, and of course women love it, but I reckon it's bollocks, and the astounding poverty of the evidence Mick is able to pluck out of the evidence all around me reinforces that view.
Quite rightly you are talking soley from your experience and as I suggested earlier if you talk to women, not men (for which man would admit to being threatened by women unless they were at some primal therapy tribal moment in the woods), you'll get a better understanding than you have at the moment.
Earlier you dismissed grade-ism as evidence that men feel threatened by some women climbers. There are lots of reasons people downgrade. You mentioned Moffat and Dunne's routes getting a bashing. That kind of downgrading is sometimes done for one upmanship - taking the top dog down a peg or two. They both do have a reputation for inflating grades, and the cynical will tell you that that has something to do with magic high numbers and media attention and sponsorship.
As regards down grading something a girl has climbed. Jeez John its not rocket science or law, ' a mere girl climbed it, it can't be that hard" is still a familiar refrain from male climbers past and present. Why?
Perhaps it threatens some men's egos, like I said in the article climbing was and still is male dominated, that's just how it is. Having women come up and despatch a route or boulder problem that some hold high is deflating to some.....to some I said, not all, to those males and there are many who still see women as second class citizens, who don't deserve to get paid the same as men for the same job, who really shouldn't be rockclimbing and if they are should be under the guidance of a competant male leader who knows the ropes.
Your a New Man, John and I'm sure you aren't one of that crew.
Yes, I'm sure Lynn Hill's small fingers helped her free the Nose, but it wasn't her small fingers alone. It was her determination, her skill, her dedication. But you still hear, not from you mind, that that was the only reason she got up the climb. She got up it because she's one of the most talented climbers in the world, regardless of gender.
> Put it in context, Mick. Bunch of teenagers talking about a footless bouldering competition. One of them thinks women aren't as good as men at sheer strength problems - well, blow me down! Patriarchal oppression at its very worst.
That's were it starts John. It's a culmination of small things which leads to more damaging oppression.
Hold your ground Mick - you're doing great! :o)
In part 3 of "Climb Like a Girl", Mick Ryan looks at the use of images of women climbers in the media.
Read part 3 now - http://www.ukclimbing.com/articles/page.php?id=112
Continue the discussion on this thread - http://www.ukclimbing.com/forums/t.php?n=126722
I've heard nothing but admiration for Lynn Hill's effort on the Nose: if anything I'd say it was over-hyped. I've certainly heard it called the most impressive climbing achievement ever more than once.
'A girl climbed it so it can't be that hard' - well there are two possibilities as I see it. Possibility one - the climber believes strength is everything and technique nothing, and hence cannot believe that a route a girl can climb a route of grade x. Possibility two - the climber sees a girl climbing a route he can't do, feels threatened by this in some way which is mysterious to me and which you haven't explained, and decides that the girl needs taking down a peg. I don't see any evidence to suggest that possibility two is frequent, and a good deal to suggest it isn't. Strikes me you're assuming it's possibility two just because it makes a better story.
I still fail to see how talking to women is going to tell me what men think, as opposed to what they do. I used to climb quite a lot with a woman who was very much better than most men, and I don't think she would have had much time for or interest in the notion that her successes threatened men. She used to think it was fun burning men off, sure (hey, maybe she was threatened by their success on other occasions?), but then I used to think it was fun burning her off - on those rare occasions when I managed it.
> Who said they were victims. Not me. The womens movement of Sixties and prior to that is part of the reason why women have more opportunities today. Part of the reason. I also made it clear that becauseof legislation,like Title 9, more women got into sport . Climbing is a sport.
Non sequiturs ahoy!
--By portraying female climbers as an oppressed minority you are claiming that they are victims.
--While female climbers' attitudes may have had the zeitgeist of the '60s, it's not like there were non-women prohibitions that were lifted by the women's movement.
--Until competitive climbing becomes a high school or college sport, it has jack-squat to do with Title 9. Or did I miss the memo stating that our state educational institutions have been sponsoring female climbers?
Yes, climbing is a sport. Brilliant point.
Victim = An unfortunate person suffering from adverse circumstances.
Seems like a resonable description of living in a society that discriminates against you, not according you equal rights (in whatever category is important to you). The circumstances are adverse and that's unfortunate for you (a person).
What's all this "daren't call anyone a victim" business?
> Victim = An unfortunate person suffering from adverse circumstances.
Exactly my point. How many strong and accomplished (or not strong and not accomplished for that matter) female climbers think of themselves as UNFORTUNATE SUFFERERS?
Oh woe is me! Save me, Mick Ryan, from my cruel male oppressors! Oooooo! I'm so weak and helpless!
> Brian should really lock that Gin bottle in the cupboard and unhook the computer when he leaves you by yourself Judith.
> I'll pass on your embarrassment to the women concerned.
Dunno who Nicola sixx is but it ain't who YOU think it is. We have no gin in the house, neither of us being a fan, and Jude hasn't a clue what "didactic" means. Neither have I, for that matter. But this is quite amusing anyway. Carry on.
> Dunno who Nicola sixx is
She's a character in London Fields by Martin Amis.
Darts, Keith, Darts.
You still got it wrong. Up to the oche. BOING! Ohhh...he's missed the board!
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