/ NEWS: Statement of Intent for International Women's Day
Great to see UKC being pro-active about equal representation.
Equality works for us all, not just women.
I've definitely noticed a positive change in the content on the site in the last couple of years and I think its brilliant. I feel the forums are a little behind on this, and there are still no go areas for me. It's a shame as I was a member of this site from the early days and it was a major source of encouragement for me when I first started climbing. I don't feel that there is anything like the same sense of community. Perhaps, with more women represented in UKC content, more female users will feel at home here, and help change the culture and balance in the forums. I hope so.
Can I ask why you feel unable to produce a women's specific group test within the next 10 months?
Surely if the will genuinely exists then a way should be found?
Part of the reason for our hesitancy was due to a sense of what was genuinely achievable: it's great to say you're going to do something, but if you don't actually do it then it becomes completely meaningless. Hence I would rather err on the side of caution, then deliver on exactly what we said we would, and look towards building on that for next year.
That said, we are working on this and if there is a way we can get one done in 2018 then trust me - we will.
Can we have more pink and purple mens clothing? I dislike black.
You are living in the wrong era. There was a period in the late 80s/early 90s when outdoor clothing pretty much only existed in various shades of purple & lilac.
We'll see what we can do
Thought the Yosemite Think Pink t-shirt was mandatory at one point
> Can we have more pink and purple mens clothing? I dislike black.
Patagonia has always done a nice line of colours.
"We would never wish to see specific male/female areas on site"
This is interesting, as mountainproject recently opened a subforum specifically for female climbers, taking the opposite path.
"Women were clear that the positive change they would like to see includes equal treatment of women and men. For example, coverage of women should be integrated, not through 'women's pages,' and should focus on an individual's achievements, not on their gender."
Yes. Just my opinion of course, but until we stop making a point of gender in any way shape or form, we won't have equality.
> I feel the forums are a little behind on this, and there are still no go areas for me. It's a shame as I was a member of this site from the early days and it was a major source of encouragement for me when I first started climbing. I don't feel that there is anything like the same sense of community.
I think we have to accept that the nature of the forums has changed in the last 18 years. Our readership is vastly increased beyond the UK scene and Facebook has appeared to take a lot of that 'chat between friends' away from International forums. It simply isn't the same as it was in the early days when it was new, a much smaller group, and there were few other groups. It is unlikely that it will ever get back to what it was again.
Having said that I always ask people to do a simple test when they characterise the forums in particular way. That is to go to the Forums main page, with a long list of threads visible, and to then assess how many of the threads are actually aggressive/elitist/argumentative and compare it to the number that are helpful/supportive/informative/fun. It is usually quite a revealing ratio significantly in favour of the latter and even more so if you filter out The Pub and Off Belay.
Sometimes I think one of the main factors preventing people posting is the reputation of the Forums preceding it. You will often hear people characterising the forums in the third person - "those idiots on UKC" - that kind of thing. In actual fact 'those idiots' are probably all of us who ever read and post, and most of us aren't idiots, are we?
Hi Alan, thanks for your reply. The off belay part of the forums is somwhere I used to enjoy, but not so much in recent years. It takes up a huge amount if traffic on the site. I switched off the Pub a long time ago. This is exactly what I mean by no go areas. There were some very hostile corners of the forums in the wake of the #metoo and equal pay scandals just to quote recent examples. I'm not talking about censorship or anything like that but you do provide a platform for views that can have a negative impact on women, and indeed others. You are keen to address gender imbalance on the site, and in many areas UKC is improving, which is noticed and appreciated. I'm just telling it as I see it.
It seems to me that there are very few complete idiots on UKC, even if some debates may be frustrating or abrasive. Even the more 'aggressive/elitist/argumentative' posts often turn out to be by people who in other areas of the site can be perfectly okay. I guess we can all be idiots sometimes...
I just never got why people come on here battling on about non outdoor topics. I've never looked but I'm sure there's a forum elsewhere for that kind of material. Filtering out the UK zoo sections has vastly improved my enjoyment on here. I wonder what site traffic would be like if the staff simply deleted the non outdoor areas?
On the topic of women and equality, my wife doesn't visit the site but simply uses guidebooks and goes climbing. My best climbing partner.
> Hi Alan, thanks for your reply. The off belay part of the forums is somwhere I used to enjoy, but not so much in recent years. It takes up a huge amount if traffic on the site. I switched off the Pub a long time ago. This is exactly what I mean by no go areas. There were some very hostile corners of the forums in the wake of the #metoo and equal pay scandals just to quote recent examples. I'm not talking about censorship or anything like that but you do provide a platform for views that can have a negative impact on women, and indeed others. You are keen to address gender imbalance on the site, and in many areas UKC is improving, which is noticed and appreciated. I'm just telling it as I see it.
It is interesting that you say 'no go' areas. To give a bit of historical context to the non-climbing forums, we originally developed Off Belay years ago, maybe even in the 1990s (confusingly it was called 'Down the Pub' at first but I will refer to it by its new name). This was to separate out the climbing and non-climbing discussion following complaints back then. Around 2005 ish we over-hauled the system to create a new opt-in only space (originally called 'The Chat Room', but now renamed 'The Pub'). This again was in response to user demands. We needed a place to have robust discussion without it impacting on occasional readers (and potential advertisers) and without us having to remove everything just because it contained a bit of swearing, for example. You have to register and opt-in to see the Pub forum and only 11% of people who visit the site actually have opted in.
So The Pub was created in order to allow more discussion, but enable people who didn't want to see it to have that option as well. You could characterise that as a no-go area but you could also say it is our attempt to allow as much open and free discussion as possible. I suspect , as mentioned in my previous reply, if you actually counted up the threads in The Pub, you'd find that the no-go area may just be the odd no-go thread - not necessarily a good thing but probably inevitable in view of the aims of the forum.
Do you think it is possible to create something for climbers that was open to forthright discussion and strong opinions without just being an Echo chamber like the Facebook friend zones and small private discussion forums that many of us feel more comfortable in?
Surveys are a funny thing. The answers to them are in the most part formed by the questions asked. This makes acting on such surveys rather dangerous.... who made the survey, and what is their agenda? The list of things that 'women want' is rather funny. Different clothes? If you want them, the manufacturers will make them!!! Just tell them, and they'll be happy to do so. Chances are they have tried such things and they just didn't sell in enough quantity. If you want to be considered not as women, but just like anyone else, don't take part in thing s like Women's Day..... kind of obvious that ;) Of course, Women's Day itself is part of the problem. As long as there are such things, the message given is that there is no equality. In fact there really is. We live in a world where small vocal minorities and subgroups make lots of noise, and spread dissent (such as the pay gap myth) making people unhappy with their lot. When I go outdoors climbing, there are many more men than women.... hardly surprising then that traffic to this site is mostly men. Equal numbers does not equal equality. Things are pretty equal now, and will get even better when we stop banging on about separate groups... Climbers are a welcoming and friendly group who only seem to care if you are into climbing, not what sex you are. No barriers here! There's nothing holding women back in the world of climbing, or on this excellent website. Change nothing UKC, you're doing a great job. Please don't get derailed by this foolishness....
I did think this quote:
> coverage of women should be integrated, not through 'women's pages,' and should focus on an individual's achievements, not on their gender."
... was in contradiction to having an international womens' day. Have I missed something in my quick skim of the article?
Alan, I've noticed a difference since Natalie has been on your team. Nothing to do with her being a woman, just that she's a very good writer. Her interviews and articles are excellent.
> Surveys are a funny thing. The answers to them are in the most part formed by the questions asked. This makes acting on such surveys rather dangerous.... who made the survey, and what is their agenda? The list of things that 'women want' is rather funny. ... snip the rest of this nonsense
This post is a good indicator of the problem we have. It is mostly emotive nonsense by someone who hasn't really studied the issues, is writing with his gut instinct, probably with good intentions, but with an ostrich approach to the problems. Denying there are problems doesn't make them go away.
This post will almost certainly appear to some people, including many women, as an aggressive post that is typical of a male-dominated forum. It doesn't matter if they ignore it and don't respond, the damage is done and the characteristic of the forum has been set. Never mind the rest of the content on the forums, if you think your audience consists of people who have this view towards equality then some may dismiss the entire space as not for them.
However, I would strongly defend the right of amosQuito to post this here since it is a discussion point, and that is what forums are about. We would be doing far more damage to our credibility by removing something like this despite the fact that it is characteristic of a type of post that does significant damage to the gender balance of the forums.
To call this step ‘foolishness’ simply highlights that you’re regurgitating the ‘white male can’t see that there’s anything wrong’ view of the world. International Women’s Day is an opportunity to make people aware of inherent problems in society; the gender pay gap, attitude towards women in the workplace and the disproportionate amount of abuse women receive at the hands of others.
It’s impossible for you (or me) to have experienced any kind of the same barriers that women have experienced in the world of climbing. But it’s possible to empathise and help to remove these barriers. UKClimbing providing more of a platform for women to get involved with the sport is a positive step in my opinion. How can balancing out the amount of reviews specific to each gender, or writing more articles that inspire women be ‘foolishness’?
Interestingly, yesterday ‘International Men’s Day’ was trending higher than ‘International Women’s Day’ on Twitter. This was due to the sheer amount of self-righteous men asking when their day was. It’s November 19th. I thought that said a lot about how far society needs to go.
> Alan, I've noticed a difference since Natalie has been on your team. Nothing to do with her being a woman, just that she's a very good writer. Her interviews and articles are excellent.
I fully agree. It is a great credit to Nat that she manages her role as editor in a way that doesn't play on gender at all whilst the balance in content has significantly broadened. Jack G was a great editor but Nat has taken us in directions that I (and I suspect Jack) have been very surprised about and would almost certainly not have planned ourselves, but they have all been good directions.
Did you see the article in yesterday's Le Monde where they pointed out that the proper name (at least in France) is "La journée internationale des droits des femmes" and is supposed to highlight inegalities & the need to obtain equal rights in all spheres.
Because I'm a bloody bloke
It didn't trend anywhere near international women's day, doesn't even make the top ten:
I think the changes you are making are great, I think they toe the line between promoting equality and keeping fairness really well. But, I think there is a real risk of alienating your majority audience if you spread the message that they are not as worthy as some other group you are trying to attract. The measure you talked about don't do this but dismissing peoples opinions in the comments because they are white men does. And it's pointless anyway you can dismiss opinions for way better reasons.
The trending works differently for individuals based on who you follow, specific interests and location, so for many people yesterday it was trending higher.
At no point have we said that one group is more worthy than any other, and at no point will we ever say that. I contested amosQuito's comment for several reasons in my reply, and I can't see how any of the issues I raised would alienate anyone. They're positive actions to improve how a specific demographic view the site, we're not taking anything away from other groups.
What was the derivation of the day? I hadn’t heard of it until I started learning Russian in 2012 - it’s a big thing there, but in a similar way to Valentine’s Day. It’s only been a thing here this year, as far as I can see.
I'm happy to test gear if needing more female testers is the issue.
> This post is a good indicator of the problem we have. It is mostly emotive nonsense by someone who hasn't really studied the issues, is writing with his gut instinct, probably with good intentions, but with an ostrich approach to the problems. Denying there are problems doesn't make them go away.
> This post will almost certainly appear to some people, including many women, as an aggressive post that is typical of a male-dominated forum. It doesn't matter if they ignore it and don't respond, the damage is done and the characteristic of the forum has been set. Never mind the rest of the content on the forums, if you think your audience consists of people who have this view towards equality then some may dismiss the entire space as not for them.
For starters. It may not be close to home, but their stories are worth listening to. If I have time after work I will respond in greater detail.
> I feel that, as we are men, we should get more than just a single day.
According to my sons (female) teacher, every day is mens day!
So it doesn't say anything about how far society has to go, just that you follow some dubious characters on twitter? I don't think the actions you proposed cross any lines but this:
"To call this step ‘foolishness’ simply highlights that you’re regurgitating the ‘white male can’t see that there’s anything wrong’ view of the world"
Making an issue of someones race and gender in order to discredit them seems needlessly divisive to me. I support what you are doing, it's too long coming in many aspects of life, but this seems to be an area that good people often take too far and the right action is not obvious.
Even the guy that 2 admins felt the need to respond to in moralising, insulting tones, was for inclusion. His ideal sounds like one where gender is irreverent and people are free to self determine. Yet from the next post's open deliberation on censorship and the harm he was causing you could have thought he was promoting wife beating not just mistaken about how inviting a wall full of men feels to a woman.
To be fair, he said "the pay gap myth" which implies his claiming to want a genderless society is just misdirection.
That seems unfair, isn't it more likely that he is just mistaken, not trying to deceive
> Whatever the merits of amosQuito's argument it's a bit rich to complain about aggressive posts when your reply to him is more so!
You misunderstand, I don't have a problem with aggressive posts. That's why I said I would defend his right to post it. As long as people keep on the issues then I think a healthy forum needs a good bit of robust discussion - what is the point otherwise? I am sure amosQuito will be perfectly capable of standing up for himself and I look forward to his reply, but I also stand by my assessment of his original post.
However I can also see why such posts support the points put forward by Snoweider when she characterised the forums as having no-go areas.
What I don't know is what is the best way to deal with it - hence why we are discussing it.
> Making an issue of someones race and gender in order to discredit them seems needlessly divisive to me.
Making an issue of someone's race and gender in order to point out the probable limitations in their perspective on issues that don't generally affect that race or gender seems pretty reasonable to me.
> Surveys are a funny thing. The answers to them are in the most part formed by the questions asked. This makes acting on such surveys rather dangerous.... who made the survey, and what is their agenda?
I respect your point here amosQuito. Women in Adventure is an independent research-based project. As a co-founder of this, I'd like to answer your questions:
The aim of our survey was to gather the views of a representative sample of women asking them to tell us who and what inspires them, and what issues or barriers to participation (if any), they faced. We wanted our findings to be based on the experience of as broad a range of women as possible, not our own opinions or preconceptions. This in mind the questions were kept deliberately open and not biased towards one view or another.
If you'd like more information on the overarching aims of the project or the results and objectives of the survey, including the questions, it's all here http://womeninadventure.com/2016-survey-questions/.
Comments like yours are the reason I have often avoided UKC Forums and perhaps that is part of the problem. In not replying we don't open up the conversation.
I think your post highlights exactly why UKC 'IWD Statement of Intent' is needed. Your post seems to come across as 'It hasn't happened to me therefore it's not a problem' and your tone is somewhat patronising. Whilst things have vastly improved in regards to equality there is still a long way to go and it's great to see UKC acknowledge this. I agree that on the whole, climbing is one of the most supportive and inclusive sports and the majority are great, but there are still issues that women face that need to be addressed.
'When I go outdoors climbing, there are many more men than women....' this is something that is beginning to change, and it's great to see this change happening. Do you not think that this suggests Women found the sport less accessible and anything that helps change this is a positive thing.
You've suggested that International Womens Day is a problem, this is a day that celebrates the achievements of Women and highlights the problems many face across the world. The pay gap does exist and is only one example of inequalities that are still faced. I'm not sure why you have such an issue with this day. There is also an International Mens Day which does the same for Men, I think both are hugely important.
I'm sorry that you think this is all 'ridiculous' but it's needed and it's great to see UKC taking positive action.
You can point out the limitations of a persons perspective all day but as long as you are not dealing with the argument it's just ad hominem and as soon as you do deal with the argument it's irreverent. It doesn't make a counter argument more valid it just divides people and it is obvious how wrong it is as soon as you pick a counter example.
Maybe, In which case I'd agree that the mods coming on strong might not be a good way to convince him otherwise. But it might equally be because he wants to believe it to make himself feel good or is just too lazy to find out.
There wasn't really an argument to deal with, though, just a series of assertions that there's no problem and that people are making a fuss about nothing. And those assertions are presumably a function of the poster's limited perspective on the issue, since quite a lot of female climbers have said that in their experience that isn't the case.
I think 'barriers' is perhaps an unhelpful term when discussing gender issues. It implies something physical, tangible and visible, whereas often these 'barriers' that some women experience in climbing are in fact matters of invisibility - lack of role models, lack of climbing partners, lack of well-fitting equipment, etc.
Then you have 'barriers' that are internalised due to a mixture of facts and stereotyped gender constructs around what is acceptable for women to do: 'women are weaker physically than men,' 'women are naturally more risk averse,' 'women aren't as tough as men,' 'women are bad at science,' 'women should be the primary caregiver for their kids.' The biological differences between men and women account for some variations in physicality and behaviour, but from the day we are born we are subject to influences from society and situation, through parents, family, friends and the media which are arguably more influential. As a girl I was steered towards dolls and was told it was ok - and even encouraged - to cry; I was pushed away from practical and physical activities whilst boys took over (the classic "I'll need a strong boy to carry these plastic chairs..." from teachers); I heard my Dad and other men talk about 'women drivers' and how they didn't know how to drive properly; I was praised more for being pretty or polite than for my character or abilities whilst boys were encouraged to be boisterous and talk about themselves. I can think of many more of these examples, and they are common to so many women. It's easy to explain to someone that I'm physically too short to jump over a hurdle, but harder to explain why I can't pass a certain point because there's an invisible 'hurdle' that another person can't see (due to them not sharing the same lived experience as me).
Harmless stuff, you might think, but what are the results of such experiences in adulthood? Lack of confidence? Just wo(man) up, surely? I can express emotions, but I know many men and boys don't feel that they can - they had the opposite treatment. I doubt myself when it comes to practical things and I am a very nervous driver. I worry about my appearance, despite trying hard not to care. Those misogynistic driving comments were ridiculous, I can understand now, but never underestimate the power of a flippant comment made in the presence of a child with regard to how it might affect their view of the world and themselves - even in adulthood. 'One is not born a woman, but becomes one,' etc.
Yes, in the UK women are largely in a privileged position. We are allowed to drive, vote, have abortions and don't need a male chaperone. Your wife and female friends may appear happy with their lot. This doesn't mean, however, that we aren't subject to toxic attitudes and behaviours such as those mentioned above. We lack representation in positions of power and influence. We are paid less than men for doing the same job in many areas. Fewer young women enter STEM subjects and are pushed towards the arts. You'd certainly hope that there aren't physical barriers, such as someone denying a woman a job based solely on her gender. Unfortunately this is still happening, but perhaps more common (and less easily understood) is this invisible lack of confidence, the 'I don't belong here'/'imposter syndrome'/'I'm not good enough' that women often speak about. Lad banter and stereotypes help to perpetuate unhealthy attitudes and contribute to an uncomfortable atmosphere for women, even if it's intended as harmless fun.
Unfortunately women's safety in the streets is never guaranteed, and I feel that this fear can extend to online forums. I'm lucky - I started browsing UKC at age 10 as a confident young climber who took great pleasure in winding up grumpy trad climbers about indoor and competition climbing. I quickly learned that people can be offensive and unpleasant online and grew to have a thick skin, which grew even thicker as I started working here. Climbing taught me a lot about confidence and overcoming fears, and growing up in and achieving success in a male-dominated sport has no doubt given me the confidence to join in debates today. Having thick skin not a solution and doesn't mean that we should put up with aggressive/misogynistic/offensive posts, however. Some women (and men) will choose to avoid reading the forums altogether if they suspect abuse might come their way. Having more female posters and more moderation from users and staff against abuse will help over time to stamp out abusive posts.
I disagree with women who push feminism into the realm of misandry, as I know that society's influence on men in making them emotionally closed books with a tendency to choose aggression as an outlet for their emotions is just as harmful. It all stems back to how we bring up children as I mentioned above. We're not taking away anything from men as Nick says - we're simply trying to open the site up to more women. For anyone interested, I'd suggest reading Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex for a fascinating look at the biological, social and economic bases for the subordinated position of women historically. To my mind, socio-economic class, race (and nationality/location of course) complicates attitudes towards inequality between the sexes. A woman of better economic standing will experience discrimination differently to a poorer woman - the same applies to men. Speaking from experience having grown up in a family from a lower class background, I sense that men of lower economic status often feel more in competition with women/threatened, since their status as a male with *some* privilege attached to them is their only trump card, as they don't have wealth or social standing to elevate them. If you're a man from a poor background and you're struggling to survive on a daily basis, I can see how the term 'privileged male' won't ring true and will cause resentment. There are plenty of rich misogynists in the world too, however.
Times are changing and climbing is a fantastic and increasingly diverse sport. It's not a question of superiority, but of equality. Elevating women shouldn't mean bringing men down, but I can understand the misunderstandings and deep-rooted issues causing some men to question IWD and the women's movement in general. It's all very complex, and often goes beyond questions of gender, as I've attempted to explain.
Then isn't the best way forward just to show the problem in clear terms? What does pointing out the posters race and gender add?
> Yes, in the UK women are largely in a privileged position. We are allowed to drive, vote, have abortions and don't need a male chaperone.
Unless you happen to live in Northern Ireland. It's worth remembering that even in the UK we're not quite as enlightened as we'd like to believe.
Good stuff Natalie. I might show your description of intersectionality to my A level soc students - I reckon you explain it more clearly here than I've managed!
It almost seems that inherent within any form of privilege, be that privilege from class, race, education, gender, or whatever, that it includes the inability to see, or at least a willing blindness of, that privilege.
Because as any historian will bang on about until the cows come home, context is everything. My race and gender (white and male) means that I see the world from a very different standpoint to a BAME woman. Thats just a fact. As such, its totally reasonable for reminded of that when debating someone who doesn't fit into that social group.
I discuss women's issues frequently with my sister, who is very active in the field at her university. I don't agree with everything she says and believes, inevitably! But what I think we've both got a lot better at recently is remembering that our view of the world is inevitably coloured by our social group. Being reminded of this is healthy; its amazing how often we both forget that what seems obvious to someone may be totally different to someone else.
Please don't read any bias into this. It is not intended as a loaded question. It's a genuine question:
In the mid 80s my wife worked on a number of women only rock climbing courses based in North Wales and run by the late Brede Arkless. For those who didn't know or have never heard of Brede, she was the first female UIAGM qualified British guide, a fabulous personality, who sadly succumbed to cancer. The fact that my wife didn't really enjoy these courses is somewhat irrelevant, apart from demonstrating that not all women need/want to be segregated (if that's the right word). My question is, in the intervening 34 years what progress has been made. There are still womens' only courses. Are we still at square one?
I'm not the best place to comment on how it was 34 years ago, but I can tell you that the majority view of women taking the survey emphasised that things were moving in the right direction. They were also clear that the positive change they would like to see includes equal treatment of women and men.
In some cases, particularly as beginners, some women said that an all-female environment is a helpful and safe way to learn, although that message was not repeated as a rule.
I hope this answers your question. If you want more information, the full results are published here - http://womeninadventure.com/detailed-results/
> In the mid 80s my wife worked on a number of women only rock climbing courses based in North Wales and run by the late Brede Arkless.
I remember working for a day on one of those courses as a stop gap (they must have been desperate....... ). The women were really quite scary and I was pretty intimidated. Fortunately they agreed that I could count as an honorary woman for the day and I survived in one piece.
> In some cases, particularly as beginners, some women said that an all-female environment is a helpful and safe way to learn, although that message was not repeated as a rule.
> I hope this answers your question.
Well it doesn't really. You'd have thought in 34 years society might have progressed to the point where they'd feel comfortable in a mixed group. Point is, what's gone wrong? Why do they feel they need to be in an all female environment? Clearly we ARE still at square one.
Fantastic response Natalie. I'm so pleased that UKC is taking an active stance on gender issues in climbing and beyond. I understand why some men find it hard to acknowledge that equality has still not been reached - because they have simply no experience of life as a woman and the invisible barriers you describe so well here. As a man, it has taken me years to realise that my experience of the world is totally different to a woman's, because as a man I am automatically given privileges that women still have to fight for. To be judged primarily for my brain, not my looks. To be expected to succeed and have a career of my own choosing, not to have to fight against the expectation that first and foremost I am a mother, a baby producer. To witness since birth that it is the other sex who hold almost all the powerful positions in this world, not my own. As men, these things are unimaginable to us. But they are women's everyday life. Although things have radically improved, equality has certainly not been reached and it is the invisibility of the barriers against women that makes them so dangerous.
In reply to Jim 1003:
Possibly the best and clearest piece I've ever read on this topic. Thanks.
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