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aerili


May 27, 2008, 12:28 PM
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Rock and Ice 'Sex Cells' article
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BTW, ladies, really good article in this month's R&I by Colette McInerney on (specifically) First Female Ascents, but (more generally) on women's position in climbing as it relates to the fact that everything, from grades to style to bolt placement on routes, is a matter of us being measured against male standards, rather than our own. (What would the world be like if men had to measure up to values and standards set by women in all ways of life??)

She just did a really good job with the article and I felt many of my own thoughts validated when reading it.

I would have provided a link to it but I do not think it's available online.


lena_chita
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May 27, 2008, 1:01 PM
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I just read it this weekend (in the car on the way to NRG), and I agree, it was a good article that expressed a lot of things that I have been thinking myself.


carabiner96


May 27, 2008, 8:32 PM
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Wanna ruin that warm and fuzzy feeling? check out the cover of outside this month.


caughtinside


Jun 3, 2008, 11:45 AM
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I read that article.

I hope I don't sound like too big a jerk, but I thought it was a little whiney and self defeating.

She makes several good points, like different body types, heights, etc, suit different types of climbing. But I thought she had several complaints that were just that, complaints.

I also thought her comments about women putting up routes were kind of self defeating? She asserted that more women should put up routes, but then she interviews Lauren Lee who basically says 'it's too much work." If that's the generally attitude, there's really nothing to complain about. To be fair, she did talk to another female who was putting up routes, Misty Murphy. But she was silent as to how many routes she has put up herself.

Also, I think they need a new term for First Female Ascent (FFA). I believe the term FFA means First Free Ascent, back to when lines were aided and subsequently freed. Kind of confusing to have one climbing term meaning two different things.


chadnsc


Jun 3, 2008, 12:52 PM
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Personally I and my female climbing partner find it a bit silly to have categories of FA's based on gender. Obviously someoneís height, weight, ape index, body shape, and finger size will effect how someone climbs a route. Just because youíre a different build than the FA doesnít mean you should get a new First Accent of the route.

As my female partner said:
"First female accent, please! The next thing you know people will be claiming first accents of a route because they are shorter or fatter that the original FA. Hell Chad, almost any climb you did would be the First Fluffy Accent"

"Fluffy" is the joke we have for my build. I'm 6'-2" and weigh 240 pounds. Yet another definition of FFA. Tongue


(This post was edited by chadnsc on Jun 3, 2008, 12:53 PM)


lena_chita
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Jun 3, 2008, 1:36 PM
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I read it a bit differently. I don't think the author was advocating keeping an official list of FFA. I think she was just saying that to her it matters when she hears that a female did something that was harder than anything else any female has done before because it breaks a mental barrier.

E.i. I don't think there even going to be a list in the guidebook that says;
FA: this guy, 2006
FFA: this gal, 2009
for every single climb.

But some notable examples will stand out. E.g. Lynn Hill and Ophir Broke, Mass Criticue and the Nose.

Josune Bereziartu and Honky Tonky, Bein de Sang or Bimbaluna.

Beth Rodden and To Bolt or Not to Be and Meltdown.

Each climb was the 'first' in some way, YK?


chadnsc


Jun 3, 2008, 1:50 PM
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I compleatly agree with you Lena. Every climb is a first to someone.


zenelky


Jun 4, 2008, 9:22 AM
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I liked the article a lot because, as a female, I think that knowing that a route has been climbed by a female really breaks a mental barrier.

There are many obsticles that many women have to overcome both physically and mentally. As a woman, I've had men offer to belay my partner because they didn't feel I was capable of doing it myself (happened last week), I've also had men offer to remove draws from a route I was working (again, directed toward my climbing partner, not me) thinking that I'd never make it to the top. How many men have had these questions asked to them? These are the reasons why many women have these huge mental barriers that need to be overcome. It's very empowering for me, to finally see another female climb hard routes that I'm working because I rarely encounter other strong female climbers at my local crag and am able to work with them to find the ways in which to make long powerful moves possible. Thankfully for me, when I do, these women can climb 13d.

So, I guess what I'm trying to say is that I feel that the first females ascents are noteworthy, simply for the fact that it may help other women come to terms with their 5'0 stature, little fingers, and all the extra effort we sometimes have to put forth to reach the same holds.

If you honestly think that short people do not have a disadvantage and that we are whiners, I dare you to come to my local crag and see what the south has to offer. For those of us who come in at less than a staggering 5'4", it's either be shut down or learn to pull harder than any 6'0" person around.

I have the uttmost respect for the women out there who have gone up against the male climbing machine.


granite_grrl


Jun 4, 2008, 9:54 AM
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zenelky wrote:
If you honestly think that short people do not have a disadvantage and that we are whiners, I dare you to come to my local crag and see what the south has to offer. For those of us who come in at less than a staggering 5'4", it's either be shut down or learn to pull harder than any 6'0" person around.

If you honestly don't think us taller people don't have a disadvantage try strapping and extra 40lbs to yourself and imagine how hard we (well, I) have to pull.

I'm sick of the excuses. Each person is different. You wish to be tall, I wish to be short. Whine about it all you want (I know I do Tongue), but we each have to deal.

I haven't read the article. Sounds like at a minimum it would be interesting, though I don't nessicarly agree with the concept of every first female accent being noted. But because there is such a smaller percentage of serious female climbers it is of note when a woman makes a high end, impressive accent.


zenelky


Jun 4, 2008, 9:58 AM
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I'll be honest, being short may be my oral excuse...but my true excuse is those d**n OreosCrazy. They make my butt actually bend space-time so that there is more gravity when I climb then when other people climb.


lena_chita
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Jun 4, 2008, 10:07 AM
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chadnsc wrote:
I compleatly agree with you Lena. Every climb is a first to someone.

Yet your implication is that because every first is important to someone (short, tall, fat, young, old, etc.), there is no point in keeping a separate list of FAs for females.

Well, a majority of females seem to disagree with you. It clearly seems somewhat important to most women I know. Women pay attention to noteworthy "firsts" achieved by other women because ofwhat it means to them. And women as a group make up a significant portion of climbers overall, so something that is important to a large-enough group of individuals gets noted.


Do you think that there is a large group of tall and heavy climbers that need encouragement and want to keep a list of important breakthroughs that have been achieved by climbers who are not skinny monkeys? By all means, keep track of that, point it out to people, talk about it. If enough people pay attention to it, it will start getting noted by the general community, too.


caughtinside


Jun 4, 2008, 10:12 AM
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zenelky wrote:

If you honestly think that short people do not have a disadvantage and that we are whiners, I dare you to come to my local crag and see what the south has to offer. For those of us who come in at less than a staggering 5'4", it's either be shut down or learn to pull harder than any 6'0" person around.

Not sure if that was directed at my comments, but I'll clarify.

I don't think that short climbers are whiners. Everyone uses a different sequence. That's kind of what makes climbing cool, it's you and the route. The route just is. You can do it or you can't. If you want to make excuses as to why you can't that's a personal thing. If you think the grade is unfair to your body size then ignore the grade.

One thing kind of interesting about the Sex Cells article is it seems to me to be solely confined to sport climbing. I do not know what kind of trad climbing experience/resume the author has, but it would be interesting to see what she has to say about her arguments on crack climbs, where size is often much less of an issue. Can't complain about bolt locations on a crack climb!

Of course, then we get into the whole hand size issue. Laugh


chadnsc


Jun 4, 2008, 11:19 AM
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lena_chita wrote:
Do you think that there is a large group of tall and heavy climbers that need encouragement and want to keep a list of important breakthroughs that have been achieved by climbers who are not skinny monkeys? By all means, keep track of that, point it out to people, talk about it. If enough people pay attention to it, it will start getting noted by the general community, too.

I'm sure that their are a group of tall, heavy climbers out their. I just don't think it's important enough to justify a separate classification of FA's. In fact I would find it rather egotistic, self centered, and silly to start recording separate accents for 'fluffy' climbers. Not to mention it would be rather demeaning. ďHey you're the fat bastard that gained the FFA on Sentinel Crack, way to go lard ass!"Tongue

Just because every climb is a first for someone doesnít mean in needs to be recognized by popular media or assigned a meaning beyond what the person climbing gained from it.

In the end all that matters is that you climbed it, regardless of gender or weight.


lena_chita
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Jun 4, 2008, 12:20 PM
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chadnsc wrote:
Just because every climb is a first for someone doesnít mean in needs to be recognized by popular media or assigned a meaning beyond what the person climbing gained from it.

Popular media recognizes what is important for the population. All that Rock and Ice article is saying is that noting first female ascents is important to a large portion of climbing population-- for reasons stated. Obviously not to everyone-- it is not important to you. So you can ignore it... but if someone says that it is important to them, you can't very well argue with it because it is not important to you. Different people-- different priorities.

You could argue just the same that it is not worthy of note to say that so and so was the second person to climb something, or the third one-- yet ascents of that nature are reported in the media, too. (E.g. Ondra repeats Action Directe). So why not 'so and so is the first female to climb this or that'?


clee03m


Jun 4, 2008, 12:32 PM
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For me, also, I tend to be inspired by female climbers breaking barriers. So, yes, in essence I do keep track of first female ascents. I don't know why that leads to "we are making excuses" line of thinking. If it inspires some of us, why is it a big deal?

On a different subject, unfortunately, this experience is not limited to the South. When my husband and I go climbing, before guys see that I am leading everything, if I ask questions about a new area, a lot of times, they talk to my husband even though I am the one asking questions. And the new areas are in Washington right now. I guess until I grow some burley muscles, I just don't look like a climber to some folks.


chadnsc


Jun 4, 2008, 1:29 PM
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lena_chita wrote:
Popular media recognizes what is important for the population. All that Rock and Ice article is saying is that noting first female ascents is important to a large portion of climbing population-- for reasons stated. Obviously not to everyone-- it is not important to you. So you can ignore it... but if someone says that it is important to them, you can't very well argue with it because it is not important to you. Different people-- different priorities.

You could argue just the same that it is not worthy of note to say that so and so was the second person to climb something, or the third one-- yet ascents of that nature are reported in the media, too. (E.g. Ondra repeats Action Directe). So why not 'so and so is the first female to climb this or that'?

I have nothing against women climbing hard or inspiration that it creates. If a particular climb or climber inspires you, thatís great. I just donít see the need to segregate climbing accomplishments by gender.

Personally the issue I have with popular climbing media using the connotation of a First Female Ascent is that it segregates and degrades women.. Basically popular climbing media takes hard routes that a number of men have climbed free and says itís no longer impressive (yeah right!). A hard climbing woman frees the route and now popular climbing media is all over the previously Ďunimpressiveí route saying look this woman climbed it isnít she great (which she is!). Is it that uncommon for a woman to climb just as well as a man? I donít think it is but the reporting methods of popular climbing media can create a different conclusion.

I know that we each view FFAís from a different perspective. You view the inspiration they provide, I see the segregation. I think both of us see the incredible climbs done by spectacular climbers.


lhwang


Jun 4, 2008, 3:35 PM
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zenelky wrote:
There are many obsticles that many women have to overcome both physically and mentally. As a woman, I've had men offer to belay my partner because they didn't feel I was capable of doing it myself (happened last week), I've also had men offer to remove draws from a route I was working (again, directed toward my climbing partner, not me) thinking that I'd never make it to the top. How many men have had these questions asked to them? These are the reasons why many women have these huge mental barriers that need to be overcome.

I have the utmost respect for the women out there who have gone up against the male climbing machine.

I've been thinking all day about this. Keeping in mind that I haven't read the article...

I guess I'm in the minority in that I do see some male climbers behaving like asses (offering unwanted beta, assuming that I can't climb something, etc.) but it honestly doesn't bother me. It's hardly a huge mental obstacle for me. I don't climb to get recognition from other people. I don't compare myself to other climbers, whether they're male or female. I climb because I enjoy it.

I find the idea of women being measured by male standards almost irrelevant. I certainly don't care what a group of guys thinks of me as a climber. If women as a group are being measured by male standards, it's only because we're allowing them to do that, if that makes any sense.

I don't really agree with the idea of recording first female ascents. Sure, if Josune climbs something super hard, I want to know about it... because as a climber she's climbed something noteworthy, not because as a female climber, she's done something important. The same way that I would want to know about it if a man climbs something new and exciting.


aerili


Jun 4, 2008, 10:38 PM
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caughtinside wrote:
I hope I don't sound like too big a jerk, but I thought it was a little whiney and self defeating.

She makes several good points, like different body types, heights, etc, suit different types of climbing. But I thought she had several complaints that were just that, complaints.

I do not believe they are complaints; they are mostly 1) observations, 2) questions and theories on her observations, and 3) a call for contemplation and potential action and stirring of our collective consciousness on the topic.


In reply to:
I also thought her comments about women putting up routes were kind of self defeating? She asserted that more women should put up routes, but then she interviews Lauren Lee who basically says 'it's too much work." If that's the generally attitude, there's really nothing to complain about. To be fair, she did talk to another female who was putting up routes, Misty Murphy. But she was silent as to how many routes she has put up herself.

I don't think she was complaining. She was exploring the question of why women aren't putting up more routes. I mean, most dudes don't put up routes either. But the reasons for why most men don't and why most women don't are probably not all the same. Keep in mind she clearly had a line limit for her article too which prohibits her from expressing everything as much as she probably wished about this.


In reply to:
Also, I think they need a new term for First Female Ascent (FFA). I believe the term FFA means First Free Ascent, back to when lines were aided and subsequently freed. Kind of confusing to have one climbing term meaning two different things.

I agree. Perhaps just FAF--First Ascent Female.


aerili


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chadnsc wrote:
Personally I and my female climbing partner find it a bit silly to have categories of FA's based on gender. Obviously someoneís height, weight, ape index, body shape, and finger size will effect how someone climbs a route. Just because youíre a different build than the FA doesnít mean you should get a new First Accent of the route.

Never mind that you can't spell "asCent" correctly, first of all...but I digress.

The fact remains that physiologically and biomechanically (in terms of force generation esp from upper body, center of gravity, etc.), men are more like other men and women are more like other women than the two are like each other, regardless of height or weight, ape index, etc. (Plus, weight can be lost in relative proportion/distribution among people of the same gender, so it esp doesn't count as a point in your rebuttal.)

So, actually, gender really does matter in physical performance, esp. in performance of a body weight oriented sport.

Think about other body weight dependent sports: let's take gymnastics. Instead of measuring the women on the men's event parameters (and the men on the women's), they separate them based on gender-specific strengths and abilities to push the limits on different kinds of performance difficulties. If a woman could compete at rings at the same level as the best man in the world, would this not be noteworthy to us all?!?! Give me a break.

Colette's point is that women's accomplishments on rock routes envisioned by men, set by men, and almost always first climbed and rated by men, is therefore similarly noteworthy. And her call to action is for women in climbing to begin differentiating their own values of the sport, esp. in the physical sense of route quality and movement style in new lines developed w/out male influence guiding what it should be.


aerili


Jun 4, 2008, 11:27 PM
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lhwang wrote:
I find the idea of women being measured by male standards almost irrelevant.

Sorry for the multiple postings, but.....
I read this and find it rather amazing. I am not sure if you are referring to just climbing or everything else in our world, too, but if someone asks you what level climber you are, do you not state a number--a number that is essentially derived from male standards??? Even if you don't care what your "number" is, the fact remains you're using "the male standards." So I guess it ain't so irrelevant--nor is it even an idea!!!


In reply to:
If women as a group are being measured by male standards, it's only because we're allowing them to do that, if that makes any sense.

If you read the article, maybe you'll find this was part of her point to begin with--and what she would like to change.


chadnsc


Jun 5, 2008, 6:29 AM
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aerili wrote:
Never mind that you can't spell "asCent" correctly, first of all...but I digress.

The fact remains that physiologically and biomechanically (in terms of force generation esp from upper body, center of gravity, etc.), men are more like other men and women are more like other women than the two are like each other, regardless of height or weight, ape index, etc. (Plus, weight can be lost in relative proportion/distribution among people of the same gender, so it esp doesn't count as a point in your rebuttal.)

So, actually, gender really does matter in physical performance, esp. in performance of a body weight oriented sport.

Think about other body weight dependent sports: let's take gymnastics. Instead of measuring the women on the men's event parameters (and the men on the women's), they separate them based on gender-specific strengths and abilities to push the limits on different kinds of performance difficulties. If a woman could compete at rings at the same level as the best man in the world, would this not be noteworthy to us all?!?! Give me a break.

Colette's point is that women's accomplishments on rock routes envisioned by men, set by men, and almost always first climbed and rated by men, is therefore similarly noteworthy. And her call to action is for women in climbing to begin differentiating their own values of the sport, esp. in the physical sense of route quality and movement style in new lines developed w/out male influence guiding what it should be.

Well it's no secret that I rely way too much on spell-check but I'll leave that bit of childish nit picking for a less civil discussion.

I'll admit I never looked at the concept of male and female climbers from such a scientific and biomechanics standpoint. The points you made are very interesting and have caused me to change my viewpoint the subject. Thanks you for taking the time to explain this in such a straightforward and objective manner.

On a side note regarding weight loss being a relative proportion/ distribution among people of the same gender. I am curious how my particular build would be viewed in this discussion of physiology and biomechanics. The lightest Iíve ever been was 220 pounds at 8% body fat. I have a large skeletal / muscular system combined with hypothyroidism and type 1 diabetes. Obviously at my smallest I am considerably larger than most male climbers. Granted I am 20 pounds above my ideal climbing weight but could people not make a similar claim regarding my genetics and build as have been made comparing male and female climbers? This is a simple question spurred by curiosity and is in no way intended as a rebuttal.


lena_chita
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Jun 5, 2008, 9:28 AM
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chadnsc wrote:
I have nothing against women climbing hard or inspiration that it creates. If a particular climb or climber inspires you, thatís great. I just donít see the need to segregate climbing accomplishments by gender.

<snip>

I know that we each view FFAís from a different perspective. You view the inspiration they provide, I see the segregation. I think both of us see the incredible climbs done by spectacular climbers.

I have been thinking about it some more...

I fell that First Female Ascents are important in part because the men make it so.

When the FA-ist of Mass Criticue said to Lynn Hill that no woman would ever climb 5.14, he was expressing a common view among many climbers-- men AND women. Men-- because many men do view themselves superior to women in strength and a few other aspects. Women-- because all too often they hear this so often and so much from the time they are little girls that it becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy.

Do you think that attitude has gone away? Nope. The numbers have simply shifted.Once Lynn Hill DID climb Mass Critique-- and several other women have climbed 5.14 a/b, people have shifted to saying that well, yeah, O.K., maybe women CAN climb some of the easier 5.14s, but look, guys are climbing 5.14d/5/15a by now, no woman would ever climb THAT. Josune Bereziatu has proven that wrong, too...

To me, that was very noteworthy.

And the same thing plays out many times, in many small and seemingly insignificant ways all over the place. Have you seen threads on this site that ask the same question-- would woman ever be as strong as male climbers? That question was actually asked by a male, if I remember correctly... And a lot of responces were along the lines of "no, never, women are not capable of..."


I was thinking of something that happened to me recently. Just a couple of months ago, during a bouldering comp at the gym, there was this one route. It was hard to onsight, I think there was only one person who did onsight it. But several guys have quickly worked out the beta and redpointed it after 2-10 tries, depending on the person. They all did it is a burly brutal-strength way that required you to drop down onto a crappy hold at waist-level, feet be damned.

I felt that i could send it, too. I fell on the last move in onsight attempt, and thought I could figure out a way of doing it that didn't involve that brutal drop-down.

As I was working on it, I over-heard one of the guys who had managed to send it talking to one of the girls who was also trying to work it out. She said that it was hard, and I heard him say something like "Man, that move is burly. It is all brutal strength, I don't think any of the girls would be able to do it-- it's way too hard".

Now, the thing is, I don't think the guy actually realized how that phrase came across. He is a nice guy, very supportive, really, he has cheered me on many climbs and it is fun to climb with him. I think he was really just trying to say something along the lines of " Oh, don't feel bad about the fact that you haven't sent it, it is too hard for you, but that's O.K."

But he didn't say it THAT way. he brought gender into it. Why? If he were talking to another guy who happened to be 30 pounds heavier than him, and struggling on the route, too, whould he say something like: "Oh, that move is way too burly, I don't think any over-weight persons would be able to pull it off".

He wouldn't put it that way, I bet!

This is WHY first Female ascents are more important than first ascents by tall person, first ascent by fat person, etc. -- because many people make it so. Because many, many people automatically zero in on the gender as an explanation for why something can't be done by "weaker sex"


As a matter of fact, his statement really had an effect of making both me and the other girl MORE determined to send that route after we heard him say it. And we did send it, we each came up with our own beta including a complicated arrangement of toe- and heel-hooks in place of sheer-strength campusing move.

And you know what? not a single guy was able to do it that way-- several of them tried. And you know what another interestingthing fact is-- after they tried it couple times and gave up, a few of them have said something (dissmisively) about "the girl's way of doing it". It wasn't enough to know that they did it, and some girls did it, too, and everyone has done it differently. For some reason it was necessary to assert that there was a straightforward "guys" way of doing it, and the "tricky" "girls way", and well, no man should stoop to tricks when he could rely on his strength!

Why should I care about some random gym bouldering route that is not even there anymore?

Because it is just an example of a pervading attitude.

When it comes to a guy, other guys may think-- he is a prety good climber. No qualifiers.

When it comes to a girl, a lot of guys think: she is a pretty good climber-- for a girl.

And I bet you anything that this particular guy would be truly surprized if anyone ever told him that he had said something that came across as condescending towards women, b/c he would truly and honestly believe that he does treat men and women just the same...


lhwang


Jun 5, 2008, 10:00 AM
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Re: [aerili] Rock and Ice 'Sex Cells' article [In reply to]
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I should clarify and say that to me, personally, it doesn't matter that climbing grades are essentially derived from male standards. I personally think that a lot of the fuss around grades is ego-driven, and try to avoid getting into stituations where I'm using the grades as a means to compare myself or compete with other people.

Some of my happiest days climbing were when I tried climbs without knowing beforehand what the grade was. So yes, there are indeed days when I climb without "using the male standards" as you put it.


chadnsc


Jun 5, 2008, 10:01 AM
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Re: [lena_chita] Rock and Ice 'Sex Cells' article [In reply to]
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That is a very insightful peek into how some women climbers may think or feel. I now see how some may feel the need to showcase accomplishments of female climbers, especially when faced with such sexism.

To be honest I've never ran into sexism while climbing, and I'm glad for it! I suppose it has to do with where I live and the lower number of climbers that make up our climbing community.

Oh, and for the record I have been told that I was too fat to climb a route (Ironically I'm not fat, just muscular and big. Unfortunately the synthesis of synthetic insulin messes with your metabolism).

I typically just tell the mouthy twig that while he (or in one case she!) may be able to climb route X it really doesnít matter because climbing isn't the sole focus of my existence. That and their ability to pull a 5.12c move won't help them when I pick them up and bear hug them so hard their ribs crack. That usually shuts them up. Tongue


zenelky


Jun 5, 2008, 11:35 AM
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Re: [chadnsc] Rock and Ice 'Sex Cells' article [In reply to]
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chadnsc wrote:
To be honest I've never ran into sexism while climbing, and I'm glad for it! I suppose it has to do with where I live and the lower number of climbers that make up our climbing community.
Tongue

Something says that this is a false statement on your end. There probably is sexism, it's just that you aren't aware of it. Most men that make comments that come across as very degrading do not know that it is degrading (this is a societal issue not just climbing). The guy who asked my climbing partner if he wanted him to belay rather than me said it to be nice. He was probably thinking "I'm heavier than she is and the crux is between the first and second bolt. Therefore, due to my extra weight, the climber may be safer in case he falls" but it was said in slightly condicending manner. My climbing partner thought it was a kind gesture and I thought it was a very demoralizing statement toward my ability to belay (topped off by the fact that my partner didn't back me up with a "she's a great belayer"). Would he have asked my partner to switch belayers if I would have been a 105lb man rather than a woman, I don't know. Some women are able to brush these comments aside more easily than others, and most men who say them do not realize that they are condisencing.

It's hard to see the other side of the sexism coin until you yourself start questioning, "Are the guys watching me because I'm doing great on this climb" or "Are the guys watching me because I decided to wear this sports bra?" How many men have to stop and think about what they will wear to a crag when it's 95 degrees outside. I would assume very few. When a man shows up at the crag with his female climbing partner, how often is the man ignored and the route and 'climbing talk' directed at his partner? Again, I assume few. These are the things that make it hard for women to climb hard, although she can climb hard-for a girl.

A good line that I heard once was that "Men stop and watch me walk by with a sense they don't even know they have". I know sounds like I'm perpetuating the problem by fixating on it, but the problem won't go away if people don't first acknowledge that there is a problem (rift in male/female climbs) that needs to be overcome.

Sorry for my bad spellingCrazy

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