Note: for those who don’t understand climbing terms I’m putting out there. Here’s a climbing dictionary.
Getting ready to lead a climb as a warm up outside a cave in Malaysia, a male, local to the area, comes up to me and asks, “ You’re going to climb? But you’re a girl,” I clench my jaw, never knowing what or how to respond back to such a statement, my male friend, belayer and coach swoops in and saves the day by responding, ” don’t look down on her small frame and build, she is stronger than she looks and fearless too, females are actually better climbers than we(men) are.” The guy nods his head and silently watches us all climb.
Rock climbers are predominantly males whether it is indoor or outdoor, women have quit climbing because of how high the level of testosterone is there in the gym. Being in the gym, staring at a route in frustration, I catch myself sometimes blaming myself being a female with weaker bodies and having a shorter reach and the next moment I’ll see another fellow climber a few inches shorter than me climbing the same route and flashing it with ease, giving me no excuse and shaming myself for blaming on my gender.
People think indoor climbing is about brawn and powering it through, as a matter of fact, in an article titled Rock it, says climbing is about full body strength, balance, grace and flexibility; women tend to be better climbers as we naturally have better weight-to-strength ratios and are more conscious of using technique over brawn. Climbing is also about perseverance, problem-solving and self-confidence; women seem to better appreciate the Zen-ness of indoor rock climbing.
Fellow climber, Ester Packard-Hill, wrote an article about gender stereotypes and sexism in climbing; ‘playing the game’. You get a lot of ‘for a girl’ comments, hearing those kinds of comments frustrates a lot of female athletes, not just climbers. You don’t hear people say, “you played really well, for a guy.” Most images of female climbers you see in magazines are women climbing in their sports bra. The emphasis of female sex-appeal is across many sports like volleyball, tennis, track, golfers and the list goes on and on: tight, short, and barely covering anything. Most sports rely on women developing traditional masculine qualities, Ester explains that female athletes promote their femininity because of fear of being questioned of their sexuality.
In a blog, writer Georgie Abel asked almost 100 female climbers to tell a story about notable experience they had while climbing with a male. They tend to make assumptions that women are weaker; uncomfortable with highballs and trying hard boulder problems or leading a route. Thinking the girls don’t want to do problem-solving and start showing or shouting beta to them. some of them would discourage women from trying hard, heady, or powerful climbs. If a guy repeats hard boulder problems, they are praised at. If a girl repeats hard boulder problem, they would downgrade it. There are also stories of males being cocky, obnoxious and/or egoistic, I have seen men quit climbing just because a woman could ascend a route and they could not.
Of course, there are positive experiences climbing with men, after 3 years of climbing at the wall climbing gym at UNB Lady Beaverbrook Gym, I realized the regulars there refuse to let females blame their femininity, there is no judgement in there, no pride at stake, there is however, encouragement to push through your own limits, focus on yourself and not let anyone else talk down to you, especially yourself.
Rock it: Literally climbing the walls, women are finding they’re built to excel when it comes to indoor rock climbing. (1993, 01).Flare, 15, 23-23,71. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/223845985?accountid=14611