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Is your masculinity in climbing toxic?


Original Post
Paul Park · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0

I was listening to the recent Enormocast with Shelma Jun where she and the host discuss some of the issues and experiences women can face in the climbing community, it's pretty insightful and worth a listen but one comment made me think about my own experience.

Essentially it's the idea of 'Toxic Masculinity', in that males can be forced to "Suck it up"/"Man up" and are inhibited from expressing emotion in general and this is an example of a negative social constructs males have.

Does anyone have any negative personal experiences with this in their climbing? I accept that it happens, my experiences with (male) partners where we can push one another by talking a bit of shit has been really positive though. It's a way to bond in that you can playfully insult one another and discuss the weaknesses you each have.

I always viewed such masculinity and stoicism as an ideal better man you aspire to be. In climbing that's being stronger and more importantly perseverent for when the going gets tough. It's to suffer and pull through together. I love this part of being a man.

I think importantly the exceptions to this would be 'not showing emotions'. Joe Simpson admitted to weeping when he fell into a crevasse thinking he's going to die but I've never encountered anyone thinking he's less of a man for it. Same with when friends have passed in the mountains or even after me and my partners went through hell together. Moments of extreme emotion have always come with the territory.

Does anyone have any differing experiences with their masculinity? I'm especially curious if there are guys who think it's been a hinderance to their climbing.

caughtinside · · Oakland CA · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 1,470

I've definitely blamed Low T for falling off a route.

I think that makes me part of the problem.  My friends laughed though. If laughter is the best medicine, is it toxic?

Spencer Ringwood · · Somerville, MA · Joined Aug 2016 · Points: 0

Really, is my masculinity in relation to climbing toxic?  I'm not sure why people find it neccesary to turn everything into a gendered issue. The societal pressure of "not looking like a bitch" isn't the way things should be, but it is and it's not a big deal.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,240

If you see Chuck Norris crying he will grant you a wish, if your wish is dying.

Chris Blatchley · · Somerville, MA · Joined Sep 2016 · Points: 0

sometimes, yes. i try to be conscious of it.

Dave Kos · · Temecula, CA · Joined Jan 2011 · Points: 55

My masculinity prevents my belay device from hanging free.

Ray Pinpillage · · West Egg · Joined Jul 2010 · Points: 180

If I say yes will you stay home? 

Squeak · · Perth West OZ · Joined Feb 2016 · Points: 23
Spencer Ringwood wrote:

Really, is my masculinity in relation to climbing toxic?  I'm not sure why people find it neccesary to turn everything into a gendered issue. The societal pressure of "not looking like a bitch" isn't the way things should be, but it is and it's not a big deal.

    

Herein lies the problem   

Paul Park · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Oct 2017 · Points: 0
Spencer Ringwood wrote:

Really, is my masculinity in relation to climbing toxic?  I'm not sure why people find it neccesary to turn everything into a gendered issue. The societal pressure of "not looking like a bitch" isn't the way things should be, but it is and it's not a big deal.

I'm just curious if anyone has any experience with masculinity being a detriment. I've now often heard it referred to as almost a pejorative. I'm curious to learn about the other side of the coin here.

I value the "not looking like a bitch" thing. It's pushed me outside of my comfort zone in climbing and is part of what made me excel at it.

Eric D · · Gnarnia · Joined Nov 2006 · Points: 230

Who cares. 

Nolan Huther · · Clarkson University · Joined Dec 2014 · Points: 607

If your motivation lies in whether others are perceiving you as strong or weak, it sounds like you're drawing from a shallow well

David Kerkeslager · · Brooklyn, NY · Joined Jan 2017 · Points: 55

If men not being "allowed" to show emotions harms anyone, it harms men, not women. I'm not sure why this is being brought up as an issue women face.

I talk pretty openly about my emotions, I think. I get scared on climbs and back down from them, and I've talked openly in both my climbing circle and on this forum about fear being a thing that holds me back and nobody has made fun of me for it. There's a good-natured pressure my friends and I put on each other to not wimp out or whatever, but anyone with any emotional intelligence can see that is encouragement to succeed, not discouragement from expressing your emotions.

It's not just me who talks about my emotions, it's also prominent male figures in the climbing world. I remember a video where Daniel Woods talks about his strategies for dealing with fear when sending The Process. The Push is more about Tommy Caldwell's emotions than it is about climbing. There are two books about fear written by men, The Rock Warrior's Way and Vertical Mind and a Eric Horst's Training For Climbing covers the topic extensively.

I've definitely met guys who would make fun of someone for showing fear, but I've also met women like that, and I don't see a reason to attribute that to gender. Other people's experience might be different. My experience is that the prevalent accusation that men go around shaming each other for showing emotion is much more harmful than any toxic masculinity that I've actually experienced.

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,240
Paul Park wrote:

I'm just curious if anyone has any experience with masculinity being a detriment. I've now often heard it referred to as almost a pejorative. I'm curious to learn about the other side of the coin here.

I value the "not looking like a bitch" thing. It's pushed me outside of my comfort zone in climbing and is part of what made me excel at it.

Hell ya, I've seen so much macho bullshit go wrong. Never me of course, never.

IcePick · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jun 2017 · Points: 100

I cry every day...

Why did I get married 

What was I thinking

Will it ever end

Tradiban · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Apr 2004 · Points: 11,240
Kat Hessen wrote:

Out of honest curiosity -- what does it actually mean to "look like a bitch"? What image does that phrase conjure in the mind of a native English speaker? Not being one, I don't really "get" it. In everyday English I've heard the term "bitch" used for someone who is being rude, crude, nasty, aggressive or arrogant. Seems to mostly (mooostly) apply to women. Men exhibiting the same characteristics/behavior are more commonly called assholes/jerks. 

But say, backing off a climb because it gets scary or because you're tired..it sure isn't rude, obnoxious or aggressive? So why isn't it "look like a wimp" or "look like a quitter"? As an outsider to your language and culture, it's hard not to perceive the word "bitch" as inherently female, and thus an accepted general reference to female qualities. In which case "looking like a bitch" really means "looking like a woman" (in the same style as "throwing like a girl", just less implicit)?

And here's the thing, 50% of the time when I see someone bailing or psyching themselves out when climbing, they are indeed women. The other 50% are...not marmots. Nope. Nopety nope. 

It's a figure of speech.

Hobo Greg · · My Van · Joined Mar 2016 · Points: 145
David Kerkeslager wrote:

If men not being "allowed" to show emotions harms anyone, it harms men, not women. I'm not sure why this is being brought up as an issue women face.

Let's see, virtually all of the bad things that happen to women are caused by men. So I'd say that how boys and men are "expected" to behave DOES have an impact on women. 

Nothing happens in a vacuum.

FrankPS · · Atascadero, CA · Joined Nov 2009 · Points: 275

Silly question. 

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,480

Luckily I don't have this issue.  I either commit or I don't.  If I don't, I examine the reasons why I didn't.  I think the people that are all "man up" and "don't be a pussy" are inhibiting themselves.  If your gender driven ego is the only thing pushing you, then you're in for a woefully sobering (and probably painful) realization that it doesn't mean shit, won't help your climbing, and does nothing but perpetuate an undesirable archetype.  And if bravado forces you or urges you to make a decision that is unwise in your climbing, like pushing through a section that you can't climb when the fall potential is injurious, then it's downright dangerous.  Be a tool all you want, it won't help your climbing.  So my answer is no, I don't have that problem, and yes, I think it inhibits climbing with regard to intelligent decision making in a split second moment where it's critical.  Beat yourself up all you want because you let fear take control, and didn't trust your ability- don't attach that to your worth as a person or a man; it has absolutely nothing to do with it.  YMMV.

Jake Jones · · Richmond, VA · Joined Jul 2011 · Points: 1,480
Paul Park wrote:

I value the "not looking like a bitch" thing. 

Which means what exactly?  Not looking weak?  Like a woman?  Scared?  What does "not looking like a bitch" translate to for you?

John Barritt · · OKC · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 1,053

You people have fallen for the troll bait.......... ;) 

More gender based arguing........awesome......... ;)

Morgan Patterson · · CT · Joined Oct 2009 · Points: 8,767
John Barritt wrote:

You people have fallen for the troll bait.......... ;) 

More gender based arguing........awesome......... ;)

'the other troll post is at 15 pages... wtf people... dont you realize feeding trolls is bad?

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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