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Is your masculinity in climbing toxic?


Leigha Dickens · · Asheville, NC · Joined Nov 2011 · Points: 0

The level of disdain for this topic by many posters sort of speaks for itself on how difficult it is to even bring up these discussions, which sort of confirms the "toxic" part.  But I will reply to the original poster's question with my own thoughts anyway.  

I think it's about balance.  The concept of "manning up" in stressful situations is annoyingly gendered, but, that doesn't stop a lot of women from using it, and can applied in a non-gendered way:  "suck it up and climb" , or whatever. "Put on your big girl panties" we sometime say.  All of those expressions are probably needlessly crude, but one is allowed to be a bit crude while climbing, and the concept is important because climbing at your limit can be stressful and scary. When you're way above your last pro and facing a tough move, that's not often the best time to let yourself feel your fear or express it because that could shut down your ability to plow through the move and might even make the situation truly unsafe, if it's a no-fall zone. If a need to live up to ideals of masculinity makes that kind of fear-shut-down easier to do, that's probably a good thing for one's climbing performance. (I am not a man, so I don't feel as much pressure to live up to some masculine ideals, but I get frustrated at myself often for how weak my lead head is and how frightened I DO get in those situations, so I sometimes wonder if feeling that kind of pressure would help me climb better.) 

But, if you are regularly putting yourself in situations where you actually are in over your head, because you're not taking time before you climb, when it's appropriate, to process things like fear and stress and to look at your skill level rationally and make wise choices about what to get on, that's a problem, and a problem that can put other climbers at risk as well as yourself.  And also make you come off like a real ass.  An example that I observed recently and that really pissed me off was when my climbing partner sprained her ankle when following me on a multi-pitch. I have been taking rescue skills classes and studying and practicing with really tehcnically wise people, so I Had This. Rig the lower with my ATC guide, clean the route, get her bandaged up, set the rope as hand line so she can get down the class 4 scramble to the trail, limp out.  But I was at a crag where there were a lot of lower skilled climbers (because my lead head sucks so I only want to lead moderates) including a bunch of young dudes, relatively new to climbing if their comments while leading the route next to us were any guide, who thought way higher of their technical climbing knokwledge than they should have. Though I did not ask for help, and refused it when they offered, they drowned out my protests and jumped in anyway, without having a clue waht they were doing. This resulted in one of them losing his balance and tumbling, nearly falling off of the damn cliff right before my eyes, in which case, I'd have had to go about two rescues instead of one, but the second one would probably have been a body bag.  ("Dude, you almost fell," his friend said to him. "No I didn't!" Dude protested. "Yeah, bro, you definitely did," replied the other.)  Was that toxic masculinity, or just the arrogance of inexperience?  Both I'd say. I remember that I too, thought I knew way more about climbing than I really did when I first started, but I was able to realize that more experienced people were probably worth listening to, and humble enough to take the attitude that other poeple on the cliff likely had more experience than me.  But these guys were thinking about being the heroes, never considering, (or hearing us saying it) that the party of two women next to them had the technical skills they needed already and that their interference was actually making things worse. 

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

a poor whiteperson in more privileged than a poor black person. A rich white person is more privileged than a rich black person [...]

Any viewpoint that insists on dividing people into specifically-labeled groups is toxic.  (And you've actually assigned an ordered "privilege ranking" to these groups, lol...)

It's also absurdly oversimplified.  Not everyone neatly fits into the category of black/white/whatever. There is a substantial portion of the population that is mixed race and that number is increasing.  Quick, we need more categories!

But I see that we have multiple experts on White Privilege present in this thread.  Great! I have some questions:

- Does white privilege pass on from generation to generation?

- If you only have one white parent are you only half privileged?

- Can it be acquired through adoption?

- I have friend from the Pechanga Indian tribe that has blonde hair and blue eyes.  Are they white privileged or oppressed minority?

- Why are there no routes named White Privilege?

Please provide clarification - I have many friends and family that need to be assigned labels.

Ryan Bowen · · Bend, Or · Joined Mar 2017 · Points: 85
Kat Hessen wrote:

Nah braj, my bone spurs doth hurt too much. 

I'm not American, so they won't even let me register to vote, much less spiralize ISIS and jump dirt bikes in the Hamad.

Good thing the Selective Service doesn't prohibit immigrants from registering.  In fact, it is required, even of "undocumented democrats"

Lena chita · · Cleveland, OH · Joined Mar 2011 · Points: 250
Dave Kos wrote:

Any viewpoint that insists on dividing people into specifically-labeled groups is toxic.  (And you've actually assigned an ordered "privilege ranking" to these groups, lol...)

It's also absurdly oversimplified.  Not everyone neatly fits into the category of black/white/whatever. There is a substantial portion of the population that is mixed race and that number is increasing.  Quick, we need more categories!

Good job misinterpreting my post, and coming up with lots of questions based on that. I am not dividing people into specifically labeled groups, I am saying that these groups CURRENTLY exist and people are treated differently based on their perceived belonging in those groups. It would be wonderful if someone's perception of the group you belong to didn't affect how you are treated. But it would be disingenuious to pretend that we are living in that worlds right now.

Dave Kos wrote:

But I see that we have multiple experts on White Privilege present in this thread.  Great! I have some questions:

- Does white privilege pass on from generation to generation?

- If you only have one white parent are you only half privileged?

- Can it be acquired through adoption?

- I have friend from the Pechanga Indian tribe that has blonde hair and blue eyes.  Are they white privileged or oppressed minority?

- Why are there no routes named White Privilege?

Please provide clarification - I have many friends and family that need to be assigned labels.

The whole point of white privilege is that just LOOKING white is enough to give you that privilege. If your friend has white hair and blue eyes, he probably doesn't have to worry so much about a cop stopping him just for walking in a "white" neighborhood. So yes, in this case your Indian friend is enjoying the benefits of white privilege.

He may very well be an outspoken activist for racial equality, a wonderful person, etc. etc. When I say that he is " enjoying" the benefits of white privilege I do not mean that he is consciously taking advantage of it in any way. It simply means that when going for a walk in the evening he is not worried about his skin color as the reason he might be stopped and harassed. When he is driving, he is not getting pulled over any more frequently than any other white guy with the same driving habits as him. He doesn't need to DO anything in order to receive the benefit of looking like white.

If your mixed-race kid looks white, he is getting the same benefits as a white person from his looks. If he doesn't look white, he is getting the short end of the stick.

That's the point of privilege. It is not about who you ARE as a person, it is about the fact that just by virtue of looking white you get to skip some of the unpleasanties that a black person gets for no other reason than his skin color.

cragmantoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

Thread has spun a bit out of control (on MP?-no way).

Guys should be allowed to act like guys sometimes. (as long as they aren't being jerks to other people).

"White privilege" is a fallacy. White people are treated the way EVERYONE should be, not given special treatment. The reality is, black people (and other minorities) are treated very badly but this doesn't make white people privileged. It means PoC are still oppressed. All people should be treated like we are special (I know, kum-by-ya....)

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

Good job misinterpreting my post, and coming up with lots of questions based on that. I am not dividing people into specifically labeled groups, I am saying that these groups CURRENTLY exist and people are treated differently based on their perceived belonging in those groups. It would be wonderful if someone's perception of the group you belong to didn't affect how you are treated. But it would be disingenuious to pretend that we are living in that worlds right now.

The whole point of white privilege is that just LOOKING white is enough to give you that privilege. If your friend has white hair and blue eyes, he probably doesn't have to worry so much about a cop stopping him just for walking in a "white" neighborhood. So yes, in this case your Indian friend is enjoying the benefits of white privilege.

He may very well be an outspoken activist for racial equality, a wonderful person, etc. etc. When I say that he is " enjoying" the benefits of white privilege I do not mean that he is consciously taking advantage of it in any way. It simply means that when going for a walk in the evening he is not worried about his skin color as the reason he might be stopped and harassed. When he is driving, he is not getting pulled over any more frequently than any other white guy with the same driving habits as him. He doesn't need to DO anything in order to receive the benefit of looking like white.

If your mixed-race kid looks white, he is getting the same benefits as a white person from his looks. If he doesn't look white, he is getting the short end of the stick.

That's the point of privilege. It is not about who you ARE as a person, it is about the fact that just by virtue of looking white you get to skip some of the unpleasanties that a black person gets for no other reason than his skin color.

Of course you aren't dividing people into groups - someone else has already done that.

A brilliant example of what makes this topic so toxic: It's always someone else's behavior that's the problem.  Who is that someone else?  Someone in a different group of course...

I'm not going to respond to the lecture on "LOOKING white."  Because ... wow.

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

Kind of getting off-topic, it isn't/wasn't a question of race or men vs women in climbing. I'm simply trying to ask about people's personal experiences with masculinity and it's relationship to climbing. Why all the womansplaining and comparisons?

    Jon Frisby wrote:

    I think my buddies and I have struck a pretty good balance. On the one hand we spent half the day at camp comparing our shirtless bodies and calling each other little bitches. On the other hand I got scared leading a 10a on gear the other day and told my buddy I was scared like 3x. He reassured me that my gear was good and I made the move. I think it's important to be honest with your homies but also to push each other a bit. This isn't a gender issue. Everyone should have these sort of friends

I totally get this and this is what I relate to, my question is do you recognize times when this becomes unproductive as a partnership? What's that distinction for you?

    Bill Lawry wrote:

    As I was reading that, to suffer and pull through together, three climb partners particularly come to mind.  They are people who can / do endure when the rain comes down, when the dark and cold arrives ... all the way through to when the sun comes back up and we're still up there in the mountains, unexpectedly, sleep deprived.  Partners who will turn around and be willing to risk that again ... after rest and recuperation and some collective soul searching of course..

This is 100% what I'm talking about. Maybe it's my upbringing but I've strongly identified with these traits of masculinity and I see them reflected in the best alpinist partners I've had and I respect them more (and myself) more for it. Climbing has always been a bit of a litmus paper for myself, a way to reflect on what kind of man I am when everything else is stripped away. It's far less about what other perceive me as, more of how I perceive myself.

Old Lady, I think you bring up a really good point about men dying and getting hurt far more in the mountains. That's something I kind of overlooked but it's definitive evidence of some kind intrinsic danger of masculinity in climbing and obviously a negative. I guess I want to understand better where and how that danger arises. When does it pass this line?

Aleks Zebastian · · Boulder, CO · Joined Jul 2014 · Points: 175

climbing friend,

Scott McMahon · · Boulder, CO · Joined Feb 2006 · Points: 1,425
cragmantoo wrote:

Thread has spun a bit out of control (on MP?-no way).

Guys should be allowed to act like guys sometimes. (as long as they aren't being jerks to other people).

"White privilege" is a fallacy. White people are treated the way EVERYONE should be, not given special treatment. The reality is, black people (and other minorities) are treated very badly but this doesn't make white people privileged. It means PoC are still oppressed. All people should be treated like we are special (I know, kum-by-ya....)

Honestly I agree.  Everyone has gone so far left with political correctness that it's astounding.  Do we have work to do (a lot) as humans to combat racism, sexism, homophobia and whatever ism or obia is out there?  Hell yes.  But I'm not going to be sorry that I just happened to be born white and male.  And guess what? I HAVE MALE TENDENCIES! A LOT! haha

Everyone wants to turn on each other like being who you are is a bad thing, but only when it fits their narrative and agenda.  When a girl needs a "big strong man" that's ok, but if I try to help a girl and it somehow belittles her girl power in her mind i'm a chauvinist pig. And the hypocrisy is everyone can claim that they are a tri-sexual alien from mars, but the actual person I was born as was wrong.  

There is no dialogue and if you have a different opinion than anyone you get labeled with whatever is the buzzword of the year.  

reboot · · . · Joined Jul 2006 · Points: 125
cragmantoo wrote:

White people are treated the way EVERYONE should be, not given special treatment.

Considering that white people are still the majority in this country, one sure would hope so. But when they are the minority in other countries, they often are given special (mostly preferential) treatment, partly due to the stereotypes perpetuated by media (including Hollywood).

Dan Austin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 0

This thread is a great illustration of the most effective strategy to get people to reject the idea of privilege: make them believe that acknowledging and embracing the idea of privilege is tantamount to admitting personal guilt and/or unearned economic standing. 

Emil Briggs · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Sep 2013 · Points: 105
Dan Austin wrote:

This thread is a great illustration of the most effective strategy to get people to reject the idea of privilege: make them believe that acknowledging and embracing the idea of privilege is tantamount to admitting personal guilt and/or unearned economic standing. 

Exactly right. You seen this over and over in the course of human affairs. A good example is people my age bashing millennials for complaining about college costs. Usually with comments along the lines of "I worked my way through college so why can't these lazy entitled kids do the same". Of course when these older folks went to college the cost was much lower and was heavily subsidized by taxpayers but admitting that would challenge their perception of their own virtue and it's more fun to just bash the kids.

Pepe Climbs Rocks · · Unknown Hometown · Joined May 2012 · Points: 0
Dan Austin wrote:

This thread is a great illustration of the most effective strategy to get people to reject the idea of privilege: make them believe that acknowledging and embracing the idea of privilege is tantamount to admitting personal guilt and/or unearned economic standing. 

Yes, that is the implication made by the left.  White people have succeeded because of their unearned privilege and need to accommodate everyone else for it so that we can have equal outcomes for every arbitrary group of individuals.  See also: Cultural Marxism

It's not that privilege doesn't exist.  It's that white people are not a monolith, just like people in any other arbitrarily defined identity group are not a monolith.  That is why people reject identity politics and the notion of white privilege.  Let's try a simple thought experiment that debunks the notion of assigning privilege to all white people and the purely asinine idea of assuming people in any identity group are the same.....

All black people are _________....FALSE

All women are _________....FALSE

All native americans are ___________....FALSE

All muslims are ________....FALSE

All rock climbers are _________....FALSE

All white people are __________....FALSE

You  can fill in the blanks with whatever word/phrase/characteristic you want, but no matter how you do it assigning a label to an entire group of individuals makes absolutely no sense, and "calling out privilege"  is just plain divisive and toxic.  People are growing weary of it, but it appears that the social justice left is just gonna keep doubling down on their virtue signaling rather than reforming their flawed ideas.

Dan Austin · · San Francisco, CA · Joined Oct 2010 · Points: 0
Pepe Climbs Rocks wrote:

Yes, that is the implication made by the left.  White people have succeeded because of their unearned privilege and need to accommodate everyone else for it so that we can have equal outcomes for every arbitrary group of individuals.  See also: Cultural Marxism

It's not that privilege doesn't exist.  It's that white people are not a monolith, just like people in any other arbitrarily defined identity group are not a monolith.  That is why people reject identity politics and the notion of white privilege.

Maybe, although I haven't seen any proponents of the idea of privilege in this thread suggest that individual success is unearned due to race or that individuals should feel guilty about their skin color. I haven't actually seen that implication by any proponents of the idea of privilege anywhere (maybe I'm not looking in the right places), I've only seen that implication put forth by folks who are trying to discredit the idea of privilege.

I don't think the idea of white privilege paints white people as a monolith. Skin color can confer certain advantages or disadvantages in our society. White people don't have to (or are extremely unlikely to) deal with a certain set of problems (e.g. systemic racial prejudice). This doesn't mean that a white person doesn't have other problems, or that they haven't worked hard to earn their keep. It just means that there's a whole other set of problems in our society that they don't have to deal with.

As a white male, I personally don't understand why this is controversial or perceived as a threat to some sense of agency or autonomy, especially if you acknowledge that privilege exists. During the 18th and 19th century, did white privilege exist? Did the abolition of slavery eliminate all white privilege? What about the Black Codes in the Reconstruction era? Did white privilege still exist then? What about Jim Crow laws? Did the Civil & Voting Rights acts in the 60s eliminate all white privilege? What about the War On Drugs and minimum sentencing laws? When was white privilege eliminated from American society? Or did it never exist?

King Tut · · Citrus Heights · Joined Aug 2012 · Points: 420
Dan Austin wrote:

Maybe, although I haven't seen any proponents of the idea of privilege in this thread suggest that individual success is unearned due to race or that individuals should feel guilty about their skin color. I haven't actually seen that implication by any proponents of the idea of privilege anywhere (maybe I'm not looking in the right places), I've only seen that implication put forth by folks who are trying to discredit the idea of privilege.

I don't think the idea of white privilege paints white people as a monolith. Skin color can confer certain advantages or disadvantages in our society. White people don't have to (or are extremely unlikely to) deal with a certain set of problems (e.g. systemic racial prejudice). This doesn't mean that a white person doesn't have other problems, or that they haven't worked hard to earn their keep. It just means that there's a whole other set of problems in our society that they don't have to deal with.

As a white male, I personally don't understand why this is controversial or perceived as a threat to some sense of agency or autonomy, especially if you acknowledge that privilege exists. During the 18th and 19th century, did white privilege exist? Did the abolition of slavery eliminate all white privilege? What about the Black Codes in the Reconstruction era? Did white privilege still exist then? What about Jim Crow laws? Did the Civil & Voting Rights acts in the 60s eliminate all white privilege? What about the War On Drugs and minimum sentencing laws? When was white privilege eliminated from American society? Or did it never exist?

Right on, Dan.

Its not about feeling "guilty" but it is a challenge to those who supposedly believe in Justice and Equal Protection under the Law to work to improve our Nation.

They are not the same thing at all.

Right Wing talking points are what others are parroting, saying that the "left" wants equal outcomes or for people to feel bad for who they are: Total bullshit.

Its about recognizing that people of color have to overcome systemic racism, that maybe Colin Kapernik has a point, and White Privilege is to live nearly entirely free of these obstacles in America.

Fair minded people know it is wrong. Racists think its how it should be.

cragmantoo · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Mar 2015 · Points: 175

Idk, maybe it's just making a big deal over semantics, but the term "white privilege" implies, to me anyway, that white people are treated better than they should be because they are white. White people are treated (at least in America) exactly how black people SHOULD be treated (as well as brown, yellow and all other hues of people. The problem isn't white privilege, it's black disadvantage. Not the same thing in my view. 

ChapelPondGirl · · Keene, NY · Joined Oct 2016 · Points: 20

So, a few people have been more or less on point with their definitions of what privilege is and means, and what it means to have toxic masculinity.  Mainly though, I see a whole lot of defensiveness when those terms come out.  And maybe there is some good reason for that.  Hetero white men HAVE been attacked and blamed for a lot of the ills our society currently faces, and it's no more right to blame all white men for those problems than to blame, say, all Muslims for terrorism.

Being masculine by itself is neither good or bad.  It's how you use your masculinity to interact with the people around you that matters.  Getting defensive and calling an argument PC bullshit because you think it's ridiculous (mainly because the elements of the argument don't ever affect you, so of course you think it's ridiculous), is the first step down the ignorant "privilege" tunnel.  

Having privilege is not a bad thing.  Refusing to see your own privilege and how it constructs your world, and using that privilege to put others at a disadvantage is the problem.  There's nothing wrong with being a straight white dude.  I happen to really like straight white dudes. But, some of them can be blind to the struggles that people who aren't straight white dudes face.

For example, it's perfectly fine for a bunch of guys to stand around and talk about their girlfriends or wives in some neutral context, but if a gay man is in that group and talks about his boyfriend or husband, he often gets accused of "pushing his gayness in peoples faces".  Or the all too common, "It's been like what, a hundred and 150 years since Lincoln freed the slaves?  Why don't black people just take responsibility for own lives??"  That's an argument that smacks of completely blind privilege.

And toxic masculinity.....oh boy.  So yeah, using your masculinity in a way that denegrates other groups is the toxic part.  Calling someone a Fag if they can't do something commonly seen as a masculine thing. Or the ever so subtle.....calling something gay that you and your friends are snickering about as being slightly less than masculine......That's toxic behavior.  Calling someone a pussy for being "weak" is to suggest that vaginas are weak, and the people who have vaginas are weak.  In reality, vaginas are strong, resilient, and able to put up with a lot of abuse.  Testicles however, are fragile, sensitive, and extremely vulnerable to being hurt.  So why aren't we calling someone a ball when they are being fragile or weak?  Why do use the phrase "grow a set of balls" when we want someone to get tough?  Because I tend to think that toxic masculinity wants us to believe that anything masculine is better, and anything feminine is weaker.  

It's bullshit, and it needs to be called out when it's used.  If you just stand there in your group of friends and silently let the subtle gay bashing, or women bashing go on...even though you are not doing it yourself......you are contributing to the problem.  I've seen that shit get shut down when a man who other men respect steps up and says "Hey that shit's not cool.  Don't do it anymore."  

MarcG · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jan 2007 · Points: 0

We all know this guy: 

mediocre · · Unknown Hometown · Joined Jul 2013 · Points: 0
ChapelPondGirl wrote:

  Calling someone a pussy for being "weak" is to suggest that vaginas are weak, and the people who have vaginas are weak.  In reality, vaginas are strong, resilient, and able to put up with a lot of abuse.  Testicles however, are fragile, sensitive, and extremely vulnerable to being hurt.  So why aren't we calling someone a ball when they are being fragile or weak?  Why do use the phrase "grow a set of balls" when we want someone to get tough?  Because I tend to think that toxic masculinity wants us to believe that anything masculine is better, and anything feminine is weaker.  

  

I agree with you, but let's not pretend that dick hasn't been used in a negative light as well. Ironically it's usually when someones acting like an asshole, but whatever. I guess calling someone an asshole would be PC right? Black, white, asian, gay straight, whatever, everyones got an asshole.

Old lady H · · Boise, Idaho · Joined Aug 2015 · Points: 290

Asshole works for me...

Wait. That didn't come out right.

;-) H.

Guideline #1: Don't be a jerk.

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